Cordyceps – superfood from the world of Ultra-Endurance

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Cordyceps has unique chemical composition that can alter the way you feel and perform. Although used for centuries as a libido enhancer and performance booster its reintroduction to the wider population happened when six new Chinese runners, using herbal drink based on Cordyceps, broke the world records 17 times, on Olympics in Beijing 1993. Thorough researches took place afterwards, highlighting

6 amazing ways how Cordyceps alters and improves our body function:

  1. Energy production
  2. Endurance and stamina enhancement
  3. Testosterone and sex drive boost
  4. Antifatigue and anti-stress
  5. Improves aerobic capacity and respiratory function
  6. Powerful antioxidant
Let’s start with Energy.


Causes of Energy Shortage

Physical stress, emotional stress, oxidative stress, damage to your mitochondria, body toxins and normal wear and tear of your cells can all diminish your mitochondria’s ability to produce and thereby deplete your body’s ATP* supply and ultimately cause energy shortage.  Cordyceps increases the cellular energy production and oxygen uptake, and has been clinically proven to increase cellular bio-energy (the ATP/IP ratio) by 28% up to as much as 55%. What this basically means is that we become more efficient in producing energy within our body.

*ATP (adenosine triphosphate) molecules provide the energy that runs most of your metabolic pathways. Without them you would die in 4 seconds.

Endurance and stamina enhancer

In the 1993 National Games in Beijing, China and the World Games at Stuttgart, Germany, six new Chinese runners from Liaoning province under the “Ma’s Army” team broke world records in the track and field events 17 times with nine records of these events being completely surpassed:
Qu Junxia broke the 1,500-meter world record by 2 seconds
Wang Junxia broke the 3,000 meter world record by 10 seconds and 10,000-meter world record by 42 seconds
In the 3,000-meter race, five of these Chinese athletes broke the 9-year old world record with one of them being only 17 years old.
It was found out later that all of them were consuming cordyceps based herbal supplement.3

Testosterone and sex drive


Testosterone helps increase bone density, improves muscle mass and strength, assists in red blood cell production, and plays important role in sperm production and sex drive.
Cordyeps supplementation showed significant impact on boosting testosterone levels and sperm count.
The results of human clinical trials1 published in The Journal Of Alternative And Complementary Medicine demonstrated that Cordyceps is effective in increasing sex drive and affects sexual functions either via sex hormone systems or by directly acting on the sexual organs.  The administration of C. sinensis enhanced libido and sexual activity, and restored impaired reproductive function in both sexes.
The results of another controlled study2 conducted on elderly men with decreased libido, impotence and other sexual dysfunctions who were given 3g per day of Cordyceps for 40 days, showed increased sperm survival time and increased sperm count as well as a majority of patients reporting improvement in libido and sexual health.

Pharmaceutical industry is aware of this, wherefore, they have slowly started to add cordyceps extract, to their bedroom formulas.

Aerobic capacity and respiratory function

Randomized double-blind placebo-controlled clinical trial, proved that Cordyceps sinensis supplements improves oxygen uptake or aerobic capacity and ventilation function and resistance to fatigue of elderly people in exercise.
Cordycepic acid, is recognized to play a major role in alleviating conditions such as bronchitis or asthma due to its anti-inflammatory components.  In a study entitled “Anti-asthmatic activities in mycelial extract and culture filtrate of cordyceps sphecocephala J201″ it was shown that Cordyceps extract reduced the undesirable immune responses and/or cytokine expression exhibited in asthma.”


Although Mushrooms Coffee’s – Chaga is hands down champion in this category, Cordyceps kick ass as well. It has impressive ORAC score of 12,328 making him potent, antioxidants’ rich supplement.

Antifatique and anti-stress

On top of the study mentioned in “Aerobic capacity and respiratory function” paragraph another one showed that swimming endurance capacity of mice orally administered with the hot water (HW) fraction of mycelia of Cordyceps sinensi (150 and 300 mg/kg/d) was significantly prolonged from 75 to 90 min with a lessening of fatigue. The HW Cordyceps fraction also significantly inhibited the increase in total cholesterol and the decrease in alkaline phosphatase levels as biochemical parameters of immobilization stress in rats4.

Anti-Tumor Activity and immunomodulating effect

Cordyceps exhibited direct cytotoxic activity against several kinds of tumor cells, including Lewis lung carcinoma, B16 melanoma, lymphocytic (Jurkat), prostate (PC3), breast (MCF7), hepatocellular (HepG2, Hep3B), colorectal (HT-29)and HCT 116), and HL-60 cells. The most fascinating thing in this study is that although cordyceps had a cytotoxic effect on tumor cells, it did not show any cytotoxicity against normal cells5.


drugs are used to restore the immune system to normal and to reduce reoccurring and life-threatening infections. Immunosuppressive drugs are applied to control autoimmune disorders and inflammation when excessive tissue damage occurs.
Evidence shows that cordyceps is a bidirectional modulator with both potentiating and suppressive effects on the immune system. It makes our immune system smarter and adaptable on ongoing treats6,7.

No Side effects

Cordyceps has been proven8 to be a nontoxic fungal substance with wide-ranging physical and chemical effects on the body. No human toxicity has been reported, and animal models failed to find any. LD50 (median lethal dose) injected i.p. in mice at up to 80 g/kg per day, had no fatalities after 7 days. Given by mouth to rabbits for 3 months, at 10 g/kg per day (n = 6), no abnormalities were seen from blood tests or in kidney or liver function. 

  1. Zhu, J. et al. The Scientific Rediscovery of an Ancient Chinese Herbal Medicine: Cordyceps sinensis The Journal Of Alternative And Complementary Medicine [part 1] Volume 4, Number 3, 1998, pp. 289—303 [part 2] Volume 4, Number 4, 1998, pp. 429 – 457.
  2. Zhu, J. et al. The Scientific Rediscovery of an Ancient Chinese Herbal Medicine: Cordyceps sinensis The Journal Of Alternative And Complementary Medicine [part 1]Volume 4, Number 3, 1998, pp. 289—303 [part 2] Volume 4, Number 4, 1998, pp. 429 – 457. 
  8. Huang Y, Lu J, Zhu B, Wen Q, Jia F, Zheng S, Chen T, Li Y, Cheng G, Yi Z. [Toxicity study of fermentation Cordyceps mycelia B414.] Zhongchengyao. 1987;10:24–5 (in Chinese).