Relief of fatigue is a well known effect of Cordyceps. We all require a continual supply of energy in order to function. When it comes to energy, we think about consuming fats, proteins and starches to gain energy, but what it all comes down to at the cellular level is ATP (the molecule that actually release energy in the cell). Recent research (discussed below) has shown that Cordyceps increases the cellular ATP level and oxygen utilisation, which leads to a real increase in actual energy that is available for use.
In addition, Cordyceps increases oxygen availability, which means easier breathing. Not surprisingly, many high-altitude climbers use Cordyceps regularly to increase oxygen capacity and get an energy boost. (Holliday, J. et al. On the Trial of The Yak Ancient Cordyceps in the Modern World. 2004. )
Clinical studies conducted in elderly patients with fatigue have shown significant improvement in level of fatigue, ability to tolerate cold temperatures, memory and cognitive capacity, and sex drive. (Talbott, SM. A guide to understanding dietary supplements. New York: Haworth Press, 2003.) After taking Cordyceps for 30 days:
• 92% of individuals showed reduction of chronic fatigue;
• 89% showed reduction in feeling cold;
• 83% showed reduction in dizziness.
Another study with healthy elderly volunteers (average age 65) that administered Cordyceps for a 6-week period while exercising on stationary bicycles showed that a group had significant increases in energy and oxygen capacity. (Holliday, J. et al. On the Trial of The Yak Ancient Cordyceps in the Modern World. 2004. )
Ancient Chinese manuscripts reported the superiority of Cordyceps to ginseng’s tonic effect. Many of the effects of Cordyceps are due to adenosine. This ingredient has been known as a regulator of vascular tone and smooth muscle and growth of nerve cells.
Who has not experienced the unpleasant feeling of cold feet and hands? For some, this feeling is almost constant, especially with age, but doctors may not even consider such ‘normal’ complaints.
A remarkable study of athletes showed an increase in endurance, strength and efficiency of energy transfer. Cordyceps became widely known internationally as a substance the Chinese women's track and field team used in achieving records in 1993 and 1994. (Connor, S. Chinese mushroom remedy found to boost fitness. New Zealand Herald, 2004)
Fatigue syndrome – commonly known as chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS) – is a term used to identify a weakening medical disorder that causes a person to feel extremely fatigued. It is accompanied by multiple other symptoms for at least 6 months. Exhaustion is not caused by continuous exertion nor getting enough rest, nor is it attributable to other medical conditions.
In some cases, this disorder is called ME which stands for myalgic encephalomyelitis. Other names for fatigue syndrome are post-viral fatigue syndrome (PVFS) and chronic fatigue immune dysfunction syndrome (CFIDS).
According to the World Health Organization (WHO), chronic fatigue syndrome is a nervous system disease. However, fatigue causes are unknown. There are several physiological and psychological factors that contribute to the maintenance and the development of the fatigue symptoms.
A number of fatigue symptoms have been listed including post-exertional malaise, widespread pain in the muscles and joints, headaches of a type that have not been experienced by the individual previously, cognitive difficulties, stressful sleep and chronic mental and physical tiredness.
It is also reported that people who suffer from chronic fatigue experience muscle weakness, orthostatic intolerance, increased sensitivity to sounds, smells and light, digestive disturbances, cardiac and respiratory disorders and depression.
The majority of individuals with CFS report that symptoms can start suddenly. Often, this is accompanied by an illness similar to having flu. A significant percentage of cases commence after several months of relentless adverse stress.
The pathogenesis as well as the mechanisms of this disorder are still unidentified. Research studies have been conducted but there has been no accurate explanation for the characteristics of the disease. Top researchers have theorised that oxidative stress, virus infection, illness caused by pathogenic bacteria, abnormalities in the hypothalamic pituitary adrenal axis, dysfunction of the immune system and genetic predisposition are among the possible epidemiological and biomedical qualities of CFS along with psychosocial and psychological factors.
Researchers have suspected that there is a strong link between chronic fatigue and xenotropic murine leukaemia virus-related virus (XMRV). Although many laboratories have found that most of the patients do not have XMRV, experts assume that contamination is somehow responsible for the preliminary positive results. Many independent studies have supported this claim.
As mentioned above, the cause of chronic fatigue syndrome is unknown. Nevertheless, the condition is believed to be related to the effects caused by infection in the immune system. Many of the viruses that have been thought of as possible causes of the disorder have been examined by laboratories, but the cause and effect relationship between the disease and the known viruses have not yet been discovered.
Some evidence indicates that the bacteria that cause pneumonia and other diseases (Chlamydia pneumoniae) may be among the main causes of CFS. Patients who have acquired the illness due to these bacteria can possibly cure the disorder by taking antibiotics that have the ability to eradicate C. pneumoniae. However, the association between CFS and the said bacteria is being debated.
Various isolated infections are said to lead to fatigue that can remain for a long-term period in some cases. If fatigue is experienced with other problems that are related to short-term memory loss or concentration failure, CFS may arise.
Among the associated infections with CFS is Epstein-Barr virus (EBV), which causes mononucleosis, also known as the kissing disease or mono. However, EBV is not the cause of CFS, and CFS is not the same as long-term infection with EBV. Other infectious diseases that appear to be among the causes of fatigue include diarrhoea, bronchitis and pneumonia.
Conditions with similar symptoms to chronic fatigue syndrome must be excluded such as adrenal insufficiency, AIDS, malignancy, liver disease, psychosomatic illness, kidney disease, Lyme disease, hepatitis C, thyroid disease and fibromyalgia.
Those who belong to groups with lower income than the standard level are most likely to develop the illness. When it comes to gender, 60–85 percent of the individuals who suffer from CFS are women, but it is believed that the prevalence of this disease among men is often not reported.
Those aged 40–60 are most likely to develop CFS. It is also believed that the blood relatives of those who already have CFS will most likely suffer from the same illness. There is no evidence that this condition is contagious.
Duration of Condition
CFS can last for a long time. In most cases, the fatigue symptoms will improve as time passes. Many people recover fully and can get back to work and perform their normal activities. Others have symptoms that persist for years. The duration of CFS usually depends on the severity of the case. Although there is no cure for chronic fatigue syndrome, treatment can ease symptoms that cause discomfort.
A review conducted in 2003 states that, in 100,000 adults, CFS can appear in 7–3,000 people. However, there is a wide variance in the estimates of prevalence of the sickness due to the difference in the definitions of fatigue syndrome.
In the United Kingdom, the National Health Service reports that 250,000 people are affected by this condition.
Anyone can develop CFS but it is more common in women. Symptoms usually begin to appear to in the early 20s up to the mid-40s. Young people can also be affected, particularly those around 13–15 years old.
Chronic fatigue syndrome can affect people in many different ways. Changes in lifestyle can help people cope with the condition, and finding the balance between doing activities and resting can help someone live with CFS successfully.