In June of 2003 I traveled to Boulder, Colorado for a work trip. I decided to stay a few extra days to visit a college friend who lived in the area. My friend was an avid mountaineer and he told me about his plans for climbing all the mountains over 14,000 ft in Colorado.
Then he dropped the news on me that we would be getting up at 4am the next day to scale one of these. It was a non-technical climb, but it would be 15 miles round trip with a huge elevation gain.
At that moment in time, I was in the worst shape of my life by far. I had finished eight years of college and grad school, started a new business (working 60-80 hours a week), and gotten a divorce. The closest thing I had done to exercise was lifting pints of IPA (India Pale Ale) to my mouth.
For those of you who have done any climbing, you know that this kind of elevation is no joke. Even with proper training, this is a hard climb. There was no way I was going to be able to pull this off, but my friend insisted.
While stocking up on provisions at the grocery store, I decided to check out the health food isles. It was there that I saw it, the Chinese herb Cordyceps in capsules, a must have for an out-of-shape fool like me. Some of the benefits of this herb include:
- Increased energy levels and basal metabolism.
- Improved lung capacity (it’s a strong bronchodilator).
- Improved endurance and resistance to fatigue.
- Increased mind focus and calming effect.
Even though I knew that Cordyceps should help me out some, I was still super nervous as we pulled into the parking lot at 5am. There were at least 50 other climbers and they all looked like total bad-asses. I pounded six capsules (a full daily dose) and then two more every two hours of the ascent.
The first couple miles I was dogging it pretty hard, but about midway up I started to feel a little better. I soon passed my friend (who was in amazing shape and lived at a high elevation). I gradually passed up more and more climbers.
At the final stretch shortly before summiting, I realized out of this big group I would be second to the top. I later found out that the first guy to summit was an ultra-marathoner. I ended up waiting a half an hour at the top for my friend to arrive.
My body was pretty wrecked for about a week after that, but I made it to the top in excellent time, and in the worst shape of my life! Since that climb, cordyceps has been my go-to herb for any type of endurance activity or high elevation pursuit.
You can find Cordyceps at Chinese herb shops (it’s called Dong Chong Xia Cao in pinyin), online, and the occasional health food store. A good dosage is two capsules of pure cordyceps about 45 minutes before your activity.
You should not take cordyceps if you have the common cold, flu, or any type of infectious condition – it will make it worse! If you are pregnant or nursing or have any type of medical condition, only take cordyceps under the direct supervision of a qualified medical professional.
So the next time you want to climb a mountain, beat your friend in a race, train jiu jitsu with a bunch of 20 year-olds, or otherwise need a competitive edge, give Cordyceps a try!
What’s your Cordyceps story?
* These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. These products and statements are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent disease.
Photo by ProfPete