Extracts from the mushrooms Cordyceps sinensis and Ganoderma lucidum boost athletes’ testosterone levels. And they lower cortisol levels too. The fitter athletes are, the stronger the positive effect of the extracts, researchers at the University of Pavia in Italy discovered when they gave Cordyceps sinensis and Ganoderma lucidum to seven cyclists.
The researchers gave seven amateur cyclists, aged 30-40, a placebo for a couple of weeks and capsules containing extracts of Cordyceps sinensis and Ganoderma lucidum for three months. During both periods the cyclists took part in an 85-km cycling race.
The cyclists took three capsules a day, each containing 445 mg Cordyceps sinensis. The capsules consisted of one third polysaccharides and half a percent of adenosine. In addition, the capsules contained the adenosine analogue cordycepin. Adenosine and cordycepin probably both play a role in the ergogenic effect of Cordyceps sinensis. Three days before each of the races, the cyclists increased their intake to six capsules a day.
Previous studies had shown that Cordyceps sinensis supplementation, using 3 g extract, had no effect on oxygen uptake or the cyclists’ endurance capacity [Int J Sport Nutr Exerc Metab. 2004 Apr;14(2):236-42.], but it did increase the endurance capacity of over 50 year olds.
Fit athletes derive more benefit from testosterone boosters Cordyceps sinensis and Ganoderma lucidum
The cyclists also took 2 capsules a day which contained 390 mg Ganoderma lucidum extract. This extract consisted of one third polysaccharides and 1.5 percent triterpenes.
When the researchers analysed saliva taken from the cyclists just before and just after the race done under placebo conditions, they observed that the testosterone concentration of two of the cyclists did not change during the race. The race did lower the cortisol concentration in the cyclists, however. So those cyclists were in good condition.
Supplementation with Cordyceps sinensis and Ganoderma lucidum boosted the level of testosterone concentration in the saliva of the well-trained cyclists, as the figure below shows.
In the five remaining cyclists, the race done under placebo conditions lowered their testosterone concentration a little and led to a rise in cortisol, which would suggest these cyclists were close to over-training. The figure above shows that supplementation with Cordyceps sinensis and Ganoderma lucidum boosted the cyclists’ testosterone concentration before and after the race, and inhibited the post-race rise in cortisol.
The mushroom extract supplementation improved the testosterone-cortisol ratio in both the well-trained cyclists [first figure below] and in the less well-trained cyclists [second figure below].
“We can therefore conclude that a 3-month period of Cordyceps sinensis and Ganoderma lucidum dietary supplementation may protect endurance athletes from nonfunctional overreaching/overtraining”, the Italians wrote. They advocate that follow-up research be done with a larger group of athletes.
“An interesting future development of this research would be to analyze inflammatory parameters in order to understand the role fungal supplementation plays on the immune system. The study should continue to select standardized fungal dietary supplements, but it should be expanded to include a larger number of endurance athletes, due to the variability in their athletic condition.”
Improving Training Condition Assessment in Endurance Cyclists: Effects of Ganoderma lucidum and Ophiocordyceps sinensis Dietary Supplementation.
The main reasons for taking daily dietary supplements are to maintain good health, to improve homeostasis, and to create conditions for reducing the risk of disease. Due to growing market demand, the search for effective, nontoxic, natural compounds with antioxidant and ergogenic properties has increasingly become a matter of interest. This paper describes how a specific combination of fungal supplements can help improve the performance of endurance athletes. We report the effects of a brief 3-month trial of two fungal supplements, Ganoderma lucidum and Cordyceps sinensis (3 capsules of O. sinensis and 2 capsules of G. lucidum per day), in 7 healthy male volunteers, aged between 30 and 40 years, who are all amateur cyclists that participate in “Gran Fondo” cycling races. This trial investigated the effects of fungal supplements on the level of physical fitness of the athletes by monitoring and comparing the following biomarkers just before and after physical exertion: the testosterone/cortisol ratio in the saliva and oxidative stress (DPPH free radical scavenging activity). A decrease of more than 30% in the testosterone/cortisol ratio after race compared to before race was considered as a risk factor for nonfunctional overreaching (NFO) or the overtraining syndrome (OTS). The results show that, after 3 months of supplementation, the testosterone/cortisol ratio changed in a statistically significant manner, thereby protecting the athletes from NFO and OTS. Antioxidant activity was measured by quantifying the scavenging ability of the human serum on the synthetic free radical DPPH. After 3 months of fungal supplementation, the data demonstrate an increased scavenger capacity of free radicals in the athletes’ serum after the race, thereby protecting the athletes from oxidative stress.
PMID: 24799948 PMCID: PMC3995149 DOI: 10.1155/2014/979613 [PubMed]