Cordyceps, the Energy Superfood by Jeffrey Dach MD
Fri Dec 10, 2010 10:44
Cordyceps, the Energy Superfood by Jeffrey Dach MD
Alfredo is a 60 year old sport cyclist who rides his bike 200 miles a week. Yet, he finds his endurance declining over the past few years. He finds he lags behind on trips and is no longer able to keep up with the younger guys in his group. Alfredo's friend suggested a visit to my office to find the problem.
Alfredo was sent to the lab for a complete evaluation including a testosterone level. The results showed his testosterone level was actually quite good, so instead, I instead suggested an energy super food called Cordyceps Sinensis. He agreed to try it, and two weeks later, an amazed Alfredo reported his endurance has improved and he is riding faster and farther than before, thanks to the Cordyceps. Rather than lagging behind, he is now the leader of the pack.
Left Image: sport cyclists mountain biking courtesy of wikimedia commons
What is Cordyceps Sinensis ?
Cordyceps Sinensis is a chinese medicinal mushroom, and is actually a type of "energy vitamin". Cordyceps was originally discovered centuries ago by Yak herders of the Tibetan mountains, who observed the goats and Yaks displaying energetic behavior after grazing on the wild Cordyceps sprouts in early spring. The Cordyceps Sinensis grows wild at 16,000 feet, as a parasite inside a caterpillar of the Himalayan Bat Moth. In the early spring, the Cordyceps sends sprouts up from the ground, arising from the head of the caterpillar host.(left image)
Left image: exposed view of Cordyceps growing from head of caterpillar in mountains of Tibet, Image Courtesy of John Holliday On the Trail of the Yak
Held in Esteem by Chinese Medicine
Cordyceps was held in high esteem and used over the centuries by Chinese Medicine. Because native wild Cordyceps is rare and costly, its use was restricted to the Emperor and Chinese Imperial Court. However, more recently, a few decades ago, mass consumption has become a reality with commercial production of cultivated strains. (4-9)
Increases Athletic Stamina and Endurance
Athletes use Cordyceps as a favorite supplement for endurance and stamina. Research studies show Cordyceps increases ATP energy production, and increases oxygen utilization. Studies on lab mice using in-vivo NMR (Nuclear Magnsetic Resonance) show Cordyceps treated mice have increased ATP production in the Liver. ATP is Adenosine Tri-Phosphate, the currency of energy in the cell, so this means increased energy in the liver. Another mouse study showed Cordyceps treated mice have better liver function, and will clear injected carbon particles from the blood stream more rapidly. (10-12)
Above Left image is a Tibetan woman with a Yak courtesy of wikimedia commons.
The Mouse Swim Test
A simple way to measure if Cordyceps increases energy is the "mouse swim test". This is a test in which mice are placed in a tank of water with steep sides and allowed to swim until exhausted. The Cordyceps treated mice swim longer than placebo treated mice. See chart below:
Above Chart:Mouse swim Test shows longer swim times (red) for Cordyceps Treated Mice compared to placebo (green) treated mice. (47)
Chart courtesy of Medicinal Value of the Caterpillar Fungi Species of the Genus Cordyceps (Ascomycetes). A Review International Journal of Medicinal Mushrooms, 10(3):219–234 (2008) 1521-9437/08/ BY John Holliday* & Matt Cleaver Aloha Medicinals Inc., Carson City, NV 89706, USA . Actual Chart is from Medicinal Value of Mizuno, T., 1999. Medicinal effects and utilization of Cordyceps (Fr.)(Ascomycetes) and Isaria Fr. (Mitosporic fungi) Chinese caterpillar fungi, “Tochukaso”(review). I. J. Med. Mushr., 1: 251-62.
Protecting the Liver from Chemical Injury and Viral Hepatitis B
Two human studies showed Cordyceps treates patients with chronic hepatitis B, improving liver function, reducing antibody levels, and raising serum albumin levels. (13)(14) In an experimental mouse model of chemical injury to the liver with carbon tetrachloride, Cordyceps sinensis inhibited the onset of chronic liver disease by inhibiting hepatic fibrosis, and improving liver function. (15)
Cordyceps Reduces Fatigue and Improves Exercise Performance in the Elderly
A study of elderly patients showed that Cordyceps enhances aerobic capability, endurance performance, and exercise metabolism in healthy elderly humans. (16) Another study of 20 healthy elderly human subjects receiving Cordyceps showed a 10% increase in metabolic threshold (above which lactate accumulates), and an 8.5% increase in ventilatory threshold (above which unbuffered H(+) stimulates ventilation). (17) Cordyceps was found to have a strong anti-oxidant effect (19)(20)
Cordyceps is Beneficial for Chronic Renal Disease
Thirty patients with chronic kidney failure used Cordyceps, with improvement in creatinine clearance rate, reduced blood urea nitrogen (BUN) and serum creatinine(SCr). The combined treatment of Cordyceps and Jin Shui Bao to a chronic kidney failure patient, showed decreased serum BUN and Cr levels, and reduction in the urine protein and blood pressure. (67)
Cordyceps was given to Sixty One systemic lupus erythematus patients with renal involvement under treatment with cyclophosphamide and the cordyceps prevented renal function deterioration and decreased the proteinuria. (67)
Sixty nine renal transplant patients receiving with cyclosporine induced nephro-toxicity were divided randomly divided into two groups. Control group received cyclosporin only and the another group received cyclosporin and cordyceps (3g/per day). Theresults showed that the cordyceps group had decreased serum BUN and Creatinine levels. (67)
In an another report, mice treated with cyclosporine-A and cordyceps significantly reduced interstitial edema tubular necrosis and fibrosis compared to the group which received only cyclosporin A. (67)
Modern Drugs Come From the Fungal World
Many of our modern day drugs originate from nature, from the plant world and the microbial world of fungi and bacteria. About ten of the top twenty drugs used today originate in the fungal world. Examples include antibiotics such as penicillin, cholesterol lowering statin drugs such as lipitor, immunosuppresive drugs such as cyclosporin, and psycho-active drugs such as LSD. These all originated in fungi.(1)(2)(3)
Cordyceps- A treasure Trove of Bio-Active Substances
The Cordyceps species is a treasure trove of bio-active and potentially useful medicinal substances, only recently coming under the scrutiny of university and pharmaceutical researchers looking for the next wonder drug. (45)(46)(47)
Cordyceps -Entomopathogenic Fungus
The Corcyceps Fungi are unique because they live inside various insect hosts. The name for this is "entomopathogenic fungus" There are about 600 species of Cordyceps Fungi, each one lives in a different insect and capable of manufacturing a different spectrum of bio-active substances. Some live inside ants.(56-61)
Watch Video of a Cordyceps Species in the Ant World
More Mouse Studies
in a mouse model of hypoxia induced pulmonary hypertension, Cordyceps sinensis suppressed proliferation of rat pulmonary artery smooth muscle cells indicating benefit in pulmonary hypertension.(18) In a mouse model of middle cererbral artery ischemia, cordyceps protected the brain from ischemia reperfusion injury(21) Another study showed Cordyceps useful in reducing blood pressure. (22) Cordyceps treated mice showed prolonged survival under hypoxic conditions indicating better oxygen utilization. In a mouse model of epinephrine induced pulmonary edema, the Cordyceps treated mice had marked reduction of only 20% mortality compared to 80% mortality for untreated mice.(8) Cordyceps improved memory and learning in aged mice.(42)
Diabetes and Blood Sugar Regulation
Cordyceps was found beneficial in diabetic rats by reducing blood sugar and weight (23) Cordyceps was found to have a hypoglycemic activity in genetic diabetic mice by improving liver metabolsm of glucose. (24)(25)(26)
Cordyceps has Anti-Inflammatory Effects
Cordyceps was found to have an anti-inflammatory effect and possibly useful in neurodegenreative disorders. (27)
Corcepts Benefits in Asthma
In a mouse model, asthma was induced by sensitization to intraperitoneal injection of (i.p.) of egg protein. The Cordyceps reduced the undesirable immune responses and/or cytokine expression exhibited in asthma. (28)
Benefits for Auto-Immne and Kidney Probelems in Mice
In a mouse model of adriamycin induced renal toxicity, Cordyceps sinensis reduced the proteinuria, improved renal function, and markedly inhibited glomerular sclerosis in a mouse model of renal failure. (30)(31)(32)(39)(40)(41) In other mouse studies, Cordyceps protected against cyclosporin induce real toxicity, and prevented renal complications in a mouse model of auto-immune lupus nephritis. (64)(65)(67)(68)
Protecting the Bone Marrow from Injury from Radiation and Chemotherapy
A number of studies have shown that Cordyceps protects patients from the toxic effects of chemotherapy and radiation with more rapid recovery of WBC (white blood cell) counts in Cordyceps treated patients.(62)(66)
Financial Disclosure: I receive no compensation from and have no financial interest in Aloha Medicinals or any other Cordyceps manufacturer. We do carry the Aloha Medicinals Cordyceps product in our office which is available as a convenience, and sold only to our own clinic patients. We do mark up the wholesale price slightly to cover our costs. We so not sell to the public at large.