The cordyceps mushroom is known for its energy boosting properties among health-conscious athletes, with some even using it as a caffeine alternative.
We took a look at what science has to say about the energy boosting effects of cordyceps, and our findings were impressive.
Read on to learn how cordyceps can give you more energy and improve endurance levels.
What are Cordyceps Mushrooms?
Contrary to popular belief, cordyceps is not a single mushroom, but rather a genus of parasitic fungi that includes over 600 species. The most noteworthy cordyceps varieties are Cordyceps militaris and Cordyceps sinensis. The latter has been used in traditional Chinese medicine for centuries, and the former is a more readily available cousin. Both have impressive therapeutic properties.
Potential Medicinal Properties of Cordyceps
There’s a reason this functional mushroom has been used in alternative medicine for centuries, as it shows great pharmacological and therapeutic potential.
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, such as breast cancer and lung cancer. Here are some of the evidence-based benefits of cordyceps:
- induction of apoptosis of cancer cells
- chronic kidney disease symptom relief
- hypoglycemic activity (it appears to lower blood sugar levels in diabetes patients)
- energy-boosting properties
- digestive health benefits
- anti-inflammatory properties
Cordyceps Vitamins and Minerals
All cordyceps mushroom varieties contain a plethora of vitamins and minerals that are incredibly beneficial to people. In addition to high levels of protein, essential amino acids, and complex carbohydrates, these medicinal mushrooms contain high levels of vitamin B12, B1, and K.
Bioactive Compounds of 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
Does Cordyceps Give You Energy?
Anecdotally, many people report that this medicinal fungus makes them feel more energized, alert, and focused, without giving them a crash they would get from coffee. Although more human research is needed, the available scientific evidence seems to support these claims.
Cordyceps and ATP production
Cordyceps fungi seem to aid in ATP production in cellular mitochondria. Adenosine triphosphate (or ATP, for short), is integral for energy production in all life forms, which is why many refer to it as an ‘energy molecule’. ATP powers cellular processes by releasing energy during the process called phosphorylation.
A Chinese study looked at the effects of three herbs commonly used in ancient Chinese medicine, including cordyceps, on ATP production. Results show that cordyceps appears to enhance ATP generation on a cellular level.
Cordyceps and Energy Replenishment
Both human and animal studies seem to suggest that the cordyceps fungus works as an energy enhancer.
For example, an animal study examined the effects of Cordyceps militaris on exercise performance in mice. Results show that these medicinal mushrooms may replenish energy on a cellular level by regulating pathways responsible for carrying molecules of energy to our cells.
A human study came to a similar conclusion regarding Cordyceps sinensis. The researchers compared exercise performance in healthy older subjects that took a cordyceps extract for 12 weeks with subjects who took a placebo.
The participants who were taking the cordyceps supplement showed significant improvement in exercise performance and an increase in ventilatory and metabolic thresholds when compared to the control group.
Cordyceps and Oxygen Uptake
Oxygen uptake measures a person’s ability to deliver oxygen to tissues that need it. More oxygenated tissues can exert more energy. According to research, both Cordyceps militaris and Cordyceps sinensis seem to improve oxygen uptake in humans.
A human study examined the effects of Cordyceps militaris supplementation on oxygen uptake. The participants were given a supplement containing an extract of cordyceps and tested after one week and once again after three weeks.
The maximal oxygen consumption and the ventilatory threshold both seemed to increase acutely (soon after taking the supplement), as well as with regular supplementation.
A 2013 study on the effect of Cordyceps sinensis on human lung cells came to a similar conclusion. Cells treated with an aqueous extract of Cordyceps sinensis were more resistant to oxidative stress caused by hypoxia.
Cordyceps and Endurance
Cordyceps mushrooms seem to be quite beneficial for exercise performance. The Cordyceps militaris mushroom, in particular, seems to provide anti-fatigue properties, at least in animals.
A 2015 study looked at the effects of Cordyceps militaris fruit bodies on the fatigue levels during exercise in mice. Results show that, when compared to non treated mice, the animals treated with the cordyceps fruit extract showed fewer signs of fatigue and were able to exercise for longer.
Another animal study examined the effects of polysaccharides, bioactive compounds found in Cordyceps militaris, on physical fatigue induced by swimming. Results show that the mice that were given the mushroom extract could swim for longer and had less lactic acid buildup than their untreated counterparts.
What We Can Conclude About Cordyceps’ Energy Boosting Properties
Although more research is needed, here’s what we can conclusively say about cordyceps mushrooms and their energy boosting properties:
- Cordyceps fungi appear to increase the production of ATP in cellular mitochondria.
- Both Cordyceps sinensis and Cordyceps militaris seem to replenish energy stores in animals and humans.
- Studies done on humans and animals suggest that both cordyceps varieties increase oxygen uptake.
- The Cordyceps militaris mushroom seems to be beneficial for endurance and athletic performance, at least in animals.
- More human studies are needed in order to understand the underlying mechanisms of the energy boosting effects of cordyceps.
- Given that there is no downside to the consumption of cordyceps mushrooms, it may make sense to proactively include a supplement of this medicinal fungus in one’s diet.
Is Cordyceps Safe to Consume?
Cordyceps mushrooms are completely safe to eat. Still, you should remain cautious if you are pregnant or plan on starting a family soon. Although many pregnant people do consume cordyceps mushrooms without any side effects, make sure to consult a doctor, as there’s not a lot of research on the effects of cordyceps on pregnancy.
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.
Does Cordyceps Raise Blood Pressure?
No, cordyceps mushrooms don’t raise blood pressure. Quite 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.
Interested in Trying Cordyceps for Energy Boosting?
If you’re interested in trying herbal medicine to enhance your energy levels, you can’t go wrong with cordyceps mushrooms. However, in order to get the most benefits out of the fungus, it’s important to choose a high-quality supplement.
The Forij Superfood Granola is an easy way to get your daily dose of cordyceps, in addition to lion’s mane and chaga mushrooms. The granola is vegan, gluten-free, certified organic, and contains a hyperconcentrated extract of these mushrooms, meaning you’ll get their full benefits without your morning bowl of granola tasting like mushrooms.
Cordyceps and Energy Boosting FAQ
What time of day should I 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. The 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.
Is cordyceps good for the lungs?
Research suggests that Cordyceps sinensis can be quite beneficial for the lungs. The medicinal mushroom has been used in ancient Chinese herbal medicine to treat asthma and coughs, as it appears to relax and open up the airways. This functional mushroom can even aid in the treatment of pulmonary fibrosis and similar obstructive pulmonary illnesses.
Is there caffeine in cordyceps?
No, there is no caffeine in cordyceps mushrooms. However, they can have a stimulating effect, which means you may get a boost in energy and focus, but won’t experience the caffeine crash, jitters, or anxiety.
Do cordyceps increase testosterone?
Yes, clinical studies show that Cordyceps sinensis has a positive effect on testosterone production in mice.
The Leydig cells are responsible for testosterone production. Cordycepin—a bioactive compound found in cordyceps—stimulates MA-10 mouse Leydig tumor cells, which leads to an increase in steroidogenesis and the production of testosterone.
The fact that the cordyceps fungus has this effect on Leydig cells in animals is promising for further research on cordyceps and testosterone production.
Is cordyceps a psychedelic?
Cordyceps does have psychological effects in the sense that the mushroom can make you feel more awake, energized, and focused. However, the fungus won’t make you ‘trip’, as it does not contain psilocybin nor have a hallucinogenic effect.
How long does it take for cordyceps to kick in?
It takes about two to four weeks of regular cordyceps use for you to notice a difference in your overall health. You might feel the effects such as energy enhancement and focus improvement sooner but won’t get the full benefits of these medicinal mushrooms unless you take them regularly for at least a month.
Does cordyceps slow blood clotting?
Yes, cordyceps mushrooms seem to have inhibitory effects on blood clotting. Therefore, you should be cautious if you’re prone to excess bleeding or bruising, or if you’re scheduled to have surgery soon.
Additionally, be wary of drug interactions with anticoagulation medicine, such as aspirin and heparin, as you may be increasing the risk of bruising and extended bleeding by combining them with cordyceps.
Is cordyceps good for the kidneys?
Research seems to suggest that the answer is yes. A double-blind, placebo-controlled trial looked at the effects of Jinshuibao capsule treatment on chronic kidney disease in people 18-70 years old. The capsules are a fermentation product made of Cordyceps sinensis powder. Results show that the cordyceps capsules contributed to renal function improvement.
Should I get a Covid-19 vaccine if I am taking a cordyceps supplement?
There is no evidence that cordyceps conveys immunity against Covid-19 and other viruses, so you should not use the mushroom in place of a vaccine, so we advise you to follow the best medical practices and consult with your physician. However, there is no research to suggest a cordyceps supplement or any other herbal drugs may have a negative effect on Covid-19 vaccines and vice versa.
The information provided in this article is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease or illness. The statements contained herein have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA). If you need medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment, contact a medical professional.