Functional mushrooms are showing up in supplements with big claims about what they can do. Mushrooms can do wonderful things, from boosting the immune system and alleviating common symptoms of illness to improving sleep and relieving anxiety. But how do you know which mushroom to use for which ailment? And are there benefits to taking a capsule or drinking mushroom coffee over chowing down on the natural fungus?
There are more than 500 different species of cordyceps, but only two of them are widely known for their medicinal properties. Cordyceps Sinensis and Cordyceps Militaris are widely used to boost energy, improve immune system function, regulate blood sugar, and enhance sexual function.
Cordyceps Sinensis is a medicinal mushroom from the Himalayas with a long history in Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM). It is most commonly used to boost the immune system and fight off common colds, back and chest pain. When you purchase a supplement that contains Cordyceps Sinensis, it probably doesn’t include the whole mushroom.
Science has been able to isolate and extract the most valuable parts of these mushrooms, which can be used as an ingredient to create supplements. Most supplements contain various ingredients and depending on the quality of the supplement; some may not provide any direct health benefits.
The supplement industry is not regulated in the United States. While private interest groups can take legal action against companies that engage in false advertising, there is no federal oversight on the ingredients that go into a supplement. As a consumer, it is essential to look for high-quality supplements from trusted brands to know what you are getting.
Components of Cordyceps Sinensis are being studied to treat autoimmune diseases like Lupus and as a treatment to slow the growth of some cancers. While eastern cultures have relied on this fungus for thousands of years, the western world is just discovering its potential. And along with that discovery is a new market driving up demand.
Related: 10 Best Medicinal Mushrooms to Have
Luckily modern farming practices allow for the cultivation of Cordyceps Militaris. Due to the extraordinary health benefits of cordyceps and the limited environment in which they grow naturally, the price of these mushrooms can go as high as $22,000 per pound for widespread use that is cost-prohibitive. Cultivated fungi sell for a much more reasonable $16 - $20 per pound.
Cordyceps Militaris is the greenhouse cultivated alternative to Cordyceps Sinensis, which provides a more cost-effective way to produce these functional mushrooms. The potential health benefits of Cordyceps Militaris are similar to those of the wild-grown Cordyceps Sinensis. The cultivation of Cordyceps Militaris has been around since the early 2000s, which has opened the door for a new market of functional mushroom supplements.
Edible Alchemy provides high-quality functional mushroom tinctures that make it easy to reap the benefits of these magical fungi. We are committed to preserving the nutritional benefits of these mushrooms by using a triple extraction process to create pure tincture formulas. Browse our shop today.
When Should You Use Cordyceps?
Cordyceps offer a wide range of benefits and are common in supplements ranging from tinctures and powders to coffees. Users take these supplements to enhance performance or alleviate symptoms of a wide range of ailments. Some common uses of functional cordyceps include:
Enhancing Exercise Performance
Cordyceps have been linked to increased athletic performance. There may be a link between these mushrooms and the production of adenosine triphosphate in the body. ATP is an essential component that aids in the delivery of oxygen to muscles.
Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) has a long history of using Cordyceps for vitality. Modern supplements promote their benefits in reducing fatigue and boosting strength. These mushrooms offer a hefty dose of antioxidants that boost memory, sexual function, and other effects of aging.
Current and ongoing research shows promising results in using Cordyceps as a treatment for some cancer patients. Compounds in Cordyceps may inhibit the growth of some cancer cells, including lung, colon, skin, and liver cancers. These mushrooms can also alleviate some of the adverse side effects of traditional cancer treatments.
Regulating Blood Sugar Levels
Cordyceps mushrooms may help stabilize blood sugar levels in diabetic patients by mimicking the effects of insulin. When paired with a healthy, low-sugar diet, these mushrooms may help keep blood sugar levels within a healthy range. Cordyceps have also been linked to promoting heart health and reducing inflammation. All three of these chronic conditions pose serious long-term health consequences.
How to Choose a Good Cordyceps Supplement
Choosing a good supplement takes a lot of leg work. There is little regulation in the supplement industry, so it is up to the consumer to look past clever marketing gimmicks and choose a high-quality supplement. Start by asking some specific questions about how the manufacturer grows and uses cordyceps.
- What part of the mushroom is used?
- Do they use organically certified mushrooms?
- How are the cordyceps extracted?
- What suppliers do they work with?
- What quality testing is used?
Transparency is important. Look for a supplement brand willing to share the ins and outs of what they make and how they make it. If a supplement brand is reluctant to share information, it is probably because they do not use high-quality extraction methods or reputable suppliers.
Related: Benefits of Medicinal Mushrooms
The Bottom Line
Although there are hundreds of species of Cordyceps, only two are widely used for medicinal purposes. Cordyceps Sinensis and Cordyceps Militaris have similar, robust health benefits ranging from boosting your mood and fighting depression to staving off chronic health conditions. While there is a growing wealth of research showing promising results, we are still working to understand precisely how these fungi benefit us.
Edible Alchemy provides the highest quality of triple-extracted functional mushroom tinctures. Mushrooms have a long history of therapeutic uses. Our tinctures make these mushrooms more readily available and easier to consume. Learn more today!