In this article I will cover the many health benefits, ways of use, safety and precautions of a wonderful mushroom known as Cordyceps: The zombie mushroom that can give you life!
This powerful adaptogen has been used for thousands of years in TCM and it is time for us to harvest its power!
CAUTION: Medical Disclaimer
Table of Contents
- 1 Herbal Name and Characteristics:
- 2 About this Herb
- 3 What is Cordyceps?
- 4 Benefits and properties of Cordyceps
- 5 When and how to take it?
- 6 Safety and side effects
- 7 Cycling
- 8 Closing thoughts
Herbal Name and Characteristics:
- Name: Cordyceps Mushroom or Chinese Caterpillar Fungus
- Pin Yin: Dong Chong Xia Cao,
- Latin: Cordyceps sinensis
- Taste: Bitter and slightly salty
- Color: brown
- Constitution: Slightly warm (Yang) and cold (Yin)
- Builds: Jing, Qi
About this Herb
You might be familiar with this herb name especially if you like watching wildlife documentaries. Cordyceps is also known as the zombie mushroom.
Like Rhodiola, it can increase oxygen uptake by the body which leads to better stress response and a higher endurance level in sports and other stressful activities.
My first experience was with the tincture and then I also used the powder which had similar results. Below you will find more details about this herb, its benefits, side effects and precautions you need to know before using it.
What is Cordyceps?
Cordyceps is basically a parasite and mushroom. The herb itself is harvested after infecting the body of caterpillars. It enters the caterpillar and takes over its entire body and brain until it’s dead. The result is the club-shaped mushroom which has been used in China for many years. It is said that the national Chinese marathon team used cordyceps and other herbs which resulted in gold medals and world records (that still remain unbroken) during sport events in the early 90s.
Lately, these mushrooms are grown and harvested in labs by hosting plants and not caterpillars like they did in the past which means bigger supply for the rest of the world and medical studies.
It is both a yin and a yang tonic and it works especially well on the kidneys and sexual organs. It is also beneficial for the lungs and the cardiovascular system to some extent. It can tone the entire immune system and protect from a variety of pathogenic bacteria and infections.
It is even considered to be as beneficial and powerful as ginseng.
The ingredients responsible for its benefits are the polysaccharides (45% content) and it also contains:
- Alpha and beta glucans,
- Vitamins (similar with Reishi mushrooms and ginseng).
Benefits and properties of Cordyceps
Summarizing the many benefits of Cordyceps mushrooms:
- Can help with fatigue. A study in rats showed that it prolonged their endurance by 12.5% when they were fed a cordyceps solution.
- It increase resistance to physical and mental stress and can help especially in sports events by supporting endurance capacity (as shown in rats). 2 other studies indicated that it can reduce oxidative stress and increase performance in swimming rats.
- Studies in both vivo and in vitro have shown increases in testosterone (by increasing Luteinizing Hormone Levels) which can potentially sperm motility in healthy males.
- Can support kidney function especially after a kidney transplant and can prevent rejection of the organ as shown in rats.
- It’s a strong anti-oxidant as it can reduce oxidative processes in the body as shown in vitro studies. Studies in vitro and in vivo displayed the anti-inflammatory and antinociceptive effects of cordycepin from the Cordyceps mushroom.
- It can help with better control of blood sugar levels in patients with type 2 diabetes.
- Is a strong anti-inflammatory agent. More specifically, it has shown great anti-inflammatory benefits for patients of rheumatic arthritis and in patients with inflamed airways.
- Can protect from bacterial infections, radiation and supports immune system. It has also shown potential as an anti-tumor in several studies.
- It has shown anti-aging properties by improving cognitive functions and improving sexual health.
- Also has potential anti-aging benefits by improving cognitive functions and improving sexual health.
When and how to take it?
Alcohol based Tincture: In this way, you can extract many of the nutrients found in Cordyceps. Hold the dose in your mouth (under the tongue) for 1 to 3 minutes until it gets absorbed. Then you can swallow it.
The tincture can also be taken in a glass of water. Wait a couple of minutes for the alcohol to evaporate and then drink the tincture.
Capsules: Cordyceps can be taken in capsules. I would advise you to be really careful when selecting this form. Their quality and potency can be of questionable quality while when you buy the powder, you can see if they have the right color.
Powder: Buying Cordyceps in powder form will prove to be more beneficial than anything. You can add it to your shakes or sprinkle it over your food.
Another way to take it is to hold the powder in your mouth for 5 minutes.
What you can also do is alternate between 2 forms. First would be a tincture and the second, in powder or tablet form.
Tea: Perhaps the best way to take medicinal mushrooms such as cordyceps is making a concoction a.k.a tea. Boil some water and add some powder and let it sit over time. Then drink it as usual.
The best times to take it would be:
- After a stressful day,
- Whenever you need to relax,
- Before bed.
Safety and side effects
Cordyceps does not seem to have any toxicity levels and it is considered to be safe taken orally for short term (under 3 months).
There are currently no reported side effects from using Cordyceps.
You should not take Cordyceps if you:
- Have an autoimmune disorder like (MS, Lupus, Rheumatoid Arthritis) as it can cause the immune system to become more active and enhance their negative effects,
- Have low blood sugar levels, are treated for diabetes or take anti-diabetes medicine as it can interfere with blood sugar levels and may possibly affect the dose of your medicine.
- Have any hormonal problem or medical condition including but not limited to: cancer, diabetes or undergoing chemo treatment: Check with your doctor before using cordyceps if you have any of the above conditions. Your doctor is the only person who can determine if using it is a good idea or not.
- Are scheduled for an operation, organ transplant or you just underwent one. Certain ingredients may interfere with the sedation used during surgery, rejection of the organ, interfere with healing and cause internal bleeding.
- Have allergies to this specific herb or any of its ingredients.
The best thing you can do before taking any herb supplement is to test it. If you want to be safe while using herbs I strongly urge you to read my other article on how to test an herb for allergies and intolerances.
Contraindications or interactions with other medication/substances:
Avoid using this herb/adaptogen if you have any medical condition or take any kind of medication without consulting with your doctor first.
Special Precautions & Warnings:
Since there are not enough studies performed to determine the full safety of this product, pregnant women or breastfeeding women should avoid using this product.
Use for a maximum of 3 months and then take 4 weeks off. Repeat cycle after that.
While there are no side effects or toxicity associated with long term consumption, I would not use any herb for long periods of time without a break in order to keep them being effective and protect the body from accumulation of other toxins unrelated to the herb itself.
Over the past 20 years I have experimented with literally hundreds of herbs, supplements (and other natural products) and was finally able to discover the right doses for amazing results.
If you wish to learn more about the dosages that I use with my clients for different purposes (better health, hormonal balance, stress management, testosterone boost and more) or how I combine this herb/supp with others, leave a comment below or reach out to me for a consultation through the “Hire me” link.
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Cordyceps is one of the most powerful mushrooms found in nature that holds many health benefits for mankind. In my opinion it is one of the most underutilized adaptogens and I highly recommend it for optimizing your health. However, you need to be careful and know your current health status as it is not recommended for people with existing immune system disorders.
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Also if you have any comments or questions, feel free to leave a comment and I will get back to you as soon as possible. Thanks!
by Nick Sigma
CWC, EH, E-YRT200
- http://examine.com/Book: Ancient Wisdom of the Chinese Tonic Herbs, Ron Teeguarden. Paperback – March 1, 2000
- http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/12736514 – Antifatigue and antistress effect of the hot-water fraction from mycelia of Cordyceps sinensis.
- http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/24047103 – Polysaccharides from Cordyceps sinensis mycelium ameliorate exhaustive swimming exercise-induced oxidative stress.
- http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/21549819 – Cordyceps sinensis promotes exercise endurance capacity of rats by activating skeletal muscle metabolic regulators.
- Huang BM, et al. Effects of Cordyceps sinensis on testosterone production in normal mouse Leydig cells. Life Sci. (2001).
- Wong KL, et al. Regulation of steroidogenesis by Cordyceps sinensis mycelium extracted fractions with (hCG) treatment in mouse Leydig cells. Arch Androl. (2007).
- Leu SF, et al. The in vivo and in vitro stimulatory effects of cordycepin on mouse leydig cell steroidogenesis. Biosci Biotechnol Biochem. (2011).
- Chang Y, et al. Effect of Cordyceps militaris supplementation on sperm production, sperm motility and hormones in Sprague-Dawley rats. Am J Chin Med. (2008).
- Shahed AR1, Kim SI, Shoskes DA. Down-regulation of apoptotic and inflammatory genes by Cordyceps sinensis extract in rat kidney following ischemia/reperfusion. Transplant Proc. (2001).
- Ding C1, et al. The synergistic effects of C. Sinensis with CsA in preventing allograft rejection. Front Biosci (Landmark Ed). (2009) .
- Jordan JL1, Hirsch GM, Lee TD. C. sinensis ablates allograft vasculopathy when used as an adjuvant therapy with cyclosporin A. Transpl Immunol. (2008) .
- Li Y1, et al. Clinical application of Cordyceps sinensis on immunosuppressive therapy in renal transplantation. Transplant Proc. (2009) .
- http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/23662613 – Antioxidant and immunomodulating activities of exo-and endopolysaccharide fractions from submerged mycelia cultures of culinary-medicinal mushrooms.
- http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/22348255 – Anti-inflammatory and antinociceptive effects of cordymin, a peptide purified from the medicinal mushroom Cordyceps sinensis.
- http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/22474523 – Effects of Extract from Solid-State Fermented Cordyceps sinensis on Type 2 Diabetes Mellitus.
- http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/24346509 – Cordycepin prevented IL-β-induced expression of inflammatory mediators in human osteoarthritis chondrocytes.
- http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/22068667 – The extract of Cordyceps sinensis inhibited airway inflammation by blocking NF-κB activity.
- http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/24121015 – Cordycepin: a bioactive metabolite with therapeutic potential.
- http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/22001898 – Effect of polysaccharide from cultured Cordyceps sinensis on immune function and anti-oxidation activity of mice exposed to 60Co.
- http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/20944118 – Inhibitory effect of Cordyceps sinensis on experimental hepatic metastasis of melanoma by suppressing tumor cell invasion.
- http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/19446414 – Cordysinocan, a polysaccharide isolated from cultured Cordyceps, activates immune responses in cultured T-lymphocytes and macrophages: signaling cascade and induction of cytokines.
- http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/18803231 – Antiaging effect of Cordyceps sinensis extract.