Introduction — Cordyceps and Aging
1.1 Definition of Cordyceps
Cordyceps is a form of mushroom which has plenty of medicinal properties. In fact, mushrooms have been for used for thousands of years as a means to treat variety of illnesses.
Cordyceps just like other medicinal mushrooms has antioxidants and also has anti-inflammatory properties. Along with other health benefits Cordyceps also has certain properties which make it quite beneficial as an anti-aging agent.
1.2 Overview of the Aging Process
The process of aging is quite complex where over time the body’s ability to function gradually declines. This is because as a person ages the cell in the body works less efficiently in terms of repairing damage and produce energy. This results in a person having a variety of age-related illnesses and medical conditions.
1.3 Brief Overview of How Cordyceps May Impact Aging
Cordyceps is a medicinal mushroom which has many properties which are good for health and well-being. Among all its health benefits perhaps the most important is the anti-aging properties.
Cordyceps improves the cellular function and reduces the oxidative stress. It also helps in providing neuroprotection. All of this collectively slow down the aging process in a person and also prevent or reduce the risk of many of the age-related medical conditions.
Details of How Cordyceps Impacts Aging
2.1 Cordyceps and Cellular Function
The primary benefit of Cordyceps at the cellular level is that it has the capacity to increase ATP production. ATP or Adenosine triphosphate is the primary source of energy and storage at the cellular level in the body. Over time as a person age there is a significant reduction in the production of ATP which is the reason why older people have less energy and stamina compared to youngsters.
Cordyceps facilitate an increase in the production of ATP in the body thereby increasing the overall energy levels. Additionally, it also improves the function of the mitochondria which is a source of power for the body.
2.2 Cordyceps and Oxidative Stress
It is well known that all medicinal mushrooms have plenty of antioxidants and Cordyceps is not an exception. It is this property of this mushroom that helps in reducing oxidative stress. Oxidative stress can best be defined as a condition in which there is an excess of free radicals in the body with not many antioxidants to clear them. This results in tissue damage and other health conditions.
Oxidative stress is quite a common finding in the elderly population. Cordyceps with its abundance of antioxidants helps in reducing oxidative stress in the elderly thereby ensuring overall good health and well-being and reduce the chances of age-related medical conditions that can occur due to oxidative stress.
2.3 Cordyceps and Inflammation
Cordyceps is also an extremely potent anti-inflammatory. It is very effective in reducing inflammation in the body. As age catches up with a person majority of the medical ailments occur as a result of chronic inflammation. Cordyceps in the aging population help reduce the risk of many medical conditions caused due to inflammation.
2.4 Cordyceps and Neuroprotection
As described above, Cordyceps is a very effective anti-inflammatory and its ability to reduce oxidative stress enhances the functioning of the brain and also protects the body by reducing the risk of developing any neurological conditions like Alzheimer’s or Parkinson’s disease.
Scientific Evidence Supporting The Potential Anti-Aging Benefits Of Cordyceps
3.1 Studies on Cordyceps and Cellular Function
The immune system is the body’s defense mechanism. It fights off foreign invaders like bacteria, viruses, and fungi. A balanced immune system is the key to good health. This is especially true for the elderly as they are more prone to frequent infections.
This is because of a reduction in adenosine triphosphate which is a key component to a balanced immune system. Studies have shown that medicinal mushrooms especially Cordyceps have the potential to increase the production of ATP.
Studies also have shown that Cordyceps also enhances the functioning of the mitochondria which is equally essential for an improved cellular function especially in the elderly population.
3.2 Studies on Cordyceps and Oxidative Stress
Cordyceps has antioxidant properties in abundance which makes it a very powerful agent to reduce oxidative stress. This has been proved by various studies conducted around the world. A reduced oxidative stress means a reduced risk of potentially serious medical conditions like cardiovascular illnesses, cancers, and neurological disorders.
3.3 Studies on Cordyceps and Inflammation
Pharmacological studies conducted on medicinal mushrooms have shown that Cordyceps has plenty of anti-inflammatory properties which helps in reducing inflammation in the body. As a person ages the risk of having conditions caused by chronic inflammation like arthritis increases that much more.
Studies conducted on the elderly population have shown that people who take Cordyceps tend to suffer from fewer inflammatory conditions as compared to people who do not take Cordyceps.
3.4 Studies on Cordyceps and Neuroprotection
A major health concern among the elderly population is the onset of certain neurodegenerative disorders, most commonly Parkinson’s disease and Alzheimer’s dementia. These conditions are basically caused due to the deteriorating functionality of the nerves.
Cordyceps according to various studies have the potential to protect the nerves thereby improving their functionality and preventing the onset of these serious medical conditions in the elderly population.
Other Potential Benefits of Cordyceps
4.1 Immune System Modulation
Aside from the above-mentioned benefits, Cordyceps is a well-known and much preferred immunity booster. This property of the Cordyceps makes it quite an effective alternative to medications that claim to increase immunity and improve overall health and well-being of a person.
4.2 Sexual Health
Cordyceps is also quite known for the effect it has on people with reduced libido. Studies have shown that Cordyceps improves libido by a significant degree. Additionally, it also improves other sexual disorders like pain with intercourse, orgasm, and sexual arousal. This makes it a perfect alternative to many medications which claim to have similar effect but they come with a significant side effect profile.
4.3 Athletic Performance
Various studies have shown that Cordyceps is quite beneficial with regard to enhancing the performance of athletes. It not only improves the tolerability to high intensity training sessions but also increases the stamina which is an absolute must for every athlete. This improvement in endurance and stamina is not only seen in youngsters but also in elderly people with no other comorbidities.
It was observed that Cordyceps supplementation improved the ventilatory threshold which is the predictor of the endurance and overall tolerance to high intensity exercises. It was also seen that Cordyceps supplementation decreased the levels of ammonia and lactate from the body which improves the overall stamina of a person.
How to Take Cordyceps?
There are different ways through which Cordyceps can be taken. These include:
This is the most preferred way of taking Cordyceps. These supplements are available in the form of a powder, capsules, and even liquid extract forms. How much supplement to take can be best dictated by the dietician or the general practitioner depending on the requirement and overall health status of the person.
5.2 Tea or Coffee:
Another convenient way of taking Cordyceps is to mix it in tea or coffee. It will not only enhance the taste of the drink but also provide the same benefits as provided by the oral supplements.
Potential Side Effects and Interactions
Cordyceps in majority of the cases are considered to be pretty safe for everyone. However, there are some scenarios where Cordyceps is contraindicated and people should be aware of these contraindications and avoid using these supplements. These contraindications include
6.1 Allergic Reactions
Some people may have an allergic reaction to Cordyceps. A person who is allergic will start complaining of itching or break out into hives after taking Cordyceps. In cases of a potentially serious allergic reaction the person may start having problems with breathing. This will necessitate an immediate visit to the emergency room for prompt treatment to avoid life-threatening complications.
6.2 Blood-Thinning Medication
People who are on blood thinners should avoid taking Cordyceps. This is because Cordyceps tends to have a blood thinning effect and may interact with other blood thinners like warfarin or aspirin. Thus, it is better to speak to the healthcare provider in case if a person is on a blood thinner before taking Cordyceps.
6.3 Other Drug Interactions
Cordyceps also tends to interact with other medications especially certain medications used for treating diabetes and some immunosuppressants. It is best to consult with the healthcare provider and discuss all the pros and cons of Cordyceps before starting to take this supplement.
To summarize, Cordyceps is a medicinal mushroom which has properties which tends to have antiaging effects. It is an extremely potent antiinflammatory which delays progression and even improves variety of inflammatory conditions like arthritis seen in the elderly population. Cordyceps also enhances production of ATP which in turn improves energy levels significantly in elderly people.
Increased oxidative stress raises the risk of a person having a variety of medical conditions including cardiovascular and neurological conditions which can be quite debilitating especially in the elderly. Cordyceps decreases oxidative stress thereby decreasing the risk of a person having such conditions.
Additionally, Cordyceps also is known to have positive effects on the sexual health and athletic performance of people. All in all, Cordyceps is one of the best alternatives for people looking for anti-aging options.
However, before starting to take Cordyceps it is better to consult with the physician and discuss with all the pros and cons of and how much and when to take Cordyceps for the most optimal result.[1, 9]