Highly prized for millennia by herbalists and traditional healers in Asia, the cordyceps mushroom is an extremely unusual fungus with a reputation as a profoundly effective adaptogenic herb that is especially useful as a rejuvenative and for building strength and endurance in those who consume it.
Elite Athlete Tonic
Like most medicinal mushrooms that have been used around the world by folk healers for long periods of time, cordyceps in not well known in our modern western world. However it came to the attention of many for the first time back in the early 1990’s, when several members of the Chinese women’s track team shattered a number of world records – several of which still stand – in long distance running.
Despite suspicions to the contrary, the Chinese women who broke these world records tested clean for illegal performance enhancing drugs. And the runners’ coach famously claimed that his athletes’ success was due in part to their routine intake of cordyceps mushrooms combined with turtle shell broth, another traditional Chinese tonic remedy known for its strengthening and restorative properties.
Promotes Stamina and Strength
Cordyceps is renowned for its ability to help revitalize those dealing with low energy or exhaustion. It is a profound kidney tonic that is said in Chinese tonic herbalism to be especially effective for replenishing ‘jing’ energy which has become depleted as a result of extraordinary stress or exertion. Along with ‘qi’ and ‘shen’, jing is considered to be one of the ‘three treasures’ in Chinese medicine, and is the fundamental life force that engenders vitality, power and endurance.
Cordyceps tonifies respiratory function and is very beneficial for those who can benefit from enhanced lung capacity, such as high altitude climbers or athletes who are competing at a world class level.
Studies indicate that cordyceps also benefits the cardiovascular system, strengthening the heart and improving circulation on a micro-level within the capillaries.
Like most other medicinal mushrooms, cordyceps is also well known for its immune strengthening and balancing properties.
Clinical data has also shown that its active constituents confer a wide variety of therapeutic effects including anti-inflammatory, antioxidant, antitumour, antihyperglycaemic, nephroprotective, and hepatoprotective qualities.
Bizarre Growth Cycle
Of all the medicinal mushrooms known and used by human beings for therapeutic purposes, without a doubt cordyceps has the strangest growth habit.
The cordyceps mushroom is a fungus native to high elevations in the Himalayan mountains in Tibet and western regions of China. Unlike most medicinal mushrooms, which are fruiting bodies that are outgrowths of an underground mycelium, cordyceps is a parasitic fungus that parasitizes the caterpillars of moths indigenous to the area, using the insect’s body as both host and food.
Cordyceps fungal spores which land on the caterpillars, or are perhaps ingested by them, reproduce and colonize within the insect’s body to form a mycelium. The caterpillar becomes paralyzed by the invading fungus, and is subsequently consumed in its entirety from the inside out by the cordyceps mycelium, killing the insect along the way.
To complete its life cycle, the mycelium ultimately sprouts a stalk-like fruiting body out of what was once the head of the caterpillar, which releases spores to reproduce the fungus and repeat the cycle all over again.
As a result of this bizarre parasitic process, the resulting true, wild cordyceps musrhoom eventually ends up assuming the identical signature elongated caterpillar shape of its deceased host.
Rare – Exorbitantly Expensive Wild Specimens
Cordyceps mushrooms have long been highly valued and much sought after in the far east in places like China, Tibet and Nepal for their astonishing tonic and rejuvenative effects.
Because they have such an incredible reputation and are such high demand, wild cordyceps today are not only extremely rare, but are also astronomically and prohibitively expensive.
Although wild cordyceps are not widely available, the good news is that cordyceps mycelium is readily cultivated, so there are a number of good quality cordyceps products available these days, particularly in the form of bulk powders and powdered encapsulations.
Below are links to what I consider to be the top 3 best sources for purchasing cordyceps medicnal mushrooms.
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