Throughout my long journey with Lyme disease, and over the years, I’ve taken hundreds of supplements. Too many, really. Out of all these, only a handful have become staples in my health protocol and only a few stand out as “stars” for me in the battle against Lyme and chronic fatigue.
Cordyceps mushroom has been one of these. I preface this by stating that there is no such thing as a one-size-fits-all supplement that works for everyone when it comes to Lyme or chronic illness. That means that what has worked for me may not work for you, and vice versa. However, I am excited to share about cordyceps with you because I believe you may find it to be beneficial for you, too—as it has been powerful for many people with Lyme, chronic fatigue and related conditions.
Lyme Disease and Cordyceps
While cordyceps is most often referred to as a mushroom, it is really a fungus that grows on or inside of caterpillars and other arthropods. In a seemingly barbaric process, the fungus infects the caterpillar and takes over its central nervous system. As the caterpillar dies, the fungus produces a fruiting body, which may be cylindrical, branched, or of a complex shape. Cordyceps is therefore a parasite, but one with a multitude of nutritional benefits.
Cordyceps has been used and highly esteemed in Traditional Chinese and Tibetan Medicine for centuries. In recent years, it has become popular in the West as well. Integrative doctors often recommend it to their patients with chronic fatigue, as they have found it to help increase their stamina and energy. Indeed, Himalayan mountain peoples, where cordyceps is grown, have long used cordyceps during strenuous‚ high altitude activities.
Cordyceps delivers its performance boosting results by increasing mitochondrial production of ATP. ATP or adenosine triphosphate is a form of “cellular currency” or energy that is produced inside our mitochondria.
The main reason I used cordyceps was to improve my energy and increase my stamina. It helped me to get out of bed in the morning and get going, and to get more done throughout the day. I needed to do other things to improve my energy as well, such as balance my adrenal and thyroid gland function, but cordyceps helped—immensely.
Cordyceps is also widely regarded for promoting heart health and studies have shown that it decreases inflammation via its antioxidant properties. It is has been found to correct abnormal heart rhythms, to have anti-coagulant, or blood thinning properties, and to lower blood pressure — all of which may be beneficial for some people with Lyme or chronic fatigue.
Perhaps most amazing is one study’s observation that it can even improve symptoms such as dizziness and muscle weakness, which incidentally, are common in Lyme disease. It protects the brain and neurological system, and may even promote a healthy mood and normal blood sugar levels.
Further, cordyceps has a long history of use as a lung, liver and kidney tonic, and has long been used in Asia for the management of chronic bronchitis, asthma, tuberculosis and other diseases of the respiratory system. In Lyme, the lungs, liver and kidneys are often stressed, from the infections as well as from having to process so many toxins, so cordyceps may help to alleviate stress on these organs, too, in people with Lyme.
Cordyceps is remarkable in that it has a profound benefit on multiple aspects and areas of the body, especially the vital organs of the heart, liver, kidneys, lungs and brain.
Perhaps most importantly, cordyceps has been found in studies to have powerful immune-modulating effects. Stephen Buhner describes these in his works on Lyme disease. However, if you battle an autoimmune disease along with Lyme disease, you may want to ask your doctor before taking it, as it may worsen autoimmune conditions.
For instance, several studies warn against taking it if you have multiple sclerosis (MS). Many people with Lyme have an MS-like symptom presentation, so if this is you, it may be important to discover whether you have a true autoimmune process causing the symptoms, or if they are due to Lyme or mold illness (which is common) and are therefore reversible.
Some have suggested that Lyme is an autoimmune disease. From my research, I believe it can cause autoimmune-like processes, but it is not a true autoimmune disease.
Anyway, I have known many people with Lyme disease who have taken cordyceps safely (including myself) and with great benefit. Master herbalist Stephen Buhner and Bill Rawls, MD even recommend cordyceps as part of their Lyme disease protocols.
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Bill Rawls, MD says of cordyceps, “Cordyceps offers properties of immunomodulation and resistance to any type of stress. It protects mitochondria and is anti-fatigue. It is regularly used by Chinese and Russian athletes.” He also states that it has antimicrobial properties and can help to fight Bartonella and Mycoplasma.
In summary, cordyceps is an amazing medicinal mushroom that has a multitude of health benefits. If your energy or organs need a boost, I encourage you to talk to your doctor about giving it a try!
This article was first published on ProHealth.com on November 27, 2018 and was updated on July 13, 2020.
Connie Strasheim is the author of multiple wellness books, including three on Lyme disease. She is also a medical copywriter, editor and healing prayer minister. Her passion is to help people with complex chronic illnesses find freedom from disease and soul-spirit sickness using whole body medicine and prayer, and she collaborates with some of the world’s best integrative doctors to do this. In addition to Lyme disease, Connie’s books focus on cancer, nutrition, detoxification and spiritual healing. You can learn more about her work at: ConnieStrasheim.
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