Cordyceps and How Its Potency Became Discovered

by Mason Taylor November 25, 2020 3 mins read

Cordyceps and How Its Potency Became Discovered

You might have heard how beneficial cordyceps is for your stamina and overall health, but do you know exactly how its magic was discovered?

Back when I started discovering all that incredible Daoism / Taoism knowledge and Chinese medicine had handed down in the east through the centuries, I fell in love with their philosophy. In particular, their reverence for herbs was beautiful.

And the thing is, I love getting to the root of things. I love exploring where these herbs originally came from, what caused them to develop their shape, their color, their smell... all the powerful constituents they contain…

This desire eventually lead me down the rabbit hole, reading about the highlands of the Himalayas; legend has it, that the locals discovered Cordyceps sinensis somewhere up there. The farmers had noticed that after their yaks grazed in a specific area all the way up at an altitude of 3,800 meters, these animals became EXTREMELY strong and virile.


Magic himalayan grass?

So what did this “magic grass” they munched on, contain that regular grass didn’t? What was it that gave them that extra power and resilience to withstand the harsh environment of these extreme altitudes so much better than any other animal?

It was none other than our good mate Cordyceps sinensis - growing out of the head of caterpillars - hidden in the fresh grass that sprouted as soon as the snow started melting away.

Yep, you read that right. They were growing out of the head of caterpillars (make sure to read our Zombie Fungus article to get the full scoop on the parasitic nature of this naughty dude!)

Anyway, back to topic…

Seeing with their own eyes how robust their yaks had become, the locals started experimenting with Cordyceps sinensis - looking for ways they too could benefit from his natural powers…

All of that happened probably a solid 1,000 years ago - and yeah, they did find ways to benefit from Cordyceps sinensis...

And that’s the story of how this fascinating organism found his way into the top echelon of revered herbs within the Traditional Chinese Medicine philosophy - and eventually also into our hearts and minds, here in the Byron Shire.

But you see, the extreme heights, the rare locations and seasonal dependencies for harvesting have skyrocketed the price of wild, raw Cordyceps sinensis to up to $50k per kilo…

And while I’m really excited about this mushie - it’s not quite worth a yearly salary for me to get a kilo of it. Luckily, there’s a better way. 

Sometime in the 1980s, a couple of super smart Chinese mushroom nerds got together and developed CS-4 out of Cordyceps sinensis - a very potent, very affordable strain of the original mushroom. Growing on liquid ferment, this medicinal mushroom is 100% vegan, paleo friendly and packs the same punch his wild relative does.

Grown via liquid fermentation, means that an organic rice soup is made, and the cordyceps mycelium grows in this soup, eating the starch (which is basically a sugar) from the rice. Unlike mushrooms grown on a grain substrate, our cordy contains no (that is, zero) grain residue in its mycelium. This means you get more bang for your buck, instead of a bunch of ground up oats for $50.

This is the only herb we’re happy to cultivate in a lab, just because the environment in which the foragers harvesting cordy is really dangerous (on average, 3-5 men a year are said to die in pursuit of the prized cordyceps worm). That also means you can be sure that our cordy is always pesticide, herbicide and fungicide-free, doesn’t contain any heavy metals and is harvested at the perfect time. And like all our epic herbs, you can always request our Certificates of Analysis or our independent certification which tests for pesticides, aflatoxins, molds and heavy metals.

Besides, wild cordyceps is increasingly rare as it is overharvested to sell on the international herb market, so let’s save some for the yaks! Plus we are committed to always harvesting our herbs with longevity for the planet in mind.

Fascinating stuff, isn’t it? And if you want to get the full low down on our cultivated vegan cordyceps, check out Cordyceps Medicinal Mushroom and Its Amazing Benefits Article.

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