Cordyceps Sinensis–Lung Health

Ready for something different? No, I mean really different!

Imagine this. There’s a fungus that invades a caterpillar. That caterpillar is found in high altitudes in the Himalayas and once the fungus invades it, the caterpillar is, in essence, digested by this fungus. Gross right?

Now, what if I told you that that fungus has so many healthy properties for your lungs that it is banned by the International Olympic Committee for giving athletes an unfair edge due to hyper oxygenation of their lungs; in other words, increasing their endurance.

Why is this important to you? As you know, the Wuhan, China coronavirus has sequale for the lungs. They include low oxygenation of blood, which has profound consequences including ventilatory assist and supplemental  oxygen therapy. More disturbingly, survivors of the coronavirus, Covid-19, report pulmonary fibrosis and reduced pulmonary function (perhaps permanently), leading to breathlessness and decreased endurance.

Now, let me preface by saying there is no cure for Covid-19, so never assume that any supplement will cure you but enter the caterpillar fungus. Cordyceps sinensis (being studied in numerous labs) has shown to inhibit airway remodeling and pulmonary fibrosis in animal models. In scientific terms, fibrosis occurs when your epithelial cells (alveolar epithelium) in your lung which absorb oxygen and release carbon dioxide get converted (irreversibly) to mesenchymal cells, which then become a cell called a fibroblast. These fibroblasts secrete collagen and destroy the environment needed for gas exchange. Thus, the name of the disease.

By the way, if you have a newish Samsung phone, you should be able to check your oxygenation on your phone in the app called Shealth. Your oxygen level should be about 95% under resting conditions.

Here’s one of many abstracts that speak to the remarkable power of Cordyceps.

Exp Ther Med. 2018 Mar;15(3):2731-2738. doi: 10.3892/etm.2018.5777. Epub 2018 Jan 19.

Cordyceps sinensis inhibits airway remodeling in rats with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease.

Yang L1,2, Jiao X1, Wu J1, Zhao J1, Liu T1, Xu J1,3, Ma X1,2, Cao L1, Liu L1, Liu Y1, Chi J2, Zou M1, Li S1, Xu J1, Dong L1.

Cordyceps sinensis is a traditional Chinese herbal medicine that has been used for centuries in Asia as a tonic to soothe the lung for the treatment of respiratory diseases. The aim of the present study was to determine the effects of C. sinensis on airway remodeling in chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) and investigate the underlying molecular mechanisms. Rats with COPD were orally administered C. sinensis at low, moderate or high doses (2.5, 5 or 7.5 g/kg/day, respectively) for 12 weeks. Airway tissue histopathology, lung inflammation and airway remodeling were evaluated. C. sinensis treatment significantly ameliorated airway wall thickening, involving collagen deposition, airway wall fibrosis, smooth muscle hypertrophy and epithelial hyperplasia in model rats with COPD. Additionally, C. sinensis administration in rats with COPD reduced inflammatory cell accumulation and decreased inflammatory cytokine production, including tumor necrosis factor-α, interleukin-8 and transforming growth factor (TGF)-β1 in bronchoalveolar lavage fluid. Meanwhile, the increased levels of α-smooth muscle actin and collagen I in the COPD group were also markedly decreased by C. sinensis treatment. Furthermore, compared with untreated rats with COPD, C. sinensis reduced the expression level of phosphorylated (p)-Smad2, p-Smad3, TGF-β1 and its receptors, with the concomitant increased expression of Smad7 in the lungs of rats with COPD. These results indicated that treatment with C. sinensis may be a useful approach for COPD therapy.

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