Move over, red wine and dark chocolate; there's a new heart-healthy superfood in town.
Traditional Chinese medicine has used cordyceps mushrooms to improve cardiovascular health for hundreds of years. Recent research suggests that it may supplement existing therapy and provide a variety of benefits to heart patients.
Cordyceps mushrooms have long been revered for their extraordinary health benefits. Cordyceps can improve athletic performance and boost energy levels. Did you know they are also great against bad cholesterol and inflammation?
Let's look more closely at what makes Cordyceps militaris so appealing for cardiovascular health.
What is Cordyceps Militaris?
Cordyceps militaris is a fungus of the genus Cordyceps, which contains over 600 species of cordyceps mushrooms. It has been used for millennia in traditional Chinese and other Asian medicine due to its exceptional health benefits.
Cordyceps is packed with bioactive compounds that have different chemical structures, but they all work for the same goal: to maintain homeostasis and improve health. The long list of bioactive chemicals provides a variety of medical and therapeutic effects.
- Nucleobases (cytosine, uracil, thymine, adenine, guanine, and hypoxanthine)
Health Benefits of Cordyceps
Here’s the lowdown on how the powerful ingredients in cordyceps mushrooms can improve your health.
- Feeling on edge? Cordyceps mushrooms may help reduce anxiety by regulating stress hormones and improving oxygen flow to the brain.
- Cordyceps may alleviate symptoms of depression by boosting dopamine and serotonin levels, two key neurotransmitters that play a role in mood regulation.
- Cordyceps has been used for centuries as a natural aphrodisiac, boosting libido and enhancing sexual function. If you’re not feeling frisky but want to be, cordyceps is just the thing!
- Lose weight with cordyceps mushrooms. These medicinal fungi can enhance your metabolism, help you burn fat, and improve your overall energy levels, making them the ultimate weight loss buddy.
- Stay youthful with cordyceps. Cordyceps mushrooms are packed with antioxidants that fight free radicals and reduce oxidative stress, both of which can lead to premature aging. Because of its anti-aging properties, cordyceps is always a popular choice among beauty and skin enthusiasts.
- Cordyceps mushrooms may help you increase muscle mass and boost your exercise performance.
- Do you have kidney problems? Cordyceps mushrooms have been used to treat chronic kidney disease, enhance renal function, and decrease inflammation.
- Cordyceps may also help you preserve your liver function. It even has anti-cancer qualities that may aid in the prevention and treatment of liver cancer.
- If you know someone who’s battling cancer, cordyceps mushrooms may be the perfect antitumor supplement. Their anticancer properties help fight breast cancer, colon cancer, and other types of carcinoma.
- Want to give your kids a natural health boost? Cordyceps is safe and beneficial for children, aiding in immunological function, cognitive development, and overall health.
As you can see, Cordyceps militaris is a versatile superfood. But don’t think the benefits of these adaptogenic mushrooms stop here. Keep reading to learn everything about their heart-friendly properties.
Looking to Include Cordyceps in Your Diet?
If you want to reap the rewards of cordyceps mushrooms, there’s no better way to do it than with our cordyceps tea. This flavorful tea powder contains organic cordyceps and the best matcha you can find in Japan.
Matcha is another superfood and a powerful adaptogen, packed with heart-friendly ingredients like L-theanine and antioxidants. The combination of cordyceps and matcha is the ultimate way to up your health and fitness game.
Is Cordyceps Good for the Heart?
Cordyceps mushrooms have positive effects on cardiovascular health. They are particularly effective in improving blood flow, lowering blood pressure, and reducing levels of bad cholesterol. Lowering inflammation and fighting oxidative stress are the main mechanisms of action that cordyceps employs to protect our hearts.
We’ll show you exactly how Cordyceps militaris can improve your heart health.
Cordyceps Lowers Inflammation
One of the main chemicals found in cordyceps is called cordycepin. It’s a naturally occurring nucleoside, an important signaling molecule that is used to produce nucleotides needed for DNA and RNA synthesis. A 2020 study suggested that cordycepin can block inflammatory mechanisms in chronic inflammatory disorders such as hepatitis, asthma, and rheumatoid arthritis.
While inflammation is the body's natural response to damage, viruses, or infection, chronic inflammation can be pretty bad for your heart. It often causes damage to the inner lining of blood vessels, resulting in plaque buildup (arteriosclerosis or atherogenesis) and artery narrowing, increasing the risk of heart failure and stroke.
Inflammation can also lead to myocarditis, an inflammation of the heart muscle. It causes damage to the heart and, in severe cases, can lead to a heart attack. The anti-inflammatory cordyceps seems to have beneficial effects on myocarditis. Lowering inflammation in the heart muscle helps minimize the risk of heart disease and heart failure. More research is required to completely understand the effects of cordyceps mushrooms on myocarditis.
Polysaccharides are another superhero chemical found in cordyceps. These complex biomolecules are crucial sources of energy in our body. Human studies have shown that some polysaccharides suppress certain types of pro-inflammatory cytokines, proteins that play an important role in mediating inflammatory responses. By lowering the number of cytokines, cordyceps reduces inflammation, leading to healthy heart function.
Many studies have shown that plant polysaccharides improve cardiovascular diseases through various mechanisms such as anti-oxidative stress, restoring the metabolism of biological macromolecules, regulating the apoptosis cascade to reduce cell apoptosis, and inhibiting inflammatory signal pathways to alleviate inflammation. (Dong, et. al.)
Plant polysaccharides, like those found in cordyceps, fight inflammation, boost immune function, and reduce oxidative stress.
Antioxidative Properties of Cordyceps
The antioxidant properties of Cordyceps militaris are another major contributor to a healthy heart. Antioxidants help protect the heart and arteries from oxidative stress.
Oxidative stress is caused by free radicals, highly reactive molecules in our bodies. Oxidative stress can cause damage to blood vessels and tissues, which is a precursor to cardiovascular diseases. Remember inflammation-related arteriosclerosis? Oxidative stress contributes to the accumulation of arterial plaque.
Oxidation causes LDL cholesterol to accumulate in artery walls, resulting in the production of so-called “foam cells.” These foam cells subsequently attract more LDL cholesterol and other chemicals, resulting in arterial plaque development.
Oxidative stress is widely regarded as the redox status realized when an imbalance exists between antioxidant capability and activity species including reactive oxygen (ROS), nitrogen (RNS) and halogen species, non-radical as well as free radical species. This occurrence results in cell injury due to direct oxidation of cellular protein, lipid, and DNA or via cell death signaling pathways responsible for accelerating atherogenesis. (Yang, et. al.)
The accumulation of plaque in the arteries restricts blood flow. This increases the risk of a heart attack, stroke, or other heart disease.
Cordyceps militaris contains antioxidants that help neutralize free radicals, preventing them from damaging the heart and blood vessels. Polysaccharides from cordyceps reduce arterial plaque by decreasing lipid buildup and fighting free radicals. According to one study, “it was found that [polysaccharide] CM1 significantly decreased the formation of atherosclerotic plaques.”
Cordycepin is a major antioxidant. In one animal study, cordycepin was shown to prevent cardiac hypertrophy (thickening of the heart muscle) by blocking oxidative stress and activated protein kinase (AMPKα) signaling.
…analysis of haemodynamic parameters showed that cordycepin treatment improved systolic (assessed by +dP/dt) and diastolic function (assessed by −dP/dt) after aortic banding surgery. Collectively, these data suggest that cordycepin ameliorates cardiac hypertrophy and improves cardiac function after pressure overload.
The results of the study suggested that cordycepin from Cordyceps militaris was also able to regulate blood pressure.
Cordyceps Regulates Blood Pressure
Cordyceps mushrooms have been found to help regulate blood pressure. Let’s introduce a third powerful bioactive compound from cordyceps: adenosine.
Adenosine is a naturally occurring molecule found in Cordyceps militaris and Cordyceps sinensis. It is involved in important biological functions such as sleep, energy metabolism, and vascular function. Adenosine has also been linked to the regulation of blood pressure, heart rate, and vascular inflammation.
Cordyceps-derived adenosine has antihypertensive properties: it can lower blood pressure. To evaluate these effects, Mexican researchers examined an ethanolic extract of the fruit body of Cordyceps militaris. The results showed that adenosine-rich cordyceps have angiotensin-converting enzyme (ACE) inhibitor characteristics.
According to a Lineweaver–Burk double reciprocal plot, the extract of C. militaris acted as a noncompetitive ACE inhibitor. The bioactive elements of the C. militaris extract may be nucleosides, such as adenosine and cordycepin…
ACE inhibitors prevent the development of angiotensin II, a hormone that causes blood vessels to constrict, leading to hypertension (elevated blood pressure).
Constricted blood vessels are bad, and adenosine helps widen them, enhancing blood flow and reducing blood pressure. Japanese researchers confirmed the vasodilatory properties of adenosine found in cordyceps. They propose adenosine “as a mediator for ischemic preconditioning of myocardium and for metabolic regulation of the coronary microcirculation in hearts from several species including humans.”
There’s another way cordyceps mushrooms benefit our blood pressure: by improving blood flow.
Can Cordyceps Improve Blood Circulation?
Nitric oxide (NO) is an essential molecule and a vasodilator. It helps blood vessels relax and expand. We’ve already seen that dilated blood vessels are important for lowering blood pressure, but they are equally important for circulation. Anecdotal evidence suggests that Cordyceps militaris might be effective in increasing the synthesis of nitric oxide.
However, there isn’t enough scientific evidence to explain the exact connection between cordyceps and nitric oxide. We do know cordyceps mushrooms are powerful antioxidants and anti-inflammatory agents that promote heart function. By lowering blood pressure and improving blood flow, cordyceps is one mighty heart-friendly fungus.
Cordyceps Against Arrhythmia
According to the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute, inflammation in the heart can cause an irregular heartbeat (arrhythmia). In contrast, a healthy heart beats in a consistent, coordinated rhythm governed by electrical signals. When these electrical signals are disrupted, the heart beats too quickly, too slowly, or irregularly. This leads to palpitations, dizziness, shortness of breath, and even fainting. In the most severe cases, an irregular heartbeat can cause heart failure.
Poor blood flow causes you to feel weak, tired, and short of breath. The lack of oxygen caused by poor circulation can damage the brain, heart, and other organs.
A 2017 clinical study found that a cordyceps supplement might be used to regulate arrhythmia in combination with regular medication.
This study confirmed that Cordyceps has a certain positive effect on the treatment of arrhythmia and that its main mechanism may be through the regulation of adrenergic signaling in cardiomyocytes and the PI3K-Akt signaling pathway.
The fact that cordyceps mushrooms are believed to help with arrhythmia should come as no surprise. By lowering inflammation, improving blood flow, and reducing the risk of hypertension, cordyceps may also be able to prevent arrhythmia.
Cordyceps Lowers Bad Cholesterol
We mentioned cholesterol before as one of the main culprits for arteriosclerosis, or arterial plaque. LDL cholesterol, often referred to as “bad” cholesterol, contributes greatly to heart disease. Cordyceps mushrooms have been shown to improve all aspects of heart health, including lowering bad cholesterol levels.
Research showed that Cordyceps mushroom supplements were able to reduce total lipid and LDL cholesterol levels in animal models. Rats with induced alcoholic hyperlipidemia (increased fat in the blood due to high amounts of alcohol) also showed improvement in liver and kidney metabolism after receiving cordyceps extract rich in cordycepin. The results suggest that, by getting rid of bad cholesterol, cordyceps improves the function and metabolism of the heart, liver, and kidneys.
Our results indicate that Cordyceps militaris might be useful in inhibiting the oxidation and hyperlipidemia in alcohol-induced hepatic disease possibly because of potential anti-oxidative and anti-hyperlipidemic activities of cordycepin. (Ahn, et. al.)
Everything You Need to Know About Taking Cordyceps
Before you add cordyceps mushrooms to your wellness routine, know that this functional mushroom isn't a cure-all remedy or a quick fix. You won’t feel the benefits overnight, but one packet of our mushroom tea per day should get you all the benefits you need.
If this is your first encounter with cordyceps mushrooms, here’s what you should know.
Side Effects of Cordyceps Mushrooms
Cordyceps is considered completely safe to use. However, if you’re allergic to yeast, mold, or fungi, you may have an allergic reaction to cordyceps, too.
A very small percentage of beginners experience mild side effects when taking cordyceps: upset stomach, diarrhea, and nausea. These are short-lived and typically go away on their own, but if they persist for several days, check in with your healthcare provider.
Consuming cordyceps in moderation, especially if it’s your first time, is the best way to reap its beneficial effects. Always start with a low amount (1–3 grams) and gradually increase the dosage as you feel comfortable.
Can I Take Cordyceps Every Day?
There is no reason why you shouldn’t take cordyceps every day. The longer you consume the mushrooms, the greater the impact they’ll have on your health.
If you plan to consume the mushrooms on a regular basis, it's best to stick to the recommended daily dose of cordyceps. Aim for 1–3 grams of cordyceps powder every day.
How Long Does Cordyceps Take to Start Working?
Cordyceps militaris is water-soluble (dissolved in water), so you’ll be able to reap the benefits right away. Your body will fully absorb the water-soluble compounds (like cordycepin) in cordyceps within 24–48 hours.
After about a week or two of regular ingestion, you should be able to experience an improvement in your overall health.
That’s a darn good reason to start with our 30-serving jar of cordyceps goodness TODAY.
What is the Best Time to Take Cordyceps?
Because of their energy-boosting properties, we suggest you consume cordyceps in the morning or early afternoon.
Why not whip up some early morning cordyceps matcha latte with our mushroom matcha tea packets for a boost in energy and focus? Stir the powder into hot water, add a splash of milk, and drink. Your heart, gut, liver, skin, brain, and the rest of you will thank you.
Cordyceps for the Heart FAQ
Is cordyceps a blood thinner?
Cordyceps might be considered a mild blood thinner of the antiplatelet type. Blood thinners are typically divided into two groups: antiplatelets and anticoagulants. They both prevent blood clots but have different mechanisms of action.
- Antiplatelets keep platelets (blood cells) from clumping together by blocking the activity of certain platelet enzymes. Aspirin and clopidogrel are antiplatelet medications.
- Anticoagulants prevent blood clots by inhibiting the body's blood clotting system. They either prevent the development of specific clotting factors in the liver, or directly inhibit the activity of clotting factors in the blood. Warfarin and heparin are anticoagulant medications.
According to research, cordyceps has some antiplatelet and antithrombotic properties; it helps prevent a thrombus in the arteries by making the blood less sticky. Because it was able to inhibit the function of thromboxane A2 and similar blood-clotting enzymes, it showed antiplatelet rather than anticoagulant properties.
Cordyceps could interact with blood thinners and drugs that suppress the immune system. If you’re on blood-thinning medication or have a bleeding disorder, consult with your healthcare professional before taking cordyceps.
Does cordyceps improve exercise performance?
One study showed how cordyceps increased energy levels and improved athletic performance. It appears that cordyceps improves tolerance to high intensity exercise by increasing the maximum oxygen consumption (VO2max) after one and three weeks of supplementation.
Indirectly, there may also be potential effects of cordyceps supplementation on high intensity performance. Enhanced oxygen utilization and blood flow, especially to the liver and non-exercising skeletal muscle, may enhance lactate clearance. This may allow athletes to maintain a higher intensity of exercise, while the reduction of oxidative stress from high intensity exercise may delay fatigue. (Hirsch, et. al.)
Does Cordyceps militaris increase testosterone?
Consuming cordyceps has been linked to increased testosterone levels in men.
Studies have shown that higher levels of testosterone can improve sexual function, erectile function, and sperm production. Higher testosterone also helps maintain normal bone density, muscle strength, and an overall sense of well-being.
Is cordyceps good for the lungs?
Cordyceps has long been used to support lung health. It is believed to improve oxygen uptake, reduce inflammation, and enhance the immunological response in the lungs.
Studies have shown that cordycepin—one of the main bioactive compounds in cordyceps—may help in the treatment of various allergic inflammatory reactions (AIR). A 2016 study revealed that cordycepin significantly reduced the synthesis of thymic stromal lymphopoietin (TSLP), a protein that enables AIR. The anti-inflammatory property of cordycepin also inhibits the synthesis of inflammatory cytokines. These findings suggest that cordyceps mushrooms have potential health benefits in promoting respiratory health by lowering allergic inflammatory reactions.
Cordyceps mushrooms might also help treat lung cancer. Other studies looked into the antitumor effects of cordyceps and found that it might inhibit the proliferation (cell growth) of lung cancer cells. According to research, aside from preventing cancer cells in the lungs from growing and spreading, cordyceps seems to have been able to induce cancer cell apoptosis (cell death).
Is cordyceps bad for sleep?
There is no evidence that cordyceps is bad for sleep. In fact, some research suggests that it may increase natural sleep in animal models. The study examined the effects of cordycepin on sleep architecture and EEG power spectra in rats. The findings suggested that cordycepin may help with sleep disturbances by increasing non-rapid eye movement (NREM) sleep.
Is cordyceps good for multiple sclerosis?
Cordyceps might be beneficial for people suffering from multiple sclerosis.
Multiple sclerosis is an auto-immune disease that damages the myelin sheath that surrounds nerve fibers in the central nervous system. It is characterized by neuroinflammation, which leads to neurodegeneration. According to research, cordyceps has been shown to reduce inflammation in the body and indirectly mitigate damage to the myelin sheath.
Is cordyceps a dietary supplement?
Cordyceps mushrooms are one of the most beneficial dietary supplements out there. Their rich chemical structure and unique combination of bioactive compounds make these functional mushrooms a popular choice for boosting energy, improving exercise performance, and fighting fatigue.
Cordyceps is rich in adenosine and cordycepin, two major naturally occurring chemicals with antitumor, anti-inflammatory, and antioxidant effects. The mushrooms are also high in amino acids and fatty acids, which are necessary for maintaining healthy brain function. Cordyceps may also be able to keep our mental health in check by improving brain health and increasing dopamine and serotonin, two important brain chemicals involved in mood regulation. As a dietary supplement packed with antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties, cordyceps may be used to improve gut health. There’s simply no end to the list of benefits of cordyceps mushrooms.
There’s no reason not to include cordyceps mushrooms in your daily wellness routine. Try our cordyceps matcha tea—packed with even more beneficial compounds—and restore your health in the most natural and delicious way.
Does cordyceps increase blood sugar?
There is no scientific proof that cordyceps mushrooms raise blood sugar levels. Quite the opposite: cordyceps is one heck of a fighter against diabetes and high blood sugar levels.
Diabetes can increase the levels of LDL cholesterol while decreasing the levels of HDL, or “good,” cholesterol. Cordyceps seems to counteract the effects of diabetes on blood lipids. One study showed the beneficial effects of cordyceps on rats suffering from hyperlipidemia (too many “bad” fats in their blood). An extract of cordyceps reduced the levels of LDL cholesterol, mainly by regulating blood sugar levels.
More studies demonstrated how cordyceps decreases sugar levels in the blood by helping your body use insulin more effectively. Insulin is a hormone that turns sugar into energy, and keeping its levels normal is extremely important for diabetics. Cordyceps also fights diabetes by helping your body absorb more sugar from food.
What are functional mushrooms good for?
People benefit from functional mushrooms in many ways. One of their most noteworthy health advantages is their ability to boost sex drive and sexual health in men and women. Cordyceps has been used in traditional Chinese medicine for hundreds of years as an aphrodisiac because it is believed to boost testosterone levels and improve men’s health.
Functional mushrooms are also linked to increased energy, improved immune function, brain health, and mental health. Here’s a list of the most popular fungi, aside from Cordyceps militaris:
- A peculiar fungus called turkey tail is rich in beta-glucans (a group of polysaccharides) that support the immune system. Turkey tail mushrooms are also powerful antioxidants that fight oxidative stress and inflammation.
- Reishi mushrooms have adaptogenic properties that help the body adapt to stressful situations. They can help regulate cortisol levels and produce feelings of peace and relaxation. Reishi mushrooms are also packed with antioxidants and anti-inflammatory compounds.
- Lion’s mane is one of the most popular functional shrooms in recent years. It probably owes its popularity to its nerve cell proliferative properties that promote brain health and cognitive function. Lion’s mane contains prebiotics, which ease the growth of good bacteria in the gut.
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