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What Are Cordyceps Mushrooms?

Functional Mushroom Art

There are more than 400 species of fungus in the genus Cordyceps mushrooms The most well-known species of cordyceps, Cordyceps militaris, has long been used in traditional Chinese and Tibetan medicine to cure a wide range of illnesses, including respiratory and kidney problems, as well as to enhance athletic performance.

A variety of bioactive substances, including adenosine, polysaccharides, and cordycepin, are present in cordyceps mushrooms. Among these substances anti-tumor, anti-inflammatory, and immunomodulatory activities have been found.

In a 2015 study, the Journal of Ethnopharmacology reported that a polysaccharide extract from Cordyceps militaris caused human lung cancer cells to undergo apoptosis, or programmed cell death. (https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4387693/)

In a rat model of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, another study from 2014 discovered that Cordyceps militaris enhanced lung function by lowering inflammation and boosting antioxidant activity. (https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4145304/)

According to a third study, Cordyceps militaris exhibits immunomodulatory effects by promoting the generation of immune cells and raising their activity, which was reported in the International Journal of Biological Macromolecules in 2018. (https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6229891/)

Potential uses for cordyceps mushrooms include the treatment of kidney conditions. In a rat model of diabetic nephropathy, Cordyceps militaris protected against kidney damage by lowering inflammation and oxidative stress, according to a 2013 study published in the Journal of Ethnopharmacology. (https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3662451/)

As a nutritional supplement to improve physical performance, cordyceps mushrooms are also frequently utilized. A 2012 study indicated that taking Cordyceps sinensis supplements increased exercise performance in healthy older adults by boosting the availability of ATP, a vital source of energy for muscles. (https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3310165/)

All things considered, cordyceps mushrooms seem to have a wide variety of therapeutic benefits and may be a helpful supplement to conventional treatments for a number of disorders. To determine their safety and effectiveness in human clinical trials and to completely understand their mechanisms of action, more study is necessary.

References:

  1. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4387693/
  2. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4145304/
  3. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6229891/
  4. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3662451/
  5. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3310165/
  6. Hirano, S. S., Lichtwardt, R. W., & Strickland, J. A. (1983). The life cycle of Cordyceps subsessilis, a parasitic fungus of insects. Nature, 305(5932), 709-712.