Cordyceps sinensis is a fungus that originated in China and has become a main part of both Chinese and Ayurvedic (Indian) medicine. This fungus is naturally found in high altitude areas and lives on ants and caterpillars. This fungus is parasitic and some fungal stains can actually control ants to move to areas that are ideal for the parasites to grow and replicate.
Cordyceps sinesis that is used for commercial purposes is grown on rice instead of bugs. The fungus that comes directly from China sells for a higher rate because it is rare. The cordyceps mushrooms can provide health benefits to athletes as well as those that are not athletic. Studies conducted by the University of Michigan have found that this fungus may help those that are suffering from liver kidney disease. This fungus has antioxidant properties. According to a study done by the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center this fungus may help protect the kidney from damaged caused by medications. This includes medications that contain gentamicin and cyclosporin. There is some scientific evidence to state that this will also help decrease the levels of toxicity from medications in the kidneys. This claim was made from research performed at the Mayo Clinic.
The fungus can help improve the immune system. Doctors in China use cordyceps to treat lupus and hepatitis. It has also been given to people that have underwent an organ transplant. Trails have shown that this fungus can decrease fibrosis and help improve the functioning of the liver for people with hepatitis B according to the University of Michigan Health System. The Mayo Clinic stated that cordyceps is able to stimulate the T cells and help strength the lymphocytes to improve immunity. This is important for athletes who are prone to become ill. Any illness can slow down their training.
Cordyceps can also increase VO2 levels. In a study with 30 volunteers it was shown that herbal extracts from the cordyceps sinesis help improve the amount of oxygen the body was able to take in and use. Other studies have shown that the increase in oxygen lead to a 40% improvement in the functioning of the heart. Supplements such as Cordygen 5 and Drive contain cordyceps. Many people notice due to improved breathing their athletic performance increases. This can also be taken in combination with creatine to help those that are weight training.
Cordyceps can also increase testosterone levels in the body. This has been seen in several in vitro studies. A study with mice that had low testosterone and where given cordyceps were able to increase both plasma and testosterone levels by as much as 170%. It is theorized that testosterone is increase due to increased polysaccharides and glycoproteins that are found in cordyceps. This is similar to the structure of the LH and the binding of this to receptors in the body to stimulate the production of testosterone.