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The Impact of Cordyceps on Athletic Performance : Benefits and Scientific Evidence

  1. Introduction

    1.1 Definition of Cordyceps

    Cordyceps is a type of fungus that grows on the larvae of caterpillars, and has been used in traditional Chinese medicine for centuries due to its numerous medicinal properties. Notably, Cordyceps is known for its immune-boosting capabilities, ability to improve sexual health, and anti-aging effects.[1]

    Among the many varieties of Cordyceps, Cordyceps sinensis is particularly valued for its wide range of health benefits. It has been used to treat conditions such as fatigue, renal disease, cancer, and respiratory infections, and has even been utilized by athletes to enhance their endurance and stamina, thereby improving their performance in competitive settings.[1]

    1.2 Overview of the Benefits of Exercise and Physical Activity

    Regular exercise and physical activity offer numerous benefits for good health. It strengthens the heart, reduces the risk of cardiovascular illness, and helps to maintain a healthy weight. Exercise also increases strength and endurance, making it vital for athletes looking to enhance their performance. In addition, regular exercise and physical activity are associated with reducing the risk of chronic medical conditions such as diabetes and certain types of cancer. Exercise also promotes mental wellbeing by increasing the production of endorphins, which can improve mood, reduce anxiety, and enhance cognitive function.[2]

    1.3 Brief Overview of How Cordyceps May Impact Athletic Performance

    Cordyceps is known to improve oxygen intake which improves the overall endurance and stamina of an individual. It also increases the production of ATP which increases the overall energy levels. All of these are key factors when it comes to a good athletic performance.[3]

  2. How Cordyceps Can Impact Athletic Performance?

    2.1 Improved Oxygen Uptake with Cordyceps

    Cordyceps is known to enhance the body’s oxygen uptake and utilization, leading to a decrease in fatigue and an improvement in stamina during exercise. One possible mechanism behind this effect is the ability of Cordyceps to increase ATP production, the primary source of cellular energy.[4]

    2.2 Enhanced Energy Production with Cordyceps

    Cordyceps also enhances energy production by improving mitochondrial function, which is another important source of cellular energy. This results in increased energy levels and improved stamina during exercise.[5]

    2.3 Faster Muscle Recovery with Cordyceps

    Cordyceps is a potent anti-inflammatory agent and can reduce the inflammation and oxidative stress that often occur after intense physical activity. As a result, it can speed up muscle recovery and reduce the risk of injury.[6]

  3. Scientific Evidence Supporting the Potential Athletic Performance Benefits of Cordyceps

    3.1 Studies on Cordyceps and Oxygen Uptake

    Studies carried out for the effect of Cordyceps on oxygen uptake did not show much difference in the first week of starting the supplement. However, after three weeks of starting the supplements there was a significant improvement observed in the subjects with regard to oxygen uptake and improved stamina and endurance.[7]

    3.2 Studies on Cordyceps and Energy Production

    It has been seen on studies conducted on the effect of Cordyceps on energy production that there was a substantial improvement in the functioning of the mitochondria and also there was an increased production of ATP which are both key for energy production in humans.[8]

    3.3 Studies on Cordyceps and Muscle Recovery

    It is already well known that Cordyceps is an effective anti-inflammatory and has plenty of antioxidants. Both these properties make Cordyceps quite beneficial for muscle recovery after a vigorous exercise or training session in athletes.[8]

  4. Other Potential Benefits of Cordyceps

    4.1 Immune System Modulation

    Cordyceps is also known for boosting the production immune cells which in turn makes the immune system of the body much stronger. This not only promotes overall good health but also prevents or delays the onset of chronic inflammatory conditions, especially in the aging population.[9]

    4.2 Anti-Cancer Properties

    It has been documented in various studies that Cordyceps has the potential to kill cancer cells and delay the progression of these cells. However, the exact mechanism of this is not clearly understood and more research is being done to better understand how Cordyceps acts as an anti-cancer agent.[10]

    4.2 Anti-Aging Effects

    The antiaging effects of Cordyceps is quite well known. Cordyceps increase the production of ATP which boosts the overall energy levels. The antiinflammatory properties of Cordyceps decrease the chances of developing age-related inflammatory conditions like arthritis.[11]

    Cordyceps also decrease oxidative stress which prevents the body from developing major medical conditions related to the natural process of aging like Alzheimer’s dementia and other cognitive impairments. Additionally, Cordyceps is also known to improve cognition and enhance the memory which all contribute to anti-aging effects of Cordyceps.[11]

  5. How to Take Cordyceps?

    5.1 Cordyceps Supplements

    Cordyceps supplements are readily available in the form of capsules, powders, and liquid extracts. It is important to consult with a healthcare provider to determine the best form of supplement for individual needs and to ensure it is safe and effective. It is also important to follow the recommended dosage instructions provided on the label to prevent any potential side effects.[1]

    5.2 Cordyceps Tea or Coffee

    Cordyceps can also be easily incorporated into daily routine by mixing it into tea or coffee. This not only enhances the taste but also provides the desired health benefits. However, it is important to note that the potency of the Cordyceps extract may vary depending on the amount added to the beverage. Consulting with a healthcare provider can help to determine the optimal amount for individual needs.[1]

    5.3 Other Forms of Cordyceps

    In addition to supplements and beverages, Cordyceps can also be found in other forms such as tinctures, extracts, and even in some foods. It is important to research the source and quality of the Cordyceps before consumption to ensure it is safe and effective.[1]

  6. Risks and Side Effects of Cordyceps

    While Cordyceps has plenty of medicinal properties at times it may also cause certain side effects to some people.

    6.1 Allergies

    Some people may be allergic to fungus and thus not suitable to take Cordyceps. If a person starts to notice rashes or breaks out into hives a short while after taking Cordyceps supplementation then it is better to discontinue the supplement as it may be a sign of an allergic reaction.[12]

    In severe cases the person may have problems with breathing which will require immediate medical attention and the person will need to go to the emergency room for treatment. It is best to consult with a healthcare provider to discuss all the risks and side effects before starting on Cordyceps supplementation.[12]

    6.2 Blood Thinners

    Cordyceps is also not suitable for people who are on blood thinners. This is because Cordyceps also ha blood thinning properties which may interact with the blood thinning medications. Thus, in case if a person is on a blood thinner like warfarin or aspirin then it is best to discuss with the healthcare provider on whether or not to take Cordyceps.[12]

    6.3 Other Drug Interactions

    Cordyceps also may interact with certain immunosuppressants and medications given to diabetics and hence is not suitable for these people. It is therefore recommended to speak to the treating physician in such instances and discuss whether there can be any interactions with the medications that he or she might be taking with Cordyceps supplements.[12]

  7. Conclusion

    Overall, the research that has been conducted thus far on the effect of Cordyceps on improved athletic performance have yielded promising results specifically pertaining to improving oxygen uptake, boosting ATP production for increased stamina and endurance, and also improving the functioning of the mitochondria all of which leads to improved athletic performance.[3, 4, 5]

    Additionally, Cordyceps also has other health benefits due to its variety of medicinal properties like boosting the immune system, the anti-aging effects, and also its anti-cancer properties. This makes Cordyceps a very healthy choice to make.[7, 8, 9]

    However, some people may not be suitable for taking this supplement due to potential for interactions especially those people who are diabetic or are on blood thinners. Thus, it is recommended to consult with a healthcare provider and discuss all the pros and cons of Cordyceps before starting this supplement to get the maximum benefit out of this medicinal supplement.[12]


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Team PainAssist
Team PainAssist
Written, Edited or Reviewed By: Team PainAssist, Pain Assist Inc. This article does not provide medical advice. See disclaimer
Last Modified On:April 13, 2023

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