Cordyceps Sinensis - The Big Picture
In this article we will start at the top and look at exactly what Cordyceps Sinensis is, where it comes from and what benefits it may
provide. As Cordyceps has over 1,500 years of history and we would hate for you to fall asleep and hit your head on your keyboard, we will
try to keep the history lesson brief and to the point...
What is Cordyceps Sinensis?
Cordyceps Sinensis is a fungus that grows in the high altitudes of the Tibet, Nepal and parts of China. Cordyceps sinensis thrives in
the cold grassy mountains at about 3,800 meters above sea level. Cordyceps Sinensis belongs to the fungi family of Ascomycotina. While
there are over 680 species in the Cordyceps Genus, we will be focusing on the Cordyceps Sinensis species. Don't nod off yet, it gets better...
Is Cordyceps Sinensis really a mushroom?
In the true spirit of George Washington and his desire to be both honest and chop down a cherry tree, we also can not tell a lie - technically, cordyceps
sinensis is actually not a mushroom. Cordyceps Sinensis is an Ascomycetes fungus closely related to mushrooms. We will leave it to botanist
to explain the exact difference among fungi, but poor cordyceps sinensis just doesn't quite make it as a mushroom.
The problem is to most people, if it looks like a mushroom, smells like a mushroom, acts like a mushroom... it is a mushroom. So, throughout
history Cordyceps Sinensis has been called a mushroom, and who are we to rewrite history. Please then excuse our literary license, but we too will
go along and refer to cordyceps sinensis as a mushroom. But if you are ever on Jeopardy and the answer is "Technically not a mushroom" - you
know the question...
How was Cordyceps Sinensis discovered?
Have you ever seen a herd of Yaks suddenly get all excited, energetic and overly playful with each other? Neither have we. Still, about
1,500 years ago yak herders in the Himalayas of Tibet and Nepal noticed that their Yak would graze on some capless mushrooms and suddenly
become very energetic and playful. The herders investigated what the Yaks were eating and cordyceps was discovered.
In AD 620 (during the Tang Dynasty) the first written record of cordyceps is made. Cordyceps quickly becomes prized by the ruling emperors
of China for its healing and longevity properties. Starting in the 1400's Tibetan scholars start to write extensively about cordyceps.
In the 18th century, the Western World was introduced to cordyceps. A French Jesuit priest named Jean Baptiste du Halde was a guest of the
Chinese Emperor when he was introduced to cordyceps and its revitalizing powers. In 1757 Cordyceps makes its first appearance in
a medical text - New Compilation of Materia Medica. From that point on, scientist have been fascinated by the health properties of the
cordyceps sinensis mushroom.
What was Cordyceps traditionally used for?
Traditionally cordyceps has been used in the Orient for purported benefits to the heart, lungs, immune system, for
its energy-boosting effects, stamina and for anti-aging purposes. In Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) cordyceps is
considered one of the most important medicinal foods. In fact, wild Cordyceps Sinensis was so rare in ancient times that it was valued
at four times its weight in silver.
Do Cordyceps grow on insects and caterpillars?
In the wild, Cordyceps can grow on caterpillars, insects, plants and other fungi. In a traditional Chinese herbal market you
may see Cordyceps that grew on a caterpillar. Of course the caterpillar is dead and the fungus has completely taken over the body, but
the cordyceps did start its growth on a caterpillar.
To many in the Western World, eating something that grew on a bug is, well... gross. The good news is that modern cultivation techniques allow
cordyceps sinensis to be grown in a controled environment on grain - completely insect free and vegetarian. The Cordyceps that we
recommend and use in the Perfect Acai Revive is certified Organic, 100%
Vegetarian and completely insect free. But we are getting ahead of ourselves, for now it is just important to know that you can get cultivated
Cordyceps Sinensis that is completely insect free.
Has Cordyceps been used in the Western World?
Yes! While Cordyceps has been used for thousands of years in Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) it is also becoming incredibly
popular in the Western World. A quick search on pubmed.gov for "cordyceps sinensis" will show over 300 clinical studies. What
is Cordyceps used for? This is exactly what we will look at in our next article...