Cordyceps sinensis is a fungus that has been used as an Eastern therapy to boost renal and lung function. It is purported to combat fatigue, increase libido, lower high blood sugar, cholesterol and triglycerides, and improve cardiovascular function. Other benefits include: anti-inflammatory, antioxidant, anti-cancer, boost hormones and immune function. Cordyceps contains a number of molecules that account for theses medicinal benefits which include: cordycepin, ergosterol, polysaccharides, glycoproteins and peptides (amino acids). Because Cordyceps supports most organs and tissues in the body it is an excellent source of nutrients to support energy production, fight fatigue and generate stamina.
To understand how Cordyceps helps overcome fatigue it helps to understand fatigue. What is fatigue? Generally, you experience a lack of motivation that can be of physical and or mental origin. This often is accompanied by a lack of energy and a sense of exhaustion. This can come about due to intense physical activity, mental stress or illness that has brought about an imbalance in body and or brain. Free radical accumulation often causes destruction of molecules that are needed in metabolic pathways. Molecular debris left behind makes the cytoplasmic space congested with trash which makes it difficult for normal cellular functions to navigate. This causes the entire body/brain to become fatigued bringing about a lack of motivation to do anything. You just can't get up and go.
This is where Cordyceps comes in. This medicinally powerful fungus acts as a tonic to help rejuvenate your system by boosting your immune system, increase energy production bringing about vitality and longevity.
Research indicates that this fungus may improve athletic performance by building muscle capacity. Cordyceps has been demonstrated to increase the ratio of ATP (adenosine triphosphate) to inorganic phosphate by about 50 percent which if you're an athletic means everything. More ATP means more stamina which in turn means you can beat the competition. Moreover, studies demonstrate that oxygen utilization becomes much more efficient by up to 50 percent allowing for better handling of low oxygen levels and acidosis that occurs during repeated skeletal muscle contractions. If you're looking for a solution of how to win and do one up on the competition, Cordyceps sinensis is the solution.
Due to more recent research, Cordyceps is gaining full attention of the athletic community to support stamina, vitality and longevity. Regular use of this fungus supports all internal organs bringing about a more energetic you with a great sense of well being. Boosting lung, skeletal muscle, cardiovascular, and kidney function is a main part of building strength, endurance and stamina and Cordyceps is known for this.
Cordyceps supports a number of molecular pathways that involve activation of metabolic regulators such as AMPK ( AMP-activated protein kinase), PGC-1 alpha (Peroxisome proliferator-activated receptor gamma coactivator 1-alpha), and PPAR-delta (Peroxisome proliferator-activated receptor delta). The second group of pathways involve activation of antixoidant genes, growth factors and the proliferation of protein carriers which includes: MCT1 and MCT4 (monocarboxylate transporter 1 and 4), GLUT4 (glucose transporter type 4), VEGF (vascular endothelial growth factor), NRF-2 (nuclear factor (erythroid-derived 2-like 2), SOD1 (superoxide dismutase 1), and TRX (thioredoxin system).
AMPK (AMP-activated protein kinase) is an enzyme that plays an important role in regulating activity in liver, skeletal muscle, brain and fatty acids. This involves glucose and fatty acid uptake into cells and oxidation reactions. This enzyme is activated when ATP/ADP ratios drop as well as low glucose levels. In other words, low energy states due to physical stress activates AMPK. This enzyme phosphorylates molecules preparing them for catabolism to generate energy.
PGC-1 alpha (Peroxisome proliferator-activated receptor gamma coactivator 1-alpha) is a protein. It is encoded by the PPARGCIA gene and acts as a transcriptional cofactor that regulates genes involved with energy production as well as other transcriptional coding areas such as cAMP response element-binding protein (CREB) and nuclear respiratory factors (NRFs). PGC-1 alpha is a direct link between physical activity and the proliferation of mitochondria. Mitochondria have enzymes that run the tricarboxylic acid cycle and the electron transport system responsible for making a lot of ATP, the energy currency of the cell. If you make more mitochondria, then you will make more ATP and increase energy levels big time. PGC-1 alpha also determines muscle fiber type (red vs white) depending on how a muscle is being used. If you need more white muscle, then this will help make the conversion and vice versa for red muscle. PGC-1 has been demonstrated to be activated during endurance exercise in human skeletal muscle. It is also believed to be involved in controlling blood pressure and cholesterol levels.
PPAR-delta (peroxisome proliferator-activated receptor delta) also known as NR1C2 (nuclear receptor subfamily 1, group C, member 2) is a nuclear receptor that controls the gene responsible for one of the peroxisome proliferators that controls the size and number of peroxisomes made inside the cell. Peroxisomes are organelles responsible for detoxifying cells. They contains enzymes that break down amino acids, alcohol and fatty acids. These enzymes take the toxic by-product hydrogen peroxide and turn it into water. What enzymes are found in peroxisomes depends on the tissue their found in and the current metabolic state of that tissue. Peroxisomes have also been reported to make ATP as well.
Antioxidant Genes and Growth Factors
MCT 1 and 4 (carboxylate transporter 1 and 4) are carriers that move lactic acid in and out of muscle cells. There are actually 8 of these transporters that are known to date however transporters 1 and 4 are what is important here especially if you are an athlete. These molecules are important for building stamina. MCT 1 has the highest concentration in red muscle whereas MCT 4 is found mostly in white muscle. MCT 1 carries lactic acid into red muscle where the acid is used to make ATP by way of glycolysis. MCT 4 carries lactic acid out of white muscle. White muscle doesn't have the ability to use the lactic acid it makes so it needs to get rid of it. Actually, lactic acid is toxic to cells so if the cell can't break it down it needs to transport it out of the cell to get rid of it. Lactic acid can then be carried to red muscle and be used there to make ATP and excess will be excreted by the kidneys. The build up of lactic acid in muscle is a product of muscle contraction especially during heavy physical activity like doing aerobics, weight lifting or jogging during the incomplete breakdown of glucose. The more MCT 1 you have in your red muscle the more lactate you can bring into red muscle to make more ATP and the more MCT 4 you have in your white muscle the more lactate you can export out which allows you to exercise faster and for longer times. Exercise wise, high intensity pacing increases MCT 1 and 4 the most. With or without exercise oral supplements of Cordyceps does the same thing.
GLUT4 (glucose transporter type 4) is a protein which is regulated by insulin and this gene is found in fat tissue and skeletal and cardiac muscle. This protein transports glucose into cells so it can be broken down to make ATP. This allows glucose to be brought into cells against a concentration gradient.
VEGF (vascular endothelial growth factor) activates the growth of new blood vessels after injury or strenuous physical activity. This ensures that tissues and organs are well vascularized so they will receive enough oxygen and nutrients to sustain them in times of stress.
NRF-2 ( nuclear factor (erythroid-derived 2-like 2) is a transcription factor that regulates the genetic expression of detoxifying enzymes and free radical scavengers (antioxidants) that wards off disease and cancer and keeps the body working properly. NRF-2 is found in the cytoplasmic space of muscle cells where it remains until strenuous physical activity occurs. NRF-2 is then released from a complex attached to actin (contractile protein) and is able to pass into the nucleus and attach to the appropriate genes that code for antioxidants needed to remove free radicals from muscle contraction activity. Binding of NRF-2 allows those genes to be transcribed and translated.
SOD1 (superoxide dismutase 1) is one of 3 superoxide enzymes that breaks down superoxide radicals into oxygen gas and hydrogen peroxide. SODs are found in the cytplasmic space and mitochondria and are activated by NRF-2. Hydrogen peroxide is also toxic to the cell and is broken down by catalase.
TRX (Thioredoxin system) regulates signal transduction of protective pathways involved with antioxidants that reduce thio or sulfur components and is found in all cells. This system reduces oxidized cysteine groups on proteins to form disulfide bonds. This system also stimulates the binding of nuclear transcription factors in response to oxidative stress.
Metabolic regulators for muscle metabolism and antioxidant genes are activated during physical exercise in response to lactic acid build up, oxygen deficit and free radical formation to maintain endurance and stamina. If you are out of shape, these systems are not efficient and very sluggish. As you continue training, these systems will be activated rapidly and work efficently over time. However, research on rats has demonstrated that oral supplementation of Cordyceps significantly increases genetic expression of all of the regulators and antioxidants with and without exercise. So, Cordyceps can be used to enhance athletic ability but may also improve muscle performance and endurance without exericise.