What is Cordyceps?

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Wouldn’t it be wonderful if we could find a natural product that did it all? A Jack of all first-aids if you like. Something to boost pretty much every system in our bodies which could do with an up-grade?

What is Cordyceps?

Traditional healers in Sikkim, a North-Eastern State in India, believed they had found the miracle cure in the form of Cordyceps sinensisCordyceps sinensis, which comes from the Latin cord (club), ceps (head) and sinensis (from China), is a rare combination, the marriage of a fungi and a caterpillar. This particular type of fungi is black and belongs to the Ascomycete (sac fungi) family. In the autumn, as it matures, the fluid pressure inside the head builds, and eventually explodes, sending its spores out into the surrounding area. These spores are then either digested by or find their way through the respiratory system of, the Bat-Moth Caterpillar.1By the following summer, the caterpillars have been effectively mummified, with over 90% of the host being taken over. Doesn’t leave mush-room for anything else really, does it? The host will usually lie around 6 inches below the surface and can weigh up to 500mg.2

Cordyceps sinensis can only be found in the Tibetan plateau of the Himalayan Mountains and is harvested in a painstaking ritual every year from the beginning of May until the beginning of June. Gatherers will often lie on the ground, scanning the dirt with the naked eye, looking for the larvae. It is slow work which requires a great deal of concentration, young and old alike gather in the mountains to find their crop and spend time together. Slow work indeed, as the average number of worms collected per person per day is around 20.3.

So why is Cordyceps sinensis so effective?

Cordyceps contains an impressively long list of active ingredients, each responsible for one of its many health benefits with just some of them listed here:

  • Cordycepin (anti-tumour and anti-cancer)
  • Ergosterol (for production of Vitamin D)
  • D-Mannitol (Decreases high pressure in eyes in conditions such as glaucoma)
  • Glucosamine (supports the structure and function of joints)
  • Sodium, Potassium, Calcium, Magnesium, Iron, and Zinc – minerals which are all essential to our health and well-being.

Its properties are many – antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, anti-tumour, anti-cancer, anti-fatigue and anti-stress. It really is the superhero of supplements. So what did the Tibetans and Chinese use it for? Good question – traditionally, Cordyceps sinensis was thought to be a ‘cure-all’, such was its range of medicinal uses. They believed that it could be used to give the user more energy, improve stamina, increase libido, boost the appetite, provide better endurance and allow for better sleep.5

In more recent times, Cordyceps sinensis caught the attention of the sports world, when, in 1993, three female athletes broke five world records at the National Games in Beijing. Wang Junxia, Qu Yunxia, and Zhang Linli won the 1,500, 3,000 and 10,000 metres. Claims were made that the girls were taking anabolic steroids, but drug testing disproved this theory. Ma Junren, their coach, openly admitted that he had recommended Cordyceps sinensis to his athletes, and since the mushroom is classed as a food it did not fall under the IAAF rules.6

How can Cordyceps Sinensis benefit your health?

Modern science suggests that its uses are far more wide-reaching and important than just endurance and enhanced sporting ability, and clinical studies and trials have shown some very promising results.

How about Respiratory Function?

While it is already known that it is effective on altitude sickness, tests on mice have also suggested that the mushroom can sustain and renew respiratory function. 7

Can it Benefit Heart Health?

It is also thought to be greatly enhanced by the mushroom by correcting heart arrhythmia.8

Worried about your Cholesterol Levels?

Taking Cordyceps sinensis has been shown to lower total cholesterol by up to 21%, and at the same time raise the levels of good cholesterol by up to 30%.8

Want to improve the life of your Liver?

Results from a trial involving 33 patients with Hepatitis B were incredible. In two enzyme tests (liver function tests), there was an improvement of 71.9% (thymol turbidity test) and 78.6% (SGPT test).9

You can’t kid a Kidney

Tests carried out by the Chinese displayed a 51% improvement in patients with chronic kidney disease.10

What Else Can it Benefit?

Much research has been done into the effect of the mushroom on Cancer – the Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center (MSKCC) in New York has found that Cordyceps sinensis contains anti-tumour properties, making to harder for tumours to grow, or reducing those already present. In addition, it is believed to be useful in enabling cancer patients to tolerate chemotherapy and radiotherapy better.

In addition to those conditions listed, the beneficial effects of this little mushroom hybrid are numerous. It can be used to treat Sexual Dysfunction (both male and female), increase Sperm Motility, ease Restless Legs Syndrome, and help combat the effects of ageing (such as fatigue, cold and dizziness). One hugely important study carried out in Ghana in 2004 on 3000 early-stage AIDS patients showed that at the end of the six-month trial of Cordyceps sinensis, not one of the 3000 patients was shown to have AIDS in their blood.12

 So, if you are looking for a supplement which will improve your all-round health, give you a fighting chance against some of the biggest killers known to modern man, and which has been used effectively throughout history, then Cordyceps sinensis could be just what you have been looking for.

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