Ophiocordyceps Sinensis (Cordyceps S) is the odd one out in the family of functional mushrooms. It looks like a caterpillar, but it’s actually a fungus. This is due to the entomopathogenic properties of Cordyceps S, which means it is parasitic. They infect and hijack the larvae of ghost moth, morphs and grows fruiting body out of the larvae, thus mummifying the larvae. At the end of summer, the fruiting body that busted out of the soil will start to disperse it’s spores, and the spores interacts with the chemical on the skin of the caterpillar to start growing mycelium and thus starting the hostile takeover.
To clarify, there are many types of cordyceps, and specifically Cordyceps S is highly sought after as a functional mushroom. Cordyceps Militaris (Cordyceps M) is also a type of cordyceps that is functional. The rare combination of caterpillar and fungus originated from the Tibetan Plateaus and the mountainous regions of Nepal, Bhutan and northern India at an altitude between 3000m and 5000m. The ancient Sikkim Vaidyas (herbalist / healers) and Amchi (Tibetan folk practitioners) have been using this mushroom for centuries to as a tonic to increase vigour and vitality. Wild grown Cordyceps S was and is still very rare, and it was only available to royals in ancient times. To this day, wild Cordyceps S is a highly prized Ayurveda and Chinese medicine ingredient due to its rarity and potency. Sadly, in recent years, over harvesting and climate change also caused the wild harvest to dwindle. Luckily scientists were able to isolate and cultivate the mycelium in liquid culture to create the special strain CS-4.
Over 20 bioactive compounds are found in Cordyceps S and Cordyceps M, which makes them such potent adaptogenic herbs. The pharmacological effects of these compounds are:
IMPROVE SPORTS PERFORMANCE- Cordyceps can increase mitochondrial production of ATP. Adenosine Triphosphate (ATP) is the energy source for our body down to the cellular level. Within each of our cells, mitochondria is the power plant that generates most of the ATP, and then use it as a source of chemical energy and together driving our bodily functions. For this reason alone, cordyceps are a great boost for endurance and stamina and thus improve sports performance. Cordyceps also promotes oxygen availability which could be another boost for sports performances as well as treating altitude sickness.
ENHANCE IMMUNITY – Polysaccharides found in Cordyceps as well as other functional mushrooms have significant stimulating or moderating our immune system. Further to that, Cordycepin, and Nucleosides found in both Cordyceps S and Cordyceps M, is a major category of compounds that contributes to Cordyceps’ healing properties. Cordycepin is found to intensively regulate human immune cell functions, and also demonstrates antibacterial, antiviral and insecticidal properties. And Nucleosides are the building blocks of DNA and RNA. Other compounds such as exopolysaccharide fraction, CPS-1, CPS-2, H1-A, Cordyglucans, Ergosterol, monosacchride saponins all demonstrates levels immunomodulatory, antitumor, antioxidant properties which together helps our body to regulate its immune system in order to achieve homeostasis.
LOWER BLOOD SUGAR – Laboratory tests have been conducted worldwide on cordyceps healing properties. And many studies have confirmed that cordyceps have blood sugar regulating properties. Cordymin, which is a peptide isolated from cordyceps, showed antidiabetic properties in rats in a labatory test. CS-F10 and CSP-1, polysaccharides isolated from cordyceps, has hypoglycaemic activity by stimulating the blood glucose metabolising, decrease insulin secretion and reduce oxidative stress. CSP-1 works to stimulate the pancreas to release /reduce insulin, thus regulating blood sugar. It is also used in treating renal (kidney) failure.