These days, in this busy, ever more twenty four hour world, it seems as if everybody is either seriously pumped, is looking for an energy boost or is dead tired. While the old standbys of coffee and sugar are an eternal source of an extra boost, as people find themselves working longer and playing harder, different options have emerged to meet the demand for customers looking to boost their energies.
Some people prefer massive amounts of caffeine and sugar in energy drinks, though studies are raising questions about the long term health of people who ingest such concoctions regularly. Some people prefer mega doses of vitamins, such as B-12 complex vitamins, oftentimes laced with a bit of caffeine and sugar to further the effect. A new supplement for boosting energy has appeared on the market, this one coming from a rather surprising place; a fungus.
Cordyceps are a type of fungi that is parasitic, feeding on insects, though some species also feed off of other fungi. Cordyceps sinesis in particular is the best known species, and has been known for some centuries; its first recorded study was in a 15th century Tibetan text describing techniques of local medicine. Back then it was called yartsa gunbu though it has been known by many other names over the centuries.
Recent studies have revealed that the sinesis species is actually largely unrelated to most of the other Cordyceps species and has since been placed in its own family. The species has a parasitic life cycle, attacking a host's tissue and steadily replacing it with its own, branching out into a long, cylindrical fruit before spawning spores that resume the cycle of the species' life. Sinesis comes mostly from the eastern end of Asia, ranging from Nepal to northern China.
The plant has some fairly unusual properties in addition to its fascinating parasitic life cycle. For centuries, traditional Tibetan medicine has known Cordyceps sinesis as a powerful aphrodisiac. Modern chemistry has since found some new and more useful ways to use the species. While the fungus grows well in captivity, transforming it into a supplement allows it to be use to sooth a number of problems, ranging from coughs to liver disorders. Of particular interest is its capacity to support the human immune system and improve athletic performance by improving the user's stamina and reducing the effects of weakness on the body.
Taken regularly, Cordyceps sinesis supplements give the user a steady increase in energy while reducing unwanted fatigue without powerful stimulants. The substance has also been claimed to reduce the effects of aging and as a result, promote a longer life in its users, though these claims are still being researched as they are rather long term in nature. The supplements do this by stimulating cells and certain chemicals inside the human immune system; some research indicates that this may actually have an effect that combat cancer cells and reduce the size of tumors, particularly lung and skin cancers. While more research is called for, there are many tantalizing possibilities for medicine inside this humble fungus.