Cordyceps Mushroom

Cordyceps Mushroom

What is Coryceps Mushroom?

Cordyceps is a genus of about 600 species of fungus.  Most Cordyceps species are parasites that grow inside insects and other arthropods.  Although prized in ancient Chinese medicine, these insect-dwelling species, such as Cordyceps sinensis, are prohibitively expensive to produce and process, costing as much as $20,000 per kilogram.

Fortunately, some species of Cordyceps, including Cordyceps militaris, are parasitic on other fungi.  These are the Cordyceps found in commercially available supplements, and they contain as much as 90 times the amount of the beneficial compound cordycepin (3’-deoxyadenosine) when compared to Cordyceps sinensis.

Of note, as of 2007, Cordyceps sinensis (also called the caterpillar fungus) was found to be unrelated to most of the rest of the members of the genus, and was renamed Ophiocordyceps sinensis.

Cordyceps are found worldwide, and the largest number of species are concentrated in Asia, notably Nepal, China, Japan, Korea, Viet Nam, and Thailand.  These mushrooms thrive in humid temperate and tropical jungles.

What is Cordyceps Mushroom good for?

Cordyceps is thought to increase the production of adenosine triphosphate (ATP), a molecule essential for delivering nutrition to muscles.  The net effect is that Cordyceps may improve the way your body uses oxygen, especially during exercise, thus boosting exercise performance.

Historically, in Asian herbal medicine Cordyceps has been used by elderly patients to reduce fatigue, and boost strength and sex drive.  It has been considered an anti-aging supplement.  Several animal studies have found that Cordyceps increases antioxidants in aging mice, helping to improve memory and sexual function.

Cordyceps has shown the potential to slow tumor growth in animal studies, and in test-tube studies involving many types of human cancer cells, including human NSC lung cancer, colorectal cancer, and liver cancer.  Researchers believe that these anti-tumor effects may occur in several different ways.

In animal studies Cordyceps has been observed to have an effect that resembles the action of insulin, leading to decreased blood sugar levels.

The effects of Cordyceps on heart health are becoming more evident as research emerges.  Cordyceps is already approved in China for treatment of arrhythmia, or irregular heartbeat.  An animal study showed that Cordyceps significantly reduced heart injuries in rats with chronic kidney disease.  This effect was attributed to the heart-protective properties of the adenosine found in Cordyceps.

How does Cordyceps Mushroom help my immune system and promote healthy sleep?

Cordyceps may also reverse the side effects of many forms of traditional cancer therapy, including leukopenia, a condition in which the number of white blood cells decreases, lowering the body’s immune defenses and increasing the risk of infection.

Fighting inflammation is another area where Cordyceps has been shown to be beneficial.  It is believed that Cordyceps acts as an immunomodulator – a compound that modifies the functioning of the immune system – by suppressing special proteins that increase inflammation.

As a sleep aid, Cordyceps acts through its signature compound, Cordycepin, also known as 3’-deoxyadenosine.  Cordycepin is one of the most bioactive components found in Cordyceps.  It has been shown in animal studies to enhance sleep by increasing non-REM sleep by acting through the adenosine receptors in the central nervous system.

Who should not take Cordyceps?

Cordyceps is a fungus, and that means that people with mushroom or mold allergies should not use it as a dietary supplement.  Because there is no research on the safety of chaga for women who are pregnant or breastfeeding, the safest option for those women is to avoid use.

Always ask a doctor before taking any supplements.  Supplements can have harmful side effects or interactions with other medications.     Cordyceps mushroom may be a promising natural treatment in conjunction with other therapies, and confirming its benefits will require further human research.

Tree of Life Botanicals Products with Cordyceps:

TOLB Immunity

TOLB Sleep


1 Effect of Polysaccharide from Cordyceps militaris (Ascomycetes) on Physical Fatigue Induced by Forced Swimming; Int J Med Mushrooms 2016;18(12):1083-1092. Yan-Feng Xu

2 Antiaging effect of Cordyceps sinensis extract; Phytother Res. 2009 Jan;23(1):116-22, Deng-Bo Ji, Jia Ye, Chang-Ling Li, Yu-Hua Wang, Jiong Zhao, Shao-Qing Cai.

3 Hypoglycemic Activity through a Novel Combination of Fruiting Body and Mycelia of Cordyceps militaris in High-Fat Diet-Induced Type 2 Diabetes Mellitus Mice; J Diabetes Res. 2015; 2015: 723190, Sung-Hsun Yu, Szu-Yu Tina Chen, Wei-Shan Li, Navneet Kumar Dubey, Wei-Hong Chen, Jiunn-Jye Chuu, Sy-Jye Leu, and Win-Ping Deng.

4 Cardiovascular protection and antioxidant activity of the extracts from the mycelia of Cordyceps sinensis act partially via adenosine receptors; Phytother Res
. 2013 Nov;27(11):1597-604, Xiao-Feng Yan, Zhong-Miao Zhang, Hong-Yi Yao, Yan Guan, Jian-Ping Zhu, Lin-Hui Zhang, Yong-Liang Jia, Ru-Wei Wang.

5 Cordyceps sinensis Health Supplement Enhances Recovery from Taxol-Induced Leukopenia; Exp Biol Med (Maywood). 2008 Apr; 233(4): 447–455, Wei-Chung Liu, Wei-Ling Chuang, Min-Lung Tsai, Ji-Hong Hong, William H. McBride, and Chi-Shiun Chiang.

6 Cordyceps sinensis as an immunomodulatory agent; Am J Chin Med. 1996;24(2):111-25, Y C Kuo, W J Tsai, M S Shiao, C F Chen, C Y Lin.

7 Anti-inflammatory effects of Cordyceps mycelium (Paecilomyces hepiali, CBG-CS-2) in Raw264.7 murine macrophages; Orient Pharm Exp Med. 2015; 15(1): 7–12, Seong-Yeol Park,1 Su-Jin Jung,2 Ki-Chan Ha,3 Hong-Sig Sin,4 Seung-Hwan Jang,4 Han-Jung Chae,5 and Soo-Wan Chae.
8 Cordycepin Increases Nonrapid Eye Movement Sleep via Adenosine Receptors in Rats; Evid Based Complement Alternat Med. 2013; 2013: 840134, Zhenzhen Hu, Chung-Il Lee, Vikash Kumar Shah, Eun-Hye Oh, Jin-Yi Han, Jae-Ryong Bae, Kinam Lee, Myong-Soo Chong, Jin Tae Hong, and Ki-Wan Oh.
9 Bidirectional regulatory effects of Cordyceps on arrhythmia: Clinical evaluations and network pharmacology.

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