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Cordyceps

Plant Part Used

Mycelium

Active Constituents

Proteins, amino acids , polysaccharides (including cordysinocan), sterols and fatty acids, nucleosides (including 3'-deoxyadenosine [cordycepin]), vitamins B1, B2, B12, E, and K.(1),(37)

[span class=alert]This section is a list of chemical entities identified in this dietary supplement to possess pharmacological activity. This list does not imply that other, yet unidentified, constituents do not influence the pharmacological activity of this dietary supplement nor does it imply that any one constituent possesses greater influence on the overall pharmacological effect of this dietary supplement.[/span]

Introduction

Cordyceps is a unique black mushroom that extracts nutrients from and grows only on a caterpillar found in the high altitudes of Tibet and China. Cordyceps is one of the most valued medicinal agents in the Chinese Materia Medica.(2) Development of a patented lab fermentation process has allowed large-scale production and availability. Cordyceps has been used in traditional Chinese medicine as the herb of choice in lung and kidney problems, and as a general tonic for promoting longevity, vitality, and endurance.(3) The pharmaceutical immunosuppressive agent cyclosporine was isolated from a species of cordyceps. Cordyceps is beneficial in helping individuals with decreased energy restore their capacity to function at a greater level of activity.(38)

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.

Uses

Frequently Reported Uses

  • Supports wellness and longevity
  • Increases Stamina, Endurance
  • Stress, Reduces Tiredness And Fatigue
  • Liver, kidney and lung support
  • Immune support
Other Reported Uses
  • Antioxidant
  • Adjunctive Support In Cancer treatment, including chemotherapy and radiation
  • Antiinflammatory

Toxicities & Precautions

General

No known toxicity. There have been two case reports of lead poisoning from cordyceps supplementation.(4) Use only sources from reputable manufacturers that test for heavy metal contamination.

Health Conditions

Use caution in patients with bleeding disorders or planning surgery or dental work due to apparent PAF inhibitory activity in laboratory studies.(5)

Pregnancy/ Breast Feeding

If pregnant or nursing, consult a physician before use.

Age Limitations

Do not use in children under 2 years of age unless recommended by a physician.

Pharmacology

Cordyceps has been used in humans for centuries as a tonic for improving performance and vitality, with the proposed mechanism of action being improved oxygen consumption by the cardiopulmonary system under stress and increased tissue “steady state" energy levels. Cordyceps may modulate immune function and optimize endocrine systems, increasing physical strength and endurance.(6),(7)

Cordyceps has traditionally been used for its improvement in respiration and in individuals with decreased lung function, such as asthma and bronchitis, by increasing oxygenation (improving VO2 max by 9-15%).(8)

Immune Support

Cordyceps has reported immunomodulatory activity, with various fractions isolated from cordyceps either showing immune stimulation or immune suppression.(32),(33) Cordyceps is reported in laboratory studies to increase interleukin (IL)-10, IL-1beta, IL-6, IL-8 and TNF-alpha, and  suppress phytohemagglutinin (PHA)-induced production of IL-2, IL-4, IL-5, IFN-gamma and IL-12.(40)

One study reported that isolated fractions of cordyceps significantly inhibited the blastogenesis response, NK cell activity, and IL-2 production of human mononuclear cells (HMNC) stimulated by phytohemmaglutination.(34) TNF-alpha production in HMNC cultures was also blocked by the cordyceps fractions. These results indicated that these fractions of cordyceps were not cytotoxic on HMNC, and that immunosuppressive ingredients are contained in Cordyceps sinensis. Other studies have reported cordyceps beneficial for increasing the immune responses.(35),(36) Cordysinocan, a polysaccharide from cordyceps, is reported in laboratory studies to improve immune function by increasing IL-2 and IL-8 and increasing phagocytic activity and the enzymatic activity of acid phosphatase.(37) Cordyceps may also help balance Th1-type immunity, helping decreases inflammatory responses in the body.(41)

In an animal study, cordyceps has been reported to decrease the progression of autoimmune diseases such as lupus.(22) In the clinical presentation, the treated animal group had a reduction in lymphadenopathy, a delayed progression of proteinuria, and an improvement in kidney function, with histologic analysis of kidney tissue indicating that cordyceps may inhibit the mesangial proliferation that is evident in lupus nephritis. However, there was no significant change in immune complex deposition. The authors report that the study revealed cordyceps may be potentially useful for treating systemic lupus erythematosus in human patients, although more research needs to be performed in this area. Cordyceps was also reported to protect stem cells and red blood cells during chemotherapy and radiation.(23) Cordycepin has also been reported in an in vitro study to inhibit IL-1beta-induced chemokine production and MMP expression and block the p38/JNK/AP-1 signaling pathway in rheumatoid arthritis.(42)

Cordyceps has been reported to have anticancer and antitumor effects by decreasing proliferation and differentiation of cancerous cells and the immunomodulatory effects.(9),(10),(11),(12) Previous studies suggest that down-regulation of the major histocompatibility complex (MHC) antigens on the cell surface of certain tumors results in a decreased immune response. A study was performed to see if cordyceps had a modulatory effect on MHC class II antigen expression on hepatoma cells in vitro.(13) The cordyceps extract was found to increase the MHC class II antigen expression on the hepatoma cells in a dose-related reponse. The authors concluded that cordyceps, either alone or with IFN-gamma induction, increases the MHC class II antigen expression on hepatoma cell line. In an animal study, cordyceps was found to inhibit hepatic fibrogenesis, slow down the development of cirrhosis, and improve liver function by reducing PDGF expression, preventing HSC activation and deposition of procollagen I and III.(14) Cordyceps extracts have also been reported in in vitro studies to have antitumor effects in various cancer cell lines.(43),(44),(45)

Liver/Kidney Support

Administration of the cordyceps extract significantly increased the activity of hepatic glucokinase in these animals. Cordyceps has been used for decreasing the renal toxicity of aminoglycosides and cyclosporine(17),(18) and in individuals with chronic renal failure.(19) Kidney protection is claimed to be due to: protecting tubular cell sodium pump activity; attenuating tubular cell lysosome overfunction stimulated by phagocytosis of aminoglycoside; and decreasing tubular cell lipoperoxidation in response to toxic injury.(20),(21)

An extract of cordyceps was reported in a small clinical study to be effective in clinical renal transplant patients on cyclosporine, allowing for decreased dosages of cyclosporine and fewer side effects without an increased risk of acute rejection.(46) An in vitro study found that cordyceps decreased the negative effects of taxol chemotherapy on bone marrow function by protecting both hematopoietic progenitor cells directly and the bone marrow stem cells through its effects on osteoblast differentiation.(47)

Antioxidant

Cordyceps is an antioxidant that increases serum levels of the enzyme superoxide dismutase (SOD), thereby increasing free radical scavenging ability.(24) Cordyceps has antiarrhythmic effects, decreasing the heart rate and contractility in laboratory animals.(25) An in-vitro study reported that cordyceps may induce vasorelaxation by mediation of the vascular endothelium possibly by stimulating the release of the nitric oxide and endothelium-derived hyperpolarizing factor.(26) It has PAF inhibiting action in laboratory studies.(5) It has also been reported to positively affect blood lipid metabolism, and may therefore be useful in atherosclerosis.(27),(28)

Other Uses

Cordyceps has been reported to increase sexual vitality in both men and women and decrease male impotence. This may be due to an increase in sex hormones, by vasorelaxation or by directly acting on the sexual center of the brain and sex organs in parallel with the hypothalamo-pituitary-adrenocortical axis.(29) It may also reverse drug-induced impotence.(30) Cordyceps has reported MAO inhibiting ability in laboratory animals.(15),(31)

Cordyceps has been reported to have some hypoglycemic activity in laboratory animals.(15) A polysaccharide purified from a hot water extract of cordyceps was reported to significantly lower the plasma glucose level in hyperglycemic laboratory mice.(16)

References

  1. Xiao YQ. Studies on Chemical Constituents of Cordyceps sinensis. Chung Yao Tung Pao. Mar1983; 8(2):32-33.
  2. View Abstract: Zhu JS, Halpern GM, Jones K. The Scientific Rediscovery of An Ancient Chinese Herbal Medicine: Cordyceps sinensis: Part I. J Altern Complement Med. 1998;4(3):289-303.
  3. Sun YH. Cordyceps sinensis and Cultured Mycelia. Chung Yao Tung Pao. Dec1985;10(12):3-5.
  4. 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.
  5. Hammerschmidt DE. Szechwan purpura. N Engl J Med. May1980;302(21):1191-93.
  6. Bao TT, et al. Pharmacological actions of Cordyceps sinensis. Chung Hsi I Chieh Ho Tsa Chih. Jun1988;8(6):352-54.
  7. Chen YP. Studies on Immunological Actions of Cordyceps sinensis. I. Effect on Cellular Immunity. Chung Yao Tung Pao. Sept1983;8(5):33-35.
  8. 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.
  9. 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.
  10. 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.
  11. 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.
  12. View Abstract: Bok JW, Lermer L, Chilton J, et al. Antitumor Sterols from the Mycelia of Cordyceps sinensis. Phytochemistry. Aug1999;51(7):891-8.
  13. View Abstract: Chiu JH, Ju CH, Wu LH, et al. Cordyceps sinensis Increases the Expression of Major Histocompatibility Complex Class II Antigens on Human Hepatoma Cell Line HA22T/VGH Cells. Am J Chin Med. 1998;26(2):159-70.
  14. 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.
  15. View Abstract: Kiho T, et al. Polysaccharides in Fungi. XXXVI. Hypoglycemic Activity of a Polysaccharide (CS-F30) from the Cultural Mycelium of Cordyceps sinensis and Its Effect on Glucose Metabolism in Mouse Liver. Biol Pharm Bull. Feb1996;19(2):294-96.
  16. View Abstract: Kiho T, Ookubo K, Usui S, et al. Structural Features and Hypoglycemic Activity of a Polysaccharide (CS-F10) from the Cultured Mycelium of Cordyceps sinensis. Biol Pharm Bull. Sep1999;22(9):966-70.
  17. 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.
  18. 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.
  19. View Abstract: Guan YJ, et al. Effect of Cordyceps sinesis on T-lymphocyte Subsets in Chronic Renal Failure. Chung Kuo Chung Hsi I Chieh Ho Tsa Chih. Jun1992;12(6):338-39.
  20. View Abstract: Li LS, Zheng F, Liu ZH. Experimental Study on Effect of Cordyceps sinensis in Ameliorating Aminoglycoside Induced Nephrotoxicity. Chung Kuo Chung Hsi I Chieh Ho Tsa Chih. Dec1996;16(12):733-7.
  21. 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.
  22. View Abstract: Yang LY, Chen A, Kuo YC, et al. Efficacy of a Pure Compound H1-A Extracted from Cordyceps sinensis on Autoimmune Disease of MRL lpr/lpr Mice. J Lab Clin Med. Nov1999;134(5):492-500.
  23. Zhu J, et al. CordyMax Cs-4: A Scientific Product Review. Pharmanex Phytoscience Review Series. 1997.
  24. View Abstract: Liu Y, et al. Anti-oxidation of Paecilomyces sinensis. Chung Kuo Chung Yao Tsa Chih. Apr1991;16(4): 240-42.
  25. View Abstract: Mei QB, et al. Antiarrhythmic Effects of Cordyceps sinensis (Berk.) Sacc. Chung Kuo Chung Yao Tsa Chih. Oct1989;14(10):616-18.
  26. View Abstract: Chiou WF, Chang PC, Chou CJ, et al. Protein Constituent Contributes to the Hypotensive and Vasorelaxant Activities of Cordyceps sinensis. Life Sci. Feb2000;66(14):1369-76.
  27. 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.
  28. View Abstract: Yamaguchi Y, Kagota S, Nakamura K, et al. Inhibitory Effects of Water Extracts from Fruiting Bodies of Cultured Cordyceps sinensis on Raised Serum Lipid Peroxide Levels and Aortic Cholesterol Deposition in Atherosclerotic Mice. Phytother Res. Dec2000;14(8):650-2.
  29. Zhu J, et al. CordyMax Cs-4: A Scientific Product Revie. Pharmanex Phytoscience Review Series. 1997.
  30. Deng X, et al. Clinical Study of Fermentation Product of Cordyceps sinensis on Treatment of Hyposexuality. J Administration Traditional Chinese Med. 1995;5(supp):23-24.
  31. Xu WZ, et al. [Effects of Cordyceps Mycelia on Monoamine Oxidase and Immunity]. Shanghai J of Traditional Chinese Medicine. 1988;1:48-49.
  32. 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.
  33. 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.
  34. 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.
  35. 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.
  36. 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.
  37. Cheung JK, Li J, Cheung AW, et al. Cordysinocan, a polysaccharide isolated from cultured Cordyceps, activates immune responses in cultured T-lymphocytes and macrophages: signaling cascade and induction of cytokines. J Ethnopharmacol. 6 Jul 2009;124(1):61-68. Epub  11 Apr 2009.
  38. Zhou X, Gong Z, Su Y, Lin J, Tang K. Cordyceps fungi: natural products, pharmacological functions and developmental products. J Pharm Pharmacol. Mar 2009;61(3):279-291. Review.
  39. Cho HJ, Cho JY, Rhee MH, Kim HS, Lee HS, Park HJ. Inhibitory effects of cordycepin (3'-deoxyadenosine), a component of Cordyceps militaris, on human platelet aggregation induced by thapsigargin. J Microbiol Biotechnol. Jul 2007;17(7):1134-1138.
  40. Zhou X, Luo L, Dressel W, et al. Cordycepin is an immunoregulatory active ingredient of Cordyceps sinensis. Am J Chin Med. 2008;36(5):967-980.
  41. Li CY, Chiang CS, Tsai ML, et al. Two-sided effect of Cordyceps sinensis on dendritic cells in different physiological stages. J Leukoc Biol. Jun 2009;85(6):987-995. Epub  4 Mar 2009.
  42. Noh EM, Kim JS, Hur H, et al. Cordycepin inhibits IL-1beta-induced MMP-1 and MMP-3 expression in rheumatoid arthritis synovial fibroblasts. Rheumatology (Oxford). Jan 2009;48(1):45-48.
  43. Shi P, Huang Z, Tan X, Chen G. Proteomic detection of changes in protein expression induced by cordycepin in human hepatocellular carcinoma BEL-7402 cells. Methods Find Exp Clin Pharmacol. Jun 2008;30(5):347-353.
  44. Xiao JH, Zhong JJ. Secondary metabolites from Cordyceps species and their antitumor activity studies. Recent Pat Biotechnol. 2007;1(2):123-137. Review.
  45. Zhang QX, Wu JY. Cordyceps sinensis mycelium extract induces human premyelocytic leukemia cell apoptosis through mitochondrion pathway. Exp Biol Med (Maywood). Jan 2007;232(1):52-57.
  46. Li Y, Xue WJ, Tian PX, Ding XM, Yan H, Pan XM, Feng XS. Clinical application of Cordyceps sinensis on immunosuppressive therapy in renal transplantation. Transplant Proc. Jun 2009;41(5):1565-1569.
  47. Liu WC, Chuang WL, Tsai ML, Hong JH, McBride WH, Chiang CS. Cordyceps sinensis health supplement enhances recovery from taxol-induced leukopenia. Exp Biol Med (Maywood). Apr 2008;233(4):447-455.

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