Cordyceps

Plant Part Used

Mycelium

Introduction

Cordyceps is a unique black mushroom that extracts nutrients from and grows on a caterpillar found in the high altitudes of Tibet and China. Even though it is difficult to find and harvest, cordyceps is one of the most valued medicinal agents in the Chinese medical tradition.

Fortunately for consumers, a patented lab fermentation process has allowed large-scale production and availability of cordyceps. While it has served for centuries as a general tonic for promoting longevity, vitality, and endurance, it is now being researched for its potential for increasing energy, aiding respiration, treating kidney disorders, and more.

Interactions and Depletions

Interactions

Dosage Info

Dosage Range

2 capsules (525mg each) (standardized extract), 2-3 times a day.

Most Common Dosage

2 capsules (525mg each) (standardized extract), 2 times a day.

Standardization

[span class=doc]Standardization represents the complete body of information and controls that serve to enhance the batch to batch consistency of a botanical product, including but not limited to the presence of a marker compound at a defined level or within a defined range.[/span]

The most current available medical and scientific literature indicates that this dietary supplement should be standardized to 0.14% adenosine and 5% mannitol per dose.

Reported Uses

Cordyceps’ ability to increase vitality and respiratory health is linked, studies suggest, to its role in improving the availability of oxygen to the lungs and bloodstream. (1) These functions could prove useful for the treatment of asthma and bronchitis.

In addition to supporting the respiratory system, cordyceps may help the body ward off certain types of cancer. Studies have suggested that the mushroom can decrease the reproduction of cancer cells. (2) , (3) , (4) , (5) Cordyceps has also been used to help alleviate some of the side effects of chemotherapy and radiation therapy. (6)

Cordyceps has also affected the activity of the immune system. Numerous studies show opposite results. Depending on the part of cordyceps studied, either immune system stimulation or immune system suppression was noted. (7) , (8) , (9) , (10) , (11) Uneducated use of cordyceps in people with diseases affecting the immune system, including people using medications to either stimulate or suppress their immune system could cause serious problems with their therapy.

Other studies have focused on Cordyceps’ role in supporting kidney function. It is believed that cordyceps may help facilitate the processes by which toxins are processed in the kidneys, while strengthening the overall health of the organ. (12) , (13) , (14)

Cordyceps’ role as an antioxidant, as well as its possible role in supporting cardiovascular health, are also part of its list of potential benefits. One study suggests that cordyceps increases the body’s supply of an enzyme that hunts down free radicals. (15) This may explain its role as an antioxidant. The risk of atherosclerosis may be lowered by cordyceps because of its ability to reduce blood cholesterol levels in some studies. (16)

Toxicities & Precautions

Introduction

[span class=alert]Be sure to tell your pharmacist, doctor, or other health care providers about any dietary supplements you are taking. There may be a potential for interactions or side effects.[/span]

General

This dietary supplement from reputable manufacturers is considered safe when used in accordance with proper dosing guidelines. There have been two case reports of lead poisoning from supplementation with apparently contaminated cordyceps. (17)

If you are planning to have any type of surgery or dental work, stop using this dietary supplement for at least 14 days prior to the procedure.

Health Conditions

If you have a bleeding disorder talk to your doctor before taking this dietary supplement.

Pregnancy/ Breast Feeding

To date, the medical literature has not reported any adverse effects related to fetal development during pregnancy or to infants who are breast-fed. Yet little is known about the use of this dietary supplement while pregnant or breast-feeding. Therefore, it is recommended that you inform your healthcare practitioner of any dietary supplements you are using while pregnant or breast-feeding.

Age Limitations

To date, the medical literature has not reported any adverse effects specifically related to the use of this dietary supplement in children. Since young children may have undiagnosed allergies or medical conditions, this dietary supplement should not be used in children under 10 years of age unless recommended by a physician.

References

  1. View Abstract: Lei J, et al. Pharmacological Study on Cordyceps sinensis (Berk.) Sacc. and ze-e Cordyceps. Chung Kuo Chung Yao Tsa Chih. Jun1992;17(6):364-66.
  2. View Abstract: Zhou DH, et al. Effect of Jinshuibao Capsule on the Immunological Function of 36 Patients with Advanced Cancer. Chung Kuo Chung Hsi I Chieh Ho Tsa Chih. Aug1995;15(8):476-78.
  3. View Abstract: Chen YJ, et al. Effect of Cordyceps sinensis on the Proliferation and Differentiation of Human Leukemic U937 Cells. Life Sci. 1997;60(25):2349-59.
  4. View Abstract: Yoshida JJ, et al. Antitumor Activity of an Extract of Cordyceps sinensis (Berk.) Sacc. against Murine Tumor Cell Lines. Jpn J Exp Med. Aug1989;59(4):157-61.
  5. View Abstract: Liu YK, Shen W. Inhibitive effect of cordyceps sinensis on experimental hepatic fibrosis and its possible mechanism. World J Gastroenterol. Mar2003;9(3):529-33.
  6. Zhu J, et al. CordyMax Cs-4: A Scientific Product Review. Pharmanex Phytoscience Review Series. 1997.
  7. View Abstract: Zhu XY, Yu HY. Immunosuppressive Effect of Cultured Cordyceps sinensis on Cellular Immune Response. Chung Hsi I Chieh Ho Tsa Chih. Aug1990;10(8):485-7, 454.
  8. View Abstract: Liu P, Zhu J, Huang Y, et al. Influence of Cordyceps sinensis (Berk.) Sacc. and Rat Serum Containing Same Medicine on IL-1, IFN and TNF Produced by Rat Kupffer Cells. Chung Kuo Chung Yao Tsa Chih. Jun1996;21(6):367-9, 384.
  9. View Abstract: Kuo YC, Tsai WJ, Shiao MS, et al. Cordyceps sinensis As An Immunomodulatory Agent. Am J Chin Med. 1996;24(2):111-25.
  10. View Abstract: Yamaguchi N, Yoshida J, Ren LJ, et al. Augmentation of Various Immune Reactivities of Tumor-bearing Hosts With An Extract of Cordyceps sinensis. Biotherapy. 1990;2(3):199-205.
  11. View Abstract: Zhu JS, Halpern GM, Jones K. The Scientific Rediscovery of a Precious Ancient Chinese Herbal Regimen: Cordyceps sinensis: Part II. J Altern Complement Med. 1998;4(4):429-57.
  12. View Abstract: Bao ZD, et al. Amelioration of Aminoglycoside Nephrotoxicity by Cordyceps sinensis in Old Patients. Chung Kuo Chung Hsi I Chieh Ho Tsa Chih. May1994;14(5):271-73.
  13. View Abstract: Zhao X, et al. Cordyceps sinensis in Protection of the Kidney from Cyclosporine A Nephrotoxicity. Chung Hua I Hsueh Tsa Chih. Jul1993;73(7):410-12.
  14. View Abstract: Zhen F, et al. Mechanisms and Therapeutic Effect of Cordyceps sinensis (CS) on Aminoglycoside Induced Acute Renal Failure (ARF) in Rats. Chung Kuo Chung Hsi I Chieh Ho Tsa Chih. May1992;12(5):288-91.
  15. View Abstract: Liu Y, et al. Anti-oxidation of Paecilomyces sinensis. Chung Kuo Chung Yao Tsa Chih. Apr1991;16(4): 240-42.
  16. Shao G. Treatment of Hyperlipidemia with Cultivated Cordyceps--A Double-blind, Randomized Placebo Control Trial. Chung Hsi I Chieh Ho Tsa Chih. Nov1985;5(11):652-54.
  17. View Abstract: Wu TN, Yang KC, Wang CM, et al. Lead Poisoning Caused by Contaminated Cordyceps, A Chinese Herbal Medicine: Two Case Reports. Sci Total Environ. Apr1996;182(1-3):193-5.