Cordyceps Mushroom Benefits for Health and Wellness*
Cordyceps might just be our favorite functional mushroom here at Mushroom Revival and not just because of its wild alien-like appearance and vibrant color. After our Founder, Alex Dorr, discovered Cordyceps, he became fascinated with these ‘cheeto’ look-a-like mushrooms and their benefits. From there the idea for Mushroom Revival was born! To say we love Cordyceps is an understatement and after you read this Cordyceps 101 guide we think you will too!
And since people tend to ask: The mushroom in our Cordyceps mushroom tincture is a species known as Cordyceps militaris. The mushrooms we use are both vegan and cruelty-free through our cultivation methods. In the wild, Cordyceps can be found feasting upon moth larvae. That’s natural and part of the ecosystem, but in recent decades we’ve learned to commercially cultivate Cordyceps militaris, without harming any bugs. Cultivated Cordyceps are far more affordable than the wild ones (which is nice for your wallet), and far more eco friendly as well.
There are over 400 species of cordyceps in the wild. To learn about the difference between two of the most popular kinds Cordyceps militaris and Ophiocordyceps sinensis check out this blog.
What are Cordyceps mushrooms and why are they important?
We hear this question all the time from folks who are new to the world of mushrooms: What are Cordyceps good for anyway? Maybe they’ve seen photos of the vibrant orange mushrooms that resemble a neon orange ‘cheeto’. Maybe they overheard a buddy at the gym talking about adding Cordyceps to their protein shake. Or maybe they are considering adding Cordyceps supplements to their regimen, but want to do their homework before trying something new.
Before we can answer “why are Cordyceps important” we need to cover the basics. If you’ve only heard the name or seen a photo, no worries. For centuries, Cordyceps has been a prized mushroom used in traditional Chinese herbalism. More recently, Cordyceps has been studied for its adaptogenic, immune, and energy supporting properties.*
Cordyceps militaris is native to the US, where you can find it growing on moth larvae. You might hear people jokingly call them “zombie mushrooms” for this reason. No larvae are involved in our farming process though: Our Cordyceps are 100% vegan and USDA certified organic! We started off growing all of our own Cordyceps in-house here at Mushroom Revival. Over the last few years, we refined our growing and cultivating techniques, and became the largest Cordyceps militaris mushroom farm in the Western Hemisphere — and the only one that was USDA Certified Organic. We even open sourced our techniques to help create more organic Cordyceps farmers, because more farmers with more sustainable techniques means a better planet for us all! While we started off growing our own Cordyceps in house, the company grew so fast that we couldn’t keep up with the demand. We recently added more super incredible farming partners to help us provide the highest quality USDA Certified Organic products. While you might be familiar with the cap and stem form that common mushrooms take (like white buttons or Shiitakes at the supermarket), Cordyceps have a look that’s all their own. They are very bright orange and almost have a glow-like appearance. They are 100% natural, even though these mushrooms have been compared in visual appearance to cheetos.
What compounds are in Cordyceps?
Cordyceps militaris, like other functional mushrooms contain 1,3 / 1,6 beta-glucans which help support the immune system. Beta-glucans are a type of complex polysaccharides that have a vast range of potential health benefits.*
Cordyceps are also rich in a compound called cordycepin.This compound was actually named after the mushroom itself. Cultivated Cordyceps militaris have been shown to have substantially higher levels of cordycepin than wild harvested Ophiocordyceps sinensis. Learn more about Cordycepin here.
Cordyceps are also adaptogens as they have multiple compounds that assist the body in adapting to occasional stress and maintaining balance.* Adaptogens are a group of herbs, plants, and fungi that help support and keep the body in ‘cruise control’. We like to use this cruise control analogy to describe the relationship adaptogens have on our bodies. If you think about cruise control on a car it helps the vehicle maintain a constant speed despite external factors such as inclines or declines, other cars switching lanes, and more. This is how adaptogens support the body; they help support the body in maintaining homeostasis or a ‘constant speed’ despite occasional external stressors that occur in daily life. Other well known adaptogens are ashwagandha and turmeric, but some other great herbs that support our nervous system are passionflower, and hawthorn leaf.
You can learn more about adaptogens and their supportive benefits here.*
What are the benefits of using Cordyceps mushrooms?
- Cordyceps may support cellular energy and endurance.*
Cordyceps may help support your body’s production of ATP, or adenosine triphosphate.* (Flashback to high school biology!) ATP is the body’s building block of energy for most cellular processes.* Learn more about Adenosine Triphosphate (ATP) here. Learn more about Cordycepin and how it can support the body here.
- Cordyceps may support your body's response to occasional stress.*
Cordyceps, like other functional mushrooms, is classified as an adaptogen. Adaptogens are part of a group of plants and mushrooms that supports your adrenals and your body’s natural response to occasional stress.* The term “adaptogen” is only a few decades old, but the herbs in the group have been used in cultures around the world for centuries. Learn more about adaptogens for adrenal support here.*
- Cordyceps may support lung capacity and oxygen uptake.
- Cordyceps has been used to support athletic performance.*
Ways to enjoy Cordyceps Mushrooms / How to use Cordyceps Mushrooms
Cordyceps tinctures are the most bioavailable way to consume the functional mushroom. Bioavailability refers to the rate at which the beneficial compounds are absorbed into the bloodstream.
A mushroom tincture (also referred to as an extract) is a concentrated liquid which is the result of an extraction of the functional mushrooms. Our Cordyceps tincture at Mushroom Revival is ‘dual-extracted’ meaning it goes through two processes (one with water and one with alcohol) to extract the beneficial components of the mushroom. It is important to note that whatever supplement you choose should be made with the Cordyceps fruiting bodies -- preferably USDA certified organic. A lot of companies use Cordyceps ‘mycelium on grain’ which is pretty much just the roots of the mushrooms growing on a filler substrate such as rice or grain. Studies show this is up to 400 times weaker in main functional compounds or in other words extremely watered down. This is why you want 100% actual mushroom fruiting bodies instead of the weaker mycelium on grain.
Tinctures can be taken sublingually which means under the tongue by just squeezing the dropper and holding or swishing around your mouth for at least 20 seconds until they are absorbed into your mouth’s cell walls. This is the most potent and the quickest way to take a functional mushroom supplement.
If taking a mushroom tincture straight up isn’t your thing, you’re in luck: tinctures can easily be added to drinks, and make a delicious addition to smoothies. This is one of the simplest and most popular Cordyceps uses! Simply add two droppers two your favorite beverage and stir or mix until well blended. Our Cordyceps tincture has a mild taste, so it will blend right into any smoothie, juice, or even water. If you’re a fan of smoothies, add a squeeze or two of Cordyceps before you take that first sip.
Cordyceps Capsules and Powders:
Cordyceps capsules are probably the most user friendly way to consume Cordyceps if you like swallowing capsules. Capsules are a simple way to incorporate Cordyceps into your already busy routine especially if you have other capsule supplements that you take on a regular basis.
Capsules can be taken on an empty stomach or with food, we just recommend taking them at the same time everyday that works for you so that you take them regularly to maximize their effectiveness.
Cordyceps powders make a simple addition to your wellness routine especially if you have beverages (such as smoothies or coffee) that you consume daily. Cordyceps powders can also be added to soups, broths, and even baked goods and ‘energy’ bites.
It is important to make sure that when looking for Cordyceps powders and capsules that you ensure that they are formulated with Cordyceps fruiting bodies and not with mycelium on grain or ‘mycelia’. As we noted earlier mycelium on grain and mycelia is essentially filler and when you’re taking a functional mushroom supplement you want to make you’re only getting the good stuff which is what you will get with fruiting bodies.
You probably won’t see Cordyceps in your local produce aisles, but if you do get your hands on some they can be quite delicious in stir frys! Cordyceps are wonderful when steeped into a tea and can make a healthy alternative for that afternoon ‘cup of joe’. Check out our tips for how to brew the best Cordyceps tea. For those that are meat eaters, check out this traditional Cordyceps and Duck preparation.
While Cordyceps may be beneficial to take prior to athletic training, it is an adaptogen and is also equally as supportive when incorporated into your post training routine.* Check out this hydrating Coconut-Cordyceps water to help you replenish after a workout. And if you’re craving a little nourishment after hitting the gym, be sure to check out this protein packed Chia pudding with Cordyceps.
Wanting to explore all of the different ways you can use Cordyceps in recipes? Check out these thirteen recipes to inspire your culinary journey!
When to take Cordyceps Mushrooms
When is the best time to take Cordyceps?
You can take our Cordyceps militaris tincture up to three times a day, so the freedom to structure your supplements is yours! You might decide that one of those servings is part of your morning ritual — before all the hustle and bustle of the day begins.
If mornings aren’t your thing, feel free to incorporate your Cordyceps into any time of your day where you need a little energy support.* Here at Mushroom Revival we love taking Cordyceps during the afternoon when we start to feel our eyes getting a little heavy but still have hours left on the clock.
We know that Cordyceps may help support athletic performance, so if fitness is your priority you might want to think about taking your Cordyceps tincture before you lace up tennis shoes or add it into your protein shake for a little extra post workout support.
Traditionally, one of the most popular Cordyceps uses has been supporting a healthy libido in older adults.* In China, the mushroom has long been known as a sexual tonic.* Its active constituent, cordycepin, has been shown to promote healthy testosterone levels within normal ranges.* So, as you start to think about — ahem — bedtime, you might also think about adding Cordyceps to a cup of tea or beverage of your choice.
We suggest starting with the recommended dose of two droppers a day to start out with. If you don’t feel like you are getting enough support you can always build on to the recommended dose, or vise versa. Note that all bodies are different and with herbal supplements it can take up to two weeks of daily use for the effects to build up and for you to notice a considerable difference. On those days where you just can’t seem to get into the groove you can always take an extra dropper for a little more support.
What to look for in Cordyceps mushroom supplements
At Mushroom Revival, we are obsessed with quality and as a consumer you should be too! Our products use only Cordyceps militaris fruiting bodies, never mycelium, so you get only the “good stuff.” Fruiting bodies are, in the most basic terms, the above-ground parts that most people know as “mushrooms.” These are the parts you might forage or collect in the woods, and they’re what you buy at the farmers market. Some mushroom supplements out there tend to be made from mycelium on grain. In nature, mycelium is the part of the mushroom you can’t see, as it’s usually hidden beneath the forest floor and you can think about it as the ‘roots’ of the mushroom. While mycelium is important for the growth of the mushroom, it’s not necessarily the part used in herbalism to support your health as the main functional compounds are much lower or non-existent depending on the mushroom.* Cordyceps militaris mushrooms fruiting bodies have up to 52 times more cordycepin, up to 7 times more adenosine, up to 13 times more amino acids, and up to 400 times more 1,3 1,6 beta glucans compared to the mycelium.
It’s also important to make sure that the Cordyceps supplement has gone through lab testing. Not only do lab testing results ensure that you’re not ingesting things like heavy metals and contaminants, but they also disclose the amount of beneficial compounds that are contained in the mushroom supplement. We have a QR code on all Mushroom Revival packaging that can easily be scanned to take you to the lab results. We also publish the lab results on our website and they can be accessed by a link on our product pages.
Check out these five questions to ask before purchasing a Cordyceps supplement to help simplify your supplement search.
Potential Side Effects of Cordyceps Mushroom
As with any mushroom supplement we recommend talking to a medical professional before adding anything into your daily routine. If you are currently taking any pharmaceuticals we highly suggest discussing incorporating Cordyceps into your routine with your doctor first.
*The statements made on this website have not been evaluated by the FDA (U.S. Food & Drug Administration). The products sold on this website are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease. The information provided by this website or this company is not a substitute for a face-to-face consultation with your physician, and should not be construed as individual medical advice.