The consumption of mushrooms as a form of medicine dates all the way back to 5000 BC, and no other fungi were utilized as much and as confidently in antiquity as the cordyceps. Once believed to offer immortality to its consumers, cordyceps was used in regions of Asia to treat almost any physical ailment that a person was presented with. Are cordyceps used as medicine because of the true health benefits the fungi provide or are the hype surrounding the cordyceps purely mythical? The science available today reveals that our ancient ancestors may have been wrong about cordyceps offering immortality, but they were correct in viewing the cordyceps as a golden standard for natural medicine. Let’s examine the science of the cordyceps to see exactly what it can do for you.
What is Cordyceps Mushroom?
Cordyceps is often referred to as the cordyceps mushroom, but interestingly, the cordyceps is not a mushroom at all. Although closely related to a mushroom, the cordyceps belong to the family of fungi calledAscomycota, also known as sac fungi. Cordyceps are unique because they are parasitic and use insects as a host in order to grow. Once the host is consumed by the mycelium of the fungi, the consumable fruits begin to grow and eventually release spores into the wind that can find a new host. These fruits are generally thin at the body and then widen out at the top to form a head where the spores grow. With over 400 species around the world, cordyceps can be found all over, but they are mainly found in humid areas between April and August.
Health Benefits of Cordyceps
Cordyceps can offer consumers a laundry list of health benefits backed by science. Some, but not all, of these benefits include:
Cordyceps’ ability to improve our physical health is due to its polysaccharides that have been shown to reduce mitochondrial injury in the cells and increase the number of antioxidants in the body. A result of this is increased blood flow which helps with physical performance, sexual function, and overall better health. Additionally, the increased antioxidants help protect against heart disease, inflammation, and other diseases that are caused by free radicals.
Incorporating Cordyceps into your Diet
There are a number of ways to start incorporating cordyceps into your diet. You can do a deep dive and forage your own mushrooms from your local woodlands. If you go this route make sure you do this safely and sustainably. Thisbook is a great resource for mushroom identification, especially if you’re on the west coast U.S. If you want to find cordyceps without foraging for them yourself, however, your best bet is scouring through some Asian markets. Although not typically thought of as a culinary ingredient, cordyceps can be used effectively in cooking to provide an earthy edge to any meal. However, the traditional way to consume cordyceps is by brewing them into tea. Additionally, you can find cordyceps powder or extract at health stores or online to give you a health boost. However, we believe that the tastiest and most convenient ways to enjoy the health benefits of cordyceps are through a high-quality product, like ours, that has cordyceps extract mixed in with other healthy and all-natural ingredients.