Cordyceps helps us to have more energy in two ways: first, its capacity to increase your oxygen supply and second, boost your adenosine triphosphate (ATP) levels.
Based on research, it aids to improve lung functioning and thereby ease breathing and expand oxygen capacity.
This supports Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM)’s claim that cordyceps is a lung tonic that aids to sustain your body’s respiratory system function.
Chinese medical practitioners regarded cordyceps as a guardian of respiratory health for centuries. This may be attributed to its ability to efficiently support the use of oxygen in the body.
Importance of Adenosine Triphosphate (ATP)
Each of your body cells contains these incredible cellular structures known as mitochondria. They are in charge of transforming your food nutrients into energy that your body cells need.
Mitochondria processes and changes these nutrients particularly into adenosine triphosphate (ATP) which are then kept in every cell. Using a simple comparison, ATP is similar to the fuel your car needs for it to run. If your car runs on enough fuel, then you can expect it to run more efficiently. However, if your fuel level is low, then it can ruin your trip.
So, the more ATP these mitochondria generates, the bigger your energy reserve is and the better your body feels. In contrast, if these mitochondria fail to support your body’s energy requirements, then you will incur energy shortage which can eventually cause health problems or lead your body to break down.
An important point to remember about cellular energy is that, it not only refers to your ability to run, perform physical activities or your daily tasks. Cellular energy also means your ability to manage stress, let your heart function well, cope with an illness, or think clearly. In other words, your cellular energy is what enables you to function properly as a human being.
ATP is only produced based on your body’s demand so this means that you don’t keep an extra supply of ATP inside. At any given time, your body contains only around 100 grams of ATP as compared to an active cell’s requirement of over 2 million ATP molecules every second. That’s why there is a need to continuously refill your ATP supply. If your body suddenly stopped producing ATP, even for four seconds for example, you will die.
Causes of Energy Shortage
Physical stress, emotional stress, oxidative stress, damage to your mitochondria, body toxins and normal wear and tear of your cells can all diminish your mitochondria’s ability to produce and thereby deplete your body’s ATP supply and ultimately cause energy shortage.
Cordyceps’ Role in Replenishing Energy
Cordyceps acts a powerful antioxidant that fights against oxidative cell and mitochondria damage. If your mitochondria is healthy, then it will be capable of generating more ATP. Enough supply of ATP for your cells means that you also increase the total quantity of energy available for your body.
Likewise, cordyceps boosts your oxygen capacity enabling you to have two key elements for real cellular energy – ATP and an available oxygen supply.
Cordyceps is well-known health supplement among all kinds of endurance athletes like runners, cyclists, triathletes, swimmers, mountain climbers, etc. for its energy, endurance and oxygen capacity boosting effects.
Several years ago, Chinese athletic teams were searching for performance-boosting dietary supplements and with their joint efforts with Chinese herbalists, discovered cordyceps.
Due to its amazing effects, the Track and Field News reported: “They (the Chinese) appear to have come up with the greatest quantum leap in human performance in history.”
In the 1993 National Games in Beijing, China and the World Games at Stuttgart, Germany, six new Chinese women runners from Liaoning province under the “Ma’s Army” team broke world records in the track and field events 17 times with nine records of these events being completely surpassed:
- Qu Junxia broke the 1,500-meter world record by 2 seconds
- Wang Junxia broke the 3,000 meter world record by 10 seconds and 10,000-meter world record by 42 seconds
In the 3,000-meter race, five of these Chinese athletes broke the 9-year old world record with one of them being only 17 years old.
These stunning athletic performances raised a suspicion that these runners were taking steroids or other performance-enhancing drugs to which their coach, Ma Zuren vehemently denied.
They underwent drug tests which showed negative results so the International Amateur Athletic Federation had to ratify the existing world records. Ma said that their secret was not drugs but a drink containing a large dose of Cordyceps mixed with other herbs that gave them that perfect blend.
Cordyceps’ Role in Energy, Endurance and Athletic Performance
The components of cordyceps enable the lungs to open and fill it with a huge supply of oxygen, leading to greater stamina and endurance.
Its actions include:
- Respiratory function improvement and relief from asthma and bronchitis
- 40% increase in cellular oxygen absorption
- Fatigue reduction due to an increase in oxygen supply and cellular energy production in the mitochondria, the body cell’s energy factory.
- Relief from the discomfort caused by tired legs due to increase in blood circulation, enabling the blood vessel’s smooth muscles to relax and expand.
- Boost stamina and endurance through the decrease in muscle soreness and thereby promote better oxygen use and speed up recovery period.
- Enhance the glucose-processing enzyme levels in the liver enabling greater amounts of glucose to be available to the muscles.