Gulping down a whopping bite of fungus might not sound appetizing, especially when that fungus is parasitic in nature — growing on insect larvae and, when mature, eating its host! But lots of research supports the efficacy of Cordyceps, a genus of mushroom that includes more than 400 species, and which has been shown to do everything from fighting inflammation to improving energy to boosting testosterone to enhancing libido. It has been a popular staple in Chinese medicine for centuries and Western culture is just catching up.
Despite its off-putting source, Cordyceps has more than 20 bioactive ingredients and offers a number of benefits to active people. Here are five to consider:
Improves cardio capacity, stamina and endurance
This magic mushroom increases oxygen uptake, thereby increasing the supply of blood to the organs and extremities and accelerating oxygen delivery and utilization in working muscles. Research also indicates that supplementing with Cordyceps can help lower heart rate, allowing you to train with more intensity for longer duration, thereby burning more fat during high-intensity interval training and improving sports performance for time or distance.
Supports testosterone levels
Cordyceps stimulates the Leydig cells in the testes, encouraging them to produce more testosterone, the essential hormone for supporting and increasing muscle mass. Cordyceps also improves male reproductive capability and imparts a sense of sexual vitality in men as they age.
Enhances cellular energy production
You might reach failure in a set because you can no longer generate enough short-term ATP (energy) to continue. Cordyceps provides additional adenosine to boost ATP production, enabling you to lift more weight for more sets, while also supporting the stimulation of muscle growth when followed with proper nutrition for workout recovery.
Naturally boosts energy
Cordyceps attaches to the same receptors as caffeine and has a similar stimulating outcome, but but doesn't cause the jitters. That makes it a great energy booster for those who train later in the day or evening, since it does not negatively affect the ability to sleep.
Cordyceps is considered an energizing adaptogen similar to maca or other superfoods, and helps fight fatigue, reduce inflammation and prevent muscle aches. It also has been shown to balance cortisol and other stress hormones, helping restore balance and accelerating recovery.