Cordyceps is a well-known herb in Traditional Chinese Medicine and has been used for a long time to cure a variety of illnesses. Cordyceps is a fungus that develops on the caterpillar Hepialus armoricanus Oberthuer’s larvae. Both are present in the product and are ingested. Cordyceps is used to treat a variety of ailments, including tiredness, sexual dysfunction, coughing, and as an immune stimulant or adaptogen. Antitumor, radioprotective, antiplatelet, and antidiabetic properties have been shown in vitro and in animals. Cordyceps also improves the recovery of animals with taxol-induced leukopenia and boosts cisplatin cytotoxicity in non-small cell lung cancer cells.
A few human studies have also been done. In renal transplant patients and diabetic patients with renal insufficiency who had coronary angiography, cordyceps products improved renal function and decreased nephropathy. Several studies, however, revealed inadequate evidence for its use as an adjuvant therapy in renal transplant recipients and hemodialysis patients. Exercise performance in healthy people has given varied findings in studies.
Cordyceps may exacerbate the side effects of diabetes medications and anticoagulant/antiplatelet medicines. Cordyceps caused progenitor red blood cells to proliferate in animal experiments. As a result, it should not be used by those who have malignancies of the myelogenous type. In mice, cordyceps also increased testosterone production. It is unknown whether it has similar effects on people.
Health benefits of cordyceps
1. Boost exercise performance
Cordyceps is considered to boost the body’s synthesis of the chemical adenosine triphosphate (ATP), which is necessary for muscular energy delivery. This may aid in the effective utilisation of oxygen by your body, particularly during physical exercise.
Researchers used a stationary bike to assess their effects on exercise capacity in 30 healthy older people in one trial. For six weeks, participants were given either 3 gram of a synthetic Cordyceps strain named CS-4 or a placebo tablet. Participants who took CS-4 experienced a 7% increase in VO2 max by the conclusion of the research, whereas those who took the placebo pill had no change.
The VO2 max is a measurement that is used to determine one’s level of fitness. For 12 weeks, 20 healthy older individuals were given either 1 gram of CS-4 or a placebo tablet in comparable research. While neither group’s VO2 max improved, those who were administered CS-4 improved on other measures of exercise performance. In another research, the effects of a Cordyceps-based mushroom blend on exercise performance in young people were investigated. In comparison to a placebo, subjects’ VO2 max rose by 11% after three weeks. Cordyceps, on the other hand, does not appear to be beneficial in enhancing exercise performance in trained athletes, according to current studies.
2. Anti-aging properties
Cordyceps has long been used by the elderly to relieve tiredness and increase strength. Their antioxidant concentration, according to researchers, may explain their anti-aging properties. Antioxidants are chemicals that protect cells from harm by neutralising free radicals, which may cause illness and ageing if left unchecked. Mice fed Cordyceps survived many months longer than mice given a placebo, according to one research. Cordyceps was shown to lengthen the lifespan of fruit flies in another research, adding to the evidence that it has anti-aging properties. Cordyceps, on the other hand, isn’t known to have the same anti-aging properties in people.
3. Manage type 2 diabetes
Cordyceps contains a kind of sugar that may aid in the treatment of diabetes. Diabetes is a condition in which the body fails to generate or respond to the hormone insulin, which is responsible for transporting the sugar glucose into cells for energy. When your body doesn’t generate enough insulin or doesn’t respond properly to it, glucose is unable to enter the cells and remains in the circulation. Too much glucose in the blood can lead to significant health concerns over time.
As a result, it’s critical for persons with diabetes to keep their blood sugar levels under control. Cordyceps, by imitating the action of insulin, may help keep blood sugar levels in a safe range. Cordyceps has been found to lower blood sugar levels in diabetic mice in many investigations. They may help protect against renal damage, a frequent consequence of diabetes, according to some research.
Cordyceps supplementation improved kidney function in a meta-analysis of 22 trials including 1,746 patients with chronic renal disease. These findings, however, are not definitive. According to the review’s authors, several of the research were of poor quality. As a result, no inferences concerning Cordyceps’ effects on renal function in individuals with chronic kidney disease could be drawn.
4. Possible benefits for heart health
The advantages of Cordyceps are becoming more evident as more study on the fungi’s influence on heart health emerges. Cordyceps is really licenced in China for the treatment of arrhythmia, a disease in which the heartbeat is abnormally slow, rapid, or irregular. Cordyceps dramatically decreased cardiac damage in rats with chronic renal failure, according to research. Chronic renal disease-related heart injuries are considered to raise the chance of heart failure, thus decreasing these injuries might help prevent this. These results were ascribed to Cordyceps’ adenosine concentration, according to the researchers. Adenosine is a naturally occurring chemical that helps to keep your heart healthy. Cordyceps has been demonstrated in animal studies to lower “bad” LDL cholesterol. LDL can increase your risk of heart disease by causing cholesterol to build up in your arteries. Cordyceps has also been found to lower triglyceride levels in rats. Triglycerides are a kind of fat that may be detected in the bloodstream. High cholesterol levels have been linked to a higher risk of heart disease. Unfortunately, there isn’t enough data to say whether Cordyceps can help people’s hearts.
5. Help fight inflammation
Cordyceps is thought to assist the body combat inflammation. Although some inflammation is beneficial, excessive inflammation can lead to illnesses such as heart disease and cancer. When human cells are exposed to Cordyceps, specific proteins that cause inflammation in the body are inhibited, according to research. Cordyceps has been found to decrease inflammation in the airways of mice, suggesting that it might be used as an asthma treatment. The fungi, on the other hand, appear to be less effective than frequently prescribed medicines for treating inflammatory regions of the body. Cordyceps might also be used topically. When administered topically to mice, it was shown to decrease skin inflammation, indicating its anti-inflammatory effects. Cordyceps’ putative anti-inflammatory effects have yet to be tested in people.
Cordyceps in cancer
In vitro, water-based Cordyceps extracts have been shown to suppress the development of a range of tumour cells, including lung, stomach, liver, and ovarian cancer cells. The process has been investigated, and it has been discovered that the extract predominantly inhibits the S-phase of the cell cycle. In vivo, gastric cancer, breast cancer, Lewis lung cancer, and laryngeal cancer development and metastasis were all suppressed. In mice, the extracts have been shown to prevent carcinogenesis of the anterior gastric epithelium. Cordyceps has more potent anti-tumor properties. A clinical case study also discovered that Cordyceps had a direct therapeutic effect on advanced cancer patients. Cordyceps, on the other hand, stimulates the formation of liver cancer in juvenile male mice, despite having an inhibitory impact on female mice, presumably due to its androgen-like actions.
Combination treatment with chemotherapy and radiotherapy
While radiation and chemotherapy can help many advanced cancer patients, their inhibitory effects on the bone marrow and immune system, as well as other harmful side effects, are concerning. Cordyceps clearly reduces the adverse effects of chemotherapy and radiation in the clinic, and can immediately alleviate vomiting, nausea, poor appetite, hair loss, sleeplessness, and other symptoms associated with radiotherapy and chemotherapy. The effect of the goods on the immune system is primarily responsible for this improvement. Cordyceps can help to restore immunological function and regenerate bone marrow, as well as increase the phagocytic activity of the mononuclear–macrophage system, platelet formation, and hematopoiesis. Cordyceps can promote the growth of T and B cells, as well as spleen and thymus cells. The volume of the white pulp of the spleen and the size of the spleen body rise in treated mice, boosting the organ’s DNA content and encouraging antibody production. As a result, Cordyceps can improve human immune function by increasing overall levels of immunological molecules and enhancing resistance to chemotherapy adverse effects, a conclusion worthy of clinical advancement.
Mechanism of Action
Cordyceps activates T helper cells, prolongs lymphocyte survival, boosts TNF-alpha and interleukin 1 production, and boosts natural killer cell activity, according to laboratory research. Enhanced progesterone synthesis in animal cells and increased proliferation of erythroid progenitor cells in mouse bone marrow have also been demonstrated. Cordyceps may suppress tumour celIs by downregulating MHC class II antigen expression, according to other studies. Although the mechanism of action is unknown, anecdotal evidence suggests that cyclosporin and aminoglycoside-induced kidney toxicity is reduced. Cordycepin, a component of cordyceps, reduces calcium ion and thromboxane A2 activity, which prevents collagen-induced platelet aggregation.
Cordyceps and pregnancy: There isn’t enough reliable information on the safety of taking cordyceps while pregnant or breastfeeding. Avoid using it if you want to be safe.
Cordyceps may cause the immune system to become more active in “auto-immune diseases” such as multiple sclerosis (MS), lupus (systemic lupus erythematosus, SLE), rheumatoid arthritis (RA), and other disorders. It’s conceivable that this will make symptoms of auto-immune diseases worse. Cordyceps should be avoided if you have one of these conditions.
Cordyceps may help with blood coagulation problems. Supplementing with cordyceps may increase the risk of bleeding in people who already have a bleeding disorder.
Cordyceps has been linked to an increased risk of bleeding following surgery. Two weeks before surgery, stop taking cordyceps.
Cordyceps is a well-known plant herb in Traditional Chinese Medicine and has been used for a long time to cure a variety of illnesses. Though the fungi have shown promise in a variety of fields, little study has been done on their impact in people. As a result, additional research is required before any suggestions can be made by specialists.
Cordyceps has been shown in animal and laboratory tests to enhance heart health and combat inflammation, cancer, diabetes, and ageing. Many of these researches, however, are of poor quality, and the findings cannot be applied to humans.
There is currently no agreement on the amount that individuals should take in order to gain the possible health advantages, or on how safe it is.