Cordyceps is a medicinal mushroom that has been used for centuries in Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) preparations as a treatment for conditions such as respiratory disease, liver or renal problems, hyperglycemia, and cancer or tumor disorders. Similarly, Cordyceps has been applied as an energy and endurance enhancer, to improve aerobic capacity, and to boost cellular immunity. It was officially classified as a drug in 1964 in Chinese Pharmacopoeia.
Way back in 1993, Cordyceps first gained worldwide scientific attention when Chinese female athletes broke 3 world records in 1500 m, 3000 m, and 10,000 m events at the World Track and Field Championships in Germany. Their achievements were widely credited to their rigorous training and diet regimen, which included cordyceps supplementation. This sparked a lot of controversy within the track and field community and led to several research studies aimed at unravelling the benefits of Cordyceps extract supplementation in the world of fitness and enhanced physical performance.
Today, Cordyceps is described by some exercise scientists as a natural exercise mimetic, which has been shown to improve exercise performance by several different mechanisms. Studies postulate that Cordyceps extract supplementation improves exercise performance by increasing skeletal muscle blood flow, enhancing oxygen utilization, and acting as an antioxidant.
The beneficial physiological effects of Cordyceps extract supplementation appear to be due to its naturally occurring medicinal compounds including:
- A high concentration of Beta-D-Glucans
- Antioxidant Polyphenols
Since these compounds are key players in Cordyceps health and performance benefits, we focused on maximizing their potency in Vibe Mushrooms Cordyceps extract. We are able to consistently achieve therapeutically relevant levels of Beta-D-Glucans, adenosine, cordycepin, and polyphenols through:
1) Using only the purest organically grown Cordyceps militaris mushroom fruiting body as starting material for extraction
2) Strictly following extraction procedures outlined in the Chinese Pharmacopeia to produce potent and pure pharmaceutical-grade Cordyceps extract
The medicinal components found in Vibe Mushrooms cordyceps extract have been reported to provide the following 4 performance benefits:
1) Improved aerobic performance
In a double-blinded and placebo-controlled exercise study, 20 healthy older subjects were given 333 mg of Cordyceps extract 3 times a day for 12 weeks (or a placebo) and underwent aerobic testing.
After 12 weeks, the anaerobic threshold for lactate accumulation increased by 10.5% and the ventilatory threshold (which is stimulated by increased lactate) increased by 8.5%. Significant changes in anaerobic or ventilatory threshold did not occur in in the placebo group.
Although the above study never reported increases in maximum oxygen consumption (VO2max), a measure of aerobic capacity, another study that included 37 healthy elderly Chinese subjects did. In this randomized and placebo-controlled trial, volunteers received either 3 grams of Cordyceps extract daily (this was 3x the dose of the previous study) or a placebo. Aerobic cycling performance was tested before and after 6 weeks of Cordyceps or placebo supplementation. After taking cordyceps for 6 weeks, VO2max increased by over 6% and anaerobic threshold increased by approximately 13% from baseline. There were no improvements in the placebo group.
2) Enhanced oxygen utilization in high intensity exercise
In a randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled trial conducted on 28 young healthy volunteers, it was reported that just 3 weeks of Cordyceps extract supplementation (4 grams per day) promoted increased VO2max, ventilatory threshold, and time to exhaustion during high intensity aerobic testing on a stationary bike.
3) Delayed fatigue and increased ATP (energy) production during intense exercise
Preclinical studies report that Cordyceps produces an increase of 45–55% in the ratio of adenosine triphosphate (ATP; our energy currency) to inorganic phosphate in the liver, an effect that promotes positive energy status in the body and serves to delay fatigue and improve physical performance.
In another preclinical study, it was shown that Beta-D-Glucans found in Cordyceps extract contribute to fatigue resistance during exhaustive swimming exercise. Results showed that polysaccharides (like Beta-D-Glucans) from Cordyceps extended swimming endurance time, delayed increases in lactic acid buildup, and increased glycogen storage in liver and muscle in mice.
4) Increased libido/sex-drive in women and men
Sexual performance is often overlooked when talking about the performance benefits of Cordyceps extract, but its effects are well substantiated. Cordyceps extract works through several different mechanisms to improve sexual desire and sexual performance in men and women.
For example, it has been shown to positively modulate adrenal and hypothalamus-pituitary axis (HPA) signalling to optimize levels of estrogen and testosterone.
Cordyceps extract supports energy levels and sexual desire by supporting mitochondrial function and increasing adenosine triphosphate (ATP) production.
Due to Cordyceps antioxidant potential, it promotes increased production of endothelial nitric oxide by lowering oxidative stress on this cellular pathway. With optimized nitric oxide, improvements in vaginal lubrication and sexual function are reported in females, and improvements in erection quality and sexual function are reported in males. Not only does increased nitric oxide production improve sexual performance, but it also contributes to increased blood flow and performance during your workouts!
Finally, Cordyceps is reported to keep inflammation in check by decreasing levels of pro-inflammatory cytokines. Decreased inflammation promotes increases in mood, sexual desire, and overall sexual, mental, and physical performance.
How to use Cordyceps
Vibe Mushrooms certified organic Cordyceps militaris is a pharmaceutical-grade mushroom (fruiting body) extract. Like all our products, our Cordyceps has been standardized using the strict processing methods outlined in TCM pharmacopeia, we do this to assure consistent and optimized potency of the targeted functional compounds in our mushroom extracts.
To maximize benefits, the medicinal compounds in Vibe Cordyceps have been standardized to the following potencies: beta-glucans (min. 25%), cordycepin (min. 1%), adenosine (min. 0.5%), and polyphenols (min. 1%). All of our products are 3rd party tested by a minimum of 3 independent laboratories for assurance of potency and purity.
(*Note: Steer clear of brands that don’t use 3rd party testing for potency and purity and don’t list their standardized medicinal compounds and potencies on the package)
Based on the research and pharma-grade potency of our Cordyceps, use 1 to 3 grams daily (1/2 tsp per gram), taken all at once in the morning. If you use 3 grams daily, you can split it into 3 x 1-gram doses and take throughout the day. Mix directly into your coffee, tea, yogurt, greens, smoothies, or pre-workout supplement.
Shashidhar, M. G., Giridhar, P., Udaya Sankar, K., and Manohar, B. (2013). Bioactive principles from Cordyceps sinensis: a potent food supplement – a review. J. Funct. Foods. 5, 1013–1030.
Division HMS, editor. Cordyceps. The Korean Herbal Pharmacopoeia (KHP) Seoul, Korea: Korea Food and Drug Administration; 2002. p. 59.
Kumar R, Negi PS, Singh B, Ilavazhagan G, Bhargava K, Sethy NK. Cordyceps sinensis promotes exercise endurance capacity of rats by activating skeletal muscle metabolic regulators. J Ethnopharmacol. 2011;136(1):260–266.
Hirsch KR, Smith-Ryan AE, Roelofs EJ, Trexler ET, Mock MG. Cordyceps militaris Improves Tolerance to High-Intensity Exercise After Acute and Chronic Supplementation. J Diet Suppl. 2017 Jan 2;14(1):42-53.
Chen S, Li Z, Krochmal R, Abrazado M, Kim W, Cooper CB. Effect of Cs-4®(Cordyceps sinensis) on exercise performance in healthy older subjects: A double-blind, placebo-controlled trial. The Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine. 2010;16(5):585–590.
Ko KM, Leung HY. Enhancement of ATP generation capacity, antioxidant activity and immunomodulatory activities by Chinese Yang and Yin tonifying herbs. Chin Med. 2007;2:3.
Zhu JS, Halpern GM, Jones K. The scientific rediscovery of an ancient Chinese herbal medicine: Cordyceps sinensis: part I. J Altern Complement Med. 1998b;4(3):289–303.
Chen S, Li Z, Krochmal R, Abrazado M, Kim W, Cooper CB. Effect of Cs-4 (Cordyceps sinensis) on exercise performance in healthy older subjects: a double-blind, placebo-controlled trial. J Altern Complement Med. 2010 May;16(5):585-90.
Zhu JS, Halpern GM, Jones K. The scientific rediscovery of a precious ancient Chinese herbal regimen: Cordyceps sinensis: part II. J Altern Complement Med. 1998a;4(4):429–457.
Nicodemus K, Hagan R, Zhu J, Baker C. Supplementation with Cordyceps Cs-4 fermentation product promotes fat metabolism during prolonged exercise. Medicine and science in sports and exercise. 2001;33:164.
Yi X, Xi-zhen H, Jia-shi Z. Randomized double-blind placebo-controlled clinical trial and assessment of fermentation product of Cordyceps sinensis (Cs-4) in enhancing aerobic capacity and respiratory function of the healthy elderly volunteers. Chinese Journal of Integrative Medicine. 2004;10(3):187–192.
Wan F, Guo Y, Deng X. Sex hormone-like effects of JinShuiBao capsule: Pharmacological and clinical studies. Chinese Trad Pat Med. 1988;9:29-31.
Yang WZ, Deng Xa, Hu W. Treatment of sexual hypofunction with Cordyceps sinensis. Jiangxi Zhongyiyao. 1985;5:46-7.