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Q Armour - Part 2 Cordyceps Mushrooms



Organically grown, this exclusive formula includes iconic, rare mushrooms known as adaptogens which have a unique ability to “adapt” according to the specific needs of your body.

  • Reishi: Adapts to support immune response

  • Chaga: Antioxidant powerhouse for cell support

  • Antrodia: Immune, antioxidant, and liver support

  • Shiitake: Immune and heart health support

  • Cordyceps: Circulation and endurance support

  • Turkey Tail: Immune support via healthy gut

  • Astragalus: Respiratory and cell damage protection support



First originating in the Qing Dynasty in China, Cordyceps mushroom has been used for over 2000 years (5). In ancient times, wild Cordyceps was so highly prized and valued by the emperor that they were illegal to possess if you did not belong to the ruling class. The emperor understood how valuable this herb was to be as an overall life-enhancing and anti-aging agent. The emperors wanted to be effective rulers of their kingdom and so they valued Cordyceps as a longevity tonic to prevent illness, strengthen an individual’s constitution and increase vigour (1, 5). Cordyceps mushroom is traditionally renowned as a potent kidney and adrenal tonic. Studies show that Cordyceps mushroom may enhance aerobic capacity, strength, stamina, physical performance, promote fast recovery, support the lungs, help lower cholesterol, boost libido and fertility. As a potent antioxidant and immunomodulatory agent, Cordyceps lowers inflammation and fights free radicals (1, 4, 5, 6).


What are Cordyceps Mushroom

Cordyceps mushroom is a species from the Clavicipitaceae fungi family. There are over 700 species of Cordyceps mushroom. The most popular and widely studied species are Cordyceps sinensis and Cordyceps militaris. These two species are the most widely studied that are used within herbal medicine (6, 13).

Essentially, Cordyceps mushroom are a parasitic fungus that naturally takes over the nervous system of different ghost moth caterpillars and other insects. Once the fungus has infected the host body, and in the right environmental conditions, the mushroom fruiting body will sprout through the head of the ghost moth.


Top 5 Super Powers of Cordyceps Mushroom

May help elevate exercise performance

Cordyceps mushroom is perhaps best known for its ability to improve physical activity and performance. Cordyceps has been shown to increase nitric oxide production, aerobic capacity and the utilization of cellular energy stores (1, 13). The production of nitric oxide causes vasodilation within blood vessels which helps improve oxygen utilization and the clearing away of lactic acid; improving circulation, skeletomuscular and cardiovascular abilities (7, 13). The ability of Cordyceps to liberate stored glucose (cellular energy) enables a steady production of cellular energy – ATP (Adenosine triphosphate) which attributes to its anti-fatigue ability improving athletic endurance.

One specific and well-known study on mice showed the introduction of Cordyceps enhanced endurance and resistance to fatigue after three weeks of administration when compared to the placebo group (2). In human studies, three week utilization of Cordyceps militaris in healthy individuals showed an improvement in VO2 max, time till exhaustion and ventilatory threshold (10). Whereas the utilization of Cordyceps to improve aerobic capacity in professional athletes is unsupported (10, 13). Cordyceps also improves and elevates exercise performance through it’s ability to increase testosterone, estrogen and progesterone levels (1, 8, 9, 11, 13).

In mice studies, the introduction of Cordyceps stimulated Leydig cells to produce testosterone. This is due to cordycepin being the identified active constituent and phytosteroid compounds stimulate receptor activity in hormone target sites. (8, 9) Cordyceps has also shown to lower cholesterol and acts as a potent antioxidant that protects cells from free radical damage (1, 13). Studies show that cholesterol build up causes plaque and platelet aggregation within blood vessels, decreasing circulation and cardiovascular function, inhibiting optimal aerobic and exercise performance.

Perhaps one of the coolest functions of Cordyceps is its compound – cordycepin – which mimics caffeine in its ability to bind to adenosine receptors (1, 13).

Adenosine is our sleepy compound that builds up throughout the day causing the body to tire and feel fatigued, When we sleep, adenosine is “washed away”. When Cordyceps acts on these receptors, it plugs into these receptors and helps prevent fatigue, increases ATP production (cellular energy) and improves endurance–three key factors in improving exercise performance.


May Possess Anti-Aging Properties

Cordyceps has traditionally been used as a longevity tonic that may help prevent and slow down the ageing process. This is due to Cordyceps rich antioxidant compounds that help fight off the production of free radicals (1, 7, 12, 13).

Free radicals, also known as ROS (reactive oxygen species), are unstable molecules in the body that damage cellular DNA and cell function. Free radicals cause oxidative stress and accelerate the ageing process. We often define ageing as simply the physical changes or decline in our appearance, however, ageing is happening to our cells constantly. The body is always creating new cells to replace the old, damaged, worn out cells and Cordyceps is able to support this entire cascade by fighting free radicals that are naturally produced and caused by our lifestyles. The body naturally needs reactive oxygen species to elicit immune responses and for healthy cell turnover. When the balance of pro and antioxidants become out of balance, this is when we see disease and symptom formation.

Free radicals are also increased during times of stress. Whether the stress is caused by environmental, physical or mental – the sun, deadlines, over-exercising, heavy metals, pro-inflammatory foods etc. all these stressors cause an increase of free radicals in the body.

The anti inflammatory and adaptogenic properties of Cordyceps mushroom therefore, help buffer the stress response and support the HPA axis (Hypothalamus-pituitary-adrenal axis) to prevent additional free radicals and lower oxidative stress and thus, cellular ageing that occurs. One study showed the potent effects of water-extracted Cordyceps to inhibit the production of superoxide anions and hydroxyl radicals – two key ROS’ - within humans. Further, Cordyceps improves brain function and increases the production of key antioxidant enzymes–SOD (Superoxide dismutase), glutathione and catalase (12, 13).


Possibly can slow the growth of tumours

Through the works of world renowned mycologist; Paul Stamets, the normalcy and effectiveness of medicinal mushrooms and Cordyceps in the shrinking and inhibition of tumours is becoming widely explored. As a potent immunomodulatory agent, Cordyceps has been showed to have an inhibitory and cytotoxic effect on carcinomas, melanomas and lymphomas within both human and mice models (1, 6, 7, 12, 13).

The unique combination of active compounds in Cordyceps–cordycepin and immune-modulating polysaccharides– elicit anti-tumour effects and have shown to induce apoptosis (programmed cell death) in oral, colorectal, bladder, breast and prostate cancer cells (1, 6, 7, 11, 12, 13).

The anti-tumour activity of Cordyceps has been attributed to its immunopotentiation function as well as it’s antioxidant, antiangiogenic, antimutagenic, antimetastatic, and antiviral activities (12). Further, looking at tumour growth from a holistic perspective, we can see Cordyceps function as an adaptogen that buffers stress and supports healthy adrenal and nervous system function inhibiting oxidative stress that drives cellular miscommunication and cancer growth.


May help control Type 2 Diabetes

Type 2 diabetes is driven by lifestyle factors which cause a resistance to insulin and leptin and an increase in risk for all-cause mortality and metabolic disease. Research has shown Cordyceps mushroom has hypoglycemic effects. Cordyceps triggers insulin release, increases hepatic uptake of glucose, increases insulin sensitivity and improves cholesterol levels (12,13).

In studies, Cordyceps has been demonstrated to improve fasting glucose levels, improve glucose tolerance and enhance GLUT4 function (1, 7, 12, 13). GLUT4 is a specific transporter within the small intestine that carries glucose from the GI tract into the bloodstream to be stored by muscles and the liver. Enhancing the function sees a greater clearance and utilization of glucose and thus, improved blood sugar balance.

Stress, poor sleep, inactivity and an increase in free radicals all drive blood sugar imbalances and risk of type 2 diabetes. Cordyceps mushroom shows has numerous benefits to supporting healthy blood sugar and the control of type 2 diabetes.


Potential Cardiovascular Benefits

Cordyceps has many potential benefits for the cardiovascular system. Cordyceps enhances oxygen utilisation, improves blood vessel tone, boosts antioxidants and its antilipidemic effects may improve cholesterol levels, decrease plasma cholesterol levels and hyperlipidemia (11, 12). Cordyceps improves lipid metabolism through the above-mentioned ways. High cholesterol is often driven by lifestyle, an overburdened liver, poor functioning cardiovascular system and leptin and insulin resistance.

Studies show Cordyceps may significantly reduce cholesterol, triglyceride concentration and VLDL synthesis, as well as improve the ratio of HDL:LDL – a marker of healthy cholesterol levels (1, 13, 14).

Cordyceps contain beta-glucan polysaccharides (long-chain sugars) that elicit hypolipidemic activity that entrap cholesterol with bile acids in the GI tract improving excretion (1, 13, 14).

Cordyceps is also hepatoprotective and may help support a healthy functioning liver. The liver is the site of cholesterol synthesis and recycling (the body uses cholesterol to synthesise sex hormones). The liver also receives HDL from the body, breaks it down and excretes it, keeps arteries clear and prevents plaque buildup that cause cardiovascular disease.

When the liver is overburdened, damaged or not functioning at its optimum level, cholesterol levels become out of balance which causes an increase in blood cholesterol, inflammatory markers and metabolic disease. The liver is also the site of bile synthesis which is stored in the gallbladder and released when we consume dietary fats. Bile mops up cholesterol, binding it to bile acids within the gastrointestinal tract and excretes through the bowels. Our entire body is so interconnected. The anti inflammatory benefits of Cordyceps mushroom supports both a healthy liver and helps balance cholesterol levels to support the cardiovascular system.


Potential side effects

There is very little scientific evidence that suggests Cordyceps mushroom shows harmful side effects. However, potential side effects and contraindications may occur with Cordyceps and cholesterol lowering drugs, having an additive effect. Additionally, anticoagulant, antiplatelet, cyclophosphamide and immunosuppressant drugs may have interactions. Aside from these, Cordyceps mushroom has a very low toxicity, with diarrhea, constipation and abdominal discomfort being other noted side effects (15). It’s also important to note that any herb that works to support liver function may also improve or alter drug metabolism.


Special Precautions

In some circumstances, for certain people under proper guidance, it may be best to avoid Cordyceps mushroom. It is recommended to avoid using Cordyceps while pregnant and breastfeeding. As with most herbal medicine and natural supplements, there is insufficient data and a lack of reliable information regarding the safety of consuming Cordyceps mushroom while pregnant and breastfeeding.

Being immune amphoteric and immunomodulating, Cordyceps mushroom has the potential to stimulate the immune system and may trigger or exacerbate autoimmune conditions. It is recommended for those with multiple sclerosis (MS), systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE), rheumatoid arthritis (RA) and other autoimmune conditions to avoid Cordyceps mushroom or use with caution (15). Due to the anti-platelet aggregating (blood clotting) effects of Cordyceps, it is recommended for those with bleeding disorders or those entering into surgery to avoid using Cordyceps mushroom (15).


Conclusion

In Chinese medicine, Cordyceps mushroom is sweet, warm and enters the lung and kidney meridians, and has been used for millennia to enhance treat Yin and Yang deficiencies and strengthen the strength, stamina and Jing of the individual consuming it.

In modern Western times, Cordyceps has been shown to improve aerobic capacity, exercise performance, cholesterol, blood sugar, energy levels, libido, and immune function and is honestly such a potent and powerhouse of an adaptogen, one in which we can all benefit from taking.


References

1. Adaptogens: Herbs for Strength, Stamina and Stress Relief by David Winston and Steven Maimes - https://www.amazon.com.au/Adaptogens-Updated-David-Winston/dp/1620559587/

2. Traditional uses and medicinal potential of Cordyceps sinensis of Sikkim https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3121254/

3. Cordyceps and Cordyceps militaris - https://www.gaiaherbs.com/blogs/herbs/cordyceps

4. Enhancement of ATP generation capacity, antioxidant activity and immunomodulatory activities by Chinese Yang and Yin tonifying herbs - https://cmjournal.biomedcentral.com/articles/10.1186/1749-8546-2-3

5. Bioactive proteins and peptides isolated from Chinese medicines with pharmaceutical potential - https://cmjournal.biomedcentral.com/articles/10.1186/1749-8546-9-19

6. Properties of Cordyceps Sinensis: A review - https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S1756464613000522

7. Pharmacological and therapeutic potential of Cordyceps with special reference to Cordycepin. - https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3909570/

8. Effects of Cordyceps sinensis on testosterone production in normal mouse Leydig cells - https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/11712663/

9. Functional study of Cordyceps sinensis and cordycepin in male reproduction: A review - https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S102194981630182X

10. Cordyceps militaris improves tolerance to high intensity exercise after acute and chronic supplementation. - https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5236007/

11. Upregulation of Steroidogenic Enzymes and Ovarian 17β-Estradiol in Human Granulosa-Lutein Cells by Cordyceps sinensis Mycelium. - https://academic.oup.com/biolreprod/article/70/5/1358/2712670

12. Chapter 5. Cordyceps as an Herbal Drug. - https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK92758/

14. The Effects of Cordyceps sinensis (Berk.) Sacc. and Gymnema inodorum (Lour.) Decne. Extracts on Adipogenesis and Lipase Activity In Vitro. - https://www.hindawi.com/journals/ecam/2019/5370473/

15. Natural Medicines. https://naturalmedicines-therapeuticresearch-com.ezproxy.endeavour.edu.au/databases/food,-herbs-supplements/professional.aspx?productid=602

18. Cordyceps militaris improves tolerance to high intensity exercise after acute and chronic supplementation - https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5236007/

19. 3’-Deoxyadenosine (Cordycepin) Produces a Rapid and Robust Antidepressant Effect via Enhancing Prefrontal AMPA Receptor Signaling Pathway - https://academic.oup.com/ijnp/article/19/4/pyv112/2910075


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