Best Cordyceps Nootropic | A Look At The Science and Our Favorite Products

Best Cordyceps Nootropic | A Look At The Science and Our Favorite Products

Ancient Chinese practitioners used a medically useful fungus, Cordyceps sinensis, since at least A.D. 1757. In recent years, renewed interest in this remarkable fungus has been spurred by studies conducted in China, Japan, Korea, and the United States, which have identified several natural ingredients within it that have shown beneficial effects for health, including on blood pressure, cognitive function, and athletic performance.

So, should you consider adding this natural nootropic to your nutritional supplement regimen? We think so, but let’s dig into the science.

Cordyceps Nootropic | Does It Work?

A study conducted in 2018 in 120 mice showed a statistically significant impact in improving learning, as well as reduced memory deficits, due to cordyceps. There are many other studies that outline other benefits for the brain that cordyceps offers on top of the enhancement of cognitive function, but we think cordyceps is definitely worth adding to your stack as a relatively cheap and effective nootropic.

You can learn more about our favorite cordyceps capsule supplements by following the banner on the right side of this page mentioning cordyceps supplements.

Neuroprotective Properties

Tests showed that this medicinal mushroom has a remarkable neuroprotective effect in the area of the hippocampus, which is the site of the onset of dementia. Rat studies show that it may be comparable to Donepezil, one of the best-known Alzheimers drugs on the market, for improving spatial memory.

What Exactly are Cordyceps Mushrooms?

Cordyceps sinensis is a mushroom that is native to high elevations on the Tibetan plateau. It is considered to be parasitic, since it lives on a caterpillar (Hepiaidae) that hosts it. The Chinese name for cordyceps is Dong Chong Xia Cao (DCXC), meaning winterworms and summer grass, reflecting part of the lifecycle of the mushroom.

In winter, the fungus coats caterpillars with slender tendrils, which may look similar to white worms, and in summer, the fruiting body appears above the soil, standing up upright, similar to grass. When picked and dried, these turn an orange-brown shade, looking like a cross between a dried piece of fruit and a worm.

Cordyceps in Traditional Chinese Medicine

DCXC is a herb used extensively in Chinese Traditional Medicine, known for its uplifting properties, and is frequently added to soups for the rejuvenation of people suffering from an illness. According to the traditions, cordyceps enhances both ying of the lungs. The Chinese pharmacopeia lists “replenishing the kidneys, soothing the lungs, stopping hemorrhage, and removing phlegm” as common uses of the mushroom.

How do cordyceps work?

Much of the therapeutic potential of cordyceps centers on its ability to increase oxygen utilization and ATP production, and stabilize blood glucose. Although we still do not fully understand how Cordyceps interacts with the human body, scientists think two naturally occurring chemicals — cordycepin and cordycepic acid — play a major role.

Due to the overharvesting of cordyceps for use in natural medicines, the mushroom is now a critically endangered species. As a greener alternative, cordyceps can be grown artificially on rice, producing fruiting bodies that have a similar effect to natural fungi.

Cordyceps for Athletic Performance

While further studies are needed before we can make any firm conclusions about cordyceps use in sports performance, some data suggests it can enhance endurance, improve hemoglobin levels, and aerobic capacity. The Chinese Olympic womens track and field team in 1993 claimed that Cordyceps was responsible for three of their new world records in the games, routinely taking the medicinal mushroom after training sessions due to its energy-boosting properties. Legendary alternative medicine expert Dr. Andy Weil is also a Cordyceps fan, recommending it be consumed on a daily basis for months to build up strength and stamina. A double-blind, placebo-controlled study conducted on 20 healthy adults aged 50-75 years, conducted on 1,000 mg of daily dosage over a 12-week period, showed a significant shift in metabolic threshold (10.5%) and in respiratory threshold by 8.5%, though no changes were seen in VO2 MAX.

Cordyceps for Sleep

Tryptophan, the precursor to serotonin, is one of the 18 amino acids found in cordyceps. It is a known tranquilizer, and it can help to combat insomnia, suggesting they might be better taken at night, not in the early hours.

Cordyceps for the Heart

Initial data suggests cordyceps can reduce blood pressure through dilating blood vessels, as well as protecting the heart against cardiac arrhythmias.

About the author

Bruce Wilson

I've studied Mycology and Forest Pathology and love creating content to help other learn more about my passion. Follow along as I continue to explore the amazing world of functional fungi!

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