cordyceps benefits

Health Benefits of Cordyceps and Schisandra

Two Top Adaptogenic Herbs: Cordyceps and Schisandra

When ethnobiologists (who study the use of plants in native cultures) find native people using the same mushrooms and herbs across many different regions and cultures, science gets interested. We can thank both Russian and Chinese scientists for taking a deep look at their historical records to discover and research many of the medicinal ingredients recommended from ages past that are still in use in traditional medicine today.

Cordyceps mushrooms and schisandra berries are both classified as adaptogens because studies have supported indications that consuming them reduces stress, positively balances the body’s metabolic functions and increases endurance. The stories behind their use and how they interact with our bodies is fascinating and I’d like to share them with you!

Cordyceps, the fungus that ate the caterpillar

Cordyceps fungus

I know, it sounds really weird. Cordyceps is a fungus, not really a true mushroom, though it is closely related and is typically referred to as a mushroom. It grows only in the high altitude meadows in the Himalayan mountains. Cordyceps sinensis is a parasite that takes over and eats the larval body of a ghost moth and eventually grows its fruiting body out of the head of the dead caterpillar. If that sounds yucky to you, never fear, commercial cordyceps isn’t grown that way!

The problem for wild cordyceps came about when the world discovered that traditional healers recommend it for enhancing sexual desire and performance. The price for the wild fungus soared to over the price of gold. Sadly this is a common story in the wild harvest world where spikes in demand causes species to become endangered. Typically a commercial technique for growing the ingredient is then developed. However, cultivating a wild fungus like cordyceps is more challenging than usual.

Fortunately, Chinese scientists tested wild Cordyceps sinensis against a number of other species of corydceps fungi and they identified one, Cordyceps militaris, which has comparable effects and in some ways, is even more potent. It’s also able to be cultivated without using any insects – whew!

Aside from its reputation for boosting the libido, cordyceps also became famous during the mid-90’s when Chinese Olympic athletes broke a number of world records. When accused of using steroids, their coaches claimed they were taking cordyceps extract. Energy and libido are the holy grail and cordyceps sales show just how much people crave both those effects!

Although most studies for herbs and mushrooms are conducted on animals like mice (human studies are usually too expensive for companies to make big investments in unpatented natural ingredients), they have confirmed mechanisms showing cordyceps increases oxygen uptake, helps stabilize blood sugar, and increases endurance along with enabling a speedier recovery after exercise. All of which back up traditional uses of this unique fungus.

Schisandra, the five flavored berry

Schisandra the five flavored berry

This bright red berry from China is considered extremely valuable in traditional Chinese medicine because it contains all 5 flavors: sour, sweet, salty, bitter, and pungent. It is thought that these 5 flavors affect all 5 of the organ systems which relate to the 5 elements in the body.

Originally, The Treatise On The Nature of Medicinal Herbs, which was published during the Chinese Tang dynasty around 600-900 A.D., recommended schisandra berries which grew wild in the northern Manchurian mountain forests. Schisandra is considered one of the 50 fundamental herbs of Chinese medicine.

Now the berries are cultivated in the north of China and Russia on trellises similar to grape vines. However, there are two different species that are harvested and sold as schisandra. Teeccino only buys the superior bright red berries that are Schisandra chinensis, not the cheaper, rust colored berries that are Schisandra sphenanthera. Many other companies sell the sphenanthera variety due to the lower price although its health benefits are different and inferior to the true schisandra chinensis species.

Schisandra is an important tonic herb in Chinese medicine for its revitalizing and harmonizing properties. The berries contain lignans, plant polyphenols that are antioxidants. Its lignans, schisandrin and gomesin, have been shown to protect the liver from damage due to toxins and inflammation. They improve liver function by stimulating detoxification enzymes and promoting cell growth. Schisandra berries are considered to have anti-aging properties which is probably due to its potent antioxidants that prevent free radical damage. As an adaptogen, it is know for reducing the effects of stress, supporting a healthy endocrine system, and helping to balance blood sugar while also stimulating the immune system.

The pairing of cordyceps with schisandra

I pondered long about which adaptogenic herbs pair well with which health mushrooms. The reality is, they all complement each other but they can have some particularly pronounced effects that when combined can reinforce each other. Additionally, I decided that I should only pair one of each herb and mushroom together in a Teeccino blend in order to get a significant amount of each one in a single cup.

Other companies put a number of adaptogens together in one tea, but then the effective dose is reduced to only a very small number of milligrams. Luckily, Teeccino’s tea bags hold 6 grams as opposed to standard tea bags that only hold 1.5-2 grams. That allows me to include delicious roasted herbs and spices along with the adaptogens to provide more health benefits plus rich, bold flavor to make the experience of drinking these wellness ingredients pleasurable.

the pairing of cordyceps with schisandra

Both cordyceps and schisandra are known to increase energy and fight fatigue. Both nourish the endocrine system including the adrenal glands that are essential to feeling energized and having a strong libido. Each has its own unique benefits that have synergistic and reinforcing effects when combined together.

The exciting, stimulating spicy-sweet taste of Vietnamese cinnamon immediately suggested itself to me to complement the unusually pungent berry notes in schisandra. Along with some non-caloric sweetness from sweet blackberry leaves, a special variety of blackberry that actually brings sweetness to the brew, this blend is warming to the senses when drunk hot and tastes like a creamy root beer soda when enjoyed iced with a little maple syrup and vanilla.

The path of discovery

If you want to learn more about the health benefits of cordyceps and schisandra, we recommend doing some internet browsing on authoritative websites. Look for scientific studies and reviews of studies that examine their results. Due to the fact that we sell beverages with wellness ingredients in them, we have to be sure we aren’t making any claims about our products. We hope you understand that Teeccino is a healthy herbal beverage that can assist your goal of achieving optimal health along with a well-balanced, whole foods diet and exercise program. It is not however, meant to treat any disease.

Herbs and mushrooms bring unique wellness compounds into your diet that you can’t find in any food commonly eaten or available in North America. By infusing your water with herbs like those in Teeccino, you can benefit from consuming a much wider variety of unique antioxidants, polyphenols, polysaccharides, and other such natural compounds found in these ingredients that are not found in anything else!

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