Cordyceps. Where does one even begin to describe this fungus?
It’s likely that you’ve heard the term cordyceps tossed around at your local chemist a time or two.
And if you haven’t, cordyceps is a fungus mostly found in Tibet, Qinghai, Sichuan, Yunnan and Gansu provinces of China, that have been used medicinally for centuries. 1
But what most people don’t know about this ancient mushroom, is how much of a freak alien it is.
We don’t mean to sound brash when we say this, but it’s true.
In case you missed the epic episode of Planet Earth, where legend David Attenborough angelically describes the absurd tendencies of cordyceps, we will fill you in on what they are all about.
Basically, cordyceps are insect and larva killers. In order to grow in nature, the fungus invades the nervous system of an insect or larva and then takes control of the body.
It will then proceed to murder the larva and project up from the remains.
Insect infected with cordyceps. (Photo by
Sirena vii.1988 L.E. Gilbert)
To put this into perspective, think of some freaky alien crawling into your head to use your brain and body as a host. It then turns you into a zombie and walks your body out into the middle of nowhere.
From there, it explodes out of your remains and now exists as a new organism. Sweet.
Sounds like something out of a Star Trek episode, doesn’t it?
Although cordyceps may be a caterpillar's worst nightmare, they are actually quite the opposite when it comes to helping the human body.
Cordyceps is known to reduce physical fatigue, replenishing the kidneys and soothing lungs. 1
Pharmacological studies show that Cordyceps increase “adenosine triphosphate production”, which is a chemical that produces energy in our cells, and slows the aging process. 2
Extracts from cordyceps also improve the utilization of oxygen in cellular respiration. This suggests that Cordyceps is useful in promoting endurance and strength as well as recovery from physical stress. 3
Keep that in mind for your next Tuesday night ultimate frisbee match. Your opponents aren’t going to know what hit them… Unless they read this article too.
Then you’ll just have one massive game of super-human-mega-endurance ultimate frisbee, and if that’s the case, you should probably hire a film crew and send the video to back to us.
Cordyceps also produce a compound called "Cordycepin", a substance produced by the metabolism, which shows very potent anti-oxidant and anti-inflammatory activities. 4
A study by Wu et al. found that cordycepin shows “apoptotic effects,” meaning that it regulates cell division and prevents uncontrolled cellular growth. 5
Best of all, indulging in cordyceps doesn’t always have to mean a tragic death for an insect, either. Life Cykel has learned to grow a vegan version of this magical fungus. That’s right. Vegan. We’d tell you how we do it, but we’d have to kill you.
Life Cykel Cordyceps mushrooms are grown and harvested locally in Byron Bay, NSW.
Generally, the mushrooms are taken in powdered form, or as a tea or a cordyceps extract. Add two squirts (2 ml) of Cordyceps extract directly to your coffee, smoothie, tea or water in the morning for best results.
Lost for ideas on how to use our mushroom extracts or mushroom powders? Look no further.
Delicious cordyceps mushroom latte recipe:
- 1 serving Life Cykel Cordyceps Liquid Double Extract
- 6 oz coconut milk (Or milk of choice)
- 1 tsp Life Cykel Cacao Reishi powder
- 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
- 1/4 tsp ground cardamom
- 1 tsp of Life Cykel Mushroom Honey
- 1 tsp maca powder (optional)
How to make:
1. Heat milk up on the stove for three to four minutes (Just heat, don't boil)
2. Add powders and mushroom extract to the hot milk and stir thoroughly until everything has dissolved.
3. Add mushroom honey and stir until melted.
4. When the drink is ready, pour it into the blender and blend on high for 20 seconds to create foam.
5. Pour and enjoy!
Feeling exhausted? Add coffee powder to this drink for an extra boost!
Cordyceps fungi: natural products, pharmacological functions and developmental products Xuanwei Zhou, Zhenghua Gong, Ying Su, Juan Lin, Kexuan Tang Journal of Pharmacy and Pharmacology 61 (3), 279-291, 2009
Ko and Leung. Enhancement of ATP generation capacity, antioxidant activity and immunomodulatory activities by Chinese Yang and Yin tonifying herbs. Chin Med. 2007. Department of Biochemistry, Hong Kong University of Science and Technology, Clear Water Bay, Hong Kong, China
Bucci L. R. Selected herbals and human exercise performance. Am J Clin Nutr. 2000;72:624S–36S.
Tuli, H. S., Sandhu, S. S., & Sharma, A. K. (2013). Pharmacological and therapeutic potential of Cordyceps with special reference to Cordycepin. 3 Biotech, 4(1), 1–12. doi:10.1007/s13205-013-0121-9
Wu, W.-C., Hsiao, J.-R., Lian, Y.-Y., Lin, C.-Y., & Huang, B.-M. (2006). The apoptotic effect of cordycepin on human OEC-M1 oral cancer cell line. Cancer Chemotherapy and Pharmacology, 60(1), 103–111. doi:10.1007/s00280-006-0354-y