Did You Know…a rare, wild Chinese mushroom that grows on caterpillar larvae and other insects has been widely used in Chinese medicine for its amazing medicinal properties— from cancer prevention and treatment to athletic enhancement?
Cordyceps (Cordyceps sinensis, Sphaeria sinensis) grows primarily in the mountains of Tibet, where dedicated hunters scour the slopes to find this prized fungi. Traditionally used in Chinese medicine to treat a number of ailments, cordyceps is especially intriguing to modern medical researchers for its ability to inhibit the growth, division, and proliferation of cancer cells in the body.
An Energy Supplement Fit for an Olympian
If you’re a close follower of the Olympic games, cordyceps may ring a bell for you. At the 1993 games, 3 female Chinese runners broke 5 world records. Predictably, the officials insisted on testing the runners for anabolic steroids, but the results proved negative. The women had ingested absolutely nothing illegal—the only performance booster they used was cordyceps.
This incident spurred talk of banning cordyceps in professional athletic competitions due to its tremendous effects. But the U.S. Olympic Committee has officially ruled cordyceps to be legal on the basis of its strong safety record and outstanding health benefits. Many successful endurance athletes now use cordyceps routinely—including, it is believed, Lance Armstrong’s Team Postal during their record-breaking 7 Tour De France wins.
Scientists aren’t certain how the benefits of cordyceps boosts energy and endurance. One theory is that the mushroom streamlines your body’s energy use by increasing blood flow to your liver and other organs, and thus improving your overall oxygen use. Additionally, the mushroom’s antioxidant activity is thought to lift fatigue and maximize stamina.
The Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center notes that the benefits of cordyceps can be used for a wide range of conditions, such as:
• Sexual dysfunction
• Immune supplement
• Some cancers
The Wild Mushroom Goes West
Practitioners of Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) have used the benefits of cordyceps for more than 1,500 years, and its medicinal effects are even described in a 2,000-year-old medical text. But the first scientific publication on the cancer-fighting effects of cordyceps came in the 1950s, when Western scientists developed the mushroom into a drug called cordycepin.
Unfortunately, cordycepin degraded rapidly in the body, and was therefore not an effective treatment option. Last year, however, a team from the University of Nottingham led by Dr. Cornelia de Moor, searched for a solution to the cordycepin dilemma.
Dr. de Moor’s findings, published in the Journal of Biological Chemistry, showed that cordycepin has two effects on cancer cells:
• At low doses, it inhibits division of cells
• At high doses, it stops cells from sticking together, thereby freezing growth
In spite of these impressive results, however, the team was unable to prevent the speedy disintegration of the drug. The only partial solution to this problem is to use another drug in conjunction with cordycepin—but the complementary drug causes side effects so severe that most patients would be discouraged from choosing this route.
Natural Benefits of Cordyceps More Effective Than Its Pharmaceutical Counterpart
The real question might be…why solve the disintegration problem with cordycepin when the mushroom in its more natural form is already an effective cancer fighter?
As Mike Adams, editor of NaturalNews, stated, “The truth about cordyceps is that you don’t need some fabricated cordycepin drug to experience [its] benefits—all you need is cordyceps itself!”
That’s exactly what the Nottingham study ultimately proved—that is, the incredible effects of the cordyceps mushroom in preventing and treating cancer. The drug cordycepin is flawed, but the active components from the mushroom are highly effective cancer fighters.
There’s no need to wait for the verdict on cordycepin or any other chemically altered cordyceps compound. The original, unaltered version has centuries of proof showing that it works.
For Safe, High-Quality Cordyceps—Organic and Home Grown May be Best
Those interested in obtaining medicinal benefits of cordyceps will want to select carefully because the cost of cordyceps has skyrocketed over the last decade. According to Modern Marvels, a History Channel program, mushroom hunters in Nepal can earn $900 dollars for an ounce of cordyceps.
You can, however, find cordyceps in health stores and online for much less than $900. But caution is advised.
Some practitioners suggest choosing only certified organic cordyceps cultivated in the U.S., since wild Eastern cordyceps is so exceedingly valuable that too often, it’s cut with lead and other dangerous chemicals in order to increase its net weight.