ΜMom was an earthly mother. It was a strange spirit that longed to understand and unlock more of the wonder of the world around us. He believed in the inherent goodness of nature and in its desire to heal as long as it knew that our vulnerable human bodies were prone to self-destruction. She talked to me about free radicals and antioxidants when I was too young to understand such concepts, grew organic vegetables in her well-kept suburban backyard while raising four children and working full time, and preached the many virtues of countless Chinese herds. plants and treatments. My mother was a real encyclopedia of knowledge that aimed to take good care of her children.
I never appreciated how far ahead of holistic health trends he was always. Even when she was fighting for her life against stomach cancer, she never lost hope that the secrets of longevity sprang from the earth. It was during this period that I first came across the term “functional mushrooms”.
My mom had read recent studies on Cordyceps that suggest that fungi could stimulate immune system cells and possibly fight certain viruses and cancer. So when the Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center included a reference to cordisseps in its reference material (with a warning that further study is needed), we got it. We went to the Internet and ordered several types of these 400 known species of these endoparasitic fungi, not yet knowing what they promised, but believing that it did.
Since then, this eastern medical marvel has risen to the forefront of the world of wellness. In 2020, Well + Good predicted that functional mushrooms would grow larger than life this year, and they were right. Adaptive, nootropic, cordyceps — these are some of the biggest buzzwords for wellness products that have appeared in this second year of the COVID-19 pandemic.
It is not difficult to understand why. The whole world struggled to survive under the pressure of stress, unlike anything we have ever experienced since the onset of the pandemic. many have struggled with unprecedented emotional, mental and physical fatigue. As a result, we hope – as my mother did – that magic mushrooms can offer some sense of relief or relief. (And they never do.)
But what exactly are cordyceps and what differentiates them from adaptogens and nootropics? Here, we select five experts to explain the spotlight to one of the oldest supporting actors in Traditional Chinese Medicine who is finally in the spotlight.
What is Cordyceps fungus?
Although there are hundreds of species of Cordyceps, for our purposes, they are usually divided into two types, Cordyceps sinensis and Cordyceps militaris. The broad term used to categorize a group of ascomycete fungi that are known to grow – are you ready? from insect and arthropod bodies, explains Catty Khoury, founder of the Toodaloo adaptive footprint brand.
Board-certified botanist and education director of the new chapter Charlotte Traas goes into more detail. Another name for Cordyceps sinensis is “caterpillar fungus”. it infects the caterpillars and then occupies their body, consuming and eventually killing them δ coarsely, right? ‘ she laughs. But as Traas further explains, “This kind of mushroom is extremely valuable as mushroom hunters have to go find the caterpillar bodies and collect them. In fact, Cordyceps are also historically closely associated with Chinese rights, which were used only by emperors and are called “soft gold” because the price for authentic sinensis can range from $ 13,000 to over $ 140,000 per kilo.
Cordyceps militaris, on the other hand, are a little more delicious in mind and in the wallet. These strains are most often grown in a laboratory and fed to a substrate and then harvested, Traas explains. Khoury also shares that they can be reproduced in the laboratory on sawdust, shavings, compost or straw.
Why are Cordyceps and other functional mushrooms so hot right now?
Traditionally believed by Eastern medicine practitioners such as Tom Marciano, Doctor of Chiropractic and Certified Acupuncturist, to help balance yang energy in the body, cordyceps have long been popular in Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) for the treatment of conjunctivitis and tuberculosis. .
“Traditional Chinese medicine uses an ancient five-element theory to identify and harmonize yin and yang imbalances,” says Marciano. This is what I, as a Chinese-American, grew up understanding as “hot” or “cold” energies, not much different from the old-fashioned Western notion of “humor.” “To summarize briefly, this imbalance is expressed as symptoms of disease, which herbal preparations are designed to treat based on the organs or elements that need to be stimulated or calmed,” he adds.
Although the Cordyceps fungus has been used in TCM for over 5,000 years to treat Jing (also known as the kidney substance), it did not attract much attention from the western world until 1993, says Traas. “That was when some Chinese World Championship runners attributed their success – including the breaking of three world records – to cordyceps.”
As Sandra Carter, MD, PhD in Preventive Medicine and co-founder of Om Mushroom Superfood, MA MPH, Ph.D., says, published. “With increased training and awareness, there is a huge interest in the power that mushrooms can offer in immune and cognitive health, athletic performance and more.” Indeed, many new scientific studies are beginning to understand the benefits of cordyceps cordycepin and ergosterol, among others, which have been shown to have anti-inflammatory, neuroprotective, hypoglycemic and neoprotective properties. Dr. Carter also says that Cordyceps products help consumers improve their endurance in a natural way by supporting respiration, oxygen supply and cell function – something that is huge for athletes. “Research has shown that Cordyceps can help increase endurance measured with the Max V02, a test that shows an athlete’s overall ability to exercise at high intensity for a long time.”
In this spirit, Dr. Carter points out the remarkable point that “We are also seeing a huge increase in consumer demand for adapters, including mushrooms.”
How are adaptogens and nootropics different from cornflowers?
Adaptogens are widely defined as non-toxic plants, herbs and roots that can help boost the body’s resistance and tolerance to physical and emotional stress. “Adapters also help reduce the mechanism of battle or flight that can cause stress and harmful effects on general health,” explains Dr. Carter. And it’s no surprise to her that they caught it so fast. “With the many challenges of this past year, people are looking for natural products that they can use on a daily basis to help them deal with stress, depression and other stress-related issues,” he says.
Mental illnesses, on the other hand, are supplements that can help boost spiritual performance, which has also been a hot topic in recent years as many struggle against burnout. “Nootropics are compounds that help facilitate improvements in brain function, in relation to memory, creativity or general nerve health,” explains Dr. Carter. In general, all Cordyceps are adaptogenic, but they may not all be nootropic. Khoury says Cordyceps sinensis is best for endurance and stress relief, while Cordyceps militaris is best for intense exercise and mood stability.
Buying tips for Cordyceps fungus
Before you buy, keep in mind that you should talk to a doctor before trying any cordyceps, adaptogenic or nootropic. And like all supplements, they are not FDA controlled. (Just because it’s all the more popular and in more impressive packaging makes no product more virtuous than the Chinatown and Flushing herbal stores in New York where I accompanied my mother as a child.)
When researching Cordyceps products, Dr. Carter recommends that you look for those that contain the whole functional mushroom and look for where it was grown. “All mushrooms are bioaccumulators, which means that they accumulate whatever is grown,” he says. “When grown in an environment with heavy metals and pesticides, they will all come to the final product.” For this reason, laboratory-grown Cordyceps militaris is often a safer bet. “Sinensis is also extremely rare, so it is difficult to find authentic specimens.” When he buys militaris, Traas also says to look for a company that DNA verifies the identity of their mushrooms, such as New Chapter.
Also, keep in mind that in TCM, herbs and supplements are not meant to be on their own. rather, they tend to play a role in an association. “Traditional Chinese medicine often works to balance the body and usually does not use only one herb or mushroom,” says Traas. This is why you will often find cordyceps and other forms of fungi mixed with added herbs that are good for you. For example, Carter’s Om Mushroom Superfood Master Blend contains three different types of functional mushrooms (including Cordyceps), as well as other herbal adapters. Immune Multi Boost adds vitamin C to it.
Khoury’s Toodaloo trail mixes also make it easy to get your combination. The nut blend combines over 30 superfoods and adaptive herbs — including chaga, Lion’s Mane, ashwagandha, and maca — and is available in five flavors, including Smoke Show BBQ, Slow Your Roll Maple, and Deja Brew Coffee.
But again, no matter how you want to incorporate cordyceps, nootropic, adaptive or functional mushrooms into your diet, all of these experts say you should consult your doctor first before following this trend. Once you are given the blessing, consider trying Cordyceps and their siblings. Finally, everything is summed up in one question: Do you believe in magic?
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