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Cordyceps Benefits

Amruta Deshpande
Commonly used in traditional Chinese medicine, cordyceps are fungi that are well known for their health benefits. Here is a brief overview of cordyceps and their benefits.
When it comes to the most rare, unique, and expensive substances used in traditional Chinese medicine, cordyceps would be among the toppers. Though referred to as herbal medicine, cordyceps is a group of fungi, that have long been used for its medicinal properties, in some parts of Asia.
It is actually a genus of ascomycete fungi, that comprises 400 distinct species. The best known species of this genus, the Ophiocordyceps sinensis, has a number of health benefits.

What are Cordyceps?

So, cordyceps are parasitic fungi that grow in the high mountain regions of China, Tibet, and neighboring areas. Many of them are used for medicinal purposes. These fungi grow inside the bodies of insects and arthropods. The well-known species named Ophiocordyceps sinensis is parasitic on the larvae of ghost moths.
The fungus germinates and grows inside the body of the caterpillar, thereby killing the latter. It retains the body of the caterpillar, out of which the fruiting body of the fungus emerges. It is this stalk-like fruiting body, called caterpillar fungus, that is valued as herbal medicine.
Chemical constituents of most of the cordyceps species include cordycepin and its derivatives, polysaccharides, ergosterol, a glycoprotein, and peptides that contain alpha aminoisobutyric acid. Research shows that this unique chemical constitution of cordyceps can be effective for treating a variety of health conditions.

Health Benefits

Cordyceps have antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties that help in boosting the immune system and enhance the overall health of a person. They are also known to have anti-tumor, anti-metastatic, anti-aging, antimicrobial, hypoglycemic, neuroprotective, and renoprotective effects. Given below are some of the health benefits of cordyceps.

Controls Diabetes

Cordyceps contain a particular polysaccharide, that has strong antioxidant properties and a hypoglycemic effect on the body. It improves glucose metabolism and enhances insulin sensitivity, thus proving effective in controlling diabetes.

Improves Liver Health

Cordyceps have long been used for maintaining liver health. Studies show that it has the ability to adjust the T lymphocyte subsets level and is effective for treating hepatic fibrosis in those suffering from chronic hepatitis.

Strengthens Kidneys, Lungs

Cordyceps fungi increase blood circulation to various parts of the body. This helps in strengthening the lungs and kidneys, thus increasing their energy and vitality. It is said to be beneficial for stopping bleeding and dissolving phlegm.
It strengthens the immune system and helps the body to fight chronic kidney diseases, cough, chronic bronchitis, and asthma. It relaxes bronchial walls and thus enhances respiratory function.

Enhances Stamina

Chinese athletes who regularly use cordyceps, tend to show better results than others. As the fungi has antioxidant properties, it increases cellular formation. It soothes the nervous system, reduces anxiety, and promotes sound sleep, thus reducing the level of fatigue.

Other Positive Effects

  • Cordyceps make the body strong enough to resist various types of viruses and bacteria.
  • These fungi help in building muscles, thereby improving physical performance.
  • They improve sexual function by stimulating production of sex hormones.
  • Cordyceps benefit the circulatory system by strengthening the heart muscles, regulating blood pressure, and improving blood circulation.
  • These fungi are used as a tonic for nourishing the body and for stimulating brain activity.
  • It is said that cordyceps have diuretic effect that helps in the prevention of nephralgia.
  • They help in improving memory.
Though the medicinal use of cordyceps has been dated back to the fifteenth century, most of its benefits are not scientifically proved. They are natural and considered safe for use, but may have some side effects on the body. Hence, it is advisable to consume cordyceps only after consulting your health care provider.