Can you EAT Cordyceps? Expert reveals TRUTH behind ‘killer fungus’ depicted in ‘The Last of Us’
LAS VEGAS, CALIFORNIA: After being released for PlayStation 3 in June 2013, the game 'The Last of Us' has remained a fan favorite for apocalyptic and zombie game lovers. The storyline of the game revolves around protagonist Joel, who is tasked with escorting a teenage girl, named Ellie, twenty years after he lost his daughter to an outbreak of a mutant Cordyceps fungus.
The game is the inspiration behind HBO's recent post-apocalyptic drama series with the same name, created by Craig Mazin and Neil Druckmann. Druckmann, who was also the creative director of the PlayStation game, was inspired by a real-life fungus that reportedly has the ability to briefly control other organisms and unlike most post-apocalyptic movies and games, this series is based on an actual living organism.
'The Last of Us' Episode 3 Review: 'Long Long Time' shows LOVE triumphs even in most dangerous situations
Now woke mob turns on 'The Last of Us': Hit HBO series accused of 'TRICKING' liberals in Episode 3
What is Cordyceps fungus?
Funguses in the genera of Cordyceps and Ophiocordyceps, which were formerly called just Cordyceps, are found in tropical, subtropical, and temperate forests around the world. The interesting aspect about these fungi, popularized in 2006 by the BBC show 'Planet Earth', is that are able to essentially turn organisms they attack into 'zombies', as stated by Vox. They generally infect invertebrates like ants and take over their minds and bodies to make them behave in a certain way so that they can spread spores to others of their kind. The BBC episode on Cordyceps documents a bullet ant, one of the strongest species in terms of survival in the insect world, being taken over by such a fungus. Before feeding on it, the Cordyceps forces the ant to climb up a tree so it can spread its spores.
Can Cordyceps fungus be eaten?
The release of HBO's 'The Last of Us' has renewed interest in Cordyceps fungus, and a Chinese medicine expert group has revealed that not only can they be eaten, but they are also believed to provide several health benefits such as boosting immunity, helping with anti-aging, and burning fat. The company, called Eastern Philosophy, informed in a recent video that there are over 600 different species under the Cordyceps family, and humans can ingest certain types of Cordyceps, known as cordyceps sinensis and cordyceps militaris, to "improve oxygenation and tolerance to high-intensity exercise," Daily Mail reported.
As per the publication, members of the female Chinese Olympic running team were accused of using performance enhancers at the 1993 China National Games but it was later revealed that they had been consuming cordyceps. The two consumable species - cordyceps sinensis and cordyceps militaris - are in fact one of the most expensive herbs in the world, costing almost $4,000 an ounce, as per Daily Mail.