Here on the Health Insiders Blog, we have been focusing a lot of attention on the topic of medicinal mushrooms. So to keep our content varied, we decided that we would shift the attention slightly to a different type of fungus for today's blog post. Cordyceps are not a mushroom, but just like the medicinal mushrooms we have recently discussed; cordyceps are also believed to be fungs with many health benefits! Now, if you have never heard, seen or come across cordyceps before, you have come to the right place. In today's post, we uncover what exactly cordyceps is before we move on to their believed health benefits. So, what exactly is cordyceps?
Cordyceps refers to a genus of fungi that lives on certain caterpillars, predominantly in the high mountain regions of China. Most cordyceps species are endoparasitoids which means they are parasitic fungi on insects like caterpillars. Cordyceps does not refer to just one ‘type of fungi’ as hundreds of known species of cordyceps are made into supplements. Cordyceps supplements are, usually, man-made in a lab to ensure both safeness as well as efficiency when consumed. Cordyceps supplements are thought to have several health benefits attached to them. When finished, they are believed to possess the ability to stimulate cells as well as improve our overall immunity. However, just like many other types of fungi-related supplements (cordyceps being no exception) long-term side effects are unknown due to limited studies and testing. Therefore getting advice from your doctor or GP is always advised before you begin taking any fungi supplement!
If you are considering cordyceps as a supplement and would like to learn more about them, including what other benefits they are believed to offer, then keep on reading…
What are the benefits of taking cordyceps?
Cordyceps are believed to play host to several health-related benefits; including stimulating our cells to help improve overall immunity. Before we do explore the benefits of taking cordyceps in more depth, we must first begin by saying that cordyceps are not intended to treat, cure or prevent disease so please do consider that. The majority of studies have been done so in a lab or using animals therefore, whilst their benefits list is long- there is still much debate due to a lack of information on their effects on people. Most benefits have been concluded based on lab and animal tests, therefore, human studies are limited henceforth the level of uncertainty that still surrounds cordyceps “benefits.” That being said, let's take a look at some of the benefits that have been scientifically tested…
Cordyceps' most commonly believed benefits:
- They may be able to boost exercise performance through increased energy:
Cordyceps is believed to have the ability to increase the body’s natural production of ATP (Adenosine triphosphate) which is responsible for providing energy to the muscles. Therefore, cordyceps are believed to be able to improve the way that our body uses its oxygen during exercise; allowing for increased activity levels. Some controlled studies have been conducted to help determine cordyceps as a means of boosting exercise performance and it was moderately conclusive in both old and younger adults.
- Believed anti-ageing properties:
Most studies and testing to determine the effectiveness of cordyceps in regards to their offering anti-ageing benefits is once again limited with minimal human-means testing. Although, many researchers do believe that cordyceps have a high antioxidant content that may explain their believed anti-ageing potential.
- Potential anti-tumour effects:
Various tests have been conducted inside labs in test tubes and on animals that suggest the potential cordyceps may have on the treatment of cancer cells as well as eliminating the side effects of invasive cancer treatments. However, these side effects are yet to be seen in humans due to a lack of research therefore traditional or alternative cancer treatment would still be advised over cordyceps.
- May help manage Type 2 Diabetes:
Once again limited testing has been able to determine the potential effects that cordyceps could have on chronically elevated blood sugar levels in people with uncontrolled diabetes. Research is limited, although animal research suggests that cordyceps may have potential as a diabetes treatment.
- May be able to help improve immunity:
We have already mentioned how cordyceps may have the ability to potentially improve immunity by stimulating cells as well as specific chemicals in the immune system; to help improve overall immunity. Studies and research are again very limited just like it is with the other benefits associated with taking cordyceps.
How accurate are cordyceps benefits?
Now that we’ve had the chance to go through several potential cordyceps benefits, we need to remember that there is no extensive testing or research on this matter. Tests and findings have been predominantly carried out in lab or animal tests therefore these benefits should not be considered a guarantee should you begin taking cordyceps! We advise that you speak to your Gp or Doctor if you were planning or considering taking cordyceps to help treat, cure or even prevent an illness or condition as they may not be effective! A doctor or GP would be able to advise you on the best course of action, by referring you to seek further help from a specialist or by prescribing you medical-grade medication to help with your illness, disease or condition.
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