Cordyceps mushrooms have long been regarded as having exceptional health advantages. The Himalayan mushroom has been shown to improve athletic performance and increase energy levels. And research shows they’re also good for lowering bad cholesterol and reducing inflammation.
Traditional Chinese medicine has used Cordyceps mushrooms for hundreds of years to boost cardiovascular health. According to recent studies, it may augment existing therapy and provide several benefits to heart patients.
This post examine what makes Cordyceps mushrooms so beneficial for cardiovascular and heart health.
Cordyceps For Cardiovascular Health and Heart Health
Cordyceps mushrooms contain various bioactive compounds with varying chemical structures, but they all have the same purpose: maintaining homeostasis and improving health. Cordycepin, adenosine, polysaccharides, ergosterol, nucleobases (uracil, cytosine, thymine, guanine, adenine, and hypoxanthine), nucleosides, tryptophan, and peptides are among the many bioactive compounds that provide several medicinal and therapeutic effects, including heart-healthy benefits.
Cordyceps mushrooms have a positive impact on cardiovascular health. They are highly beneficial for improving blood flow, lowering blood pressure, and lowering bad cholesterol levels. Cordyceps utilizes two major mechanisms of action to protect our hearts: reducing inflammation and combating oxidative stress.
Here’s precisely how Cordyceps mushrooms can improve heart health.
1. Cordyceps Lowers Inflammation
Cordyceps mushrooms are known for their anti-inflammatory properties, and these can be attributed to two principal components of the mushroom:
Cordycepin blocks the inflammatory mechanism
Cordycepin is one of the key compounds found in cordyceps. It is a naturally occurring nucleoside, a signaling molecule utilized to synthesize nucleotides for DNA and RNA synthesis.
According to a 2020 study (1), cordycepin can suppress inflammatory pathways in chronic inflammatory illnesses such as asthma, hepatitis, and rheumatoid arthritis.
While inflammation is the body’s normal response to viruses, damage, or infection, it can be detrimental to the heart. It frequently damages the inner lining of the blood vessels, resulting in plaque formation and arterial narrowing, increasing the risk of stroke and heart failure.
Myocarditis, or heart muscle inflammation, can also result from inflammation. It damages the heart and, in severe circumstances, can result in a heart attack. Cordyceps, an anti-inflammatory mushroom, appears to be effective in treating myocarditis. Reduced inflammation in the heart muscle reduces the risk of heart disease and heart failure. More study is needed to fully comprehend the effects of cordyceps mushrooms on myocarditis.
Polysaccharides suppress pro-inflammatory proteins
Polysaccharides are another super-hero compound found in cordyceps. These complex macromolecules are vital energy sources in our bodies. Some polysaccharides have been demonstrated in human trials to decrease specific types of pro-inflammatory cytokines, which are proteins that play a crucial role in triggering inflammatory reactions. Cordyceps decreases inflammation by lowering the number of cytokines, resulting in healthy cardiac function.
Several studies have shown that plant polysaccharides (2) improve cardiovascular disease. This is achieved through various mechanisms such as restoring biological macromolecule metabolism, anti-oxidative stress, regulating the cell death cascade to reduce cell programmed cell death (apoptosis), and inhibiting inflammatory signal pathways to reduce inflammation.
Polysaccharides present in plants, such as Cordyceps, decrease inflammation, increase immunological function, and reduce oxidative stress.
2. Cordyceps Regulates Blood Pressure
Cordyceps mushrooms have been shown to help with blood pressure regulation. This is due to adenosine, a third potent bioactive molecule derived from Cordyceps.
Adenosine is a chemical found naturally in Cordyceps militaris and Cordyceps sinensis. It participates in vital biological functions such as energy metabolism, sleep, and vascular function. Adenosine has also been linked to regulating heart rate, blood pressure, and vascular inflammation.
Adenosine lowers blood pressure
Adenosine derived from Cordyceps has antihypertensive effects, which can lower blood pressure. Mexican researchers (3) investigated these effects using an alcoholic extract of the fruit body of Cordyceps militaris. The findings revealed that adenosine-rich Cordyceps has angiotensin-converting enzyme (ACE) inhibitor properties.
ACE inhibitors prevent the production of angiotensin II, a hormone that causes blood vessels to contract, resulting in hypertension (high blood pressure).
Constricted blood vessels are unhealthy, and adenosine helps widen them, improving blood flow and lowering blood pressure. A Japanese study (4) confirmed the vasodilatory activities of adenosine from Cordyceps mushroom. Researchers suggest that adenosine be used “for metabolic regulation of the coronary microcirculation and as a mediator for ischemic preconditioning of myocardium in hearts from several species including humans.”
Another way Cordyceps mushrooms help lower blood pressure is by increasing blood flow.
Cordyceps may improve blood flow
Nitric oxide (NO) is a vital biological compound that acts as a vasodilator. It aids in the relaxation and expansion of blood vessels. Dilated blood vessels are not just necessary for decreasing blood pressure, but they are also crucial for circulation.
Anecdotal data suggests that Cordyceps militaris may be useful in increasing nitric oxide production.
However, more scientific data is needed to explain the precise relationship between cordyceps and nitric oxide. Cordyceps mushrooms are high in antioxidants and anti-inflammatory compounds that help the heart function. Cordyceps is a heart-friendly fungus that lowers blood pressure and improves blood flow.
3. Antioxidant Properties of Cordyceps
The antioxidant properties of Cordyceps militaris mushrooms are another key contributor to heart health. Antioxidants aid in the protection of the arteries and heart against oxidative stress.
Free radicals, the highly reactive chemicals in our body, cause oxidative stress.
Damage to blood vessels and tissues caused by oxidative stress is a precursor to cardiovascular disease. Inflammation is related to arteriosclerosis, the buildup of arterial plaque, which is aided by oxidative stress.
LDL cholesterol accumulates in artery walls as a result of oxidation, resulting in the formation of “foam cells.” These foam cells then attract more LDL cholesterol and other substances, culminating in the formation of arterial plaque.
Plaque buildup in the arteries inhibits blood flow. This increases the likelihood of a heart attack, stroke, or other form of heart disease.
Polysaccharides neutralize free radicals
Cordyceps militaris are rich in antioxidants, which help to neutralize free radicals and keep them from damaging the heart and blood vessels. The polysaccharides present in the mushroom prevent arterial plaque by reducing lipid accumulation and combating free radicals. One study found that the polysaccharide CM1 (5) significantly decreased the formation of atherosclerotic plaques.
Another major antioxidant is cordycepin. In an animal study (6), the compound was to reduce cardiac hypertrophy (heart muscle thickening) via reducing oxidative stress and activated protein kinase (AMPK) signaling.
The findings in the study revealed that cordycepin from Cordyceps militaris could also modulate blood pressure.
4. Cordyceps May Protect Against Arrhythmia
The National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute reports that (7) inflammation in the heart can result in an irregular heartbeat (arrhythmia). On the other hand, a healthy heart beats in a regular, coordinated rhythm controlled by electrical signals. When these electrical signals are disturbed, the heart beats abnormally fast, slowly, or erratically. This causes dizziness, palpitations, shortness of breath, and even fainting. An irregular pulse can lead to cardiac failure in the most severe situations.
Researchers (8) believe hypertensive heart disease can present as cardiac arrhythmias. Several clinical studies have discussed the link between poor circulation and arrhythmia.
Poor blood flow may cause weakness, weariness, and shortness of breath. A shortage of oxygen produced by inadequate circulation can damage the heart, the brain, and other organs.
A 2017 clinical trial (9) found that Cordyceps supplement, combined with regular medication, could help manage arrhythmia. This study confirmed that Cordyceps has a positive effect on the treatment of arrhythmia and that the major mechanism may be through the control of adrenergic signaling in the heart muscles.
In addition, cordyceps mushrooms are thought to help with arrhythmia. Cordyceps may prevent arrhythmia by lowering inflammation, increasing blood flow, and lowering the risk of hypertension.
5. Cordyceps Lowers Bad Cholesterol
Cholesterol is a major contributor to arteriosclerosis or arterial plaque. LDL cholesterol, also known as “bad” cholesterol, plays a significant role in heart disease. Cordyceps mushrooms have been demonstrated to benefit virtually every aspect of heart health, including reducing harmful cholesterol.
In animal models (10), Cordyceps mushroom supplements were found to lower total lipid and LDL cholesterol levels. In one study, hamsters and rats were fed a high-fat diet and orally given cordycepin isolated from Cordyceps militaris for four weeks.
Lipid levels in rats and hamsters were evaluated before and after cordycepin administration. Cordycepin was found to lower blood levels of total cholesterol, triglycerides, very low-density lipoprotein cholesterol, and low-density lipoprotein cholesterol. Cordycepin toxicity was not observed.
Cordyceps Sinensis has potential applications for hyperlipidemia prevention.
In a study (11), researchers evaluated the effects of water extracts of the fruiting bodies of cultivated Cordyceps Sinensis on lipid metabolism in mice with a significant increase in blood lipid levels. For 12 weeks, the mushroom extract was given orally at 50, 100, and 200 mg/kg/day doses.
The findings suggested that Cordyceps Sinensis inhibits cholesterol deposition in the aorta, a major blood vessel, and may be beneficial in the development of atherosclerosis.
Is cordyceps a blood thinner?
Cordyceps may be considered a mild antiplatelet blood thinner. Blood thinners are often classified as antiplatelets or anticoagulants. They both prevent blood clots but work in separate manners.
Antiplatelets prevent platelets (blood cells) from clumping together by inhibiting the activity of specific platelet enzymes. Antiplatelet drugs include aspirin and clopidogrel.
Anticoagulants work by blocking the body’s blood-clotting system. They either restrict the formation of certain clotting factors in the liver or directly reduce clotting factor activity in the circulation. Warfarin and heparin are both anticoagulants.
Research (12) indicates that Cordyceps displays antiplatelet and antithrombotic characteristics as it helps prevent thrombus in the arteries by making the blood less sticky. In a study, it exhibited antiplatelet rather than anticoagulant features due to its ability to block the action of thromboxane A2 and other blood-clotting enzymes.
Cordyceps may interact with blood thinners and immune-suppressing medications. Individuals on blood-thinning medicine or with bleeding issues should talk to their doctor before taking cordyceps.
FAQs About Cordyceps For Cardiovascular And Heart Health
Who Should Avoid Cordyceps?
Although Cordyceps usually is safe for use, it might cause stomach distress, nausea, and dry mouth in some people. People with diabetes, cancer, or a bleeding disorder, should avoid taking Cordyceps. Pregnant or breastfeeding women and children should also avoid cordyceps.
When Should I Take Cordyceps To Improve Heart Health?
Any kind of cordyceps can be used every day, but the dose should be kept between 1,000 and 3,000mg. Because of their energy-boosting effects, taking cordyceps in the morning or early afternoon is recommended. It is not advised to take it before going to bed.
Does Cordyceps Improve Exercise Performance?
Cordyceps have been found to boost energy levels and improve athletic performance. The mushroom appears to enhance tolerance to high-intensity exercise by raising maximum oxygen consumption (VO2 max) after a week or three of supplementation.
Cordyceps may benefit heart health by lowering inflammation and oxidative stress, improving blood lipid levels, regulating blood pressure levels, and treating irregular heartbeat. The benefits of Cordyceps for cardiovascular and heart health are due to the bioactive compounds such as cordycepin, adenosine and polysaccharides. Before incorporating Cordyceps mushrooms into a wellness routine, remember that this functional mushroom is not a cure-all or a quick fix, and consulting a healthcare physician first is recommended.