Can cordyceps mushrooms help prevent and treat inflammation?
According to science, the answer is a resounding yes!
We tracked down the latest research on the anti-inflammatory effects of cordyceps. Check it out.
What are Cordyceps Mushrooms?
Cordyceps mushrooms are widely regarded as one of the most beneficial mushrooms you can consume. The most popular mushroom species, Cordyceps militaris and Cordyceps sinensis, have been used in traditional Chinese medicine for centuries.
Although science is just starting to look into their many benefits, these fungi show incredible potential when it comes to inflammation prevention, athletic performance, and even anti-tumor effects.
What are the Benefits of Taking Cordyceps?
Cordyceps seems to benefit virtually every organ in the human body. It acts as a natural athletic performance enhancer, and research suggests that it can even prevent certain forms of cancer, lower cholesterol levels, prevent oxidative stress, and provide immune response benefits.
Here are some of the most pronounced cordyceps benefits:
- anticancer activity through the 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 activities
- anti-aging effects
- sex drive enhancing benefits
- hypoglycemic activity (it appears to lower blood glucose levels in diabetic mice and people)
- energy-boosting properties (it improves exercise performance and endurance)
- 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, a bioactive compound found in Cordyceps militaris fruiting bodies, is known for its anti-inflammatory, antioxidant, and antitumor activities.
What is Inflammation?
Inflammation is the immune system’s response to a perceived threat or danger. Unfortunately, it can get out of control and cause chronic health issues.
Your body releases special cells and substances into your bloodstream when it senses a threat. These threats can be from foreign invaders such as viruses and bacteria; they can also be damage to the body, such as a splinter, wound, or burn.
The five most common symptoms of inflammation are:
- heat to touch
- loss of function
What is the Main Cause of Inflammation in the Body?
The most common cause of inflammation is the presence of bacteria or viruses in the body. However, autoimmune disorders, such as lupus, could cause your body to attack its own healthy tissue, leading to inflammation. Allergies, as well as exposure to harmful chemicals, can also cause inflammation.
Why is Inflammation Bad?
Short-term inflammation is good. It’s the chronic type that’s bad.
Ideally, the body triggers an inflammatory response in response to a problem, neutralizes the threat, and returns to normal.
Often, however, folks have ongoing inflammation, not in response to a specific threat, but as a “new normal.”
Many people today have chronic inflammation in their body, whether in the full-blown manifestation as one of the many diagnosable autoimmune diseases, or as a more low-grade form. Poor diet, stress, toxins, or other triggers can keep the immune system releasing inflammatory cells.
Ongoing inflammation can cause any of the following symptoms and issues:
- Reduced cognitive abilities
- Hardening of the arteries
- Blood clotting
- Lower back pain
- Insulin resistance
- Joint stiffness and joint pain
- Abdominal pain
- Chest pain
The following autoimmune diseases are directly correlated with chronic inflammation:
- Rheumatoid arthritis
- Multiple sclerosis
- Guillain-Barre syndrome
- Inflammatory bowel disease (IBD)
- Chronic inflammatory demyelinating polyneuropathy
- Graves disease
- Myasthenia gravis
- Hashimoto’s thyroiditis
- Type 1 diabetes mellitus
Chronic inflammation is really bad. Fortunately, lifestyle modifications, including dietary changes, can often help reduce it.
Is Cordyceps Anti-Inflammatory?
Cordyceps is said to fight inflammation in the body. These mushrooms have been used in herbal medicine along with other medicinal mushrooms for their anti-inflammatory properties for centuries. Although scientists are just starting to take a closer look at the potential anti-inflammatory effects of this medicinal mushroom, the research appears to be promising.
A 2020 study examined the effects of cordycepin, a compound found in cordyceps cultured mycelia, on inflammation. Results show that the ethanol extracts that contain cordycepin inhibit processes that cause inflammation in chronic illnesses, such as rheumatoid arthritis, hepatitis, and asthma.
Cordyceps Militaris and Inflammation
A 2014 human cell study looked at the anti-inflammatory potential of polysaccharides extracted from Cordyceps militaris. These novel polysaccharides extracted from the mushroom via water extraction were applied to the human monocytic cell line.
The study suggests that Cordyceps militaris may exhibit anti-inflammatory action by inhibiting pro-inflammatory cytokines IL-1β, TNF-α, and COX-2. These cytokines are key mediators of inflammatory responses in the body. By inhibiting their effects, cordyceps could prevent chronic inflammation processes.
The Anti-Inflammatory Therapeutic Potential of Cordycepin
A study published in the Pharmacognosy Magazine looked at the molecular mechanisms of cordycepin extracted from the cordyceps cultured mycelia on inflammation. The alcoholic extract of this compound appears to inhibit the production of nitric oxide and protein kinases, molecules that play a key role in inflammation.
Cordycepin shows incredible pharmacological activities when it comes to inflammation prevention. The promising pharmacological potential of this compound certainly warrants further research into the effect of cordyceps mushrooms on inflammation.
Cordyceps and Asthma-Related Inflammation
The anti-inflammatory activities of cordyceps mushrooms seem to prevent asthma-related airway inflammation, according to a recent animal study. Cordyceps militaris seems to act as an immunomodulatory agent and modulate lung inflammation in experimental animals.
This mouse model study shows promising results, but further human research is needed to understand the anti-inflammatory biological activities of cordyceps. Still, it’s not a bad idea to use this natural product in addition to traditional treatment methods if you have asthma.
Cordyceps and Post Kidney Transplant Inflammation
Chronic inflammatory responses are prevalent after kidney transplant procedures. A 2017 meta-analysis examined the effects of Cordyceps sinensis on kidney transplantation patients.
When combined with immunosuppressant therapy (the most common therapy for inflammation prevention), cordyceps provided inhibitory effects on inflammation and improved kidney function post-transplantation.
What We Can Conclusively Say About Cordyceps and Inflammation
Here’s what we know to date about cordyceps and inflammation:
- Both human cell and animal studies suggest that this medicinal fungus has incredible anti-inflammatory potential.
- Cordyceps militaris appears to exhibit anti-inflammatory action by inhibiting various pro-inflammatory cytokines that exacerbate inflammatory processes in the body.
- Cordycepin, a bioactive compound found in cordyceps mushrooms, seems to be particularly promising when it comes to inflammation prevention.
- Asthma patients can benefit from cordyceps mushrooms, as they seem to provide immunomodulatory effects and prevent airway inflammation, at least in animals.
- Cordyceps could be beneficial to kidney transplant patients, as it lowers the risk of postoperative inflammation.
- More human studies are needed to explore the underlying mechanisms of cordyceps mushrooms and their effects on inflammation.
- Given that there are no downsides to taking cordyceps mushrooms, it may make sense to include them as complementary and alternative medicine for inflammation prevention and treatment.
Are You Interested in Taking Cordyceps for Inflammation?
If you want to take cordyceps mushrooms for inflammation prevention and treatment, why not have them in a delicious bowl of granola?
Yes, you read that right. With our healthy superfood granola, you don’t have to worry about forgetting your daily supplements, because you get your daily dose of cordyceps in your breakfast!
You’ll also get the beneficial effects of chaga and lion’s mane mushrooms (which have anti-inflammatory properties of their own). All that in a vegan, gluten-free bowl of deliciousness you’ll be ecstatic to eat every morning.
Cordyceps and Inflammation FAQ
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 Forij Superfood Granola. Alternatively, combine our fortified granola with a midday cup of tea to reap the most benefits.
How long does it take cordyceps to work?
You can notice the short-term effects of cordyceps in as little as one week. You’ll likely feel more energized and focused as soon as you start taking this mushroom. However, for long-term effects, you’ll need to take a cordyceps supplement every day for at least a few months.
Is cordyceps good for the lungs?
Cordyceps is one of the most common ancient Chinese medicinal mushrooms used to treat asthma, as it appears to open up the airways. This medicinal mushroom is still used as herbal medicine for pulmonary fibrosis and lung cancer prevention and treatment.
In a 2015 study, Cordyceps militaris was shown to exhibit an antitumor effect on non-small cell lung cancer. The methanolic extract of cordyceps seems to have reduced lung carcinoma growth by increasing the levels of several tumor-suppressing proteins.
Is cordyceps a parasite?
Yes, Cordyceps sinensis mushrooms are endoparasitoids, which means they live as a parasite on insects (typically on moth larvae), which they eventually kill. However, only insects can be hosts of these mushrooms, so it’s completely safe for people to consume them (even raw).
Cordyceps militaris, the most common type of cordyceps, typically grows in a culture (most often containing wheat, oats, and rice).
Does cordyceps interact with any medications?
While the cordyceps mushroom is generally safe for most people, this fungus potentially increases the risk of bleeding if you’re on anti-clotting medication.
Hence, you should avoid cordyceps if you are on blood thinners or have problems with blood coagulation. Additionally, don't take cordyceps supplements if you're scheduled to have surgery in the near future.
Will cordyceps keep you awake?
Yes, this medicinal mushroom has energy-boosting properties, and it may help with alertness. However, it shouldn’t interfere with sleep.
Bioactive compounds in this adaptogenic mushroom act as a natural energizer and appear to enhance ATP production, according to a Chinese study.
ATP, often referred to as an ‘energy molecule’, powers cellular processes by releasing energy via a process called phosphorylation. Thus, cordyceps may give you an energy boost, which will, in turn, make you feel more awake and alert.
Does cordyceps increase testosterone?
Cordyceps appears to promote testosterone production, at least in animals. A 2015 animal study examined the effects of cordycepin on testosterone production in mice.
The Leydig cells are responsible for testosterone production. Cordycepin—one of the primary active components of cordyceps—stimulates MA-10 mouse Leydig tumoral cells, which leads to an increase in steroidogenesis and the production of testosterone.
The fact that the cordyceps mushroom has this effect on mouse Leydig cells is promising for further research on cordyceps and testosterone production.
Can I 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.
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).