Whether you're just getting started with traditional Chinese medicine or you're just looking for a natural product that provides additional support for your body to maintain its health, you may have stumbled upon medicinal mushrooms. Among these mushrooms, which have a long history of providing solid health benefits, are the fungus cordyceps sinensis and cordyceps militaris, a few of the fungal parasites in the genus that grows on caterpillars. However, because of the amazing health effects of cordyceps sinensis, it is now being produced using cultured mycelium, making it easier to find than in the past. But how does it work?
One of the primary compounds found in the cordyceps fungus is cordycepin. It's a chemical compound found in nature that is a derivative of adenosine, a nucleoside found in DNA components. Some enzymes are unable to distinguish between the two, so the compound can be used in mRNA synthesis and in lowering blood pressure, as an example. But that's not the end of where this powerful compound is used in the body! It helps fight free radicals, cancer cells and a range of viruses and is in the initial stages of testing for COVID-19 efficacy. It modulates immune response and boosts liver function. But in what situations does this compound work? Here's an overview to get you started on the research that has been done on this powerful medicinal mushroom compound.
What Is Cordycepin and How Does It Work?
Cordycepin's Antiviral Effects
The interferon-boosting properties of cordycepin makes it harder for viruses to reproduce in your body, reducing their impact and making it harder for them to spread. It's been tested against a range of viruses, including influenza, HIV, Epstein-Barr and several others, showing a 55% decrease in extracellular and 30% decrease in intracellular copy numbers in Epstein-Barr. In both in vitro and in vivo studies of hepatitis B, the compound enhanced natural immunity significantly, making it easier for the body to fight off the virus. It's also part of a treatment being studied for AIDS, and is in the early stages of testing for effectiveness against COVID-19.
Cordycepin's Effect on Cancer Cells
When you're fighting cancer, you want every tool available in your kit to fight this disease with the least amount of side effects. Cordycepin provides strong protection against liver cancer, leukemia, breast cancer and squamous carcinoma. Studies have shown that cordycepin use can reduce the size of tumors in lung cancer by up to 46%, while also reducing tumor size in melanoma and lymphoma tumors. It also inhibits cancer cell growth in many cancers, including lung, liver, colon and skin cancers. At the same time, its immuno-modulating effects reduces leucopenia, or reduced white blood cells due to cancer treatment, getting your immune system back on track to help you avoid secondary infections.
How Cordycepin Impacts Blood Pressure
Because of cordycepin's similarity to adenosine, which also lowers blood pressure, the compound has the same effect on the human body. The related cardiovascular, cholesterol-lowering and anti-inflammatory effects also help reduce stress on the body as a whole, which helps to reduce blood pressure. In animal studies, it's been shown to have a vasodilatory effect, reducing pressure within the system, as well as hypo-tensive and vaso-relaxant effects. These effects directly lower blood pressure. The lower cholesterol levels found in patients using cordycepin provides more room for healthy blood flow, reducing mechanical sources of higher blood pressure, while improved oxygen-bearing abilities make it easier for the blood to transport more oxygen, reducing stress on the body.
Effect of Cordycepin on the Liver
Cordycepin is great for the liver, with studies of patients with Hepatitis B (which it works as an anti-viral against) and cirrhosis showing significant results in protecting the liver against the ravages of these diseases. The study showed a 71.9% improvement in thymol turbidity tests as well as a 78.6% improvement in SGPT tests, both of which check liver functionality, based on specific cell lines but overall showing significant improvement.
Anti-Inflammatory Effects of Cordycepin
Studies have shown that cordycepin acts as an upregulator of interleukin-10, an anti-inflammatory cytokine that shows up naturally in the human body to control inflammation. Interleuken-10 specifically is an effective option against several autoimmune and inflammatory diseases, making it a promising option for treating these disorders. It's also very effective in allergic responses, such as asthma, reducing the impact and severity of asthma attacks.
Cardiovascular and Performance-Enhancing Impacts of Cordycepin
Studies have shown that oxygen absorption increases by up to 40% with cordycepin use, while reducing total cholesterol by ten points or 21% on average and increasing HDL (good) cholesterol by 27 points or 30% on average, improving cardiovascular function significantly. It also helps to reduce arrhythmia, and even chronic heart failure, while protecting against heart attack and thrombosis.
Bone Health Improvements with Cordycepin
Did you know that cordycepin improves bone health? It's been found to work in animal studies against osteoporosis caused by low estrogen levels as well as protecting against alcohol-induced bone cell death in the femur end of the hip joint. In the first study, higher dosages showed results in bone strength approaching that of the control group, which had normal estrogen levels. In the second, the inhibition of bone health compounds caused by alcohol was significantly dampened by the introduction of cordycepin, while the osteo-protective aspects of the compound otherwise improved bone health.
By taking the time to develop a solid understanding of how cordycepin can impact your health, you can take charge of your wellness and make positive, healthy changes in your routine to improve your health. Consider whether cordycepin, a natural extract of cordyceps sinensis, may be a good option to consider for improving your health, and take the time to visit with your health care practitioner to make sure there are no contraindications to using it before you start.