Can Cordyceps Help with Weight Loss?

A view of a persons feet, looking down at a scale measuring their weight.

Although being at an ideal weight is not necessarily a symptom of being completely healthy, it can certainly be the gateway to helping you feel better in more ways than one. A balanced diet and consistent exercise are cornerstones of a healthy lifestyle. More and more people are aware of this, and many have advocated using natural supplements as a tool to reach these milestones more easily. This is where Cordyceps Militaris comes in as a potential natural tool for weight loss. 

If you want to find out if cordyceps could help you lose weight and better understand how they could do it, this post is for you.

Facts about Cordyceps Militaris

If you are here, you’ve probably heard about the incredible capabilities of this ancient mystical fungus. But without a doubt, before even considering starting to use these functional mushrooms as part of your supplemental routine, it is good to know some facts about the “caterpillar fungus” with medicinal qualities. Let’s start with the name.

Cordyceps Militaris is called the “caterpillar fungus” due to its origin, as this fungus naturally lives on caterpillar larvae in the high mountain regions of China. Another curious fact about them derives from the fact that this fungus is native to these regions, which is that Cordyceps Militaris does not grow under normal sea-level conditions. These mushrooms seem to like heights as, in nature, they require a minimum altitude of 1,500 meters to live. This is why searching for these functional fungi can be difficult and expensive since you will not find Cordyceps Militaris growing naturally everywhere.

Another curious fact about Cordyceps Militaris is that the most potent type of this fungus is harvested during the last days of summer. In fact, in China, where people have been using cordyceps as medicine for centuries, this fungus is called “dong chong xia cao” which literally means “winter insect and summer grass,” a name that perfectly describes how this curious species of fungus occurs.

Cordyceps Militaris and Weight Loss

A 2013 study on rodents showed that among the different species of cordyceps that exist, Cordyceps Militaris seems to have a unique ability to drastically reduce liver weight, and fat deposition, and improve lipid levels. These characteristics of Cordyceps Militaris suggest that this particular species of cordyceps might be particularly effective in aiding weight loss and regulating obesity. Additionally, a different animal study published in 2018 showed that cordycepin, one of the major bioactive components present in Cordyceps Militaris, could help prevent weight gain by regulating the gut microbiota. The data from this study suggest that the microbiome created by cordycepin may be the mechanism of action through which this compound present in Cordyceps Militaris and extracts containing it may help with weight loss.

While Cordyceps Militaris and its cordycepin content can already help regulate the body’s lipid profile, there are other ways this functional mushroom could help with weight loss. Another reason why researchers and even athletes have their eye on cordyceps is due to the evidence suggesting that cordyceps supplementation could help increase tolerance to high-intensity exercise, increase energy levels, and improve overall physical performance.

So if you’re looking for something to improve your weight loss plan and some extra boost to power through your exercise routines or increase the intensity of your workouts, cordyceps supplementation might come in handy. In case you are a cannabis user, you could complement your cordyceps supplementation with some of the best CBD flower for energy, or if you are more inclined towards psychoactive effects, you could search through the best Delta-8 strains for energy and choose your favorite. In any case, before experimenting with cordyceps, CBD, or Delta-8, it is best to consult a professional since, especially with cordyceps, the ideal dose can vary significantly from person to person, and there is not yet a table of universal quantities that work the same for everyone.

Benefits of Cordyceps Militaris

Although cordyceps have a long history of use in traditional Asian medicine, these mushrooms are still new to modern science. There are currently more than 400 species of cordyceps identified, but Cordyceps Militaris and Sinensis have captured the most attention from Western researchers. Although it is still early to make any claims about the benefits that cordyceps could bring to human health, the findings are promising. Some of the potential therapeutic benefits of Cordyceps Militaris backed by science are:

  • Anti-aging properties: There is evidence to suggest that cordyceps possess antioxidant qualities, and this is one of the main characteristics that contribute to the anti-aging qualities of these mushrooms. Another study showed that cordyceps increased antioxidants in mice, improving their memory and other aspects of cognitive performance, such as learning ability and creativity. Consequently, there could be an increase in mental clarity and creative power similar to that given by some of the best cannabis strains for creativity and focus. Just as some people wonder if CBD gummies help you focus, some wonder if cordyceps promote focus. The truth is that similarly, neither cordyceps nor CBD directly promotes focus, but other cognitive aspects that can make focusing easier and even more enjoyable. Therefore, the data points to cordyceps and CBD being a super mental-boosting combo. Nevertheless, we need more studies to confirm this belief. What is certain is that the antioxidant qualities that cordyceps carry bring with them several benefits. Another of those benefits is regarding sexual function. In fact, older people in Asia have been taking cordyceps for centuries to improve their sex drive. Additionally, there is even evidence showing that mice that took cordyceps lived longer than those that took a placebo.
  • May Boost Physical Performance: As we already mentioned, one of the beneficial areas of Cordyceps Militaris is physical performance. This is because cordyceps could increase the production of ATP or adenosine triphosphate, an essential molecule to deliver energy to the muscles. As a consequence, this improves how the body uses oxygen, especially during exercise. In fact, there is evidence to suggest that cordyceps supplementation could increase VO2 max by 7% to 11%. Nonetheless, the current evidence is that cordyceps may not have the same effect on already-trained endurance athletes. 
  • Regulates blood sugar: In various studies conducted on diabetic mice, cordyceps proved to lower blood sugar. This evidence suggests that these functional mushrooms could be a helpful tool in treating type 2 diabetes. This is because cordyceps appear to keep blood sugar levels in a healthy range by mimicking the mechanism of action of insulin.
  • Possible anti-tumor properties: Evidence from test tube studies suggests that cordyceps may help slow the growth of tumors and may inhibit the growth of different types of cancer cells, such as colon, lung, liver, and skin cancer. Other animal-conducted studies demonstrated the anti-tumor qualities of cordyceps against melanoma, lymphoma, and lung cancer. There is also evidence to suggest that cordyceps might reverse leukopenia resulting from some cancer treatments. However, it is essential to note that all of this evidence comes from tests in test tubes and animal studies. Therefore, it is still uncertain whether cordyceps could have the same effects in humans.
  • May improve kidney function: A review of 22 studies suggests that cordyceps may improve kidney function. However, the data in this review are insufficient to make any conclusions about the effects of cordyceps on kidney function in humans with chronic kidney disease.
  • Heart health benefits: A 2012 study suggests that cordyceps may have cardioprotective properties related to cordyceps’ high adenosine content. In fact, a 2014 animal study showed that cordyceps could reduce cardiac injury in rats with chronic kidney disease, which could reduce the chance of heart failure. In addition to this, another animal study showed that cordyceps could help regulate LDL cholesterol and triglyceride levels, thus reducing the risk of heart disease.
  • May Reduce Inflammation: Some researchers believe that cordyceps may be effective as an anti-inflammatory as it has the ability to suppress some proteins that increase inflammation in the body. In addition, an animal study showed that cordyceps could reduce inflammation in the airways, while a different study suggested that it could also serve as a topical anti-inflammatory.

It is important to note that most studies on the potential therapeutic benefits of cordyceps are limited to laboratory and animal studies. Therefore, we still need more research that fully corroborates the possible benefits that cordyceps could bring to human health.

Cordyceps Militaris and T-Cells

T cells or T lymphocytes are a type of leukocyte or white blood cell and an essential part of the immune system. T cells and B cells are the two main types of lymphocytes, and these determine the specificity of the immune response to foreign substances or antigens in the body. Different studies suggest that Cordyceps contains substances that stimulate “T cells” in the immune system. This data indicates that many of the benefits claimed for cordyceps may not be too far off the mark. By stimulating T cells, cordyceps may promote healthy liver function, and some of the biochemical compounds in cordyceps may treat erectile dysfunction. All this data suggests that cordyceps could be good for boosting the immune system, improving kidney and liver function, and even treating impotence, one of the uses of these functional mushrooms, which have been so popular for centuries. 

Possible Side Effects from Cordyceps

Although there are no specific studies yet to determine the safety of cordyceps supplementation in humans, the long history of use of these functional mushrooms in traditional Chinese medicine suggests that they are non-toxic and, therefore, safe for human consumption. The possible side effects that some users may experience can range from stomach discomfort to nausea in case of consuming excessive doses and, in some cases, dry mouth. Other than these adverse effects, cordyceps is considered generally safe by many experts, practitioners of complementary or alternative systems of medicine, and even governments. In fact, the Chinese government recognizes Cordyceps CS-4 as a safe, natural drug and has even approved its use in hospitals.

Dosage and Preparation

Official research on the use of cordyceps in humans is so limited that science still needs more specific studies to determine the ideal dose of cordyceps for each purpose. The most common dose used in human studies is 1 to 3 grams daily. This dose doesn´t seem to have a link to any adverse effects and may provide some of the health benefits of cordyceps.

As for the preparation, it all depends on the type of cordyceps supplement you decide to take. Cordyceps extract usually comes in capsules or in powder form, but you can also find whole cordyceps fruit bodies. There are cordyceps extracts that come in ready-to-take “00” capsules, usually dosed with 400 mg of cordyceps powder. On the other hand, you can easily take cordyceps powder by diluting it in some liquid and taking it, always trying to stay in the range of 1 to 3 grams per day. You can add your cordyceps powder to your morning coffee or to just about any food or drink since it’s so easy to mix and its taste is virtually undetectable.

If you prefer Cordyceps fruit bodies, you could take them in tea, using six to eight Cordyceps fruit bodies in 200-250 ml of drinking water. To make your cordyceps tea, simply keep the cordyceps bodies boiling in water for 1 minute. After a minute of boiling, turn the flame to the lowest setting, cover the pot with a lid and let it simmer for another 14-15 minutes and you’ll have your cordyceps tea ready to drink.

How much cordyceps to take daily?

The moderate dose of cordyceps that most experts recommend is 2,000 mg or 2 g. Some experts recommend doubling this dose the first couple of weeks as, like many functional mushrooms, the organic compounds in cordyceps need to be built up in the body for you to start noticing changes or benefits. Regular dosages of cordyceps for adults range from 3g to 6g per day, with 6g being a high dose. Most studies and existing information suggest that the ideal range of effectiveness without adverse effects is 1,000 mg to 3,000 mg per day for up to 1 year. There are no current studies yet showing the effects of the long-term use of cordyceps for more than this time.

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