The Energy-Boosting Benefits of Cordyceps
If you’re looking for a natural way to boost energy levels and improve health, you might want to consider cordyceps mushrooms. This unusual fungi has been used in traditional Chinese medicine for hundreds of years to help people increase energy, reduce fatigue, and support a healthy immune system.
Does cordyceps give you energy?
Cordyceps militaris may be just what you need, whether you're trying to enhance your athletic performance or are simply looking for a natural remedy to boost your energy levels.
We’re about to show you how.
What is Cordyceps Militaris?
Cordyceps militaris is a type of fungus in the genus Cordyceps, which has more than 600 species. Cordyceps has been used in Chinese and Korean medicine for centuries because of its extraordinary health benefits.
Cordyceps is part of a grouping known as “functional mushrooms,” a type of fungus that has extraordinary health benefits. These functional mushrooms contain many bioactive compounds that may differ in their chemical structures, but they all have a common goal: maintain homeostasis and improve health. Due to their rich composition, cordyceps mushrooms have antioxidant, immune-boosting, and anti-inflammatory effects.
In more recent years, these beneficial molecules have been studied for their ability to boost athletic performance, reduce fatigue, and increase energy.
Can Cordyceps Boost Energy Levels?
Many people claim that this functional mushroom makes them feel more energized, alert, and concentrated without the jittery feelings typically associated with drinking coffee. Both human and animal research seems to indicate that cordyceps mushrooms can replenish energy and reduce fatigue.
The research on the effects of cordyceps mushrooms on energy levels is generally limited to animal studies. However, a breakthroughexperimental study looked into the ability of Cordyceps militaris extract to lower exercise-related fatigue by examining chemical indicators in human blood. The results showed that Cordyceps militaris contains anti-fatigue properties to facilitate motion fatigue recovery in humans:
In conclusion, we have successfully confirmed that Cordyceps militaris induces fatigue recovery via activating AMPK and AKT/mTOR pathways and regulating serum hormone level. Our data provides experimental evidence in supporting clinical use of Cordyceps militaris as an effective agent against fatigue.
Let’s see the exact mechanisms of action behind the mushroom’s fatigue-reducing and energy-boosting effects.
Adenosine and Energy-Boosting Neurotransmitters
Adenosine is an important part of the way our bodies metabolize energy. Every time we engage in activities that require energy, our bodies produce adenosine as a result of the breakdown of adenosine triphosphate (ATP), another organic compound that produces and stores energy. This type of adenosine produced by our bodies binds to receptors in the brain, creating feelings of fatigue. The Sleep Foundation points out that increased levels of adenosine make us sleepier, which is good for our sleep-wake homeostasis—not so good if you need more energy.
The adenosine found in Cordyceps militaris seems to have the opposite effect on our brain. It modulates the function of endogenous adenosine, prevents fatigue and sleepiness, and boosts energy levels. Weird, right? But also cool.
Research has shown that adenosine might enhance the production of dopamine and serotonin. A 2021 study suggested that cordyceps mushrooms were able to raise levels of serotonin and dopamine. Dopamine and serotonin are the “happy hormones.” They are associated with feelings of pleasure, happiness, and motivation, but they also play an important role in mood regulation, cognitive performance, and energy levels. The study concluded that cordyceps could be used as a treatment for depression, anxiety, and other mood disorders.
Adenosine’s ability to increase levels of neurotransmitters that help boost energy and motivation makes this little guy all-around amazing.
Antioxidative Properties of Cordycepin
Cordycepin, another powerful bioactive compound, can easily become your next best fitness friend. This natural chemical improves the production and use of ATP, increases oxygen uptake, and reduces the production of lactic acid, helping athletes improve their exercise performance and endurance.
There are many things that can make you feel tired and jaded, but nothing is as detrimental to your energy levels as oxidative stress. Luckily, superhero cordycepin is here to save the day.
Oxidative stress can have a negative impact on our bodies. Unstable chemicals that cause damage to our cells, called free radicals, overpower our bodies in the lack of antioxidants. This imbalance leads to oxidative stress, which causes a number of health conditions—heart disease, cancer, chronic diseases—and affects our energy and stamina.
Scientific evidence has linked oxidative stress to reduced aerobic capacity and decreased skeletal muscle energy in people with metabolic syndrome.
Patients with metabolic syndrome (MetS) had significantly higher systemic lipid peroxidation products and lower systemic antioxidant defense capacity…indicating enhanced systemic oxidative stress in MetS. Moreover, importantly, the increased systemic lipid peroxidation products and the decreased systemic antioxidant defense capacity correlated with lower aerobic capacity and impaired skeletal muscle energy metabolism. Therefore, we established a new association between systemic oxidative stress and aerobic capacity in patients with MetS.—(Yokota, et. al.)
The effect of oxidative stress on energy levels can be detrimental. Free radicals impair mitochondria, which are organelles in our cells that produce ATP. When mitochondrial function is damaged, cells lose their energy-making efficiency, leading to exhaustion. A 2022 study suggests that oxidative stress might cause damage to our brain and inhibit its function to produce energy.
Oxidative stress, an increase in reactive oxygen and reactive nitrogen species, and free radicals, has long been suggested as a potential cause for many of the symptoms seen in Myalgic Encephalomyelitis/Chronic Fatigue Syndrome, resulting from both activation of the brain’s immune system and dysregulation of mitochondrial function throughout the body. The brain as a high producer of energy may be particularly susceptible to oxidative stress. It has been shown in peripheral immune cells that the balanced production of proteins involved in regulation of the reactive oxygen species in mitochondria is disturbed in Myalgic Encephalomyelitis/Chronic Fatigue Syndrome.
Glucose metabolism can also be affected by oxidative stress. Free radicals interfere with insulin signaling and glucose uptake. These processes are important for maintaining healthy levels of energy and blood sugar levels. Interrupting insulin signaling and glucose uptake can lead to insulin resistance and a fall in energy levels.
We’ve established that oxidative stress is really bad for our health, especially for producing energy and fighting fatigue. Here are cordycepin’s main mechanisms of action for boosting energy and getting rid of oxidative stress:
- Cordycepin is a natural antioxidant, which means it fights free radicals left and right.
- Cordycepin lowers inflammation in the body, inhibiting free radicals and their oxidative effects.
- Cordycepin improves insulin signaling and glucose metabolism mainly by preventing oxidative stress. It supports the action of antioxidant enzymes that neutralize free radicals and prevent them from causing cellular and tissue damage.
- Cordycepin also increases glucose absorption by stimulating certain protein pathways and lowering the risk of insulin resistance. This is important in keeping energy levels up to par and preventing feelings of physical and mental exhaustion.
Polysaccharides May Fight Fatigue
Polysaccharides are a family of complex carbohydrates that have been shown to provide a variety of health benefits—immune system stimulation, anti-inflammatory effects, and blood sugar control—but today we’re particularly interested in their energy-boosting abilities.
Polysaccharides can aid in endurance and increase energy. Their antioxidant properties protect against oxidative stress and its negative effects on energy levels. Cordyceps mushrooms contain several types of polysaccharides, all of which are beneficial for making you feel more energized.
Beta-glucans are probably the best-known polysaccharides found in Cordyceps militaris. They can support the immune system, improve heart health, and boost our ability to produce energy. Chinese researchersconfirmed that specific cordyceps beta-glucans can regulate energy metabolism in mice, improve athletic performance, and lower fatigue. In a forced swimming test,
The results showed that polysaccharides from Cordyceps militaris (PCM) could significantly prolong the exhaustive swimming time of mice; decrease concentrations of serum lactic acid, urea nitrogen, creatine kinase…and increase liver and muscle glycogen contents and the concentrations of serum superoxide dismutase, glutathione per-oxidase, and catalase. The data suggest that PCM has an antifatigue effect, and it might become a new functional food or medicine for fatigue resistance.
In addition, beta-glucans and other polysaccharides have a prebiotic effect: they support gut health and the growth of beneficial bacteria in the digestive tract. This improves digestion and nutrient absorption, allowing our bodies to extract energy from food much more efficiently.
Cordyceps Can Improve Athletic Performance
The results of an animal study show that Cordyceps militaris has positive effects on exercise performance in mice. The researchers discovered cordyceps mushrooms can replenish energy on a cellular level by modulating pathways involved in transporting energy molecules to our cells.
To measure muscle strength in rodent models, the grip strength test is generally used... During the experiment...all Cordyceps militaris extract-treated groups (G3–G5) were slightly higher[in grip strength] than the normal control group (G1) at 11 and 12 weeks. These observations suggest that Cordyceps militaris extract could contribute to improving exercise performance.
A 2015 study revealed that a cordyceps supplement was able to fight off fatigue in mice, leading to greater physical endurance and lower production of lactic acid.
Although more human studies are needed to confirm these findings, researchers were able to prove that Cordyceps militaris can reduce fatigue and increase exercise performance.
Benefits of Cordyceps Mushrooms
Cordyceps mushrooms can benefit our entire body. Here are some of the therapeutic potential that Cordyceps militaris has:
- Prevent oxidative damage
- Reduce inflammation
- Promote heart health and regulate blood pressure
- Regulate cholesterol levels
- Prevent kidney disease
- Improve athletic performance
- Increase testosterone levels
- Boost the immune system
- Reduce blood sugar levels
- Promote gut health
- Improve mental health
- Promote the respiratory system
- Aid skin health
Side Effects of Cordyceps
Cordyceps mushrooms are absolutely safe to consume. If you're allergic to yeast, mold, or other types of fungi, you're likely to be sensitive to cordyceps as well.
The best way to take cordyceps, especially if it’s your first time, is in moderation. First-time users might experience minor discomfort, such as diarrhea or an upset stomach, so it’s important to start slowly. Add a small amount of cordyceps mushrooms (no more than 3 grams) to your daily routine and gradually raise the dosage.
How to Consume Cordyceps Mushrooms
You can take cordyceps in capsules, extracts, and powders. Our favorite way to consume this magical mushroom is with our cordyceps tea, which also contains matcha. The amazing benefits of cordyceps are enhanced by the distinct flavors of matcha tea. Perfect for everyday enjoyment.
Because of their energy-boosting properties, we suggest youtake cordyceps in the morning or early afternoon. Avoid consuming cordyceps products right before bedtime.
Cordyceps for Energy FAQ
How much cordyceps should I take for energy?
A moderate dose of 2 g per day is recommended for everyday use, especially if you’re a mushroom beginner. Test the waters first; start with the recommended dose and see how you feel every day for a month or so, then slowly increase the intake.
Is cordyceps a stimulant?
Cordyceps is not a stimulant. It is a natural energy-booster and, unlike coffee or energy drinks, contains no caffeine. Instead, cordyceps is believed to help the body increase oxygen uptake, which gives you more energy and boosts your physical endurance.
Will cordyceps keep you awake?
Cordyceps mushrooms can keep you awake at night if you consume them right before bed. This can happen because some of the bioactive compounds found in cordyceps are natural energy-boosters. We recommend taking cordyceps mushrooms—or preparing our favoritecordyceps matcha tea from the most adorable 30 serving jar—in the morning or early afternoon.
How does cordyceps make you feel?
Cordyceps can make some people feel energized, while others don’t notice much difference. Whether you feel a change or not, cordyceps mushrooms are packed with naturally energizing chemicals—just think of cordycepin and all those polysaccharides—that will boost your productivity and focus, increase energy levels, improve your mood and circulation, and pump you up before a workout.
Can cordyceps replace caffeine?
While cordyceps can provide an energy boost and improve physical performance, it is not a coffee alternative. Cordyceps operates in the body differently than caffeine, and the two have different effects on the brain and body.
Caffeine is a stimulant of the central nervous system that primarily affects the brain by blocking adenosine receptors, resulting in greater alertness and decreased fatigue. Cordyceps, on the other hand, has been proposed to increase energy and reduce fatigue in the body through increased ATP generation and oxygen uptake.
Cordyceps, while providing a natural and prolonged energy boost, may not have the same rapid and strong benefits on alertness and mental focus as coffee, yet coffee does not have all the cordyceps mushroom benefits.
Many people find that ourmatcha mushroom tea is a great coffee alternative. The matcha has some caffeine and is rich in L-theanine and other compounds to complement the cordyceps.
Should cordyceps be taken on an empty stomach?
Cordyceps mushrooms might cause some mild stomach upsets when taken on an empty stomach, so it’s best if you consume them during or after your first meal of the day. A little snacking never killed anybody.
Sensitivity to cordyceps varies from person to person, so make sure to find the best method and time of day to consume your favorite medicinal mushrooms.
What’s the difference between Cordyceps militaris and Cordyceps sinensis?
Cordyceps militaris and Cordyceps sinensis are two species of the Cordyceps genus frequently compared and studied for their extraordinary health benefits.
Cordyceps militaris is a parasitic fungus that develops on insect larvae and is found throughout Asia, Europe, and North America. It has been used for millennia in ancient Chinese herbal medicine to treat a variety of conditions, including respiratory and cardiovascular diseases, chronic kidney disease, and cancer. It is also known for itsadaptogenic and immune system-boosting properties.
Cordyceps sinensis is a rare and costly fungus that grows naturally at high altitudes on China's Tibetan plateau. It has been used for almost 2,000 years in traditional Chinese medicine to treat a variety of diseases such as chronic fatigue, poor libido, breast cancer, and respiratory problems.
Cordyceps militaris is easier to produce and hence more readily available, whereas Cordyceps sinensis is more rare and therefore more expensive. Furthermore, some research suggests that Cordyceps militaris has more beneficial chemicals, such as cordycepin and polysaccharides, than Cordyceps sinensis.
For additional information on the two species of cordyceps mushrooms, check out our detailed comparison between Cordyceps militaris and Cordyceps sinensis.
Are medicinal mushrooms safe to consume?
Because of their nutritional and therapeutic characteristics, medicinal mushrooms are completely safe to consume. Mushroom supplements, which come in capsule and powder form, are a common way to absorb medicinal fungus such as Cordyceps militaris, turkey tail, and lion’s mane. Cordyceps is a natural energy booster that has been used in ancient Chinese medicine for hundreds of years due to its overall health benefits.
Organic mushrooms are a popular alternative for individuals looking for natural, plant-based nutrient sources with virtually no risk factors involved.
How can cordyceps mushrooms be consumed?
Cordyceps mushrooms can be consumed in a variety of ways:
- You can add mushroom powder to smoothies or soups.
- You can brew cordyceps tea with mushroom powder. If you add a splash of milk of choice, you get yourself a nice, creamy matcha latte.
- Some people take Cordyceps mushroom capsules as a dietary supplement since they offer a simple method of ingestion (although they taste a bit yucky and, well, capsule-y).
- Others consume cordyceps mushrooms raw.
Whichever method you choose, make sure to pick only the highest quality products. We salute your decision to include these incredible mushrooms in your diet—that’s an excellent strategy to improve your health and well-being—and invite you to try the greatest (not to mention the most delicious) cordyceps mushroom powder on this side of the globe.
Two of the most powerful adaptogens out there—cordyceps and matcha—give an incomparable flavor to our tea. We love a warm cup of this phenomenal blend in the morning or before we hit the gym. Our small matcha mushroom packets are a great way to start off the day, and they are perfect for carrying to work or on a camping trip.
Can cordyceps mushrooms help me lose weight?
Clinical studies have revealed that cordyceps mushrooms may have some anti-obesity properties. It seems that cordyceps can aid weight loss by increasing the levels of adenosine triphosphate (ATP), a key component in energy production.
Cordyceps also promotes gut health and improves digestive function, which may be another way cordyceps mushrooms aid weight management and immune functioning.
Can cordyceps mushrooms cure cancer?
There is currently no cure for cancer, but cordyceps seems to have some anti-cancer properties.
Cordyceps mushrooms contain anti-tumor chemicals such as cordycepin, polysaccharides, and ergosterol. Clinical studies reveal the anti-metastatic properties of cordyceps extract and suggest that it could prevent cancer cells from spreading and infecting healthy cells and organs. The mushrooms can also aid in recovery from the stress and adverse effects of cancer treatment.
A different study focused on breast cancer and revealed that cordyceps can delay tumor growth and modulate the immune system.
While this exciting research reveals the potential health benefits of cordyceps mushrooms on cancer, further clinical trials are needed to completely understand their effects. Cordyceps should not be used in place of traditional cancer treatments. Always contact your healthcare professional before taking any dietary supplements in addition to cancer medications.
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“Antidepressant-like Effects of Water Extract of Cordyceps Militaris (Linn.) Link by Modulation of ROCK2/PTEN/Akt Signaling in an Unpredictable Chronic Mild Stress-induced Animal Model,” 8 May 2021, https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jep.2021.114194.
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Choi, Eunhyun., Oh, Junsang., Sung, Gi-Ho.Beneficial Effect of Cordyceps militaris on Exercise Performance via Promoting Cellular Energy Production - PubMed. (2020, November 9). PubMed. https://doi.org/10.1080/12298093.2020.1831135
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Jang, Dongyeop, et al. “System-level Investigation of Anti-obesity Effects and the Potential Pathways of Cordyceps Militaris in Ovariectomized Rats - BMC Complementary Medicine and Therapies.”BioMed Central, 12 May 2022, https://doi.org/10.1186/s12906-022-03608-y.
“Anticancer and Antimetastatic Effects of Cordycepin, an Active Component of Cordyceps Sinensis - PubMed.”PubMed, 1 Jan. 2015, https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jphs.2014.09.001.
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