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The Benefits of Cordyceps & Adaptogens

March 31st, 2011

Cordyceps is a fungus that thrives on caterpillars in the high altitude mountain regions of China and Tibet. Cordyceps have been harvested and used for thousands of years and is a staple in ancient Chinese herbalism and holistic medicinal practice. Cordyceps have been found to successfully treat persistent cough, chronic bronchitis, respiratory dysfunction, male sexual dysfunction, withdrawal from opium, anemia, irregular heartbeat, dizziness, high cholesterol, ringing in the ears, and support immune, kidney and liver health.

benefits of cordyceps

Adaptogenic Properties of Cordyceps

Cordyceps, although classified as a fungus, also falls into the category of an adaptogen. Wikipedia defines an adaptogen as “any herb able to increase resistance to stress, trauma, anxiety, and fatigue.” Many scientists agree that herbal candidates must meet three main criteria in order to be classified as a true adaptogen:

  1. Be nontoxic and produce a negligible amount of side effects.
  2. Exert resistance to various types of stress, trauma, anxiety, and bodily fatigue.
  3. Induce normalization within the body.

Specific adaptogenic benefits of cordyceps include increasing oxygen capacity and ATP production within muscle cells. Studies have also revealed strong indications that cordyceps has strong athletic-enhancing properties, increasing endurance and reducing fatigue in endurance athletes. Although there has not been a study on cordyceps and short-run anaerobic capacity, the data from the endurance study leads me to believe that cordyceps supplementation could also benefit one’s VO2 max and anaerobic capacity via augmentation of oxygen capacity and the ATP energy pathway. Regardless, the aerobic enhancing benefits of cordyceps is good enough for me, as I’ve always been a cardiovascular seeker, anything else is simply icing on the cake.

Other popular adaptogens that pair especially well with cordyceps include rhodiola rosea, ashwaganda, astragalus, reishi, and maitake mushrooms. Many of these adaptogens are reported to cause alertness and sharp mental focus, and should probably not be taken at nighttime. The 8th century Vikings used to chew on rhodiola rosea roots during long expeditions, claiming the roots gave them superhuman strength, endurance, and focus. Thus is the apparent power and lure of adaptogens, cordyceps being just one of many.

rhodiola rosea benefitsAs a side note, I’d recommend sticking to only taking 1 or 2 different adaptogens simultaneously. Given the extremely strong capacity and potent nature of the various adaptogens, taking a cocktail of different adaptogens at the same time might be a little bit too much adaptogenic Boom Boom Boom. I can tell you from personal experimentation that I’ve had many sleepless nights from taking too much rhodiola rosea to help me study back in college. Although I didn’t sleep much, I did ace my tests and probably broke a school record for fastest test time. It’s like these things were only meant to be taken before war, sex, or a wrestling match with a grizzly bear. Adaptogens are the real deal boys and girls, so don’t overdo it. Here, less is truly more.

Suggestions for successfully combining adaptogens:

  1. “Immunity” Stack: Use this stack to stay healthy and bolster your immune system. Corydceps + Reishi
  2. “Focus” Stack: Use this stack if you have a lot of work to do and need to be alert and focused. Also nicknamed the ‘insomnia” stack because if you take it at night, well, good luck sleeping! Rhodiola Rosea + Ginkgo Biloba
  3. “Workout” Stack: Take this stack on days you hit the gym for an extra boost in energy, focus, and strength. Korean Ginseng + Cordyceps
  4. “Lovers” Stack: Well, you probably guessed it. This stack is for boosting natural testosterone and sexual desire, and hopefully that flame will be lit once again. Cordyceps + Epimedium (Horny Goat Weed)
  5. “Anti-Anxiety” Stack: Reduce stress and anxiety with this stack. Ashwaganda + Astralagus
  6. “Ultimate” Stack: This bad boy stack is to be used when it’s the real deal game time. Examples of a good time to pop this stack include running a marathon or Ironman Hawaii, and possibly before wrestling a grizzly bear. Use with caution. Rhodiola Rosea + Korean Ginseng + Cordyceps

What is the best Cordyceps Supplement?

Backed with a solid foundation of research, cordyceps supplements are literally sprouting up everywhere. Many popular supplement brands are now carrying different cordyceps products. Given the wide variety and multiple strains of cordyceps offered, which ones are best? Below I’ve compiled a list of the most popular brands of Cordyceps supplements. Be sure and check out the ones that best appeal to your needs.

  1. Jarrow Cordyceps: This strain bolsters the immune system and strengthens your Qi, or internal energy.
  2. Doctor’s Best Ultra Cordyceps: Great overall value for the price. This strain supports immunity, energy, stamina, vitality, liver and lung health, and mental focus.
  3. MRM Cordyceps CS-4 Strain: A potent strain of cordyceps that embodies the very essence of what cordyceps has to offer as an adaptogen. This strain as well as the Plantery Formulas CS-4 are both great cordyceps products to start out with.
  4. Mushroom Wisdom Super Cordyceps: This blend combines cordyceps fruiting body with ginger root extract, maitake mushroom, vitamin C and bioperine to help increase bio-availability.
  5. Nature’s Way Cordyceps: Specializing in vitality and endurance.
  6. Paradise Herbs Tibetan Cordyceps: A CS-4 strain concentrated to 7% cordyceptic acid, the main constituent found in cordyceps thought to be responsible for the powerful adaptogenic effects.
  7. Planetary Formulas CS-4 Cordyceps Power: A powerful adaptogen blend consisting of CS-4 cordyceps, astragalus root, codonopsis root, adenophora root, eucommia bark, eleuthero root, bai-zhu atractylodes rhizome, and ginger root. This is a great overall blend of different adaptogens but in small enough quantities that they are strong, yet mellow, overall being enjoyable and beneficial rather than overwhelming or all-powerful.
  8. Planetary Formulas Full Spectrum Cordyceps 450: This proprietary blend contains two different strains of cordyceps, combining to provide the full range of benefits highlighted in this post.
  9. Rainbow Light Certified Organics – Mushroom Therapy: This blend contains multiple adaptogenic mushrooms consisting of organic trametes, shittake, reishi, cordyceps, maitake, and ginger rhizome juice extract. This would be a great blend for those looking to optimize their sexual health and performance. The many different strains of mushroom fruiting bodies found in this blend promote elevated testosterone levels and reduced cortisol (stress hormone) levels, increasing libido and sexual desire.
  10. Solaray Cordyceps: Basic cordyceps supplement that provides a large serving of cordyceps (1g per serving). Great product for those looking to increase mental alertness and focus.


The Final Word on Supplementing with Cordyceps

If you’ve made it this far you’re now a certified pro on the benefits of cordyceps and adaptogen supplements. Remember, if you’re going to start supplementing with cordyceps or adaptogens to shop like a pro and choose All Star Health for guaranteed lowest prices and fast, flat-rate shipping of just $5.95!

One Response to “The Benefits of Cordyceps & Adaptogens”

  1. April 13, 2011 at 6:31 am, Natural Blog said:

    Cordyceps Power…

    [...] nemia, irregular heartbeat, dizziness, high cholesterol, ringing in the ears, an [...]…

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