Cordyceps tinctures are becoming more popular every day, but many people still don’t know much about them.
But cordyceps aren't a new functional mushroom.
In fact, the first recorded use of cordyceps medicinally was in 1694! But medicinal mushrooms have been used in traditional Chinese medicine for over 2,000 years.
Now, cordyceps seem to be everywhere. In coffee. In chocolate bars. And of course, in tinctures.
But what are they? How do you use them? Should you add them to your daily diet?
Here’s everything you need to know about cordyceps mushroom tincture, including the history, health benefits, drug interactions, and what you can expect from taking cordyceps tinctures.
What are cordyceps?
Cordyceps are a type of fungi that is parasitic on insects and other arthropods.
The most well-known species is cordyceps sinensis, which parasitizes the larvae of ghost moths. When the fungus reaches maturity, it sends up a stalk from the host's head that bears spores.
These ancient cultures believed that cordyceps provided longevity and vigor. It was also believed that consuming this mushroom would strengthen the physical body while improving mental capacity.
It’s important to note that cordyceps sinensis is a very rare species of mushrooms. It only occurs naturally at high altitudes. Historically, cordyceps sinesis has been significantly over-harvested as many believed it to be an elixir with various medicinal benefits.
Because of its rarity, and price fetching tens of thousands of dollars per kilo, a synthesized strain of cordyceps was made, called cordyceps militaris, which is nearly identical to cordyceps sinensis. This has made the fungi commercial available to consumers just like yourself!
Learn more about the difference between cordyceps militaris and cordyceps sinensis here!
What are the health benefits of cordyceps?
Today, the use of cordyceps has started to be adopted globally thanks to studies that have further researched the potential health benefits.
Cordyceps may support:
- Increased endurance
- High blood pressure
- Libido/sex drive
- Type 2 diabetes
- Heart health
- Kidney health
For the most part, these health benefits have mainly been researched through the use of animal studies, except for cordyceps and its use for increased endurance and energy. This has arguably been the most studied health benefit of cordyceps, which initially received its national attention when the Chinese, female olympic running team in the early 1990’s shattered a bunch of records and the coach said that cordyceps was the reason why.
Of course, that statement was rather tainted when it was later found that these women had been using performance-enhancing drugs.
Nevertheless, cordyceps became the center of a lot of scientific research and the results proved that it may be an aid for better physical performance and energy.
"Cordyceps and its product have remarkable clinical health effects including action on hepatic, renal, cardiovascular, respiratory, nervous, sexual, immunological systems, besides having anti-cancer, anti-oxidant, anti-inflammatory and anti-microbial activities" SOURCE
There were multiple studies that showed cordyceps may improve exercise performance and increase overall health, that cordyceps could improve oxygen intake, and that it may improve performance in high intensity workouts.
But the data isn’t all conclusive, as there was a test on male cyclists that didn’t prove cordyceps altered or improved exercise performance.
Nevertheless, cordyceps has grown in popularity, even due to the limited research, and has been used by consumers for all of the health benefits listed above.
We go into detail about all of cordyceps' potential health benefits in this article.
What is cordyceps tincture?
One of the most common ways to take cordyceps is by tincture, otherwise known as a liquid extract.
The purpose of tincture is to extract the medicinal benefits of cordyceps and make them more available for our bodies to access. Tinctures have been used for thousands of years and are an easy and effective method to get functional benefit from cordyceps mushroom.
The quality of the tincture depends highly on the quality of the product and the extraction method itself.
Let's talk a bit more about cordyceps tincture extraction.
Why extraction is important in cordyceps tincture
A cordyceps tincture will (typically) go through a double extraction process. This is important to understand. Although not all products use the same extraction methods.
Cordyceps, and other mushrooms, have tough cell walls called chitin. Humans have a very hard time breaking down chitin, so we need them to go through an extraction process to better absorb all of the beneficial compounds that cordyceps have to offer.
A double extraction has two parts: are hot water extraction and an alcohol extraction.
Hot water breaks down the cell walls to make beneficial polysaccharides, like beta-glucans, biovailable, since they are water-soluble.
Alcohol breaks down the cell walls to make other compounds, like cordycepin, more bioavailable.
Cordycepin is becoming more and more researched for its potential "its broad-spectrum biological activity. It is known to interfere with various biochemical and molecular processes including purine biosynthesis", according to the National Library of Medicine.
Together, through both of these processes, a cordyceps tincture (liquid extract) is made.
There is some emerging research which suggests that fermentation may also provide additional medicinal benefits, which is why some tinctures are listed as 'triple extracted'.
How is cordyceps tincture made?
The process will vary dramatically from company to company. The size and scale of the operation will also affect methods. The most important factors are transparency in the quality of the product and the methods themselves. This can be showcased by the presence of a third-party lab test for active compounds and safety.
However, a typical cordyceps tincture can expect to utilize the following methods:
- Alcohol extraction: The cordyceps mushroom will be soaked in an alcohol (usually ethanol or high-quality vodka) for two weeks - or longer. Both the mushroom themselves and the alcohol will contain medicinal compounds after soaking. Which is why both are then reserved for the hot water extraction
- Hot water extraction: The mushroom material is separated from the alcohol and then heated in hot water. The methods, duration, and temperature of the heating vary depending on the source. Prolonged exposure to hot water helps to further break down the chitin to make water-soluble compounds bioavailable. At this point, the mushroom material is considered spent and is usually removed.
- Combine the hot water and alcohol extractions: Combining your hot water extract with your alcohol extract gives you a medicinal tincture that has the benefits of both alcohol- and water-soluble compounds.
If you're interested in making cordyceps tincture at home, here's a wonderful step-by-step guide.
Some triple-extracts will include fermentation as the first step before alcohol extraction.
How to take cordyceps tincture
If you’ve never taken herbal tincture before, it’s actually pretty simple. It’s extremely popular in the wellness industry, especially in hemp oil.
A small bottle/vial comes with a dropper. You fill a dropper full and squirt the liquid into your mouth, usually under your tongue, and let it dissolve/absorb in your mouth for 30-60 seconds, swallowing any that is left behind.
However, this isn’t the only way as many people choose to add it directly to a drink of their choosing, like in their morning coffee!
Utilizing cordyceps for energy and performance may make sense for you to add it to your morning coffee, juice, or tea. It can even help mask the taste as some cordyceps tinctures can be bitter, depending on the production method.
How much cordyceps tincture should I take?
When it comes to cordyceps extract, the typical dose will be about 1000mg to 3000mg per day.
In tincture terms, you’ll want to read the label of the product you choose, but this should equate to about 1-3 full droppers daily. A full dropper of cordyceps tincture (depending on brand) should have about 1000mg.
What are the side effects of cordyceps tincture?
One of the primary reasons for the increasing demand for medicinal mushrooms, like cordyceps, and their use in alternative medicine, is that they have very little side effects.
The most common (though infrequent) that you’ll find are:
- Dry mouth
- Allergic reactions
Side effects are not severe and if you have one of these, discontinued use should clear up any issues. It’s always important to consult your physician before taking cordyceps or introducing any other supplement into your diet.
If you’re pregnant or breastfeeding, there isn’t a lot of safety tests done for this group, so please contact your doctor before taking it as well.
For more on cordyceps' known side effects, check out this article.
Who should avoid using cordyceps tincture?
While cordyceps are generally considered safe, there are a few potential side effects and contraindications to be aware of. If you have an autoimmune disorder, such as lupus or rheumatoid arthritis, cordyceps may exacerbate your symptoms. Additionally, cordyceps can thin your blood, so if you're taking blood thinners or are scheduled for surgery, you should avoid them.
Cordyceps drug interactions
Some potential drug interactions with cordyceps include: blood thinners, diabetes medications, immunosuppressants, and medications that slow blood clotting. If you are taking any of these medications, it's important to speak with your doctor before taking cordyceps. Additionally, cordyceps may lower blood sugar levels, so if you have diabetes, you should monitor your blood sugar closely while taking this supplement.
What to look for in a cordyceps tincture product
Let us say this once: ALL cordyceps products ARE NOT the same!
Please don’t shop by price when it comes to mushroom products. There are shortcuts that many companies take, so you want to be aware of the production process.
For the most part, you’ll want to look for cordyceps tinctures that us the fruiting body (cap/stem, and the part of the mushroom that you can see). There are also some solid products that use fruiting body and mycelium (the root system of the fungi). These can be fine, but it’s important to see the lab tests and the company’s cultivation methods.
You’ll want to avoid products that are all mycelium. These are missing out on the real benefits of cordyceps by harvesting the mycelium (root system) before the mushroom actually grows. It may sound crazy that you’d find products that don’t even have the actual mushroom in them, but they are out there and it is best to avoid them.
So, look for fruiting body OR fruiting body and mycelium, but not just mycelium.
The second thing you’ll want to look for is an extract. You shouldn’t have much problem with this for tinctures, but other cordyceps products (like powders and capsules) may not put the fungi through an extraction process which is detrimental to the bioavailability of beneficial compounds.
Also, DO NOT be fooled by products that say “cordyceps sinensis”. Honestly, this is a blatant lie. It’s too expensive and rare to offer as a commercial product. The products you’ll be looking for and buying online will be cordyceps militaris.
Lastly, look for companies that offer lab tests, not just for safety, but companies that test for active compounds by the use of a 3rd party. This isn’t a make-or-break factor in your buying process, but it should be looked at, as those that go the extra mile and pay to get these tests done can be better trusted and carry a higher reputation.
Our favorite cordyceps tinctures to buy
Below, we have a list of the best cordyceps tinctures. We’ve taken into account every factor when we determine the best products. You will be satisfied with all of these options:
✅ Dual extraction
✅ Fruiting body
✅ Made in Canada
✅ Certified organic
✅ Dual extraction
✅ Lab tests (completed by owners)
✅ Certified organic
✅ Fruiting bodies
✅ One of the first cordyceps militaris farms in the US
✅ 3rd party lab tests
✅ Alcohol and alcohol removed products
✅ Certified organic
✅ Grown and produced in the US
✅ Double extraction
Final tips for taking cordyceps tincture
Remember that cordyceps, like other supplements, is not a one-time cure for any health condition. In fact, right now, it should be understood that it may support a variety of health conditions, but more research needs to be done.
In order to get the best bang-for-your-buck when taking a cordyceps tincture, start to get into a routine. In the beginning, focus on taking 1000mg or so for at least a week or two. If you feel like you should increase the dose, go for it and gauge how you’re feeling.
From a variety of reviews and consumer recommendations, it's important to supplement for at least 30 days, preferably 60, taking the cordyceps tincture daily so you can really experience the potential benefits. Medicinal mushrooms, in general, can be one of the greatest supplements to add into your diet, and it’s best to give it time to understand how your body reacts and what dosage works best for you!
If you liked this article, check out our blog on the best time to take cordyceps.
If you have any questions or want to reach out to us, just send us an email at email@example.com and we’ll be happy to chat!