Said to offer antioxidant and anti-inflammatory benefits, cordyceps has been long used in traditional Chinese medicine. It is often favoured as a natural energy booster in alternative medicine and also claimed to protect against health problems such as asthma, diabetes, high cholesterol and upper respiratory tract infections.
May improve athletic performance
Cordyceps are considered to increase the body’s production of the molecule adenosine triphosphate, which is essential for delivering energy to the muscles – this may improve the way the body uses oxygen, particularly during exercise. Research shows that during exercise the maximum oxygen intake (VO2 max) increased by 7% in participants that received 3 grams of a strain of cordyceps a day for six weeks compared to those on a placebo pill.
Cordyceps is full of antioxidants, and researchers believe this could be the reason for their anti-ageing potential. These antioxidants fight cell damage by neutralising free radicals, which would otherwise contribute to disease and anti-ageing.
The elderly have traditionally used cordyceps to reduce fatigue and boost strength. Studies have shown that this is the case in mice, increasing antioxidants which help to improve memory.
Could help to manage type 2 diabetes
These mushrooms have been long used as a traditional treatment for diabetes in China, as they contain a special type of sugar that could mimic the action of insulin. There have been several studies in diabetic mice that have shown cordyceps to decrease blood sugar levels.
Legend has it that local herders in the Himalayas of Tibet and Nepal first discovered the effects of cordyceps when their yak, goat and sheep became very strong and stout whilst grazing in the forest. From then on, local people and herders used the fungus powder to increase milk production, and improve reproductive capacity and vitality of their cattle and then later for medicinal purposes in humans.
The appropriate dose of cordyceps depends on several factors such as the user’s age, health, and several other conditions.