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Cordyceps are a medicinal mushroom with historical roots in the Far East and South America. Today, Cordyceps (400 species of which!) are found all over the world. Cordyceps mushrooms provide a host of health benefits and have been used in traditional medicine to treat fatigue and sexual function issues, as well as asthma, kidney, liver, and lung issues
The most commonly known (yet rare) Cordyceps species is Ophiocordyceps Sinensis (Cordyceps Sinensis). This species occurs by infecting and growing from the Hepialus moth caterpillar. You can only find these elusive and expensive fungi (approx. $20,000 per kilogram!) in alpine areas of China and Tibet. Needless to say, the high price and scarcity of Cordyceps Sinensis means you will not find them in mainstream supplements. Remember this if you happen upon a supplement claiming it contains Cordyceps Sinensis, as it is unlikely to be authentic caterpillar fungus. Instead, it is likely to be Cordyceps mycelium, a commercially cultivated version of cordyceps mushroom. Instead of being naturally formed by infecting an insect, cordyceps mycelium is cultivated in a liquid, offering some, but not all the health benefits of wild cordyceps mushrooms.
How do Cordyceps Mushrooms grow?
Despite such a wide global spread, Cordyceps mushrooms are rarely grown in the wild. This is because they require a very specific set of conditions in order to thrive. For example, each Cordyceps species infect a specific insect unique to their species. The fungus spores then thrive inside the insect, transforming it into filament structures called mycelium which will eventually take over the insect entirely. The mushroom, as we know it, then grows out of the head of the insect.
However, Cordyceps cultivated in labs do not require the help of an insect.
Cultivated alternatives to wild Cordyceps Sinensis
To get around the sourcing and high cost of wild Cordyceps Sinensis, extracts made of pure Cordyceps militaris mushrooms are a sound alternative. When comparing Cordyceps Militaris vs Cordyceps Sinensis, there are many similarities. The former contains the entire scope of bio-active compounds present in the latter. For example, both Cordyceps Militaris and Cordyceps Sinensis contain beta-glucans and adenosine, the compounds that make them so beneficial (especially for lung health). The one key difference they have is cost.
The Rise of Respiratory Conditions
Unfortunately, respiratory conditions are becoming more prevalent. This is thought to be due to certain environmental toxins and influences in our surroundings. For example, food, plants, chemicals, drugs, particles, and animal dander are common causes of allergies.
When the body experiences an allergic reaction, antibodies are sent to fight the toxic invaders, leading to inflammation in the digestive and respiratory systems. The skin and lymph nodes can also be subject to inflammation during and after the allergic attacks.
Allergic reactions differ drastically from person to person and are dependent on a number of factors such as the environment and our bodies. As these factors are constantly changing, so can our allergic reactions and severities.
One of the most well-known respiratory conditions is asthma. This potentially life-threatening condition causes the airways to swell and narrow, causing wheezing, shortness of breath, and coughing. Why you have asthma can be due to a number of factors such as genetics, allergic reaction, and your environment.
There is no cure for asthma, but it can be controlled with medications and lifestyle changes. Taking supplements known to support lung health is a great way to control and support asthma. Cordyceps are especially effective at reducing inflammation associated with respiratory disorders.
Cordyceps Militaris Benefits for Respiratory Conditions
As more and more people turn away from traditional pharmaceuticals and are choosing alternatives for health support, Cordyceps mushrooms are coming to the fore.
They are especially popular in the treatment of chronic breathing issues such as asthma and allergies, both of which are on the increase.
Cordyceps militaris supplements contain bioactive compounds that are highly beneficial for various health issues, especially respiratory. It is these compounds that make cordyceps militaris spores a cut above the other (many) respiratory supplements on the market.
More clinical data is required, but there are solid studies proving links between Cordyceps and improved lung health. As well as reducing inflammation and improving respiratory function, cordyceps supplements can help smokers during the quitting process.
Other common respiratory conditions include:
- Pneumonia – bacteria, viruses and fungi infect the air sacs in the lungs. ? Bronchitis – smoking, viruses and bacteria inflame the bronchial tubes.
- Interstitial lung disease (ILD) – a group of diseases that cause lung fibrosis (scars), preventing oxygen from entering the bloodstream. Untreated ILD can cause irreversible and serious damage to the lungs. Causes may be genetics, medication, and exposure to toxic materials.
- Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD) – an umbrella term for conditions such as chronic bronchitis and emphysema that cause airflow blockage. COPD is, for example, one of the most urgent health issues in the North America today, motivating The National Institute of Health to launch a national action plan to address the problem.
- Pulmonary sarcoidosis – sarcoidosis is a rare type of inflammation that leads to lumps of inflamed cells (granulomas) in the lungs. These lumps lead to scarring that hinders lung function. While the cause is still under investigation, scientists believe it can be triggered by certain bacteria, viruses, and chemicals.
- Pneumoconiosis – commonly associated with long periods spent in dusty workspaces, (hence it is also known as occupational lung disease). An interstitial lung disease caused by breathing in certain kinds of dust particles that damage your lungs over years of repeated exposure.
Exploring the Mast Cell
The Mast Cell is an immune cell that causes allergies and breathing issues when activated. When the Mast Cell is activated, inflammatory immune cells such as histamine are released.
Thymic Stromal Lymphopoietin (TLSP) is an epithelial-derived cytokine and a major contributor to mast cell development and activation. Research suggests that Cordyceps mushrooms may suppress TLSP, preventing inflammatory allergic reactions. What’s more, research tells us that Cordyceps can assist the those who suffer from asthma, lung fibrosis, and bronchial issues by relaxing the bronchial walls and boosting oxygen utilization.
Cordyceps Mushrooms as an Immunomodulator
Cordyceps mushrooms support the immune system and are known to be biomodular immunomodulators, meaning they support the body’s defense against pathogens and they reduce inflammatory responses, a key component in the fight against lung and respiratory issues.
Are Cordyceps mushrooms safe for everyone?
In short, Cordyceps mushrooms are not safe for everyone. Pregnant and breastfeeding women, those with auto-immune conditions (such as lupus and MS), and those with bleeding disorders should not take Cordyceps supplements.
If you are taking blood thinners (antiplatelet medications), be aware that they can interact with Cordyceps. This includes those who are about to undergo surgery or are recovering from injury. In such cases, take caution and check with your healthcare professional before considering Cordyceps.
Choosing Quality Supplements for Lung Health
Understanding how medical mushrooms such as Cordyceps can benefit overall health is a great steppingstone toward sound lung health. Thanks to Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM), cordyceps militaris benefits are well-known and easily reaped.
When selecting a Cordyceps supplement to support lung health, look for a 100% mushroom supplement with the highest quality and potency available.Our line of supplements uses 100% hot water extracted organic Cordyceps militaris mushrooms to ensure you get the many benefits associated with genuine cordyceps mushroom.
Always check with your healthcare provider before taking a new supplement for respiratory conditions.
- American Academy of Allergy, Asthma, and Immunology, 2020, MAST CELL ACTIVATION SYNDROME (MCAS), https://www.aaaai.org/conditions-and-treatments/related-conditions/mcas?
- American Lung Association, 2020, Interstitial Lung Disease, https://www.lung.org/lung-health-diseases/lung-disease-lookup/interstitial-lung-disease
- Centers For Disease Control and Prevention, 2020, Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD), https://www.cdc.gov/copd/index.html
- Centers For Disease Control and Prevention, 2020, Coronavirus (COVID-19), https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/index.html
- Chilton, Skye, 2017, ‘Cordyceps Mushroom Supplement Types Explained + The Health Benefits’, Real Mushrooms Blog, https://www.realmushrooms.com/cordyceps-supplements-guide/
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