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December 06, 2021 4 min read
Cordyceps mushrooms are considered a functional food that originated in Tibet and has been traditionally used in Chinese and Tibetan cultures for centuries. However, Cordyceps is gaining popularity in Western culture because emerging science suggests that traditional uses of Cordyceps may have scientific validity -- and ongoing research has identified several properties that support good overall health.*
While there are about 600 different species of Cordyceps, the two that are most referenced when referring to their benefits on human health are Cordyceps Sinensis and Cordyceps Militaris.
Long story short, you can consider Cordyceps Sinensis the O.G. of the Cordyceps world. They have been described in ancient Chinese and Tibetan documents which date back centuries. The first mention of these fungi is actually found in a text dating back to the 1400s!
Also known as yarsa gumba or the caterpillar fungus, these fungi literally grow on insects – they will infect and consume caterpillars in nature and the fruiting body of the mushroom will grow out of the head of the dead caterpillar. #natureisneat
Because of the complicated way in which Cordyceps Sinensis is grown (and the specific geographical locations in which they can be found,) they are quite rare and therefore quite expensive. In fact, a nickname for Cordyceps Sinensis in China is “Himalayan gold” due to the pricing, which is similar to the price of gold. Some sources cite that wild Cordyceps Sinensis could cost upwards of $20,000 per kilogram, making it the most expensive mushroom in the world. Yeesh!
At that price, you could possibly expect Cordyceps Sinensis to do it all! And in fact, according to a study of traditional uses of Cordyceps Sinensis, it has historically been used by folk practitioners for a variety of purposes, from enhancing sexual function to increasing longevity to treating an incredible 21 different ailments.*
Today, modern science is trying to better understand the benefits associated with Cordyceps Sinensis. Research is hoping to determine if the benefits touted in traditional Chinese and Tibetan cultures can in fact be tied to the fungi itself. The aforementioned study concludes that Cordyceps Sinensis has “diverse biological activities and pharmacological potential.”*
While most in the scientific community would agree that more research is necessary, the potential benefits of these fungi are certainly promising.
First described in 1753, Cordyceps Militaris don’t date back quite as far in historical texts as the Sinensis type, but there are actually many similarities between the two species.
In fact, among other beneficial compounds, both contain:
One of the main differences is that while Cordyceps Sinensis is very difficult to grow in a controlled setting outside of nature, Cordyceps Militaris can be cultivated in indoor labs, which makes them much more accessible for the average consumer. Current techniques for indoor growth are continuously improving and increasingly we are seeing more consistent and higher quality products due to experimentation into optimal harvesting timelines and trials to optimize growing conditions.
Despite Cordyceps Sinensis’ fame and lavish price point, modern science has now uncovered that Cordyceps Militaris can have similar or even higher concentrations of compounds than its counterpart. For example, according to an article about the distribution of nucleosides and nucleobases in fungi in the Journal of Agriculture and Food Chemistry, Cordyceps Militaris has up to 90 times more cordycepin than Cordyceps Sinensis.
The bioactive compound cordycepin has been heavily studied, and according to this research, has “very potent anti-cancer, anti-oxidant and anti-inflammatory activities.”* While the research is still evolving, pharmacologically active compounds like cordycepin may have the potential to become as much of a powerhouse in Western civilizations as they have been in Eastern cultures for centuries.
With additional polysaccharide compounds, Cordyceps Militaris may also help to support healthy immune and respiratory systems.* For a deeper dive into Cordyceps, take a look at this article to better understand their benefits and what they can do for your body.
Truth be told, putting Cordyceps Sinensis vs Militaris is actually a bit unnecessary. When you google “Cordyceps,” in most cases the benefits of both Cordyceps Sinensis and Militaris are lumped under that one umbrella term. But the reality is that most Cordyceps you will find in the Western world are in fact Cordyceps Militaris due to the prohibitive cost and geographical location of wild Cordyceps Sinensis.
In many ways, it is fair to assume that both Cordyceps Sinensis and Militaris have similar benefits. All Cordyceps are adaptogens, which means they may help maintain good overall health by supporting the body’s healthy stress and immune responses. Additionally, both varieties contain potent antioxidant properties, which help minimize cell damage from free radicals, as well as naturally occurring compounds that may improve the availability of oxygen to muscles in the body.*
You will find Cordyceps Militaris in all of Rritual’s adaptogenic mushroom supplements. Learn more about which elixirs are right for you by checking out our collection of adaptogen elixirs which combine superfood mushrooms and prebiotics with the right adaptogen herb to help you support and maintain good health.*
*This statement has not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. This product is not intended to treat, diagnose or cure any disease.
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