While cordyceps are often thought of as “killer mushrooms” out in the natural world, they are in fact a large an diverse family of fungi that may help us by supporting better health, vitality and general wellness. The story of the cordyceps mushroom may be one of the more eerie in the natural world, but we promise there’s a happy ending: a healthier, more active and vibrant you.
In today’s post, we’ll take a deep dive into the world of the cordyceps mushroom to answer such questions as:
- What is cordyceps mushroom?
- What are some key cordyceps mushroombenefits?
- What are some of the nutrients and compounds found in cordyceps mushroom?
- What are the upsides of cordyceps mushroom supplements?
- What are some possible cordyceps mushroom side effects and interactions?
By this article’s end, you’ll know how you can benefit from this truly remarkable fungus, and discover the best ways to leverage it for your maximum wellness and health.
What Is Cordyceps Mushroom? Introduction to a Killer ‘Shroom
The cordyceps mushroom—the name means club head in Latin—is a family of fungi encompassing over 600 different species. While they’re found all over the world, most are native to Asia. In China, the cordyceps mushroom is believed to have been discovered roughly 2000 years ago, and used thereafter as a general tonic, or “a medicinal substance used to improve overall energy and vigor.”
We’ll return to the topic of cordyceps benefits in a moment. But if you’re a zombie fan, there’s a chance you’ve already heard of the fungus. It’s featured in the hit HBO show The Last of Us, where it takes on a starring role as one of the creepiest-sounding mushrooms imaginable.
Why? Cordyceps is an entomopathogenic fungus, meaning that it can disable or kill various kinds of insects. And the way it does so is quite chilling: If a spore from a cordyceps mushroom variety lands on the specific insect it targets—don’t worry, it can’t infect humans—it begins to spread tendril-like mycelia throughout the host’s body.
These mycelia allow the parasitic fungus to feed off the insect. What’s more, the fungus takes over the host’s brain, “directing” the insect to leave its canopy nest or foraging trail for the forest floor, where the temperature and humidity are more conducive to fungal growth.
Finally, the parasitic fungus directs the host insect to attach itself to a leaf vein, after which it dies, leaving the cordyceps mushroom invader to reproduce and thus spread further spores. This startling behavior is why one variant of cordyceps, Latin name ophiocordyceps unilateralis, is known as the “zombie-ant fungus.”
But this is just one of the natural wonders of these incredible mushrooms, with clinical research supporting its use for human health and wellness in some equally fascinating ways.
Cordyceps Mushroom Benefits: How A “Killer Fungus” Fights Fatigue, Aging, and Disease
If you’re a regular visitor to our blog, you may already know that cordyceps is an adaptogen, a substance that helps the body cope with stress. You can learn more about this fascinating family of natural products here.
There are many adaptogenic substances found in nature, and here at HempLucid we leverage a carefully curated selection of them to empower your optimal health and wellness. But arguably, cordyceps belongs in a class of its own, because how it supports us—and the incredible range of health benefits associated with it—put it in a class of its own.
Cordyceps and the Immune System
Let’s start with the immune system, one of the most crucial networks in the entire human body. As we referenced a moment ago, traditional Chinese medicine practitioners have relied on the cordyceps mushroom for upwards of two thousand years as a generalized support for optimal health. It’s only now, with the advent of peer-reviewed clinical studies and qualitative analysis, that clinicians can pinpoint some of the compounds found in cordyceps that exhibit immunostimulatory, or immune-modulating actions.
To that end, a review of existing medical literature found that compounds present in the cordyceps mushroom—including nucleosides, sterols, flavonoids, cyclic peptides, phenolic, biox anthracenes, polyketides, and alkaloids—all help the immune system manage its response to medical stressors and challenges. According to another study published in 2021, the pharmacological functions of these compounds are extremely diverse, showing anti-cancer, anti-inflammatory, anti-viral, anti-leukemia, anti-tumor, anti-diabetic, and anti-obesity effects, in addition to modulating the human immune system.
Cordyceps for Energy and Vitality
Then there’s the subject of cordyceps for energy and vitality. One study on people who performed high-intensity exercise routines found that taking a cordyceps mushroom supplement significantly increased VO2 max, a measure of how much oxygen the body absorbs and uses.
How does it do it? At least part of the answer may lie in cordycepin, a bio-metabolite (meaning a by-product of cordyceps after it’s broken down by the body). One study from 2013 makes special mention of cordycepin, noting that it displays “very potent anti-oxidant and anti-inflammatory activities.” When our bodies don’t have to work so hard to battle oxidation and inflammation, this in turn releases more energy for us to perform at peak outfit and efficiency. On top of all that, the review of medical literature we cited a moment ago also noted that preclinical studies have identified antidepressant, aphrodisiac, and other potential actions. You’ve got to admit: That’s quite a lot for a humble mushroom!
Mushroom Supplements: How To Access the Power of Cordyceps
It’s one thing to talk about the surprisingly wide range of potential cordyceps mushroom benefits; it’s another to put them into practice. Like you, the founders of HempLucid believe that life is better without chemicals and synthetic drugs in our systems. That’s why we went all-out in creating what we humbly believe are the finest cordyceps mushroom supplements available anywhere. Here’s a little about what makes them so special.
For starters, not all supplements are created equal. As several of the studies we referenced note, there are a number of ways of extracting the many bioactive compounds in the cordyceps mushroom. We’re determined to leverage all these powerful nutrients and vitamins; a very partial list includes:
- Xanthophylls: An anticancer agent
- Phenolic Compounds: Antioxidant, antimicrobial, anti-arthritic, anti-carcinogenic, anti-hypertensive, cardio-protective, anti-inflammatory and anti-allergic benefits
- N-acetylgalactosamine: A compound necessary for intercellular communication
- Vitamin B1: Essential in neurologic activities
- Vitamin B2: Helps in energy production
- Vitamin B12: Help in cellular metabolism, DNA synthesis, methylation and mitochondrial metabolism
- Vitamin E: Antioxidant, helps in formation of blood cells, muscles, lung and nerve tissues, boosts immunity
- Vitamin K: Essential for blood clotting
Here at HempLucid, we source the purest and most bioavailable forms of cordyceps we can, and use a mushroom extract combined with our proprietary herbal blends to create gentle, targeted, and above all highly effective natural remedies.
Want to check for yourself? Each mushroom supplement lot is individually sampled, tested and archived, with each test result (called a Certificate of Analysis, or COA) made available publicly for your review.
Cordyceps Mushroom Safety and Side Effects
As we’ve made clear, there’s a wide range of benefits associated with the cordyceps mushroom. But is it safe? Thus far, clinical studies have not uncovered any major safety risks associated with cordyceps. There is a small potential for minor stomach upset, nausea, or loose bowel movements.
However, there are a couple of potential negative interactions to be aware of. Because cordyceps acts upon our immune system, those who have autoimmune diseases such as rheumatoid arthritis, multiple sclerosis, inflammatory bowel disease or celiac, should avoid them, especially if they’re currently taking immunosuppressant medications.
At present, there’s not enough clinical evidence to determine if cordyceps is safe during pregnancy and breastfeeding. For these reasons, it shouldn’t be used by women during those times, or by children under the age of 5.
How much cordyceps should you take? While there’s no “recommended dosage,” we generally suggest that beginners start with just a half gummy per day. Once you’re comfortable with the effects of cordyceps mushroom gummies, you can take a gummy a day for ongoing support.
In our experience, consistent use is the best way to determine if this product works for you. If you haven’t noticed any effects after the first few days, we recommend that you use this product every day for 30 days to see how it affects you.
Explore Cordyceps Mushroom Gummies and More with HempLucid
At HempLucid, we’re committed to creating the purest, highest quality mushroom supplements on the market, and our cordyceps mushroom gummies and capsules are no exception. If you’ve never experienced the benefits of these truly remarkable mushrooms, you’re in for a welcome surprise!
Our family of functional mushroom products are designed for specific outcomes such as sleep, immune support, and defense against stress. You’ll find the power of cordyceps in our Stress Mushroom Gummies. They’re vegan and gluten-free, and they use organic tapioca syrup and cane sugar (1.5g total sugar per gummy) to ensure a soft, chewy texture.
That said, if you’re looking to remove extra sugar from your diet or have any other reason to avoid gummies, our functional mushroom capsule products such as our classic Immune Stacks boast zero sugar—but all the functional power of cordyceps, CBD, and powerful therapeutic herbs.
If you have any questions about our exceptional cordyceps mushroom supplements, don’t hesitate to reach out. We’re here to help.