Does the cordyceps mushroom aid in the prevention and treatment of diabetes?
According to scientific evidence, the answer is yes!
We pored over the latest research on cordyceps and diabetes, so you don’t have to. Here’s what we found.
What are Cordyceps Mushrooms?
Cordyceps mushrooms are widely known as one of the healthiest fungi you can consume. The most popular species of these mushrooms, Cordyceps militaris and Cordyceps sinensis, have been used in traditional Chinese medicine for centuries, and are still immensely popular for their many benefits.
These parasitic fungi feed off caterpillar larvae. While you can find them anywhere in the world, cordyceps mushrooms originate from Asia and are still most commonly found in Asian tropical rainforests.
Health Benefits of Cordyceps Mushrooms
Cordyceps seems to benefit virtually every organ in the human body. It acts as a natural energy enhancer, and research suggests that it can even prevent certain forms of cancer, lower cholesterol, prevent oxidative stress, and provide anti-aging benefits.
Here are some of the most pronounced cordyceps benefits:
- induction of apoptosis of cancer cells (cordyceps is one of the best adaptogenic mushrooms for bladder cancer)
- chronic kidney disease symptom relief
- hypolipidemic activity
- antioxidative properties
- hypoglycemic activity (it appears to lower blood glucose levels in diabetic patients)
- energy-boosting properties
- digestive health benefits
- anti-inflammatory properties
Bioactive Compounds found in Cordyceps Mushrooms
Cordyceps mushrooms contain these active compounds:
- cordycepin (3'-deoxyadenosine)
- ergosterol peroxide
- fibrinolytic enzyme
- six nucleobases — cytosine, uracil, thymine, adenine, guanine, and hypoxanthine
- peptides, including cordymin
While scientists are just starting to look into many of these compounds, some of them show incredible potential. For example, cordycepin, found in Cordyceps militaris fruiting bodies, is known for its anti-inflammatory, anticancer, and antioxidant properties.
What is Diabetes?
Diabetes (Diabetes mellitus) is a chronic health condition that affects your body’s ability to turn food (more specifically carbohydrates and sugars) you eat into energy.
A healthy body breaks down carbohydrates into sugars and releases those sugars into the bloodstream. The pancreas then releases insulin, a peptide hormone that allows the cells to absorb the sugar and use it for energy.
People with diabetes don’t produce enough (or any) insulin or have trouble using the insulin properly. Therefore, the sugars can’t get into the cells and provide energy to the body.
The Two Types of Diabetes
Type 1 and type 2 diabetes both lead to high blood sugar levels and diabetes complications that come as a result of the blood sugar increase. However, the mechanisms behind these diseases are different.
Type 1 diabetes is usually hereditary and starts earlier in life, often in childhood or early teenage years. People with this diabetes type don’t produce insulin. Therefore, they need to take insulin shots in order for their body to be able to turn food into energy.
Type 2 diabetes is often the result of a poor lifestyle, although people with diabetes in their family history are more prone to getting it. People with this type have a lower insulin sensitivity (don’t respond to insulin well) or don’t make as much insulin as they should. In addition to insulin, the treatment for type 2 diabetes may include oral diabetes medication.
Symptoms of Diabetes
Early diabetes symptoms include an increase in hunger and thirst, the frequent need to urinate, dry skin, and weight loss. All of these symptoms will subside once a person starts taking insulin.
Still, if a person with diabetes doesn’t take medication or restrict their sugar intake, they can develop long-term complications, such as:
- eye problems
- slower wound healing
- nerve pain and damage
- skin infections
- kidney issues
Can Cordyceps Cure Diabetes?
Animal studies on the antidiabetic effect of cordyceps mushrooms show promising results and warrant further investigation. For example, a 2016 study examined the antidiabetic activities of Cordyceps militaris extract in diet-streptozotocin-induced diabetic Sprague-Dawley rats.
Half of the rats with streptozotocin-induced diabetes mellitus (DM rats) were given either a water extract or an alcohol extract of cordyceps for 3 weeks, while the other half, the control group, had the same diet with the exception of cordyceps.
Researchers examined blood glucose levels, lipid metabolic processes, body weights, and free radical levels in the rats prior to and after cordyceps treatment.
The results suggest that cordyceps has antidiabetic properties and protects internal organs against diabetes-related damage.
Oral Glucose Tolerance Testing Results
An oral glucose tolerance test measures blood insulin levels before and after drinking a liquid high in sugar. Through a difference in insulin secretion in these blood samples, this test shows how well your body handles sugar.
Compared to the control group, the serum insulin level in diabetic rats that were taking a cordyceps extract was significantly more stable. The cordyceps extracts prevented the blood sugar level spike, especially 60-120 minutes after ingesting sugar.
Histopathological Analysis Results
A histopathological examination was performed on diet-streptozotocin-induced diabetic rats as well as the control group to determine whether Cordyceps militaris extracts can cause any harm.
There were no significant differences in liver tissues among these two groups, which indicates that cordyceps is safe for consumption. A kidney cell analysis revealed that the Cordyceps militaris extract protects the kidneys from injury caused by streptozotocin.
Compared with diabetic rats that weren’t taking cordyceps, the experimental group’s illness improved significantly. Their fasting blood glucose (FBG) level was stabilized and their total cholesterol levels were lower. Additionally, cordyceps appeared to protect the kidneys against diabetic nephropathy.
Does Cordyceps Lower Blood Sugar?
Although more human research is needed, cordyceps mushrooms appear to stabilize glucose metabolism in animals. Both Cordyceps militaris and Cordyceps sinensis provide hypoglycemic effects, which could be beneficial for diabetes treatment and type 2 diabetes prevention.
Cordyceps Militaris and Glycemic Control
Cordycepin, a compound found in cordyceps, regulates blood sugar levels in alloxan-induced diabetic mice. A 2015 animal study examined the hyperglycemic effects of Cordyceps militaris.
Results show that cordycepin, in particular, had a beneficial effect on glucose absorption and could be used as a therapeutic agent in the treatment of diabetes.
Cordyceps Sinensis and Blood Sugar Levels
An animal study looked at the hypoglycemic activities of polysaccharides found in the cultural mycelium of Cordyceps sinensis.
After taking a Cordyceps sinensis extract for a week, diabetic rats and mice had higher serum insulin levels, which suggests that their pancreas was able to produce more of the hormone.
Can Cordyceps Prevent Diabetic Nephropathy?
According to the Journal of Diabetes Investigation, diabetic nephropathy and associated renal failure are major health concerns for those struggling with diabetes. Taking a cordyceps supplement could lessen your chances of developing kidney issues as a result of diabetes.
A 2016 study investigated the effects of Cordyceps militaris powder on renal function in type 2 diabetic mice with nephropathy. The powder combined beneficial compounds found in the cordyceps fruit body and the mycelium.
After 8 weeks of treatment, renal dysfunction biomarkers were significantly mitigated, which suggests that cordyceps could exhibit potent renoprotective action against diabetes-induced nephropathy.
What We Can Conclusively Say About Cordyceps and Diabetes
Here’s what we know to date about cordyceps and diabetes:
- Cordyceps mushrooms seem to provide beneficial antidiabetic activity, at least according to animal studies.
- Cordyceps appears to stabilize fasting serum glucose levels and prevent insulin spikes after sugar consumption.
- Cordycepin, a compound found in Cordyceps militaris, and polysaccharides found in Cordyceps sinensis, have particularly beneficial hypoglycemic properties.
- Cordyceps militaris protects the kidneys from damage caused by diabetes, including diabetic nephropathy and renal failure.
- More human studies are needed to explore the underlying mechanisms of cordyceps mushrooms and their effects on diabetes.
- Given that there are no downsides to taking cordyceps mushrooms, it may make sense to include them as a complementary and alternative medicine for diabetes treatment and prevention.
Are You Interested in Taking Cordyceps for Diabetes?
If you want to benefit from the antidiabetic activity of cordyceps mushrooms, why not have them in a delicious bowl of granola?
Our superfood granola contains your daily dose of hyperconcentrated cordyceps extract, as well as chaga mushrooms and the lion’s mane mushroom (a fungus that’s also known for its antidiabetic properties).
The granola is vegan, gluten-free, and packed with nutrients. It comes in three delicious flavors, so you can choose your favorite or get a bundle of all three for some variety in the morning.
Cordyceps and Diabetes FAQ
When is the best time to take cordyceps?
Although you will get the benefits of this medicinal mushroom no matter what time of day you take it, we suggest taking it in the morning or early afternoon.
This fungus can have a stimulating effect on your mind and body, so there’s a potential of cordyceps making you restless and unable to fall asleep if you take it later in the day.
Who should not take cordyceps?
Cordyceps mushrooms are generally safe for most people. However, if you’re prone to allergies, especially to mold, yeast, or other fungi, be cautious when you start taking cordyceps. If you notice any signs of an allergic reaction, stop taking the mushroom immediately and contact a healthcare professional.
Can I take cordyceps every day?
Yes, taking cordyceps every day is completely safe and can only benefit you. You can choose from a variety of cordyceps products, such as cordyceps tea, mushroom powder, or our Superfood Granola. Alternatively, combine our fortified granola with a midday cup of tea to reap the most benefits.
Can you take cordyceps long-term?
Yes, you can take cordyceps as long as you want. By taking cordyceps long-term, you can reap the beneficial effects this mushroom provides for the kidneys and the heart and even prevent certain types of cancer.
Does cordyceps raise blood pressure?
No, cordyceps mushrooms don’t raise blood pressure. On the contrary, they may even lower blood pressure in people who struggle with high blood pressure, according to research. They do so by relaxing the blood vessels and improving overall circulation.
Can I take cordyceps at night?
While you can take cordyceps at night, we suggest taking them earlier in the day. These mushrooms don’t contain caffeine, but they can provide a natural energy boost, which may make you restless if you take it close to bedtime.
This article was written strictly for informational purposes and is not intended to inform about medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment of any kind. The statements contained herein have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA).