Humans have been consuming mushrooms for centuries, especially in Asian and Slavic cultures. And although relatively new to the west, they’re certainly becoming popular and FAST! And there’s no surprise why when you look a little deeper and find out the amazing properties these functional mushrooms provide.
The term ‘functional mushroom’ is used when referring to mushroom varieties that have a health benefit beyond simply providing nutrition.
This includes cordyceps, chaga, reishi, lion’s mane, and maitake to name a few.
All of them are highly nutritious, vitamin-rich shrooms, but with that something extra.
Read on to learn more about Cordyceps health benefits…
What are Cordyceps Mushrooms?
Cordyceps is a type of medicinal/functional mushroom and has long been used in traditional Chinese medicine and is valued mainly for its amazing ability to increase energy and reduce fatigue. It is considered a life-enhancing herb in the Taoist herbal tradition, where it promotes the cultivation of ‘jing’, aka life force.
5 Benefits of Cordyceps Mushroom
No. 1 – Increased Energy and Fatigue Reduction
One of Cordyceps most notable benefits is its effect on energy. This is thanks to the presence of beta-glucans which help deliver oxygen to the body on a cellular level.
Cordyceps are used to increase blood oxygenation in traditional Chinese medicine, and with an increase of oxygen uptake, comes an increase in energy and great assistance in athletic performance.
An increase in oxygen levels may also assist with:
Increased attention, focus and awareness
Increased energy, endurance and stamina
Improved recovery time
No. 2 – Improved Athletic Performance (and bedroom performance!)
Supporting energy levels goes hand in hand with better physical performance, and that’s where cordyceps can show off once more.
ATP is your body’s main energy supply and is required for all cellular processes. When your ATP levels dip, so do your energy levels, when they increase, your energy levels go up. And guess what – cordyceps significantly increase ATP levels in the body.
Since it is so effective at increasing energy and reducing fatigue, it will come as no surprise that this mushroom has become quite the star supplement for athletes and sports enthusiasts to help them perform better; but also for elderly people and mothers post-partum seeking to rebuild their foundational energy and resilience. *(Note: please speak with your doctor or qualified health professional for advice on introducing this supplement if you’re on any medication/post-partum or breastfeeding).
Plus to top it off, cordyceps helps improve stamina and endurance as well as energy levels for even better performance, for both sport and bedroom performance 😉
No. 3 – Adaptogen
As with reishi and chaga mushrooms covered in my previous blog posts here and here, cordyceps also boasts adaptogenic properties.
Adaptogens work with the body, helping it to adapt to the stresses of life and needs of each day, modulating the immune system and stress response along the way.
They calm and nourish the adrenal glands and support all the processes that are controlled by the adrenals — from blood sugar and immune system regulation to hormones and blood pressure.
The beauty of adaptogens is that they know what you need.
They energize without being a stimulant. They calm without being a sedative. They bring the body gently back into the state of homeostasis necessary for well-being.
This means, if the cold and flu season is about, you’re going on a plane, you’re taking public transport routinely or you’re having an incredibly stressful time, say hello to cordyceps!
From an athletic point of view, it’s critical to help your body adapt to stress due to the constant stresses, both mentally and physically that are put on the body. As an adapogen, cordyceps helps your body to adapt to any extra stress your workout is adding to your day. In this way it can also help support recovery.
No. 4 – Anti-Inflammatory
Cordyceps touts anti-inflammatory properties which means it may help with a multitude of ailments, from cardiovascular/heart health, lowering cholesterol, improving blood flow to cystitis or arthritis.
See my blog on Chaga for a more in-depth look into inflammation and how the anti-inflammatory properties of functional mushrooms may help.
No. 5 – Respiratory Health
Cordyceps is a great lung tonic for respiratory issues, such as asthma or bronchitis.
It works due to the increased oxygen intake we covered earlier.
“By stimulating white blood cells to respond to unwanted bacteria, Cordyceps can relax sore muscles and loosen narrowed tracheas, which may allow your lungs to operate at higher levels.” – Four Sigmatic
Are Cordyceps Vegan?
Many people have watched a nature documentary about “zombie fungus” and may be thinking “I don’t fancy eating caterpillar fungus thank you very much”, but alas, do not fear.
Although it’s true that in the wild, cordyceps spores inhabit and kill their insect host (often caterpillars, hence the name), harvesting cordyceps from the wild is both a challenge and extremely expensive. They could cost you about $20,000 for a pound!
Almost all cordyceps that you can buy is vegan since it’s cultivated through liquid fermentation or solid state fermentation.
We stock Four Sigmatic cordyceps which use the extracted fruit body of Cordyceps militaris in Mushroom Coffee, Mushroom Hot Cacao, and Cordyceps Elixir. It’s as potent as the wild variety and definitely suitable for vegans.
How to Use Cordyceps in Your Daily Routine
- Works well in hot or cold drinks and can easily be added to coffee or tea (earl grey tea is my current tea of choice)
- Alternatively, it can be mixed with hot water and consumed on its own
- Use Four Sigmatic cordyceps coffee or hot chocolate mix and make a delicious latte by combing it with your choice of heated and foamed nut milk (optional add natural sweetener)
- Add to a smoothie – great to drink in the morning or early afternoon before a workout
- Add to broths
Start with ¼ – ½ tsp daily of cordyceps powder
Stir into hot water or plant-based milk for a tasty tonic tea.
Functional Mushroom Coffee (recipe from Four Sigmatic)
1 packet Mushroom Coffee with Cordyceps & Chaga
Optional: 1 Tbsp. coconut oil, ghee, or MCT oil
Mix the packet of Mushroom Coffee and oil into the hot water and sip 1 hour before your endurance exercise.
Post-Workout Cordyceps-Based Smoothie
1 packet Mushroom Elixir with Cordyceps
1/2 cup strawberries
1/2 cup ice
2 Tbsp. peanut or almond butter
1 1/2 cup plant-based milk
1 Tbsp. chia seeds
Blend all ingredients together and enjoy after your workout.
Cordyceps Mushroom Hot Chocolate
1 packet Four Sigmatic Hot Cacao Mix with Cordyceps
Hot Water (roughly 150-200ml)
Plant-based milk (Oatly barista, oatly, almond, rice, soya, coconut milk)
A pinch of cinnamon powder for the top
For method see our previous blog: 7 Superfood Lattes you Need to Try
Cordyceps May Support:
Energy, Stamina & Endurance
Libido & Sexual Function
Heart & Lung Health
If you have any questions or comments feel free to contact us via our Facebook page or email!
*Please note that while we are knowledgeable about our products and nutrition, this blog should never be a substitute for medical advice and attention
Please remember that you should always obtain the all-clear from your doctor before starting any new supplement plan or diet if you’re on any medication