Take More Steps with Cordyceps! Three Reasons to try Cordyceps Militaris

by Garrett Kopp April 26, 2020 0 Comments

Take More Steps with Cordyceps! Three Reasons to try Cordyceps Militaris

 The History and Health Benefits of Cordyceps

Cordyceps is a unique fungus that originated in the high mountainous regions of China. It is a parasite that infects caterpillars and other insects when ingested, eventually invading their brains to earn the nickname “zombie mushroom”. The infected insect is compelled to leave its nest and travel to an optimal fungus-growing environment: warm, moist, and high up in a plant or tree. The insect then buries its jaws into a leaf, the so-called “death bite,” effectively planting the host and allowing the cordyceps to fruit and eventually burst out of the host’s head, growing vertically up like a long stem to release spores and start the gory process over again. 

So, knowing all that, why would we want to ingest cordyceps??? It will not turn us into zombies, nor will it infect our brains and grow out of our heads. Cordyceps has an impressive range of purported health benefits, and traditional Chinese medicine has prescribed it for centuries to promote health, longevity, and athletic performance. 

The distribution of cordyceps is mostly limited to Asia, with over 400 species spread out across China, Korea, Thailand, Vietnam, and Nepal. The most commonly sought after species of cordyceps is Cordyceps sinensis. Wild cordyceps is extremely rare and difficult to find and extremely expensive. As a result, most forms available for purchase are cultivated in a laboratory setting. So, you can rest easy knowing that no zombie insects were created in the making of your cordyceps! 

Health Benefits of Cordyceps:

Athletic Performance

The most reported health benefit is increased athletic performance. Cordyceps is believed to aid in the production of adenosine triphosphate (ATP), a molecule that provides energy for physiological processes such as the contraction of muscles. A 2001 study found that ATP production was increased in the livers of mice given cordyceps supplements. 

Multiple studies have been published using swim-to-exhaustion tests to measure endurance and physical fatigue. A 2016 study administered cordyceps polysaccharides to mice for a 28-day period, finding a significant increase in swim time and also measuring fatigue-related biochemical parameters to support their conclusions. Another study, conducted in 2011, showed that swim test endurance increased 1.32-fold in mice given cordyceps supplements for a 15-day period. Researchers also measured the expression levels of endurance responsive skeletal muscle metabolic regulators as well as endurance promoting and antioxidant genes in red gastrocnemius muscle. They found upregulation in skeletal muscle metabolic regulators, increased angiogenesis (development of new blood vessels), and better glucose and lactate uptake. These researchers concluded that cordyceps was a “potent natural exercise mimetic”. 

Another study aimed at examining the effect of cordyceps on exercise performance in healthy elderly subjects has shown promising results. Here, 20 healthy elderly subjects were enrolled in a 12-week double-blind placebo-controlled trial (one group took placebo capsules and the other cordyceps capsules). The group taking the cordyceps capsules showed an observable increase in metabolic threshold compared to the placebo group.


Diabetes mellitus is ranked as one of the leading causes of death worldwide (2015). There is preliminary research suggesting that cordyceps can be useful in managing type 2 Diabetes. In a 2015 study, mice administered a combination of cordyceps fruiting body and mycelia powder exhibited a reduction in blood glucose levels by increasing insulin sensitivity. This study concluded that Cordyceps militaris could possess strong hypoglycemic, anticholesterolemic, and antihypertriglyceridemic actions (lowers blood sugar, cholesterol, and triglycerides, respectively). Another 2011 study also found that insulin sensitivity was increased with cordyceps supplementation, leading to more effective glucose metabolism. 

Cardiovascular Health

Cordyceps has been recognized as an herbal drug within Chinese pharmacopoeia since 1964. Cordyceps is an approved treatment in China for arrhythmia, and a 1989 animal study showed treatment to counteract drug-induced arrhythmias in rats. Another study using animal models in 2011 found cordyceps to lower LDL-cholesterol and triglyceride levels in the blood serum of hyperlipidemic hamsters and rats. Hyperlipidemia (an excess of lipids in the blood, particularly cholesterol and triglycerides) is associated with an increased risk of heart attack and stroke, and according to the CDC, an estimated 95 million U.S. adults have high cholesterol. 

Birch Boys and Cordyceps

While the research isn’t fully conclusive, cordyceps has shown a variety of potential health benefits, with the most significant being its athletic performance increasing capabilities. Birch Boys offers cordyceps tincture and recommends our 4oz. tincture. 


Dai, Guowei, et al. “CordyMax™ Cs-4 Improves Steady-State Bioenergy Status in Mouse Liver.” The Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine, vol. 7, no. 3, 2001, pp. 231–240., doi:10.1089/107555301300328106.

Hishida, et al. “Effects of Maitake ( Grifola Frondosa ) Glucan in HIV-Infected Patients.” Mycoscience, Springer-Verlag, 1 Jan. 1988, link.springer.com/article/10.1007/BF02463941.

KUBO, Keiko, and Hiroaki NANBA. “Anti-Hyperliposis Effect of Maitake Fruit Body (Grifola Frondosa). I.” Biological and Pharmaceutical Bulletin, The Pharmaceutical Society of Japan, 10 Apr. 2008, www.jstage.jst.go.jp/article/bpb1993/20/7/20_7_781/_article/-char/ja/.

Kumar, Rajesh, et al. “Cordyceps Sinensis Promotes Exercise Endurance Capacity of Rats by Activating Skeletal Muscle Metabolic Regulators.” Journal of Ethnopharmacology, Elsevier, 28 Apr. 2011, www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/abs/pii/S0378874111002923.

Lin, Bao-qin. “Cordyceps as an Herbal Drug.” Herbal Medicine: Biomolecular and Clinical Aspects. 2nd Edition., U.S. National Library of Medicine, 1 Jan. 1970, www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK92758/.

“Maitake 103: Maitake(Grifola Frondosa) and HIV Infection.” Maitake 103: Maitake(Grifola Frondosa) and HIV Infection - DoctorSchar.com, doctorschar.com/maitake-and-hiv-infection/.

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Ulbrich, Catherine, and Wendy Weissner. “Maitake Mushroom {Grifóla Frondosa): Systematic Review by the Natural Standard Research Collaboration.” Journal of the Society for Integrative Oncology, vol. 7, no. 2, 2009, pp. 66–72.

Vetvicka, Vaclav, and Jana Vetvickova. “Immune-Enhancing Effects of Maitake (Grifola Frondosa) and Shiitake (Lentinula Edodes) Extracts.” Annals of Translational Medicine, AME Publishing Company, Feb. 2014, www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4202470/.

Walker, Thomas B. “Does Cordyceps Sinensis Ingestion Aid Athletic Performance?” National Strength and Conditioning Association, vol. 28, no. 2, Apr. 2006, pp. 21–23.

Walter, Jennifer. “How a Zombie Fungus Takes Over Ants' Jaws to Deliver a Death Bite.” Discover Magazine, Discover Magazine, 23 Dec. 2019, www.discovermagazine.com/environment/how-a-zombie-fungus-takes-over-ants-jaws-to-deliver-a-death-bite.

Xu, Yan-Feng. “Effect of Polysaccharide from Cordyceps Militaris (Ascomycetes) on Physical Fatigue Induced by Forced Swimming.” International Journal of Medicinal Mushrooms, U.S. National Library of Medicine, 2016, www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/28094746.

Yu, Sung-Hsun, et al. “Hypoglycemic Activity through a Novel Combination of Fruiting Body and Mycelia of Cordyceps Militaris in High-Fat Diet-Induced Type 2 Diabetes Mellitus Mice.” Journal of Diabetes Research, Hindawi Publishing Corporation, 2015, www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4519550/.

Garrett Kopp
Garrett Kopp


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