The anti-fatigue medicinal mushroom that adds energy and vitality
Cordyceps (Cordyceps sinensis), one of Tibet’s best kept secrets, is one of the most recognised medicinal mushrooms in traditional Chinese medicine. Since the 1980s, more than 2,000 scientific articles have been written about this fungus, and its “potential benefits” have been reported in the media and press such as the British BBC. It is known by many names, such as ‘Caterpillar Mushroom’, ‘Tochukaso’ or ‘Tocheikasa’ in Japan, ‘Dong Chon Xia Cao’ in China, ‘Chong Cao’, ‘Yartsa Gunbu’, ‘Ophiocordyceps sinensis’. Or ‘Jeera jhar’, ‘Jeevan buti’, ‘Keeda ghass’, ‘Chyou kira’, ‘Sanjeevani bhooti’, which are common names in Nepal.
Essential notes on the ‘energy mushroom”
Cordyceps is a well-known medicinal mushroom rich in natural active biomolecules such as beta-glucans, ergosterol or provitamin D, essential amino acids, linoleic and linolenic acid and other vitamins and minerals. Its high cordycepin content, together with the cordycepic acid and adenosine contained in Cordyceps, make it a unique energising formula with high therapeutic value and of great interest in scientific research. The extensive traditional uses of this medicinal mushroom have led scientists in general and our R&D team to study it intensively in the following areas:
- Musculoskeletal system: fatigue and tiredness in osteoarthritis and sport as well as muscle development.
- Reproductive-sexual health: libido, potency and sex hormones (also linked to the endocrine system).
- Metabolic-endocrine system: hormone regulation.
- Integrative support: studies on its activity in combination with conventional treatments and its effect on quality of life.
Other: immunology and respiratory system (lung function)
Cordyceps is also known as ‘Tibetan Viagra’ because of its “potential in areas such as fertility and libido in both men and women”. Hence it is also used in traditional Asian medicine as a “sexual invigorator and reproductive enhancer”. To find out more, check out these 10 must-know facts about Cordyceps sinensis.
Properties, uses and applications of Cordyceps
Linked to its energising properties, popular tradition has used it as “an aid in cases of fatigue, oxygenation, muscular development, fertility, lack of libido, impotence and as a powerful antiviral”. For years, scientific studies have confirmed its multiple benefits.
C. sinensis is not a common mushroom that can be consumed like Boletus or Shiitake. Instead it is consumed like turkey tail or Chaga, mainly as a concentrated extract (Mico-Cord), in powder form (Cordy-Sin Sport) or dehydrated and ground as it has a very hard consistency. It is traditionally used as a seasoning for soups, meat stuffing or as an addition to stews and vegetables.
Like other medicinal mushrooms, Cordyceps powder is also prepared as an infusion and/or used as a superfood such as Cordyceps Vital, an organic superfood for preparing healthy recipes such as a revitalising smoothie.
However, the highest concentration of active properties of Cordyceps is in extract form, which can be obtained with sustainable technologies, without denaturing its compounds, concentrating the active biomolecules of its composition for a better use of its properties.
Concentrated active biomolecules of the highest quality found in the composition of Cordyceps sinensis are:
ALA Y AL:
α-linolenic acid (ALA) and linoleic acid (LA): essential polyunsaturated
Habitat and distribution
Cordyceps is only found in the highlands of the Himalayas, limited to an altitude of between 3000 and 5000 meters. It is therefore mainly found in Tibet and parts of Bhutan, China and Nepal. C. sinensis never occurs in clusters, but exclusively in caterpillars.
Partly due to the high demand for wild-collected specimens and their geographical restriction, Cordyceps is still traded today at very high prices and sometimes weighed as gold is.
As wild specimens are traded by weight, collectors sometimes have the unfortunate tendency to be weighed down with foreign substances, such as lead or other heavy metals. If this is overlooked during further processing, poisoning can occur in the worst case scenario. However, wild-collected medicinal mushrooms are still considered more effective in traditional Chinese medicine and enjoy great popularity.
Cordyceps sinensis, along with Reishi and Lion’s Mane, is one of the most popular natural remedies in traditional Asian medicine. According to the FAO’s Edible Wild Mushrooms – A Global Perspective on their Use and Importance to People, this mushroom is “eaten” solely for its health benefits. It grows naturally on the high plateaus of Tibet and has been intensively harvested for years in parts of China, Bhutan and Nepal.
In fact, the economic importance of Cordyceps is enormous, especially in Tibet. Parts of the population are fully dedicated to the collection of wild specimens and are therefore dependent on the development of the mushroom population. It is estimated that the collection and sale of Cordyceps accounts for 20-30% of Tibet’s agricultural products.
Thanks to scientific research, it is possible to cultivate a particular strain of Cordyceps in a bioreactor. This cultivation system allows its production in a completely natural liquid substrate from which the Cordyceps mycelium is obtained, whose richness in active biomolecules is like that of the wild carpophore.
Cultivation in bioreactors
Highest quality, purity and performance in our production systems
One of the most powerful lines of research at Hifas da Terra focuses on the continuous improvement of the cultivation of different species in bioreactors (Reishi, Lion’s Mane, Shiitake and Maitake) using certified organic substrates, as well as the standardisation of the quality of the ingredients to guarantee excellence in the final product we produce with each medicinal mushroom. New technologies such as the bioreactor cultivation we use for Cordyceps allow us to standardise the cultivation conditions for this medicinal mushroom: temperature, humidity, etc. This results in a natural product made from Cordyceps of unprecedented high quality for the European food supplement market.
With our own quality standard, we identify biomolecules and active ingredients with therapeutic action, and select the fungal strains that contain optimum compound levels, using our own specific analytical systems, we apply analysis protocols at every stage of production. Thanks to this rigorous system, we offer natural products, supplements and nutraceuticals with the Hifas Quality System guarantee, setting us apart from other products in terms of quality, safety and efficacy.
Cordyceps R&D and studies
- Hifas da Terra and OAFI Foundation (Osteoarthritis Foundation International) demonstrated in an observational study in humans the joint benefit of supplementation with Mico-Cord and Mico-Five. The results of this study were presented at the 3rd International Congress of Osteoarthritis Patients, organised by @OAFIFoundation and held in Barcelona in 2019.
- A study conducted by Hifas da Terra with the University of Pavia (Italy) in 2012 showed that consumption of our Cordyceps is able to modulate and reduce overtraining syndrome (OTS) in cyclists.
- Cordyceps made headlines in the 1990s as a legal doping product for top Chinese athletes. Chinese athletes broke world records at the World Athletics Championships in Stuttgart and the National Games in Beijing. Then the whole world discovered Cordyceps as a superfood.
- The ‘energising properties’ of this mushroom are linked to Tibetan pastoralism. With the arrival of spring and the first thaws, shepherds would take their livestock up to the high mountain areas to feed them. After ingesting the brown herb (Cordyceps), the yaks, goats and sheep were stronger and more robust and behaved in a similar way to the rutting season. Thus, the first medicinal uses of Cordyceps were related to improving reproductive capacity and vitality.
- Some species of Cordyceps (Cordyceps militaris) also grow in our latitudes. C. militaris is also produced by biotechnology and, once dried, is often added to soups and stews. Its components are very similar to those of C. sinensis. However, in order to know what they are and their concentration, we must buy quality products with standardised labelling.
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