How Cordyceps Are Grown
Known for invading and growing off caterpillars, cordyceps are a popular fungus when selecting natural alternatives. Found in the mountains of Nepal and Tibet, they are also known as Ophiocordyceps sinensus or O. sinensis. Cordyceps are classed as a medicinal mushroom and has been used for centuries in both Chinese and Tibetan traditional medicine. Chinese traditional medicine considers cordyceps to have a perfect balance of yin and yang.
In early spring the black stalk-like fruiting body emerges from the head of the dead caterpillar, growing up to 6 inches in length. Cordyceps price has significantly shifted in the last 20 years, with a 900% increase between 1998 and 2008. In 2013 reported prices were between 20,000 and 70,000 per kilogram. Financial interest in cordyceps has in fact been detrimental, with harvesting collection rates much larger than in past times. Cordyceps are now listed, as an endangered species in China and not surprising is one of the most valuable medicinal fungi in the world.
Unaffordable prices led to alternative practices to produce cordyceps. Artificial O. Sinensis mycelium is commonly cultivated as an alternative to wild-harvest and a common component of commercial supplements of cordyceps. Commonly used for building immunity, as a powerful antioxidant and for its fatigue fighting benefits, cordyceps are a safe, natural alternative to mainstream pharmaceutical use.
- Increased energy levels
- Anti-cancer treatment with studies showing in some cases, prevention of further growth of tumors
- Respiratory infections such as bronchitis
- Treatment of kidney disease
- Fighting infections such as bladder infections
- Improvement in blood cholesterol and prevention of heart disease
- Increase in circulation
- Improved liver function
- Treatment of chronic fatigue syndrome and muscle weakness
- Treatment of immune-related conditions such as autoimmune disease, leaky gut syndrome, rheumatoid arthritis, lupus and multiple sclerosis
- Increase oxygenation, therefore may increase athletic performance
- Treatment for fertility and impotence
- Lower blood glucose levels and aids in the management of diabetes
Cordyceps play a strong part in Ayurvedic medicine, with mushrooms described to heighten “vigor and vitality”. They have also been associated with improved brain function combating the ill effects of chronic stress and its influence on cognitive functions. Studies have explored how cordyceps’ supplementation reduced inflammation in the brain with corresponding increases in brain-derived neutrophic growth factors, BDNF. Depletion of BDNF accelerates neurodegenerative diseases like Parkinson’s and Dementia, thus cordyceps provide hope in maintain a healthy brain, warding off degeneration and protecting memory and improving cognitive processing.
Considered safe for most people, cordyceps should be used with caution for women who are pregnant or breastfeeding and diabetics as blood sugar levels may decrease. Dosage of cordyceps has not been heavily researched and amounts vary depending on what it is being used for. The suggested amounts are 5 to 10 grams up to twice per day for general immunity, energy boosting and illness prevention. Higher dosage may be needed to treat and/or prevent specific conditions.