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September 24, 2021 3 min read
Long revered for its potent anti-aging properties, cordyceps has been a staple in holistic medicine for centuries. Parasitic in nature, Cordyceps Sinensis grows on a type of caterpillar and then actually eats its own host! How? The base of the mushroom attaches itself to the caterpillar, grows about six inches long, and then consumes more than 90 percent of it. This is why it’s sometimes referred to as the aptly named caterpillar fungus. Why is this important to note? Keep reading because we promise this is relevant information.
Although easily accessible today in the form of powder and capsules, cordyceps Sinensis were initially extremely hard to access. We're talking at altitudes upwards of 3,800 meters above sea level in parts of the Himalayas in China. Yikes. Thankfully, another species called cordyceps militaris, on the other hand can be grown in environmentally-controlled commercial units, thus making it much more accessible.
As an adaptogenic herb, cordyceps can act as a mild stimulant that can help fight stress and fatigue and thus boost energy levels, according to Dr.Axe.‡ They’re often used to enhance immunity, minimize excessive inflammation, and even speed up healing time from the result of tissue damage.‡ Moreover, it’s believed that cordyceps attain their many anti-inflammatory benefits from their ability to positively affect the immune system and stimulate protective cells that maintain overall health.‡
Makes sense why we mentioned the whole caterpillar fungus bit now, right? Clearly, this kind of cordyceps is not vegetarian or vegan. However, when cordyceps are cultivated with plants only and no animals or animal products are used, they are not only vegetarian but vegan as well. If there is uncertainty about how the product utilized this ingredient in powders, supplements, and capsules, it may be best to avoid consumption.
At Rritual, all of our products are vegan-friendly. If that’s just what you’re looking for, check out our Chaga Immune Supplement powder here.
What does the fruiting body mean? Well, part of the mushroom life cycle requires primordium, hyphae, and mycelium to produce spores that feed off the soil and develop into a standard mushroom.‡ Mushroom fruiting bodies trigger the process known as sporogenesis, which allows the cells within primordium to germinate within the soil and start growing into a full mushroom.‡
The mushroom fruiting body breaks down organic cells from the primordium, releasing the nutrients within those cells into the soil. As the cells produce hyphae and mycelium is triggered to further enrich the soil around the compound, the mushrooms begin to develop into the shapes that we commonly identify as mushrooms.‡ The result is a striking orange mushroom that actually, taken in its true form, will provide much smaller concentrations of the beneficial constituents.
In comparison, the easiest way to take cordyceps militaris mushrooms is to use an extract either in powder or capsule form. By using cordyceps militaris, true cordyceps mushroom extracts can be made. Since they are derived from the mushroom (versus the mycelium), there are much higher levels of the important beta-glucans.
More and more research is coming out showing that Cordyceps militaris has similar benefits to traditional wild Cordyceps Sinensis. It has traditionally been used as an alternative to Cordyceps Sinensis in Traditional Chinese Medicine.
Now that we have a better idea about what are cordyceps, let’s talk about what these immune-boosting fungi are actually used for.
They’ve long been used in religious rituals and linked to longevity and immortality and can be found in Asia, Europe, and North America. In addition, studies show that traditional healers in Sikkim used medicinal mushrooms in tonics and claimed: “that it improved energy, appetite, stamina, libido, endurance and sleeping patterns.”‡
Here are our favorite ways to incorporate cordyceps powder into our daily ritual:
Didn’t think coffee could get any better? Try adding some cordyceps-rich adaptogenic powder into your favorite morning cup. Simply brew your coffee, add half of the coffee, and then ½ teaspoon of Chaga powder, ½ teaspoon of cinnamon. Then either give it a good stir or use an immersion blender to mix it all together. Feel free to top it off with your favorite frothy milk alternative for that extra hit of cozy.
Not a coffee person? You can easily swap the above recipe for tea instead of coffee.
A morning smoothie more your thing? Add ⅓ cup of your favorite dairy-free milk or water, 1 small banana, ¼ teaspoon ground cinnamon, 1 tsp spirulina, ½ teaspoon lion’s mane powder, and ½ teaspoon of reishi powder to a blender. Then blend, serve, sip.
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