Cordyceps Mushrooms: The Secret to Vitality? - HONE
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Cordyceps Mushrooms: The Secret to Vitality?

Cordyceps militaris is one of the most exciting fungi in the medicinal mushroom world.

With its rich history of traditional use in Chinese medicine and many potential health benefits, cordyceps has captured the attention of scientists and health enthusiasts alike.

Article Jumplinks:

What makes cordyceps beneficial?

What is cordyceps good for?

What are the side effects of cordyceps?

Where is the best cordyceps grown?

What is the best way to take cordyceps?

From boosting athletic performance to supporting immune function and reducing inflammation, the potential health benefits of cordyceps mushrooms are impressive, to say the least.

We explore what makes cordyceps so amazing and delve into the research behind its health benefits.

What Are Cordyceps Mushrooms?

Cordyceps mushrooms are one of the most popular adaptogens. They have been used in traditional Chinese medicine for centuries and are still a popular choice among adaptogens due to their many science-backed benefits.

Where Do Cordyceps Mushrooms Come From?

Wild cordyceps mushrooms were accidentally discovered around 600 A.D. in the Himalayan plateaus.

A group of high-altitude shepherds witnessed their yaks transform from lazy loafs to youthful, energetic creatures after grazing on these strange orange spirals poking through the grass. Wanting to see what all the hype was about, the shepherds harvested some for themselves. After eating a few they felt young, fertile, and strong.

Cordyceps has a long history of use in China and Tibet, but has also been used by indigenous people around the world.

Cordyceps militaris

What Are the Most Popular Types of Cordyceps?

Cordyceps is not just one type of mushroom, contrary to popular perception. It's actually a fungus genus with over 600 species.

For health benefits, clinical trials, and supplementation, the two most popular cordyceps varieties are Cordyceps militaris and Cordyceps sinensis (also called the caterpillar fungus and Ophiocordyceps sinensis).

Other Cordyceps species with possible medical benefits include Cordyceps cicadae, Cordyceps bassiana, and Cordyceps heteropoda. They do not have the extensive studies that Cordyceps sinensis and Cordyceps militaris have. Nonetheless, each of these is a valuable research topic in its own right.

What Makes Cordyceps Good for You?

Cordyceps contains powerful healing molecules such as beta-glucans and cordycepin—a molecular structure known to support brain health. 

Cordyceps militaris has been used consistently in ancient medicinal practices for the high levels of beta-glucans in the fungi’s cell walls, and the abundance of cordycepin.

In modern medical practices, cordyceps mushrooms are commonly taken orally (in conjunction with traditional treatments) for high cholesterol, diabetes, cancer, HIV/AIDS, high blood pressure, cancer, male and female infertility, and to improve mood and cognitive function. 

Beta-Glucan: the Superhero Polysaccharide

Beta-glucans are naturally occurring polysaccharides found in the cell walls of oats, barley, and baker’s yeast, and in the mushroom fruit bodies of cordyceps and other fungi.

They play an important role in boosting the immune system. Activating the complement system, a part of the immune system that makes macrophages and natural killer cells work better, boosts the host's immune system. This system protects the body against illness.

Numerous scientific studies have shown that fungal beta-glucans activate immune cells by binding directly to cellular receptors, turning the cells on, and triggering a chain reaction that leads to increased immune activity. This enhances the cells’ ability to destroy infections and cancer cells.

Beta-glucans also display direct anti-carcinogenic activity. They can halt the occurrence of oncogenesis (healthy cells transforming into cancer cells) through their protective effects against genotoxic carcinogens.

Outside of its impressive immune boost, beta-glucans have been shown to improve athletic stamina. They do so through regulating energy metabolism and reducing exercise-induced oxidative stress. This means you can run, swim, bike, climb, and ski longer! Who doesn’t want that?

Beta-glucans are all-around amazing. They keep you feeling supernatural while staying super natural.

Cordycepin—Your New Health Ally

Then there is cordycepin, a natural compound for your brain’s health. It is similar to the cellular nucleoside adenosine and acts like a nucleoside analogue. This inhibits Reactive Oxygen Species's (ROS), making it a potential future help for brain disorders such as Alzheimer's disease.

Plus, it modulates the A2AR density in the hippocampus. A lot of science words there, but all you need to know is that studies are showing that cordycepin improves memory!

Even more exciting, is the research showing cordycepin's ability to disrupt RNA transcription, slowing, and even stopping the excessive replication of cells. This means cordyceps have compounds in them that slow the spread of cancer and can positively affect tumor growth in some cases.

It's hard to pick one, or even a couple, of the benefits from cordyceps to highlight for our readers. Our apologies if this is a long-winded marathon of a "blurb" but, hopefully, our passion for our business and our mission is evident.

Cordyceps Mushrooms Benefits

Since its chance discovery, healers in eastern and traditional Chinese medicine have been using cordyceps to treat a long list of diseases and health concerns. The benefits of cordyceps mushrooms include:

  • increasing athletic performance (enhanced stamina, energy and endurance)
  • improving cognitive function
  • maintaining gut health
  • reducing inflammation
  • increasing sexual performance
  • preventing asthma and organ diseases
  • protecting liver, kidney and lungs
  • preventing and treating cancer
  • protecting against free radicals
  • reducing anxiety

We opted to start with Cordyceps militaris because we found its benefits profound and felt the need to share this wonderous fungus with our family, friends, and community. To top it off, we found it had immediate and noticeable effects.

Cordyceps Benefits for Athletic Stamina

The driving force behind our love for Cordyceps militaris is that it has been proven to increase adenosine triphosphate (ATP) production in the body. ATP is essentially the internal cellular energy grid. By increasing ATP production, more power goes into the grid (the body), and our cells begin to function at higher levels, making the entirety of our body run more efficiently.

Increased energetic efficiency improves athletic performance. Several clinical studies on cordyceps and athletic performance evaluated stamina levels in athletes by measuring oxygen consumption and lactic acid. Evidence based research shows that cordyceps aids in getting more oxygen into the cells and improves the lactate threshold.

The lactate threshold is the highest level of effort or intensity that an athlete can keep up for a long time without their blood lactate level going up. This is a good way to measure an athlete's endurance level. 

Cordyceps Militaris and Exercise Performance

In a 2018 study, researchers investigated the impact of Cordyceps militaris on high-intensity exercise. They measured maximal oxygen consumption (VO2 max), ventilatory thresholds (VT), and time to exhaustion (TTE) in people before and after cordyceps supplementation.

Following three weeks of consuming the fungus, participants were able to exercise for longer and showed significant improvements in VO2 max, VT, and TTE than those given a placebo. Because the investigation only lasted three weeks, it’s safe to assume persistent use may result in even greater long-term advantages.

Cordyceps Sinensis and Exercise Performance

The effect of Cordyceps sinensis on exercise performance was examined in a recent study. Researchers used a cordyceps (CS-4) extract on healthy, older subjects.

After 12 weeks, ventilatory and metabolic thresholds of the participants that were given CS-4 increased by 8.5%, and they experienced less muscle soreness. These metrics did not change in participants that were given a placebo. 

Cordyceps health benefits

Anti-Inflammatory Benefits of Cordyceps

Many mushrooms have anti-inflammatory properties. Cordyceps militaris seems to be very good at fighting both short-term and long-term inflammation. Even though most of the research on how the cordyceps mushroom affects inflammation has been done on mice, the results are promising.

According to scientific research, cordyceps mycelia and fruit bodies are abundant in antioxidants. The mycelia of Cordyceps can stabilize free radicals in the body, and both the mycelia and the fruit bodies can reduce inflammation.

2010 study also found that the extract of Cordyceps militaris mushrooms stimulates cytokine production. Cytokines serve to fight disease by regulating inflammatory reactions in the body. Thus, by promoting cytokine production, Cordyceps militaris may aid in inflammation reduction.

Cordyceps Benefits for Cancer

Cordyceps mushrooms are among the best mushrooms for cancer you can consume. These mushrooms appear to prevent the formation of cancer cells, fight cancer, and aid in the relief of side effects associated with chemotherapy.

Cordyceps for Cancer Prevention and Treatment

Cordyceps militaris appears to inhibit the growth of several types of cancers, with the research on its effects on leukemia and melanoma being particularly impressive. In one study, an aqueous extract of Cordyceps militaris was demonstrated to prevent leukemia growth by causing apoptosis (cell death) of cancerous cells.

Another Chinese study found that a cordyceps mycelium extract inhibited the growth of four types of cancer, including B16 melanoma. Cordyceps "fungal mycelium exhibits strong anti-tumor activity and is a potential source of natural antitumor compounds," according to the study.

Cordyceps for Chemotherapy

In addition to anti-tumor properties, the cordyceps mushroom appears to relieve some of the negative effects of cancer treatment. In a 2009 study, mice were administered a hot-water extract of Cordyceps sinensis after being treated with Taxol (a cytotoxic chemotherapy medication).

Taxol induces leukopenia, a decrease in white blood cells. Because white blood cells battle infection, this makes the body more vulnerable to infections. Cordyceps reversed leukopenia in mice by protecting hematopoietic progenitor cells and the bone marrow stems..

Anti-Diabetic Properties of Cordyceps

Various types of adaptogenic mushrooms are incredibly healthy for people with diabetes, including cordyceps. Adaptogenic mushrooms appear to lower blood sugar levels, making them beneficial for preventing type 2 diabetes and aiding in the treatment of all forms of diabetes.

The anti-diabetic properties of Cordyceps militaris were examined in an animal study. This study, done on mice with type 2 diabetes, shows that cordyceps mushrooms aids in blood sugar management by increasing insulin sensitivity.

Cordyceps Benefits for Heart Health

The majority of studies on cordyceps benefits for heart health have been conducted on mice, thus further research on its benefits for people is needed. Nevertheless, animal studies have demonstrated that cordyceps can have a positive influence on cholesterol levels.

High cholesterol is a major risk factor for heart disease. Cordycepin's effects on bad cholesterol were investigated in a 2011 study. In the study, Cordyceps militaris was given to hamsters and rats that had been eating a lot of fat. After 14 days, LDL cholesterol levels were significantly reduced in comparison to control animals that were fed the same food.

Cordyceps Benefits for Kidney Health

Cordyceps is good for your kidney health in many ways, but its effects on chronic kidney disease and kidney transplants stand out.

Cordyceps and Chronic Kidney Disease

recent study looked at the impact of Cordyceps militaris on the symptoms of chronic kidney disease (CKD). Cordycepin, an active component found in cordyceps mushrooms, lowered TLR4 and NF-B levels, protecting against CKD development.

According to the findings of this study, "Cordyceps militaris may show good promise in protecting against chronic kidney disease (CKD), although the molecular mechanism remains unknown."

Cordyceps and Kidney Transplants

metastudy published in 2014 looked at 22 clinical trials done on people with CKD who were waiting on a kidney transplant. The trials demonstrated promising results, particularly for people taking cordyceps while on medication, as proteinuria and creatinuria—the presence of proteins and creatine in urine—were reduced as a result of the mushroom.

Anti-Aging Benefits of Cordyceps

Cordyceps' biological activities appear to have anti-aging properties. This is not surprising given that cordyceps contains anti-inflammatory and performance-enhancing characteristics.

A Chinese study on mice discovered that cordyceps boosted red blood cell function, as well as learning and memory in elderly rats. According to the study, cordyceps has "good anti-aging effects," which are "probably related to the effects of improving antioxidation and eliminating free radicals." Who wouldn’t want this amazing cordyceps mushroom benefit?

Cordyceps has Anti-Aging Properties

Cordyceps Benefits for Sexual Health

In general, reducing inflammation and improving overall health will improve sexual health and performance. Since cordyceps tends to improve physical performance and reduce inflammation, one might also expect it to help with sexual performance. Some studies suggest that cordyceps mushrooms may boost testosterone levels and even treat male infertility.

Cordyceps Testosterone Benefits

In an animal study, Cordyceps sinensis has been demonstrated to increase testosterone production in mice.

One of the most important active parts of cordyceps, called cordycepin, turns on MA-10 mouse Leydig cells. The Leydig cells are in charge of producing testosterone. By stimulating these cells, cordyceps increased steroidogenesis and testosterone synthesis.

Cordyceps militaris was also shown to increase testosterone levels in animals. The effects of Cordyceps militaris on sperm production and mobility in Sprague-Dawley rats were explored in a 2008 Chinese study. For six weeks, the animals were given a cordyceps mycelium supplement.

When compared to rats not given the supplement, those given Cordyceps militaris had considerably higher epididymal sperm counts. These findings suggest that Cordyceps militaris supplementation enhances sperm quantity and quality, at least in animals.

Cordyceps Benefits for Male Infertility

2021 study examined the effects of Cordyceps sinensis combined with Jujing pills on male infertility. This combination was shown to be effective in improving sperm quality and reducing the sperm DNA fragmentation index (DFI), making it a beneficial agent in fighting infertility in men.

Another study, published in 2022, looked at the effects of cordycepin on testicular damage associated with aging. This animal study concluded that Cordyceps militaris significantly lessened age-related testicular inflammation and could be beneficial in treating male sexual dysfunctions related to inflammation and aging.

Cordyceps Benefits for Female Infertility

Unfortunately, there are no studies on the effects of cordyceps on female infertility. Given their positive effects on fertility in men and their benefits for overall health and wellbeing, cordyceps mushrooms may aid in the treatment of infertility in women, warranting research on this topic.

Cordyceps Mushroom Side Effects

Cordyceps mushrooms are completely safe to eat, according to research and thousands of years of use. However, if you're sensitive to yeast, mold, or other fungi, you may be allergic to cordyceps as well, so be cautious when taking it for the first time.

Although this fungus is healthy for humans, little is known about its safety for pets. Therefore, it’s best to put your cordyceps mushroom products in a secure location where your dog or cat cannot get to them.

Can I Take Cordyceps Every Day?

Yes, you can absolutely take cordyceps every day. The long-term beneficial effects of cordyceps mushrooms become more pronounced the longer you use them. Still, stick with the recommended daily dosage of cordyceps (1-3 grams of cordyceps powder), especially if you are taking it every day.

Can I Take Cordyceps with Medication?

Cordyceps is generally safe for most people, but it may interact with some medication. Therefore, if you are taking medication, make sure to consult with your healthcare provider before taking this mushroom.

Medication that prevents blood clotting interacts with cordyceps, increasing the risk of bleeding. As a result, if you are on blood thinners or have blood clotting issues, you should be careful when taking cordyceps. Also, if you are having surgery soon, avoid using cordyceps supplements.

How to Take Cordyceps Mushrooms

Incorporating cordyceps into your dietary supplements routine is easier than ever thanks to the availability of cordyceps mushroom supplements. There are many convenient ways to get cordyceps into your system, including mushroom extract, powder, capsules, tinctures, or even making tea with real mushrooms.

Cordyceps Extract

Mushroom extract is a popular choice for many people looking for an easy way to add cordyceps to their diet. The extract is made by using a solvent to remove the active compounds from the mushroom, resulting in a potent supplement that can be added to food and drinks.

Cordyceps Powder

Cordyceps powder is one of the most common types of cordyceps mushroom supplements, made by machine drying and crushing the mushroom fruit bodies until they turn into powder.

When taking cordyceps mushroom powders, it's important to follow the dosing instructions provided by the manufacturer. The effectiveness and dosing of a cordyceps powder can vary from brand to brand.

Cordyceps mushroom capsules are also a popular option, containing mushroom powder in capsule form. An average amount of mushroom powder per capsule is around 400 mg.

Cordyceps Tinctures

For those who prefer liquid supplements, cordyceps tinctures are a popular choice. However, since tinctures are mostly made of alcoholic extract, they have a shorter shelf life.

Water-soluble polysaccharides, which have immune-boosting and anti-tumor properties, start breaking down after a couple of months. If you want to prolong the shelf life of your tincture, keep it in a cool, dark place.

Cordyceps Tea

One of the easiest and oldest ways to use mushrooms as herbal medicine is to drink cordyceps tea. Our cordyceps tea also has matcha for an even greater health boost. Matcha is known for its energizing properties and the benefits it can have on mental and physical health.

Where Are the Best Cordyceps Grown?

We strive to source the highest quality cordyceps possible. Searching far and wide, we found a supplier in China. At first, we were hesitant to source from China, but quickly realized that the country has invested the most resources into the science, cultivation, and processing of this medicinal mushroom. 

Why Do We Source Cordyceps from China?

Cordyceps has been used in traditional Chinese medicine since 600 AD, making China the best place to find high-quality Cordyceps militaris. More specifically, we source from the best part of China for premium cordyceps, a farm in Lishui, Zhejiang province.

Lishui is rated as one of the top eco-friendly cities in the country. The farm is organic and kosher-certified according to EU and US law, with a patent on their unique harvesting process. Through their proprietary process, their product achieves optimal nutritional content and bioavailability with no harmful toxins.

These cordyceps have been third-party tested and shown to have a high concentration of beta-glucans and cordycepins, with no fillers, chemicals, or heavy metals. This humble farm truly does produce some of the highest quality cordyceps in the world.

Can You Grow Cordyceps Mushrooms at Home?

Growing cordyceps mushrooms at home is nearly impossible due to their parasitic nature. These mushrooms live as parasites on insects (typically moth larvae) and artificially achieving that environment is difficult. Luckily, cordyceps supplements, such as our mushroom matcha blend, are incredibly popular and thus easy to find.

Ready for a Health Boost? Try Cordyceps and Transform Your Life!

Are you interested in taking cordyceps mushrooms? Try our 10-packet mushroom matcha box, a delicious and nutritious powder supplement. In addition to cordyceps and matcha, our supplement also contains L-theanine, an incredibly beneficial amino acid.

This powerful blend of antioxidants, amino acids, and other beneficial compounds can help improve muscle strength, reduce inflammation, and boost energy levels. Simply mix it with water and enjoy the benefits. Give it a try and see your life improve!

Hone Compostable Mushroom Matcha Packets

FAQ on Cordyceps Mushrooms

How do cordyceps make you feel?

Cordyceps mushrooms will increase your energy levels, which may lead to you feeling a similar boost in energy as if you were taking caffeine (but without the caffeine jitters). This mushroom’s anti-inflammatory properties may also aid in relieving pain associated with inflammatory processes in the body.

Does cordyceps raise testosterone?

Yes, Cordyceps militaris and Cordyceps sinensis were shown to raise testosterone levels in animals. Though more human research is needed to determine how this benefit affects human testosterone levels, it’s safe to say that this fungus can be beneficial for testosterone production.

Does cordyceps help you sleep?

Long-term cordyceps use can improve sleep. However, even if you are taking this mushroom for sleep, don’t take it right before sleep. Taking this mushroom in the morning or early afternoon will ensure you get its energizing properties throughout the day and its sleep benefits at night.

Can cordyceps increase anxiety?

Cordyceps does not appear to increase anxiety. Though this functional mushroom does have energizing properties, it does not make you jittery and anxious like caffeine would. Cordyceps may even alleviate anxiety related to caffeine consumption, as this fungus is antagonistic to caffeine.

Does cordyceps lower testosterone?

No, cordyceps does not lower testosterone. On the contrary, cordyceps extract was proven to increase testosterone levels in animals.

When should I take cordyceps mushrooms?

It’s best to take cordyceps mushrooms in the morning or early afternoon. These edible fungi may increase your energy and focus, so taking them before tasks that require focus or endurance—such as work, studying, or working out—can be particularly beneficial.

Do cordyceps raise estrogen?

The effects of cordyceps on estrogen have not been researched enough to establish whether this mushroom can increase estrogen levels. But, at least in animals, cordyceps appears to prevent estrogen insufficiency.

An animal study published in 2014 looked at the impact of cordyceps on estrogen levels in ovariectomized rats. Cordyceps was found to prevent a variety of symptoms associated with estrogen insufficiency, including osteoporosis.

Should I take cordyceps before bed?

We don’t suggest taking cordyceps before bed. Due to its amazing, energizing properties, cordyceps may make you feel restless if you take it before going to sleep. Instead, take it in the morning and reap its energizing benefits throughout the day. 

Why do people take cordyceps?

People take cordyceps to treat anything from inflammation to cancer and diabetes, as well as maintain overall health and wellbeing. Some of the most popular reasons people choose cordyceps are increased focus and productivity, as well as an athletic performance boost.

How much do cordyceps mushrooms cost?

Compared to other medicinal mushrooms, cordyceps can be on the pricier side. The most expensive species of cordyceps, Cordyceps sinensis, costs around $10,000 per pound! If you’re looking for a type of cordyceps you won’t spend a fortune on, Cordyceps militaris comes at a fraction of the price and provides an abundance of benefits. Our cordyceps matcha jar contains 30 servings of Cordyceps militaris and you can get it for only $49.99. 

Can Covid-19 vaccines interact with cordyceps mushrooms?

There is no evidence that a cordyceps supplement—or any other adaptogenic or herbal medicine supplement—interferes with the Covid-19 vaccine or vice versa. Nonetheless, if you want to be safe, inform your doctor that you are taking cordyceps.

Can I take cordyceps with other medicinal mushrooms?

Yes, you can consume cordyceps mushrooms with other medicinal mushrooms. Taking cordyceps with adaptogens such as the lion’s mane mushroom, reishi mushroom, and turkey tail will make the beneficial properties of each mushroom more apparent due to the cumulative effect adaptogens can have.

Can I eat cordyceps mushrooms raw?

You should not eat cordyceps mushrooms raw, as they are difficult to digest and could cause an upset stomach. The best way to eat cordyceps is to prepare a soup or a stew using organic mushrooms, though you will only get the water-soluble compounds found in this mushroom by consuming them this way.


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Hone Disclaimer

The information given in this article is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease. Statements contained herein have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA).