There was a time over a thousand years ago when the Cordycep mushroom was reserved only for the Emperor of China and his Royal Family. 

Cordycep Sinensis has historically been harvested from the Tibetan-Plateau at 3000 meters above sea level where the fungus spores infect the caterpillar of the ghost moth, the caterpillar then burrows down a few inches into the soil while the fungus begins eating the host from the inside out. Then, in the Spring, the villages of the plateaus empty as the Cordycep shoots up from the soil and the villagers begin to harvest this rare fungus..

The benefits of this fungus were an open secret within Chinese high society until the early 1990s when Chinese Olympians began breaking world records in the 1500m, 5000m and 10,000m events. Their coach attributed their success to a diet rich in a fungus rumored to enhance cardiovascular function, and the secret of Cordycep Sinensis was out.

Cordyceps contain two bioactive compounds, cordycepin and adenosine, which enhances the availability of adenosine triphosphate (ATP). ATP is crucial for supplying oxygen to the body and muscles, this in turn has a significant effect on the VO2 max of the consumer. It’s also been shown to improve the dilation of the bronchioles in the lungs leading to improved cardiovascular efficiency. 

These benefits have been proven in multiple studies now, including one study in 2017 that specifically looked at the improvements of V02 max. This double blind placebo study took 28 young men and gave half of them Cordyceps and the other half Maltodextrin over 1 week and tested their VO2 max every 48 hours.

The results were staggering, with the participants taking Cordyceps seeing a V02 max improvement of 4.8 milliliters of oxygen per kilogram of body weight per minute. For reference, in untrained athletes a significant increase in V02 max is considered 2-3 milliliters where gains can be more extreme. For trained athletes an increase in 1 milliliter is deemed significant as they’re already working at closer to their genetic potential.

Today, Cordyceps are fermented en masse and readily available for anybody to consume, not just royalty or Olympic athletes. If you’re looking to turbo-charge your cardio, the effective dosage of Cordyceps is 1-3 grams per day depending on your size and the concentration of the Cordyceps powder. 

You can pick up Cordyceps either as a concentrate powder from companies like Raw Living that you can add to your shakes, or already blended into a formula such as Dirt Tea that sell Cordyceps as a just add water supplement for ease of use.