Cordyceps fungus on blue background

Disturbingly, The ‘Last of Us’ Fungus is Great for Boosting Testosterone

Don’t worry, it won’t zombify you.


f you’ve been keeping up with HBO’s The Last of Us, you’ve probably developed a (hopefully) irrational fear of a shroom-fueled apocalypse. 

But weirdly, research shows that the fungal antagonist of the show, cordyceps, boasts great health benefits like improving your athletic performance and sex drive, and promoting longevity by increasing T levels.

Cordyceps has been used for centuries in traditional Chinese medicine as a remedy for fatigue and immune-support. This performance-boosting supplement first burst onto the scene when Chinese athletes chalked up a 1993 track and field record to the mushroom (1).

If you’re feeling brave enough to give cordyceps a try, here’s what you need to know. And, no, we promise you won’t get infected; scientists assure us the fungus can’t take our bodies over, though the same can’t be said for ants.

Can Cordyceps Boost Testosterone?

If you’re trying to get as built as a Bloater, cordyceps supplements can help get you there.

While minimal research has been done with humans, cordyceps mushrooms show promise in improving sexual function in mice and rats. A 2020 study of rats in the journal BioMed Research International found that cordyceps mushroom cultures may boost testosterone, improve erection and testicular function, and sex drive (2). 

This fungus may have longevity benefits like inhibiting hypogonadism and prostate hypertrophy—two conditions that can get in the way of healthy erections—by helping your body maintain androgen levels as you age (3).

Cordyceps supplements have also been shown to improve athletic performance by increasing blood flow (4)— maybe that’s why Runners are so fast?

Is Cordyceps Safe?

We know, we know:  the fictional scientists in the Last of Us also claimed that humans can’t get infected. But seriously, you can’t.

For one, our bodies are too warm for the fungus to grow within, and we also have immune defense systems that are hyperacute of a foreign infection, and can rapidly mitigate that threat. 

While cordyceps supplements are generally safe for human consumption, you should avoid them if you have diabetes, cancer, or another bleeding disorder, as this mushroom has been shown to slow blood clotting (5). That means you should also put a pause on this supplement at least two weeks before any surgeries.

Looking for other ways to boost your T? Sign up to receive Hone’s at-home hormone assessment and work with one of our board-certified physicians to optimize your testosterone.

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