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Fungus Makes You Faster

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Do you have a need for speed? If you do then start chowing down on caterpillar fungi. Sound gross? Well, that's what several Chinese athletes say is the secret behind their success.

The Fungus 411

Nearly 1,500 years ago, shepards who lived high up in the mountains of Tibet noticed that their cows, goats and other animals had a lot more energy after eating a tiny grass-like mushroom that grows on caterpillars. Doctors from the area soon began making up powerful potions with this fungus to cure different illnesses. About 1,000 years later, during the Ming Dynasty, doctors for the Chinese Emperor learned about this wonder fungus known as cordyceps sinensis. The fungus was pretty hard to find so only the Emperor and his noblemen were given the potion. Doctors would take a small amount of the fungus and cook it inside the stomach of a duck. The Chinese royalty would then eat the duck. They noticed it gave them an extra boost of energy and enduranced and kept them from getting sick.

Fungus Makes You Faster

In the 1990's, Chinese runners began using the fungus to see if it would improve their performance. The results? Pretty amazing. During the 1993 World Track and Field Championships, the Chinese womens' running team broke the world records in the 10,000 meter, 3,000 meter and 1,500 meter races. Other countries accused the Chinese team of using steroids, but none of the athletes showed any signs of drug use. The team explained that they were only using a potion made from the caterpillar fungus.

How Does Fungus Work

How does the fungus work? Scientists say the magical mushroom relaxes an athlete's airway. That makes it easier for athletes to breathe while they are running which means they are using less energy. The fungus also helps reduce blood pressure and stop coughing. Athletes rarely eat cordyceps sinensis by cooking it in the stomach of a duck. Usually they'll just grind up the fungus and eat it or mix it in with chicken soup.

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