- Cordyceps is a genus of parasitic fungi that have been traditionally used in Chinese and Tibetan medicine for centuries. The most well-known species is Cordyceps sinensis (now renamed Ophiocordyceps sinensis). This fungus grows on insect larvae, and when consumed, it's believed to have various health benefits.
- In a study, cordyceps increased VO2 max (a measure of fitness) by about 7%.
- Physical Performance Enhancement: Cordyceps might boost exercise performance. One study involving older adults found that those who took cordyceps experienced a 7% increase in the amount of oxygen they could take in during exercise compared to a placebo group.
- Anti-Fatigue Properties: Cordyceps might help combat feelings of fatigue. In a study, mice given cordyceps had 12% longer swimming times before reaching exhaustion compared to a control group.
- Antioxidant Potential: Cordyceps has been shown to have antioxidant effects in certain experimental settings. In vitro studies have shown a reduction of up to 75% in oxidative stress markers when treated with cordyceps extract.
- Anti-Tumor Effects: Cordyceps extracts have been shown to inhibit the growth of certain types of cancer cells. In some in-vitro experiments, tumor cell proliferation was reduced by up to 92% with cordyceps extract.
- Sexual Function and Fertility: Animal studies suggest that cordyceps might improve reproductive activity. In one such study, both male and female mice showed a 20-30% increase in reproductive activity after consuming cordyceps.
- Blood Sugar Regulation: Cordyceps might have potential benefits for blood sugar control. In diabetic mouse models, cordyceps extract led to a 25% reduction in blood sugar levels compared to a control group.
- Heart Health: Some animal research has shown that cordyceps might have beneficial effects on heart health. In one study on rats, cordyceps reduced total cholesterol by 21% and LDL cholesterol by 30%.
- Anti-Inflammatory Effects: Cordyceps might help reduce inflammation. In certain in-vitro and animal studies, cordyceps extracts have led to a significant reduction in key inflammatory markers by up to 32%.
- Immune System Support: Cordyceps may play a role in modulating the immune system. Research has demonstrated a 10-38% increase in the activity of natural killer cells, which are vital components of the immune system, after cordyceps supplementation.
Could Cordyceps Be the Key to a Healthier, Younger-Looking You?
Cordyceps is a fascinating fungus that has been used in traditional Chinese medicine for centuries. It is a parasitic fungus that grows in the larvae of insects, primarily caterpillars, and has long been believed to have a variety of health benefits. In recent years, the scientific community has taken an interest in cordyceps, and there has been a growing body of research examining its potential health benefits, including its role in anti-aging.
One of the most well-known benefits of cordyceps is its ability to boost the immune system. Studies have shown that cordyceps can stimulate the production of natural killer cells, which are a type of white blood cell that play a crucial role in the body's defence against infections and cancer.1,2 In addition, cordyceps has been found to increase the production of cytokines, which are proteins that help regulate the immune response.1
Another potential benefit of cordyceps is its ability to fight cancer cells. Studies have found that cordyceps has anti-tumor effects and can inhibit the growth of cancer cells in vitro, though further research is needed to fully understand its potential as a cancer treatment. 3,4
Cordyceps may also have anti-aging properties. One study investigated anti-aging effects of Cordyceps sinensis extract (CSE) on mice and rats. Specific tests were used to see if CSE improved learning and memory in mice that had been aged by d-galactose. It was found that CSE helped the mice learn better and made them remember things for longer. They also tested CSE on castrated rats to see if it improved their sexual function. CSE helped the rats get erections and have sex more quickly. The scientists also looked at how CSE affected the activity of certain enzymes in the mice. They found that CSE helped to protect the mice from damage caused by free radicals, which can damage cells and contribute to aging. Overall, the study showed that CSE could have anti-aging effects by improving brain function, protecting against cell damage, and promoting sexual function in rats.5
Additionally, cordyceps has been found to have neuroprotective properties. Several studies found that cordyceps can protect against brain damage caused by stroke, with the findings suggesting that cordyceps may be effective at protecting and preserving brain function as we age. 6,7
Cordyceps has also been found to have anti-inflammatory properties, which may further contribute to its anti-aging effects.8 Inflammation is a common factor in many age-related diseases, including heart disease and arthritis, and reducing inflammation may help prevent or delay the onset of these conditions.
Other potential benefits of cordyceps include improved athletic performance and increased energy levels.9,10 Studies have found that cordyceps can improve oxygen uptake and utilization, which may be why it is often used by athletes to improve endurance and performance. Additionally, cordyceps has been found to increase ATP production, which is the body's primary source of energy.10
Overall, cordyceps is an interesting fungus with a variety of potential health benefits. While further research is needed to fully understand its potential, it is clear that cordyceps has the potential to play an important role in anti-aging and overall health.
- Kim HJ, Lee TH, Kwon YS, Son MW, Kim CK. Immunomodulatory activities of ethanol extract of Cordyceps militaris in immunocompromised mice. Journal of the Korean Society of Food Science and Nutrition. 2012;41(4):494-500.
- Liu C, Lu S, Ji MR. Effects of Cordyceps sinensis (CS) on in vitro natural killer cells. Zhongguo Zhong xi yi jie he za zhi Zhongguo Zhongxiyi Jiehe Zazhi= Chinese Journal of Integrated Traditional and Western Medicine. 1992 May 1;12(5):267-9.
- Rao YK, Fang SH, Wu WS, Tzeng YM. Constituents isolated from Cordyceps militaris suppress enhanced inflammatory mediator's production and human cancer cell proliferation. Journal of Ethnopharmacology. 2010 Sep 15;131(2):363-7.
- Lee HH, Lee S, Lee K, Shin YS, Kang H, Cho H. Anti-cancer effect of Cordyceps militaris in human colorectal carcinoma RKO cells via cell cycle arrest and mitochondrial apoptosis. DARU Journal of Pharmaceutical Sciences. 2015 Dec;23:1-8.
- Ji DB, Ye J, Li CL, Wang YH, Zhao J, Cai SQ. Antiaging effect of Cordyceps sinensis extract. Phytotherapy Research: An International Journal Devoted to Pharmacological and Toxicological Evaluation of Natural Product Derivatives. 2009 Jan;23(1):116-22.
- Hwang S, Cho GS, Ryu S, Kim HJ, Song HY, Yune TY, Ju C, Kim WK. Post-ischemic treatment of WIB801C, standardized Cordyceps extract, reduces cerebral ischemic injury via inhibition of inflammatory cell migration. Journal of ethnopharmacology. 2016 Jun 20;186:169-80.
- Bai X, Tan TY, Li YX, Li Y, Chen YF, Ma R, Wang SY, Li Q, Liu ZQ. The protective effect of cordyceps sinensis extract on cerebral ischemic injury via modulating the mitochondrial respiratory chain and inhibiting the mitochondrial apoptotic pathway. Biomedicine & Pharmacotherapy. 2020 Apr 1;124:109834.
- Phull AR, Ahmed M, Park HJ. Cordyceps militaris as a bio functional food source: pharmacological potential, anti-inflammatory actions and related molecular mechanisms. Microorganisms. 2022 Feb 10;10(2):405.
- Chen S, Li Z, Krochmal R, Abrazado M, Kim W, Cooper CB. Effect of Cs-4®(Cordyceps sinensis) on exercise performance in healthy older subjects: a double-blind, placebo-controlled trial. The Journal of alternative and complementary medicine. 2010 May 1;16(5):585-90.
- Choi E, Oh J, Sung GH. Beneficial effect of Cordyceps militaris on exercise performance via promoting cellular energy production. Mycobiology. 2020 Nov 1;48(6):512-7.