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Cordyceps can fight old age and various diseases

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Cordyceps sinensis, or Chinese mushroom, is a type of mushroom that has gained a lot of attention due to its great health benefits. It belongs to a genus of more than 400 species of eruptive fungi found all over the world. It is a fungus found mainly in the high altitudes of the Tibetan Plateau in China that parasitizes moth caterpillars. In autumn, the fungal mycelia infect the caterpillar, which then kills it in early summer the following year and releases spores from the fruiting body. The wild form of C. sinensis is rare and expensive; as a result, a strain isolated from the wild form is used industrially and more commonly.


Tibetan history records the first use of yartsa gunbu (as the locals call the mushroom) in the 15th century. Cordyceps is derived from the Latin cord (cord), ceps (head) and sinesis (from China). The fruiting bodies and attached mycelium of cordyceps have been used in Chinese culture and traditional Chinese medicine for centuries. Cordyceps is valued for its activity in restoring energy, promoting longevity and improving quality of life.

Nutritional information

The nucleosides adenine, adenosine, uracil, uridine, guanidine, guanosine, hypoxanthine, inosine, thymine, thymidine and deoxyuridine are the main components of cordyceps and can be used as a species marker. Fresh, natural cordyceps contain a lower nucleoside content than dry, processed or cultured cordyceps.

Other classes of constituents found in wild C. sinensis include the following: proteins, peptides, all essential amino acids and polyamines, carbohydrates and sugar derivatives, sterols, fatty acids and other organic acids, vitamins (including B 1 , B 2 , B 12 , E and K) and inorganic elements.

Health benefits of cordyceps

Animal and test-tube studies of cordyceps suggest potential therapeutic applications, however, despite the substantial number of clinical studies, the vast majority had poor methodologies. There have been very few large, controlled clinical trials (few of which evaluated cordyceps in combination with other agents) that have made definitive statements about the efficacy of cordyceps prematurely. Below we review the main potential benefits of taking cordyceps.

1. Aging

Cordyceps has traditionally been used in the elderly population to improve weakness, impotence and fatigue associated with aging. Clinical studies have been conducted in elderly individuals, but the methodology of such studies is often poorly documented. Improvement of symptoms, an increase in red blood cell superoxide dismutase activity and a decrease in malondialdehyde levels have been described. Additional antioxidant effects, hydroxyl radical scavenging activity and a reduction in lipid peroxidation are thought to be responsible for the anti-ageing effects as well as effects on the adrenergic and dopamine systems. In experiments on aged mice, learning and memory have been shown to increase.

2. Cancer

Numerous in vitro and animal experiments have been conducted with aqueous and ethanol extracts of cordyceps, as well as with cordycepin and oxypiperazines extracted from mycelia. The extracts increased cytokine activity and induced cell cycle arrest and apoptosis, thereby reducing tumor cell proliferation and prolonging survival time.

Limited clinical trials report subjective improvement in symptoms, increased tolerance to radiation and chemotherapy (probably due to increased immune function) and reduction in tumour size with concomitant administration of cordyceps. Animal experiments suggest a protective role for cordyceps in radiation- and chemotherapy-induced injury, with prolonged survival demonstrated in mice.

3. Cardiovascular effects

Cordyceps has a long history of traditional medical use in heart disease. Adenosine and other nucleosides are thought to be responsible for the effects observed in animal studies. A vasodilator effect has been reported in anesthetized dogs and hypotensive and vaso-relaxant effects have been demonstrated in rats. Reduced heart rate and recovery from arrhythmias have also been demonstrated in animals. Long-term, open-label clinical trials in heart failure have described the effect of cordyceps on improving cardiac function, arrhythmias and overall quality of life, but have not yet been supported by large, high-quality clinical trials. The fibrinolytic action of cordyceps extract has been demonstrated in vitro on bovine and human serum. Platelet aggregation was inhibited in vitro in rabbit and human platelets.


Animal studies suggest that cordyceps, especially polysaccharide extracts, lowers blood glucose levels by improving glucose metabolism and increasing insulin sensitivity. There are few clinical studies, but one small randomized trial found that taking C. sinensis at a dose of 3 g per day improved blood sugar profile compared to placebo.

5. Liver function

The hepatoprotective effects of cordyceps extracts have been demonstrated in animal models. Open clinical studies conducted in patients with active hepatitis and posthepatic cirrhosis have reported improvements in liver function tests.

6. Immune system and anti-inflammatory effects

Apart from limited data from clinical studies conducted in renal transplant recipients and patients with chronic hepatitis, most studies have been conducted in vitro and in vivo in mice or rats and have been aimed at elucidating the mechanism of action of the observed effects on the immune system. Different fractions of cordyceps extracts (either water-based or ethanol-based) appear to have different effects, and therefore an immune modulator function for cordyceps has been proposed.

7. Physical

Animal tests, such as the mouse swim test, have generally shown a longer time to exhaustion. Unpublished data on studies in elderly volunteers revealed increased energy levels and oxygen-carrying capacity after 6 weeks of cordyceps treatment compared to placebo. However, small, randomized, double-blind clinical trials in healthy volunteers and athletes have reported no effect on aerobic capacity, endurance, or performance.

8. Kidney function

Most clinical studies evaluating the effect of cordyceps on kidney function have poor methodology or use cordyceps in combination with other products. Clinical studies in elderly patients with long-term renal failure suggest improved renal function. These findings are supported by histological studies in animals. Similar findings were documented in a 2014 Cochrane review in patients with chronic kidney disease who are not on dialysis and who have significantly improved renal parameters,

9. Respiratory effects

Suitable extracts of C. sinensis have a stimulatory effect on ion transport in human airway epithelial cells, probably due to cordycepin and adenosine. Animal studies suggest that the observed effects on respiration are due to increased oxygen utilization capacity, supporting the traditional use of cordyceps in Tibet and Nepal to counteract altitude sickness. Clinical studies conducted in asthma, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease and bronchitis suggest efficacy for cordyceps.

10. Sexual dysfunction

Experiments on castrated rats showed a mild effect on sexual function. A reduction in erection was demonstrated, but no effect on ejaculation latency was found. In clinical studies in older populations, improvements in sexual desire and virility have been reported.

Other effects

Inhibition of osteoclast differentiation in mice has been described. Antibacterial, antifungal and antimicrobial activity has also been reported for cordyceps bala.


Dosage supported by product quality data is not available and many herbal supplements contain various undefined levels of this product.

While the energizing benefits of cordyceps make it an ideal supplement for athletes, everyone can benefit from its natural strength. Take cordyceps it before a tough workout or competition or take it afterwards to aid recovery. Take it right after you wake up in the morning to jumpstart your day, or take it in the afternoon when your energy levels are dropping.

A quality choice are our capsules with cordyceps extract, which you can find directly in our online shop.

Side effects

Cordyceps should be avoided by all pregnant and breastfeeding women as it can affect hormone levels. There is one report of hypersensitivity when taking cordyceps. Mild gastrointestinal upset, including diarrhea, dry mouth, and nausea, has been reported in clinical studies. Cordyceps is generally considered safe.

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