You may not give this a lot of thought, but breathing is why you are alive. Without oxygen, your body cannot live. Your lungs do more than just absorb oxygen and expel carbon dioxide, they protect your other organs from irritating substances, harmful organisms, and an array of environmental pollutants. This happens normally without thought, but breathing can be a struggle for many people.
According to the American Lung Association, over 33 million Americans are dealing with chronic lung diseases, including asthma, lung cancer, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), and pulmonary fibrosis. Whether you are dealing with a chronic disease or dealing with a temporary congestion in your chest, there are natural remedies to help. Read on to find out about some of the best herbs and natural supplements that may boost lung health, as well as some tips to keep overall well-being in mind for your breathing system.
Benefits of Cordyceps for Lung Health
The beneficial characteristics of cordyceps mushrooms has been studied in recent years in relation to various indications, with the results from that study showing promise. While additional clinical data is still needed, several of these preclinical studies found links between cordyceps and improved lung health. This means that taking a supplement with Cordyceps could help to maintain pulmonary health and enhance breathing function. They may also be used as lung supplements for smokers, and can aid with supporting the lungs when trying to stop smoking.
Seasonal challenges include the activation of an immune cell called a mast cell, which may release histamines and other immune cells, potentially damaging the body. Thymic Stromal Lymphopoietin (TLSP) is a epithelial-derived cytokine that is the primary mediator of mast cell development and activation. Studies conducted in vitro suggest how cordyceps mushrooms can greatly inhibit the activation of TLSP, thus maintaining the homeostasis of the body.
Other studies show the effects of these medicinal mushrooms on aiding the body in breathing health, since they relax bronchial walls and contribute to increased oxygen utilization efficiency. These benefits, as well as the small, gentle nature of potential side effects of cordyceps lung health supplements, make the fungus helpful for any circumstance in which increasing or improving lung function is of importance. These parasitic fungi, which grow on insect larvae, may seem unsettling, but Cordyceps has been used for years in traditional Chinese medicine. Now, modern science is showing they can aid lung health.
With over 400 species of cordyceps discovered, two of those that are being studied the most for their health benefits are Cordyceps sinensis and Cordyceps militaris.
The best known and common species of Cordyceps mushrooms is Ophiocordyceps sinensis. Formerly known as the Ophiocordyceps, it inserts into the caterpillars of Hepialus moths and grows.
When found in the wild, the mushroom will be on top of the soil, while the insects body is underneath.
These particular mushrooms are found only in specific high-altitude areas on the Himalayan plateau, located in China and Tibet, making them extremely rare and valuable. The rarity of the wild varieties of the genus Cordyceps sinensis has led to high prices (about $20,000 a pound). As such, these mushrooms are generally not found in any lung health supplements that can easily be purchased.
Commercially growing cordyceps sinensis is challenging at scale – best efforts so far have yielded a liquid-cultured mycelium. Research suggests liquid cultured mycelium has some of the same health benefits, but is not an authentic product of the mushroom. Alternatively, extracts made from pure cordyceps militaris mushrooms, another species and a close cousin to cordyceps sinensis, have the full complement of biologically active compounds found in cordyceps sinensis mushrooms (fruiting bodies).
Cordyceps militaris is known in the United States as Scarlet Club Fungus, or the caterpillar killer. It is a species of Cordyceps that can grow on the largest variety of insects, and it is found extensively throughout North America and Asia. The main useful compounds in both types of Cordyceps are b-glucans and adenosine, although the militaris-type Cordyceps contains another specific compound called cordycepins as well.
In fact, the militaris species may contain as much as 90 times as much of this unique health-supporting compound as its Sinensis cousin. Unlike the sinensis species, cordyceps militaris can be cultivated commercially on a large scale for a mushroom (fruiting body), and has been growing in popularity for use in supplementation to promote pulmonary health. One study found cordyceps militaris reduced airway inflammation in mice with asthma, perhaps because cordyceps helps to make ATP – a molecule that provides energy to muscles, and may boost breathing ability in lung function. While further studies are needed, one study from 2016 concluded cordyceps sinensis improved the quality of life in people with moderate-to-severe asthma.