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Cordycep: properties and benefits

proprietà cordycep

is a mushroom native to China and the Tibetan highlands, widely used by
Traditional Chinese Medicine
for its diverse properties including immunostimulant, adaptogenic, antioxidant, hepaprotective, anti-inflammatory and tonic properties. Cordycep along with other mushrooms such as Reishi and Hericium, as they are particularly rich in beneficial properties for the body, is the basis of the



Let’s find out together what it is, its benefits and how to recognize a Quality Cordycep-based supplement.

Cordycep: properties and benefits

Table of Contents

Cordycep mushroom, what is it? Where does it come from?

, in Italian Cordyceps, is a genus of fungi belonging to the family Cordycipitaceae that are characterized as “
parasitic fungi
” that attack insects and other organisms (such as hypogeal fungi).

There are several species of Cordycep (said to be around 600) scattered mainly in Southeast Asia but the 2 most famous species are:

Cordycep Militaris vs Sinensis, the differences:

Cordyceps Sinensis and Cordyceps Militaris

are two species of mushrooms in the genus Cordyceps, and both have traditionally been used medicinally, although there are some major differences between them:

Habitat and Source.

  • Cordyceps Sinensis
    : grows naturally in the regions of theHimalayas, especially on the larvae of the moth Thitarodes. In fact, this fungus begins its life cycle as an infiltrating spore inside this insect where it then begins to develop its mycelium. The insect, due to the fungal infection, slowly begins to die. Once dead, the fungus tends to sprout out of the insect’s head. It has historically been harvested in Tibet and some regions of China.

  • Cordyceps Militaris
    : can be cultivated in the laboratory using one type of caterpillar as the host cell and is therefore less dependent on specific geographic conditions. This made his large-scale production compared with Cordyceps sinensis.

Chemical Composition:

  • Cordyceps Sinensis
    : contains a variety of bioactive compounds, including polysaccharides, chordicepin, adenosine, and other nutrients.

  • Cordyceps Militaris
    : contains a similar composition, it would seem even in higher concentrations.

Availability and Cost:

  • Cordyceps Sinensis: Due to its primarily wild collection and geographic limitations, Cordyceps sinensis can be extremely expensive and is subject to environmental concerns related to its collection.
  • Cordyceps Militaris: Being laboratory-grown, Cordyceps militaris is often more accessible and can be produced in a more sustainable, reducing the overall cost and environmental impact.

Traditional Uses and Potential Benefits:

  • Both have been used in traditional Chinese medicine to
    support overall health, increase energy, improve kidney function and promote longevity
  • Scientific studies have suggested that both species may have properties that are
    antioxidant, immunomodulatory and other potential health benefits
raccolta cordycep
The search for Cordicep Sinensis in Tibet.

The incredible properties and benefits of the Cordycep mushroom

Cordycep mushroom, due to its special chemical composition, can boast properties:

  • Immunostimulants

    : helps modulate the immune response

  • Antioxidants

    : helps to reduce oxidative stress

  • Tonics

    : traditionally used to increase physical endurance and reduce fatigue.In addition, Some studies suggest that Cordyceps militaris may have benefits on respiratory function and lung capacity, which could be beneficial for those who engage in strenuous physical activity

  • Epaprotective

    : helps protect liver and kidneys from toxin accumulation,

  • Cholesterol-lowering

    : would appear to be is able to reduce levels of LDL or “bad” cholesterol

  • Hypoglycemicists

    : would appear to have positive effects on blood glucose regulation

  • Hypotensive

    : would appear to help lower blood pressure and act as a vasorelaxant, with benefits on the cardiovascular system.
  • Antiasthmatic
  • Antivirals

These properties have been mainly attributed to the presence of the
(an adenosine derivative) but also to the presence of:

  • Polysaccharides

    : mainly Beta-Glucans, which form a significant part of the composition of Cordyceps militaris and are often considered responsible for several health benefits, including immunomodulatory and antioxidant effects.

  • Chordicepin

    : an adenosine-like molecule with antibiotic and antiviral properties.

  • Cordicepic Acid:

    a urinary germicide

  • Adenosine:
    Has vasodilator effect, also has beneficial actions against anxiety and has a relaxing effect on muscles.
  • Cytochrome P-450: is a family of enzymes in the liver and is the body’s main detoxification mechanism from external agents. Think of it as the most evolved purification system in nature found in mammals and fungi.
  • Antioxidant substances: they counteract oxidative stress

  • Proteins and Amino Acids

    : Cordyceps militaris contains a variety of amino acids, which are the basic constituents of protein. These include essential and nonessential amino acids needed for various biological functions.

  • Vitamins and Minerals

    : The mushroom may contain B vitamins, vitamin D, vitamin E and minerals such as zinc, iron, selenium and others. These nutrients are important for sustaining bodily functions.

  • Sterols

    : Sterols are present, including ergosterol, which can be converted to vitamin D when exposed to sunlight.

  • Other Bioactive Compounds

    : In addition to the above, the mushroom may contain a variety of other bioactive compounds such as enzymes, terpenes, and alkaloids.
cordycep militaris benefici

Cordycep Supplement, how to select a quality product:

There are many products on the market
Cordycep-based supplements.
, so it is useful to know how to recognize a quality product and then make aninformed purchase.

The main factors to be understood are:

1: Mushroom Powder or Mushroom Extract

It is necessary to understand, especially for capsule products, whether they contain
dehydrated mushroom powder
or a
Dry Extract
(typically an alcoholic or hydroalcoholic extraction).

  • Dehydrated mushroom powder: contains all the nutrients and active ingredients native to the mushroom, however in lower concentration compared with the dry extract. In addition, some active ingredients can only be absorbed after alcoholic extraction.
  • Dry extract of mushroom: by using mushroom powder as the starting base for extraction (in larger amounts), it is instead possible to have a higher concentration of the most important active ingredients.
estratto di fungo

2: Fructiferous Body vs. Mycelium

Especially for capsule products, you should know that there are 2 types of raw material used:
Fruit Body
Mycelium on Wheat.

  • Mycelium on Wheat

    : is the most economical way of growing mushrooms, where the mycelium of the fungus (as well as its vegetative apparatus) is grown on a sterile wheat substrate. Once the mycelium has reached such a size, it is pulverized together with the grain to make a powder. However, in this way, the growth of the “fruiting body” of the fungus, which is where the active ingredients sought (such as beta-glucans and terpenoids) are most concentrated, does not occur, and furthermore, since the mycelium cannot be separated from the grain, the final product will contain a large concentration of pulverized grain.

  • Fructiferous Body

    : The fruiting body, or sporophore, is the “fruit” of fungi and is the part that is commonly harvested and/or eaten. A capsule product that contains fruiting body extract or powder will certainly have a much higher concentration and quality of active ingredients.
micelio vs corpo fruttifero

3: Type and Ratio of Extraction

Many functional mushrooms, including especially the Reishi, have a very hard cell wall and are therefore difficult to recruit. It tended to be the case in the past that the main method of taking the benefits of such mushrooms was by making a “hot extraction” , for example through hot tea.

Certain active ingredients (such as beta-glucans) can only be extracted by an extraction “in hot water” while other active ingredients (such as triterpenes) can be extracted by alcoholic extraction. Therefore, it is always best to opt for a product that contains amushroom extract and not mushroom powder.

At the same time, it is also important to understand the extraction ratio, that is, the amount of dry mushroom used to obtain a certain amount of dry extract.
Opt for an extraction ratio ranging from 5:1 to 10:1
, as a higher extraction ratio (20:1 or 30:1) does not necessarily mean a higher quality product (as it may mean that the yield was lower, not that the quantity used is higher).

4: Titration of Active Ingredients

These “functional” mushrooms belonging to Traditional Chinese Medicine are taken because of the presence of certain compounds within them. However, opt for a product that has a titration in these compounds such as

polysaccharides, beta glucans or triterpenes


Cordycep and Beta - Glucans:

The Cordycep, like other mushrooms used in the Traditional Chinese Medicine (
Reishi and Hericium
mainly) owe some of their benefits due to the presence of beta-glucans, a type of soluble fiber found in the cell wall of certain algae and fungi that is related to a number of beneficial effects on the body.

Being a soluble fiber, the
slow the passage of food within the intestines, thereby increasing the sense of satiety and decreasing the absorption of sugar into the bloodstream., a factor that helps stabilize blood sugar levels.

In addition, this type of fiber reduces the absorption of cholesterol in the digestive tract., improving cholesterol levels.

It is therefore advisable to select a Mushroom Supplement that is
titrated to at least 20 percent in Beta-Glucans.

Cordycep and Mycotherapy:

Cordycep mycotherapy refers to thetherapeutic use of the fungus Cordycep , to improve health and treat certain medical conditions. This approach is an integral part of

Traditional Chinese Medicine

and other Eastern medical traditions, where medicinal mushrooms have been used for their purported healing properties for centuries.

In Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM), Cordyceps is highly valued and has been used for several centuries for many diseases: respiratory ailments, kidney disease, liver disorders, cardiovascular problems, low energy, and reduced vigor of the male and female sexual system.

Cordycep and Cordicepine: the scientific studies

Cordyceps is a fungus with incredible properties, it would appear to be able to increase athletic performance and provide an energy boost to the body. In fact, this mushroom has always attracted the attention of sportsmen and women due to its potential in improving physical performance through To its action on the immune system. In fact, this fungus helps strengthen the body’s defenses, reducing the incidence of disease and infection.

The effects of Cordyceps on athletic performance have been the subject of numerous scientific studies, which have shown that intake of this mushroom leads to increased muscular endurance and efficiency during exercise. Cordyceps acts by stimulating the production of adenosine triphosphate (ATP), a molecule critical for energy production in muscle cells.

An iconic event related to Cordycep intake was the Barcelona Olympics in ’92, when three women’s track and field world records were broken in a single week at the Beijing National Games. It was later learned that Chinese female athletes were taking a secret elixir made from the
Cordyceps sinensis

The chordicepine is the main studied bioactive compound contained in Cordyceps sinensis that supports cellular activity and acts as an anti-inflammatory. Chordicepine acts as an inhibitor of mRNA maturation and the production of substances (such as proinflammatory cytokines) that are inducibly activated by chronic and persistent inflammation, promoting psychophysical recovery, for example, after a long convalescence or after trauma or injury to the musculoskeletal system.

In addition, One of the main mechanisms of action concerns its effect on energy production. This mushroom contains several Bioactive compounds, such as adenosine synthrophosphates (ATP) andchordicepic acid, which have been shown to increase energy levels in the body.

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Cordycep and its extracts would appear to have tonic, immune-stimulating, energetic, hepaprotective, hypoglecimizing, and hypotensive properties due to its unique chemical composition.

It is recommended to purchase a Cordycep-based supplement that has at least these characteristics:

  • Extracted from Fruit Body and not from Mycelium
  • Extracted in a ratio ranging from 6:1 to 10:1
  • Titrated in Beta-Glucans

As there is great variability in quality and type of raw material in commercially available products, it is not always easy to identify a minimum dosage to benefit from the effects of Cordycep.

We recommend taking 2 capsules of 450 mg, equivalent to 900 mg of Cordycep Mushroom Extract 6:1 . Taking 900 mg of Cordycep Mushroom Extract is equivalent to taking 5.4 grams of fresh mushroom and 270 mg of Beta-Glucans!

Beta-Glucans are a type of soluble fiber found in the cell wall of certain algae e fungi and which is related to a number of
beneficial effects on the body

Being a soluble fiber, beta-glucans slow the passage of food through the intestines, thereby increasing feelings of satiety and decreasing the absorption of sugar into the bloodstream, a factor that helps stabilize blood sugar levels.

In addition, this type of fiber reduces cholesterol absorption in the digestive tract, improving cholesterol levels.


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