At KOR, we believe very deeply in the benefits of each and every ingredient we pack into our adorable little juice shots. One of our absolute favorites is cordyceps mushroom, which we’ve blended into our vitamin C-rich Immune+.
Because we want our customers to know exactly how great this medicinal mushroom can be for overall well-being, we got in touch with mushroom expert, Skye Chilton.
As the Chief Mushroom Funguy at Real Mushrooms, he has plenty of knowledge to offer up about what cordyceps are and why they’re oh so good for you.
Ready to learn more about this mighty mushroom? Check out our 1-on-1 interview with the world’s #1 Funguy!
First things first, tell us a little bit about yourself!
I'm the Chief Mushroom Funguy at Real Mushrooms. We sell organic mushroom extract powders that are free from grain fillers and are 3rd party verified for their active compounds, like beta-glucans (which is what really makes these mushrooms so special).
My father, Jeff Chilton, is one of the pioneers in the study of functional mushrooms and is the founder of Nammex, the leading supplier of functional mushroom ingredients in North America. He’s been working with mushrooms since the early 70s and has helped to set the standards for quality control of functional mushroom ingredients.
How did you first become familiar with cordyceps?
I first got to know about cordyceps through mentorship from my father. I’ve also read all about them in the top functional mushroom books. Over the years, I’ve become well acquainted with all aspects of cordyceps; how they're grown, the important compounds they contain, and how they can assist us on a daily basis.
What are cordycep mushrooms?
Ok, bear with me while I get a little science-y.
Cordyceps are a parasitic fungus that include over 400 different species, which are found all over the world, in countries like China, Japan, India, USA, Australia, Peru, Bolivia, and more.
They typically infect other insects and arthropods, with each species of cordyceps infecting a very specific bug. If you’re as into mushrooms as I am, you may have seen the BBC Planet Earth video of cordyceps infecting an ant. The cordyceps in that clip represent one specific species. Other cordyceps species attack moths, spiders, cicadas, and more.
Cordyceps sinensis (now known as Ophiocordyceps sinensis) is probably the most well known species of cordyceps (it’s the kind that parasitizes moths). It’s known as “Himalayan Gold,” because it sells for over $20,000 per kilo. Due to this hefty price tag, it does not make it into North American markets, so don't expect products claiming to contain cordyceps sinensis to contain the true caterpillar fungus.
Wow, that’s fascinating! So what does an insect-attacking fungus have to do with health? What are some of the top benefits of cordyceps?
Functional mushrooms are primarily known for immune system modulations, which means cordyceps can help to regulate immune system function. Traditionally, cordyceps have been used as a lung and kidney tonic to boost stamina and energy.
Two of the compounds found in cordyceps are adenosine and cordycepin, which are both precursor compounds to ATP, the energy that all of our cells use to function. Because of this, many people look to cordyceps to increase endurance. If you exercise a lot, cordyceps may help you with overall performance and recovery.
What's your favorite way of getting a daily dose of immune-boosting, recovery-enhancing cordyceps?
The easiest way for me to consume cordyceps is by adding a high quality extract powder into a smoothie with some greens and/or protein powder.
Are there any warnings associated with cordyceps usage?
Functional mushrooms, including cordyceps, are generally well tolerated. If you do have any kind of mushroom allergy, it would be wise to proceed with caution.
Cordyceps may also interact with anticoagulants, immunosuppressants, hormone replacement, and prednisolone medications, so if you’re currently on any medications, make sure to touch base with your healthcare provider before adding them to your routine.
Are cordyceps vegan?
For any vegans wondering about insects, cordyceps used in the marketplace today typically come in 3 different forms – none of which involve insects. These forms are cordyceps mushroom extract, cordyceps Cs-4, and cordyceps myceliated grain.
A mushroom extract involves using the mushroom, also known as the fruiting body and cooking it to break down the tough mushroom cell wall, which is made of chitin (yes, the same stuff that make up crab shells). This is then sold as an extract powder or liquid extract.
Cordyceps Cs-4 is made from the mycelium, which is the mushroom's root system and is also known as the vegetative body, grown in a liquid broth. Once the mycelium is fully grown the liquid can be removed, leaving pure mycelium. Cs-4 is very popular in Asia, where it is an approved drug-like product in China.
Cordyceps myceliated grain involves growing the mycelium on a grain substrate, like rice or oats. This grain substrate becomes inseparable from the mycelium, so it ends up in the final product, severely diluting the amount of mycelium present.
What should consumers look out for when seeking a cordyceps product?
Take it from an expert! Cordyceps are an incredible feat of nature with undeniable health benefits.
If you’re looking for a cordyceps product, make sure it is made from the mushroom (fruit body) and extracted. It would ideally be certified organic and verified for the important active compounds like beta-glucans.
Ready to incorporate this medicinal mushroom into your wellness routine? Immunity-supporting, exercise-enhancing organic cordyceps are just a cold pressed juice shot away with KOR’s Immune+.
Make healthy ingredients a part of your day, with KOR!