Magic Mushrooms – A Medical Miracle
7 Powerful Health Benefits of Cordyceps Mushroom
The unique, amazing cordyceps mushroom made international headlines after Chinese runners broke two world records by unbelievably huge margins at the Asian Games in 1993. It seems the secret to their remarkable athletic performances was the so-called caterpillar fungus − cordyceps.
As it turns out, cordyceps mushroom (known scientifically as Cordyceps sinensis) has been used in traditional Chinese and Tibetan medicine since at least the 15th Century. An extremely rare combination of a caterpillar and a fungus, it is found at altitudes above 4,500 meters (over 14,000 feet) in the Himalayas, on the Tibetan plateau, and at other high-altitude locations worldwide.
In Tibet this fungus is known as yartsa gunbu, or “summer grass, winter worm.” It was initially identified when local herders observed that yak, goat, and sheep that ate cordyceps while grazing became very strong and stout. This observation led to a deeper examination and eventual understanding of its many health benefits.
1. Improve Stamina & Athletic Performance
Supports recovery from adrenal depletion and is shown to increase lung capacity as well as oxygen utilization, making it a great tonic for improving athletic performance and aerobic workouts.
In 1993 during the Track and Field National Games in Beijing, women athletes using the mushroom broke consecutive world track records. After being negatively tested for anabolic steroid use, the team coach revealed that they were consuming daily elixirs of cordyceps mushroom as a nutritional regimen.
C. sinensis is a highly revered athletic tonic for its revitalizing effects on physical stamina as well as its ability to help increase lung capacity and build muscle mass. It is often used by holistic bodybuilders in protein shakes as a pre-workout energy booster.
Cordyceps has long been consumed by Himalayan mountain peoples, like the Mykot tribe, for increasing their energy output and endurance levels needed for high altitude activities.
2. Immune System Boosting Cancer Blaster
Research reveals that many of the polysaccharides and nucleosides found in the mushroom work specifically as immune system potentiators and possess strong antioxidant, antiviral and antitumor activity. Some of these primary myco-nutrients include beta glucans, like CO-1, and the nucleoside cordycepin (3’deoxyadenosine).
The beta-glucan constituents help to increase the production of interleukins, interferons and antibodies by the activated immune cells. Currently, there are more than 10 identifiable nucleosides and their related components found in cordyceps mushroom. In medicine several nucleoside analogues are used as antiviral or anticancer agents.
Evidence also supports cordycepin’s ability to inhibit DNA synthesis in cancerous cells, which is thought to be the major mechanism responsible for its effects as a tumor growth inhibitor, significantly increasing the tumor cell kill rate.
3. Revitalizes and Protects Kidney Functions
Cordyceps is the top medicinal mushroom often prescribed by Chinese herbalists for kidney yin deficiency and is commonly referenced as a “kidney jing tonic.” Jing is one of the three treasures in TCM that is considered the energy foundation or “root of vitality” for the entire body. It is stored specifically in the kidneys as well as the adrenals glands.
Regular supplementation can greatly assist many modern day people living a fast paced lifestyle who are inadvertently draining this Jing energy backup system. Additionally, stressing the kidneys and adrenals with the overuse of caffeinated drinks and other stimulants can be especially depleting to our deep energy reserves over a period of time, resulting in adrenal exhaustion and various autoimmune disorders.
Cordyceps mushroom extracts are powerful adaptogens and kidney tonics that help to build and restore energy as well as replenish the deeper immune defenses located in the bone marrow reserve.
4. Fight Respiratory Infections
Along with the kidneys, C. sinensis is also a revered lung tonic in Traditional Chinese Medicine and is thought to increase the flow of Chi, which is associated with the air element. When there is more Chi and unhindered oxygen uptake, there is an increase in energy as a result.
Many of the mushroom’s effects on the lungs are believed to stem from its ability to improve efficient oxygen utilization. C. sinensis is helpful for professional sport athletes for this reason and helps to increase athletic performance and endurance levels.
D-mannitol, also called cordycepic acid, is recognized to play a major role in alleviating conditions such as bronchitis or asthma as are its anti-inflammatory components. It is a Chinese prescribed treatment for such health issues and has been used extensively as a preventative for altitude sickness in high mountain regions.
5. Fight Diabetes
Multiple studies have shown that cordyceps can help in the safe management of blood sugar levels. For instance, a polysaccharide (a long chain, naturally-occurring compound made up of sugars bound chemically to each other) isolated from cordyceps was seen to lower blood sugar levels in a mouse model of diabetes. This polysaccharide also lowered blood levels of harmful triglycerides and cholesterol.
Studies have shown that consumption of cordyceps mushroom extracts increases insulin sensitivity, while also lowering the insulin response to a carbohydrate challenge in normal, non-diabetic rats. Both of these are indications of reduced diabetes risk. For example, normal rats given a cordyceps extract for 17 days showed significant reductions in their fasting blood sugar and fasting blood insulin levels.
Indeed, extracts of cordyceps have been shown to slow down diabetes-induced weight loss, reduce excessive thirst, improve glucose tolerance, and lower high blood sugar levels in various laboratory rat models of diabetes. Again, all of these indicate lowered diabetes risk.
Prized for their natural ability to fight free radicals, infections and inflammation, cordyceps are impressive disease-fighting mushrooms that have been used for centuries to reduce symptoms of respiratory disorders, coughs, colds, liver damage and much more. They’re a true “superfood” in the way that they fight the effects of aging and stress, help keep the body free from disease, and also increase energy levels.