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Mind & Body Cordyceps Mushroom Benefits

Cordyceps Mushrooms on the table

Written By: Emily Spring

In the hunt for wellness and vitality, functional mushrooms like Cordyceps are prized finds. 

These long, cord-like fungi, which resemble the tall tentacles of sea anemone, are primarily found in the grassy highlands of the Himalayas. For thousands of years, the cordyceps fungi has  been used to support health after Himalayan herders noticed that their cattle became stronger after dining on favorable cordyceps fungi. 

This “Himalayan Gold,” as the magic mushroom sometimes goes by, is packed with mind and body benefits related to its antioxidant, anti-aging, anti-tumor, and anti-inflammatory properties. Ready to learn more? This guide covers the many cordyceps health benefits, and where you can find them. 

What Are Cordyceps Mushrooms?

The term Cordyceps refers to a fungi genus that includes a large number of parasitic fungi, meaning they need a host to survive and thrive.1 Cordyceps, in particular, are especially unique for their:

  • Unusual growth – The Cordyceps mushroom doesn’t grow on trees or from the ground. Instead, it’s a parasitic fungus that forms on caterpillars. The result is a long, slender growth that can contain the remains of the caterpillar host along with the cordyceps fungus.
  • Multitude of species – There are so many different types of mushrooms and it is often very difficult to tell the difference between them. A common confusion is the difference between chaga vs reishi. However, There are over 400 different species of Cordyceps. However, the type you’ll find in supplements is typically one of two species: Cordyceps sinensis and Cordyceps militaris. 
  • Many names – The Cordyceps fungus  is known by several different names.2 Some common monikers include: 
    • Vegetable caterpillar
    • Chinese caterpillar fungus
    • Semitake
    • Yarsha gumba
  • Artificial growth – The vast majority of Cordyceps used in supplements come from laboratory-grown samples. It’s actually quite difficult to find Cordyceps in the wild, especially in the quantities required for the supplement market. The ability to replicate the Cordyceps’ natural properties in a lab makes it much easier to produce the products you see on the shelves.

These intriguing medicinal mushrooms have shown some promise when it comes to health-boosting effects, which has led to a boom in their popularity.

Discover the power of Reishi mushrooms. Shop now!

Benefits of Cordyceps Mushrooms

While human studies are still very limited, there are many potential Cordyceps health benefits being researched, such as their anti-tumor and energy-stimulating properties.

Let’s look more closely at some of the possible Cordyceps mushroom benefits.

#1 May Have Tumor Fighting Effects

One of the most promising benefits Cordyceps may have is an ability to inhibit the growth of some types of tumors, including cancers such as:3

  • Lymphoma
  • Carcinoma
  • Melanoma
  • Fibrosarcoma

It’s important to note that these were laboratory studies and more human research is necessary.

#2 May Possess Anti-inflammatory Properties

Some inflammation in your body is normal and healthy. Inflammation is how your body responds to and overcomes things like cuts and minor colds. However, you’ve also probably heard about the dangers of chronic inflammation. And those dangers aren’t overstated. 

In time, chronic inflammation can lead to a host of serious problems, including:4

  • Causing your body to attack healthy tissue
  • Increasing the risk of diabetes, heart disease, arthritis, and cancer
  • Causing continuous pain and discomfort
  • Leading to poor sleep, concentration, and energy levels

Unfortunately, modern western lifestyles do very little to prevent chronic inflammation. Instead, many of the factors that contribute to inflammation can be directly attributed to:

  • Poor diet
  • Stress
  • Lack of exercise

While Cordyceps aren’t a magic pill that will eliminate these things from your life, they may be able to help your body offset harmful inflammation. Several studies cited in the “Journal of Pharmacy and Pharmacology” list examples of Cordyceps inhibiting excess inflammatory responses.5 These include:

  • Rats with kidney disease
  • Guinea pigs and rats with airway and lung inflammation

Research on human subjects is needed, but the positive effects of Cordyceps’ abilities to suppress inflammation in animals are promising.

If you’re in search of a product that can support a healthy stress response, then our WonderDay Mushroom Gummies might be a perfect fit. They contain Cordyceps and nine other functional medicinal mushrooms for full-body support.

#3 May Be Beneficial to Diabetics

Diabetics may also benefit from taking Cordyceps. Type 1 diabetics aren’t able to produce sufficient levels of insulin on their own, while type 2 diabetics have problems utilizing the insulin their bodies have. 

In both cases, studies have indicated that there may be two different ways Cordyceps can aid diabetics, including:

  • Blood sugar regulation – In a study on diabetic rats, Cordyceps demonstrated an ability to help keep blood sugar at a healthy level.6 There is potential for humans as well, but further studies are needed to see if the same benefits can be replicated without interfering with other diabetes medications.
  • Kidney restoration – Many diabetics suffer from some form of kidney disease and there is some cautious optimism about the impact of Cordyceps on kidney function.7 Cordyceps showed some potential to restore and maintain healthy kidney function in a very limited study, although more research is needed to determine the true effect.

#4 May Increase Energy Levels

Another positive benefit of Cordyceps mushrooms is their ability to help support healthy energy levels, stamina, and focus. 

A study in the “Journal of Dietary Supplements” indicated that regular consumption of Cordyceps could help improve tolerance to exercise, specifically high-intensity activities.8 The study noted that “greater benefits may be elicited with consistent, chronic supplementation.” Some of the specific areas studied include:

  • Oxygen consumption
  • VO2 max
  • Time to exhaustion
  • Peak power output

Therefore, adding a Cordyceps supplement, such as our Advanced Clear Focus Capsules might help give you the boost you need to achieve your exercise goals. The same mushroom for brain health supplement may also support your mood, brain function, mental clarity, and focus throughout the day.

#5 Contain Powerful Antioxidants

Lastly, Cordyceps mushrooms are an excellent source of potent antioxidants. Antioxidants are well known for their ability to neutralize deadly free radicals and can help prevent or delay the damage accrued by your cells over time.9 Without antioxidants, your body is more susceptible to chronic diseases such as:

  • Heart disease
  • Cancer
  • Alzheimer’s 
  • Macular degeneration
  • Immune dysfunction
  • Lung diseases

Antioxidants also play an important role in slowing the aging process. As such, antioxidants found in Cordyceps might help prevent premature aging of the skin and other body systems.3 A diet that’s rich in fresh fruits and vegetables, nuts, and healthy fats also help boost the body’s antioxidant levels. 

Cordyceps are a superb addition to your routine for this reason. In fact, studies with mice on the impact of Cordyceps indicated that consuming the antioxidant-rich mushrooms helped:10

  • Increase the overall lifespan
  • Potentially reverse age-related damage
  • Improve memory and brain function

Many researchers believe consuming an antioxidant-rich diet, full of herbs for the immune system, is key to a long, healthy life. As such, adding some Cordyceps extract to your daily routine may give you a much-needed antioxidant boost.

Where Can You Find Cordyceps Mushrooms?

You can buy supplements containing Cordyceps in several different forms. The most common include:

  • Capsules
  • Mushroom Powder
  • Liquid mushroom extract 

To maximize cordyceps benefits, you should only purchase high-quality products from a trusted supplier. The FDA doesn’t regulate supplements. Therefore, you should always check and make sure that your functional mushroom supplements have been tested by a third-party lab to ensure that you’re getting a product that matches the claims made on the label.

Are There Risks Associated with Cordyceps?

For the most part, Cordyceps mushrooms are considered safe. However, you should always check with your doctor before adding a new supplement to your routine. Additionally, there may be potential for an unwanted interaction if you’re taking medications like:2

  • Insulin – Because Cordyceps might help regulate your blood sugar levels, you should avoid using them if you’re on insulin unless approved by your doctor. 
  • Blood thinners – Cordyceps may also prevent platelet aggregation. This is beneficial if it prevents blood clots but can be harmful if you’re taking blood thinners as the mushrooms may compound the effects of your medication.

It’s also recommended that pregnant women avoid taking functional mushroom supplements due to limited regulation and studies. 

Discover the Power of Cordyceps with Plant People

While their growth process is certainly different from many other species of mushrooms, Cordyceps are loaded with potential health and wellness benefits. The “magic” mushroom may help keep tumors from growing, promote anti-inflammatory activity, and modulate glucose levels. It is normal to have questions about mushrooms, oftentimes people want to know lion's mane health benefits.

At Plant People, we work tirelessly to find the best natural solutions for our customers. Our wide selection of functional mushroom products is designed to help support your overall health and wellness. To capitalize on the unique benefits of Cordyceps mushrooms, try our WonderDay Mushroom Gummies and our Advanced Clear Focus Capsules today. 

Written by Emily Spring 

Emily Spring is the Director of Marketing at Plant People. A longtime proponent of balanced living, she has enjoyed over 8 years driving growth in the lifestyle, health and wellness sectors with deep experience in functional solutions for optimizing anyone's everyday life.

Reviewed by Gabe Kennedy

 Co-Founder of Plant People, Gabe Kennedy is an acclaimed chef and entrepreneur. Growing up in a house of healers and herbalists, he is passionate about the power of food as a tool for health, and actualized this passion and belief system into his company, Plant People. Named to Forbes 30 under 30 Gabe has shaped menus and cooked his way around the world with his mission to promote a more communal, green and healthy world.

 Gabe is a graduate of The Culinary Institute of America and Cornell University School of Hotel Administration. You can learn more about his work at his website.


Sources: 

  1. Encyclopedia of Life. Cordyceps. https://eol.org/pages/16523
  2. Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center. Cordyceps. https://www.mskcc.org/cancer-care/integrative-medicine/herbs/cordyceps
  3. PubMed. Cordyceps as an Herbal Drug. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK92758
  4. PubMed. Chronic Inflammation. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK493173/
  5. Journal of Pharmacy and Pharmacology. Pharmacological Actions of Cordyceps. https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/pdf/10.1211/jpp.57.12.0001
  6. Life Sciences. The Anti-hyperglycemic Activity of the Fruiting Body of Cordyceps In Diabetic Rats. https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/abs/pii/S0024320504001134?via%3Dihub
  7. PubMed. Cordyceps sinensis for Treating Chronic Kidney DIsease. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/25519252/
  8. Journal of Dietary Supplements. Cordyceps militaris Improves Tolerance to High-Intensity Exercise After Acute and Chronic Supplementation. https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/full/10.1080/19390211.2016.1203386
  9. Science Daily. Antioxidants: Preventing Diseases, Naturally. https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2007/09/070908001613.htm
  10. The FASEB Journal. The Lifespan-Extending Effect of Cordyceps sinensis in Normal Mice. https://faseb.onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/abs/10.1096/fasebj.25.1_supplement.599.1

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