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Cordyceps sinensis is a type of fungus that has been used in Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) for thousands of years. Cordyceps is also known as Chinese catepillar fungus, because it is a parasite that grows on the Tibetan caterpillar until the caterpillar dies, at which point it sprouts a mushroom. (Don’t worry, most cordyceps produced commercially in Western countries is actually grown on plant sources, such as soybeans.) The Chinese have long used cordyceps to promote overall good health, and modern research indicates that cordyceps does indeed support liver, kidney, heart, and immune system function. It also appears to act as an antioxidant in the body, protecting it from free radical damage.

Cordyceps sinensis has a reputation as a powerful aphrodisiac. Recent studies performed in both China and Japan demonstrated a 64 percent success rate among men suffering from impotence. Scientists have isolated two chemical constituents in cordyceps, (deoxyadenosine) and cordycepic acid (mannitol), which are thought to be the active compounds that increase sex drive. These same compounds are also thought to improve lung function and increase energy levels; it is well known that Chinese athletes use cordyceps to help increase their stamina and endurance. It has been theorized that cordyceps enhances athletic performance because it helps it increases blood flow and oxygen supplies throughout the body, which helps the heart, lungs, and other organs function more efficiently. In one study published in Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise, researchers reported that athletes who took 4.5 grams of cordyceps daily for six weeks had double the rate of oxygen intake as those in the placebo group.

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