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Beyond The Research: Can Cordyceps Boost ATP And Performance

Cordyceps mushrooms have been touted as a natural performance enhancing supplement due to it’s ability to increase ATP production and improve endurance during exercise.

How can a simple mushroom deliver benefits that range from vitality and longevity, to increased energy and improved endurance?

Keep reading to find out.

What is cordyceps mushroom?

Cordyceps is a rare fungus that grows on a caterpillar at high altitudes only in northern China and Tibet. [1]

Like coffee, the performance benefits were first noticed by shepherds who noticed that their livestock became “strong and stout” when they ate these certain caterpillars.

In the centuries that have followed, cordyceps has been used as a natural vitality elixir in Chinese and Tibetan medicine. These local healers use cordyceps to combat illnesses, improve stamina, and increase longevity.

The Health Benefits of Cordyceps

Numerous modern studies have attempted to support the claims that cordyceps can increase strength and physical performance.

Here’s what the studies have show:

  • Cordyceps delayed fatigue by 12.5% in mice studies [2]
  • Cordyceps increased lactic acid threshold by 10% in human studies [3]
  • Cordyceps “enhances mitochondrial ATP generation preserves mitochondrial structural and functional integrity, thus retarding the aging process.” [4]

The problem with many studies is that they have used inferior sources for their “cordyceps”.

Rather than source the actual fungus from caterpillars in China, they’re using mycelium products that have been grown in labs, often using grain as the growing culture.

We discussed the negatives of mycelium here on this podcast.

How Cordyceps Impacts Performance and Endurance

Cordyceps delivers it’s performance boosting results by increasing mitochondrial production of ATP. ATP or adenosine triphosphate is a form of “cellular currency” or energy that is produced inside our mitochondria. [5]

Mitochondria are the energy powerhouse in our cells. They generate over 90% of the fuel that we use on a daily basis.

By enhancing both the cellular factory (mitochondria) and increasing the availability of it’s fuel source (ATP) we can optimize our physical and mental capabilities.

This is the hypothesis that has been supported in early studies and experienced anecdotally by those who supplement with cordyceps and enjoy the boost in energy and endurance.

Conversely, we know that mitochondrial dysfunction negative impacts ATP metabolism and even impairs synaptic function. [6]

Not only does synaptic impairment mean cognitive function declines, but this also impacts central nervous system communication to the neural units that control voluntary muscular contraction - meaning that strength and coordination may also be impacted.

Using Cordyceps to Boost ATP and Increase Endurance

Let’s recap and keep this really simple.

Mitochondria are cellular energy factories. They make ATP that our bodies and muscles use for fuel.

Cordyceps can increase this ATP by 18% or more.

Creatine has been shown to improve the recycling of used ATP. [7]

Stacking creatine with cordyceps could enhance the effects of ATP production and utilization - allowing for a synergistic effect that provides even greater performance enhancement that using them alone.

And for the ultimate in performance enhancement, we can stack BioPQQ with this combination to possibly increase the number of mitochondria we have and improve their efficiency. More cellular energy factories that function more effectively it certainly a performance optimizer.

 

Resources:

  1. Panda AK, Swain KC. Traditional uses and medicinal potential of Cordyceps sinensis of Sikkim. Journal of Ayurveda and Integrative Medicine. 2011;2(1):9-13. doi:10.4103/0975-9476.78183.
  2. Koh JH. Antifatigue and antistress effect of the hot-water fraction from mycelia of Cordyceps sinensis. Biol Pharm Bull. 2003 May;26(5):691-4.
  3. Chen S, Li Z, Krochmal R, Abrazado M, Kim W, Cooper CB. Effect of Cs-4®(Cordyceps sinensis) on Exercise Performance in Healthy Older Subjects: A Double-Blind, Placebo-Controlled Trial. Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine. 2010;16(5):585-590. doi:10.1089/acm.2009.0226.
  4. Ko KM, Leung HY. Enhancement of ATP generation capacity, antioxidant activity and immunomodulatory activities by Chinese Yang and Yin tonifying herbs. Chinese Medicine. 2007;2:3. doi:10.1186/1749-8546-2-3.
  5. Baker JS, McCormick MC, Robergs RA. Interaction among Skeletal Muscle Metabolic Energy Systems during Intense Exercise. Journal of Nutrition and Metabolism. 2010;2010:905612. doi:10.1155/2010/905612.
  6. Divya Pathak, et al. The Role of Mitochondrially Derived ATP in Synaptic Vesicle Recycling. September 11, 2015The Journal of Biological Chemistry290, 22325-22336.
  7. Baker JS, McCormick MC, Robergs RA. Interaction among Skeletal Muscle Metabolic Energy Systems during Intense Exercise. Journal of Nutrition and Metabolism. 2010;2010:905612. doi:10.1155/2010/905612.

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