Imagine this scenario: you are going to meet a good friend over at your favorite coffee shop. As you wait for your friend, you lean back on your chair and rest after a tiring day at work. You see your friend arriving, seemingly energetic as he smiles and waves at you. You two warmly shake hands and begin to swap stories of your lives over your favorite coffee brews.
At some point, you remark to your friend how he seems so full of energy, even though both of you are married with kids. Your friend chuckles and answers cryptically, -Well, would you believe me if I told you the secret to my renewed energy was derived from caterpillars and fungi?- You are surprised upon hearing his answer, though you are also curious. Your friend laughs and says he’s sort of pulling your leg, but clarifies that he is taking a supplement derived from caterpillars and fungi. You press him for more details, and he describes how he is taking a medicinal supplement known as cordyceps sinensis.
Your friend explains that cordyceps sinensis is actually a type of fungus. It was discovered growing on caterpillars in shrub lands and alpine grass in the Himalayas and the Tibetan Plateau. Cordyceps was highly prized among traditional Tibetan and Chinese medical practitioners. Moreover, in the royal court of ancient China, the cordyceps mushroom was strictly reserved for the royal family due to its scarcity.
The fungus later grabbed the world’s attention when three female Chinese athletes broke five world records for the 1,500, 3,000, and 10,000 meter-dash events at the National Games in Beijing, China in 1993.
Your friend goes on to explain that modern methods have ensured that cordyceps sinensis can be grown and extracted in controlled environments. Additionally, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration now list cordyceps among its approved dietary supplements. In response to this recommendation, many companies now market the cordyceps sinensis extract in capsule form.
Your friend goes on to explain how cordyceps boosts the body’s use of oxygen and improves respiration. As a runner, he’s now able to complete 1,500 meter dashes more easily in the local track field, beating his own previous personal record. While he cautiously states that it’s too early to declare if the cordyceps supplement slows down aging, he remarks that he feels like he’s in his early 20s again.