If you are following a clean eating diet and have heard about the energizing, anti-aging and health-boosting benefits of Cordyceps but are not sure how to work this medicinal mushroom into your diet then this broth is for you!
But before we get to the broth, here is a brief overview of cordyceps and how consuming the medicinal mushroom just a few times a week could offer a number of different health-boosting perks…
Energizing + Anti-Aging Benefits of Cordyceps
What are the Energy-Boosting Benefits of Cordyceps?
Cordyceps are a fungus that have been used as a tonic and restorative in Chinese medicine for over 2,000 years. In Ayurvedic medicine they are said to be beneficial at enhancing vigor and vitality.
The benefits of Cordyceps have also been linked to improved athletic performance. A 2010 study published in the Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine showed that supplementation with Cs-4 (Cordyceps sinensis) improved exercise performance and contributed to overall markers of wellness in older adults.
In addition to boosting energy, cordyceps have been shown to increase oxygen capacity and ATP production within muscle cells, which would definitely improve athletic performance. At this stage in my life I am not an athlete by any means, but I can say I do notice on the days I workout (I do my Full Fitness Fusion style workout 3 days a week) and also take cordyceps that I seem to be able to push harder and workout stronger.
Similar to other superfood herbs like maca, cordyceps can also help fight fatigue.
How Do You Consume Cordyceps?
You can buy whole, dried cordyceps in health food stores or online and then add them to soups and stews, or drink them in a tea or broth made from powdered cordyceps, which is what I prefer to do. I buy the Organic Cordyceps Mushroom Powder (see photo above) online from Amazon. Some people however find it more convenient to take cordyceps as a liquid extract or in capsule form. I much prefer consuming it more like a food though.
What Do Cordyceps Taste Like?
Just like most mushrooms, cordyceps have a savory umami-quality and a deep earthy-nutty flavor that I find enhance the overall quality of certain foods, especially soups and broths (like the one in the recipe below!)
How Often Should You Take Cordyceps?
To treat general weakness or fatigue, it is typically recommended to take cordyceps once or twice a day. I would definitely suggest taking your cordyceps before noon though as I have found taking it later in the day can keep me from falling asleep. I should also add that on the days I do take cordyceps I have had some incredibly lucid dreams. They are good dreams for sure, just super vivid, like what I used to have while I was pregnant many moons ago. At first I thought the dreams were a coincidence, but I am now convinced the cordyceps definitely play a role.
As with anything that is being taken to increase energy though, you probably don’t want to take cordyceps every day. Personally, I usually just take it two or three times a week by eating the broth recipe below. On the days I do take it I definitely notice an increase in energy. Although I don’t have any research to back this up, I have a feeling if I took cordyceps every single day my body would eventually build up somewhat of a tolerance and the energy-boosting benefits would diminish. ***By the way, if you are looking for additional caffeine-free ways to boost energy on the days you don’t take cordyceps be sure to check out alternatives to coffee and “B Tea”.***
What Are the Anti-Aging Benefits of Cordyceps?
Although I initially discovered cordyceps while searching for a safe and natural way to boost energy, I was happy to discover the magical medicinal mushrooms are also highly effective at fighting free radicals as well as diseases, such as cancer. Cordyceps also have potent anti-inflammatory benefits and have even been shown to help improve liver function and detoxify the body.
Research even shows cordyceps has the potential to correct correct cardiac arrhythmia and lower blood pressure. If you are trying to keep your heart healthy and lower your blood pressure with food, adding cordyceps to the menu might be a very good move!
Can Taking Cordyceps Boost Your Mood?
Based on my personal experience, I think so. I’m not sure if the mood-boosting benefits of cordyceps are related to the energy surge I notice after taking it OR if it has something to do with Cordycepin, one of the active components in cordyceps. Cordycepin has been shown to have strong anti-depressant effects in animal models of depression. Personally, I definitely think cordyceps gives me a lift, both physically and mentally. Research shows cordyceps act like an adaptogen, which means it should help increase the body’s resistance to stress, trauma, anxiety and fatigue. I think it is safe to say any substance that can do all that can probably help improve your mood too!
By the way, Lion’s Mane mushrooms also help boost mood (and improve memory!)
Is There Any Downside to Taking Cordyceps?
As with just about anything good, too much of a good thing is usually bad. I would say if you consume cordyceps 2 or 3 x’s a week though it is not excessive at all. Having said that, there is a potential risk for anyone with a known autoimmune disease (such as lupus, rheumatoid arthritis, multiple sclerosis, etc.) that taking cordyceps could possibly stimulate the immune system and potentially aggravate the condition. Cordyceps can also potentially interfere with medications used to treat autoimmune diseases and in theory overactivate certain immune cells. The same warning goes for anyone with a known bleeding or blood clot disorder, since medical mushrooms can sometimes interfere with proper blood clotting. If you are having surgery you should stop taking cordyceps 2 weeks before surgery to reduce the risk of excessive bleeding. The only other special population group who might want to rethink the use of cordyceps are pregnant or nursing mothers. Pregnancy naturally suppresses the body’s immune system and so I would be a little nervous about taking something that could possibly stimulate the immune system while I was pregnant or even nursing.
Having shared the autoimmune disease warning though, if you know my story (I was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis in 1998) then you know I have been living with an autoimmune disease for almost 20 years now. Although I only just recently started taking the cordyceps, I have not noticed any flare up or setback whatsoever. I should also point out though that I do not take any medications for my condition either.
If you have an autoimmune disease it is always best to be safe than sorry, I would suggest starting with just a teeny amount of cordyceps and seeing how you feel.
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- 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
- 4 shallots (chopped)
- 8 garlic cloves (chopped)
- 6 stalks celery (chopped)
- 1 stalk fennel (chopped)
- 3 carrots (chopped)
- 1 leek (chopped)
- 1 cup shitake mushrooms (stems removed and chopped)
- Unrefined sea salt (to taste)
- Freshly ground black pepper (to taste)
- 8 cups water
- 2 bay leaves
- 1 cup parsley
- 1/4 cup fresh thyme
- 1/4 cup plus 3 tablespoons cordyceps powder
- Heat the olive oil in a large Dutch oven or stockpot over medium heat. Add the shallots, garlic, celery, fennel, carrots and leeks. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Cook until the vegetables soften, about 5 minutes. Add the mushrooms and cook for 7 to 8 minutes, or until the mushrooms are soft. Add the water, bay leaf, parsley and thyme and season with additional salt and pepper to taste.
- Reduce heat to low and simmer, partially covered, for 50 minutes. Season with additional salt and pepper to taste.
- At this stage, you can either strain the broth through a fine mesh strainer into a large heat-proof bowl or pot and discard the vegetables OR keep the vegetables in the broth and leave them whole as-is OR use a handheld stick blender to puree the vegetables into a thick brothy-soup mixture.
- Stir in the cordyceps powder and serve warm.
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