Skip to content
Functional Mushrooms: The mysterious life of Cordyceps

Functional Mushrooms: The mysterious life of Cordyceps

Cordyceps. Where does one even begin to describe this fungus? It’s likely that you’ve heard the term cordyceps tossed around at your local chemist a time or two. And if you haven’t, cordyceps is a fungus mostly found in Tibet, Qinghai, Sichuan, Yunnan and Gansu provinces of China, that have been used medicinally for centuries. [1]

But what most people don’t know about this ancient mushroom, is how much of a freak alien it is. We don’t mean to sound brash when we say this, but it’s true. In case you missed the epic episode of Planet Earth, where legend David Attenborough angelically describes the absurd tendencies of cordyceps, we will fill you in on what they are all about.

Basically, cordyceps mushrooms are insect and larva killers. In order to grow in nature, the fungus invades the nervous system of an insect or larva and then takes control of the body. It will then proceed to murder the larva and project up from the remains.

Cordyceps insect
Insect infected with cordyceps. (Photo by 
Sirena vii.1988 L.E. Gilbert) 

To put this into perspective, think of some freaky alien crawling into your head to use your brain and body as a host. It then turns you into a zombie and walks your body out into the middle of nowhere. From there, it explodes out of your remains and now exists as a new organism. Sweet. Sounds like something out of a Star Trek episode, doesn’t it?

Although cordyceps may be a caterpillar's worst nightmare, they are actually quite the opposite when it comes to helping the human body. Cordyceps is known to reduce physical fatigue, replenishing the kidneys and soothing lungs. [1]

Pharmacological studies show that Cordyceps may increase “adenosine triphosphate production”, which is a chemical that produces energy in our cells. [2]

Extracts from Cordyceps may also improve the utilization of oxygen in cellular respiration. This suggests that Cordyceps may be useful in promoting endurance and strength as well as recovery from physical stress [3]. Keep that in mind for your next Tuesday night ultimate frisbee match. Your opponents aren’t going to know what hit them...

Cordyceps also produces a compound called "Cordycepin", a substance produced by the metabolism, which shows potential to be a very potent anti-oxidant and anti-inflammatory [4]. A study by Wu et al. found that cordycepin shows “apoptotic effects,” meaning that it may regulate cell division and could prevent uncontrolled cellular growth. [5]

Best of all, indulging in Cordyceps doesn’t always have to mean a tragic death for an insect, either. Life Cykel is using a vegan version of this magical fungus. That’s right. Vegan. We’d tell you how we do it, but we’d have to kill you.

Life Cykel Cordyceps liquid extracts are engineered and made locally in Byron Bay, NSW.

Generally, the mushrooms are taken in powdered form, or as a tea or a cordyceps extract. Add two squirts (2 ml) of Cordyceps extract directly to your coffee, smoothie, tea or water in the morning for best results.

Life Cykel haws both an extract and a powder, so you can make all kinds of magical delicious creations.

Lost for ideas on how to use our mushroom extracts or mushroom powders? Look no further. 

Delicious cordyceps mushroom latte recipe

How to make: 

1. Heat milk up on the stove for three to four minutes (Just heat, don't boil)

2. Add powders and mushroom extract to the hot milk and stir thoroughly until everything has dissolved. 

3. Add mushroom honey and stir until melted.

4. When the drink is ready, pour it into the blender and blend on high for 20 seconds to create foam.

5. Pour and enjoy!

Feeling exhausted? Add coffee powder to this drink for an extra boost!

Mushroom Research:

  1. Cordyceps fungi: natural products, pharmacological functions and developmental products Xuanwei Zhou, Zhenghua Gong, Ying Su, Juan Lin, Kexuan Tang Journal of Pharmacy and Pharmacology 61 (3), 279-291, 2009
  2. Ko and Leung. Enhancement of ATP generation capacity, antioxidant activity and immunomodulatory activities by Chinese Yang and Yin tonifying herbs. Chin Med. 2007. Department of Biochemistry, Hong Kong University of Science and Technology, Clear Water Bay, Hong Kong, China
  3. Bucci L. R. Selected herbals and human exercise performance. Am J Clin Nutr. 2000;72:624S–36S.
  4. Tuli, H. S., Sandhu, S. S., & Sharma, A. K. (2013). Pharmacological and therapeutic potential of Cordyceps with special reference to Cordycepin. 3 Biotech, 4(1), 1–12. doi:10.1007/s13205-013-0121-9
  5. Wu, W.-C., Hsiao, J.-R., Lian, Y.-Y., Lin, C.-Y., & Huang, B.-M. (2006). The apoptotic effect of cordycepin on human OEC-M1 oral cancer cell line. Cancer Chemotherapy and Pharmacology, 60(1), 103–111. doi:10.1007/s00280-006-0354-y
These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration or the Therapeutic Goods of Australia. This information is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease.
Next article Circular September

Leave a comment

Comments must be approved before appearing

* Required fields