Origin: Cordyceps are native to the Tibetan Plateau (Tibet, Qinghai, West-Sichuan, SW-Gansu & NW Yunnan), and the Himalayas (India, Nepal, Bhutan).
Other recognizable names: Caterpillar Fungus/Mushroom, Himalayan Viagra, Yatsa Gunbu, Yarshagumba, Keera Jhar, Dong Chong Xia Cao meaning “Winter Worm, Summer Grass” in Chinese.
Cordyceps has been widely used in Traditional Chinese Medicine for centuries. Of the many benefits most closely associated with this weird and wonderful fungus, it was mainly used to protect the liver, improve kidney function, alleviate symptoms of respiratory illness and to enhance libido. It was also recommended as a tonic for “all illness”, with the ability to improve energy, endurance, stamina, appetite and disrupted sleep patterns.
Alongside other medicinal mushrooms, Cordyceps is a powerful immune booster. It stimulates the immune system by increasing the number and boosting the activity of natural killer cells (a type of white blood cell), which protect the body from viruses and bacteria.
Discovered by the Yak herders of Tibet, Cordyceps have since been found to enhance cells’ ability to utilize oxygen, thus assisting the herders at high altitudes where oxygen is in shorter supply. This effect is thought to protect the lungs, make it easier to breathe and improve respiratory function in general.
Another benefit of increasing the cells’ ability to utilize oxygen is the effect it has on athletic performance. This was famously seen at the 1993 Chinese National Games, where the Women’s Field and Track team broke 9 world records – not just by a little bit but by startling amounts! The governing sports authorities suspected some performance enhancing drugs had been used, however it was freely admitted by the coach that the secret to their success was the Cordyceps he had been giving the team.
Powerfully antioxidant, Cordyceps increases the action of Super-Oxide-Dismutase (SOD), a potent antioxidant in the body. SOD will quench the free radicals and other toxins that can cause premature aging and degenerative diseases.
Cordyceps benefits the liver by increasing the efficient function of this important organ.
Also known as “Himalayan Viagra” and “The Sexual Potentiator”, Cordyceps highly influences the release of testosterone by increasing the blood circulation, thus enhancing erectile function, virility and stamina. It is especially good for women who may be in the menopause or post-menopausal – this is partly because it enhances the biosynthesis of the steroid hormones cortisol, estrogen and testosterone.
Avoid in individuals with a known allergy or hypersensitivity to Cordyceps, mold, or fungi. Cordyceps may cause dry mouth, nausea, loss of appetite, diarrhea or dizziness. Cordyceps is not recommended for pregnant or breastfeeding women due to a lack of available scientific evidence. Cordyceps is possibly unsafe for pregnant women as it may affect steroid hormone levels.