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What is it? Overview Usage Side Effects and Warnings

Cordyceps Usage

Written by FoundHealth.

What Is Cordyceps Used for Today?

Cordyceps is widely marketed today as treatment for many conditions. However, there is no reliable scientific evidence that it actually provides any medical benefits.

Most research on cordyceps was done in China and is not up to modern scientific standards. In general, double-blind , placebo-controlled studies are the most reliable form of evidence. (For information on the reasons why, see Why Does This Database Rely on Double-blind Studies? ) However, such studies have to be performed and reported according to certain standards. Although several double-blind studies have been reported on cordyceps, they all fall considerably short of the level necessary for scientific validity. These somewhat dubious double-blind trials hint that cordyceps might be helpful for reducing high cholesterol 1 and improving male sexual function . 2 Evidence is more negative than positive regarding whether cordyceps is helpful for enhancing sports performance . 3 4 Weak evidence hints that cordyceps may modulate the immune system, which means that it stimulates some aspects of the immune system while suppressing others. 5 6 7 8 9 On this basis, it has been tried in China as an aid in organ transplant surgery 10 and for the treatment of viral hepatitis 11 and lupus . 12 Highly preliminary test-tube and animal studies hint that cordyceps may help fight stress , 13 control blood sugar levels (potentially making it useful in diabetes ), 14 15 reduce cancer risk , 16 lower high blood pressure , 17 and help protect the kidney against damage caused by the drugs cyclosporin and gentamycin . 18 19 Other test-tube studies hint that cordyceps may stimulate production of hormones, such as cortisone and testosterone. 20 21 22 23 24 However, contrary to what some websites say, these studies are far too preliminary to indicate any therapeutic hormonal effect.


  1. Shao G., You ZH, Cu XC, et al. Treatment of hyperlipidemia with Cordyceps sinensis. A double blind placebo control trial. Inter J Oriental Med. 1990;15:77-80.
  2. Zhu JS, Halpern GM, Jones K. The scientific rediscovery of an ancient Chinese herbal medicine: Cordyceps sinensis. Part I. J Alt Comp Med. 1998;4:289-303.
  3. Parcell AC, Smith JM, Schulthies SS, et al. Cordyceps sinensis (CordyMax Cs-4) supplementation does not improve endurance exercise performance. Int J Sport Nutr Exerc Metab. 2004;14:236-242.
  4. Xiao Y, Huang XZ, Chen G, et al. Increased aerobic capacity in healthy elderly human adults given a fermentation product of Cordyceps Cs-4. Med Sci Sports Exerc. 1999;31(suppl.): S174.
  5. Chen DM, Zhang SL, Li ZN, Cheng ZQ, Liu XP. Effect of natural cordyceps and the cultured mycelia of Cordyceps sinensis on murine immune organs and functions of mononuclear phagocyte system. Chin J lntegr Trad West Med. 1985;5:4241.
  6. Chen GZ, Chen GL, Tang QM, et al. Effects of alcoholic extract Cordyceps sinensis on T-lymphocyte subsets. Bulletin of Hunan Medical College. 1987;12:311-314.
  7. Koh JH, Yu KW, Suh HJ, Choi YM, Ahn TS. Activation of macrophages and the intestinal immune system by an orally administered decoction from cultured mycelia of Cordyceps sinensis. Biosci BiotechnolBiochem. 2002;66:407-411.
  8. Kuo YC, Tsai WJ, Shiao MS, Chen CF, Lin CY. Cordyceps sinensis as an immunomodulatory agent. Am J Chin Med. 1996;24:111-125.
  9. Weng SC, Chou CJ, Lin LC, Tsai WJ, Kuo YC. Immunomodulatory functions of extracts from the Chinese medicinal fungus Cordyceps cicadae. J Ethnopharmacol. 2002;83:79-85.
  10. Yu J, Liu JW, Wu Y, et al. The application of cultivated Cordyceps sinensis in renal transplantation. J Am Soc Nephrology ;5: 1016.
  11. Yang YZ, Wang LS, Deng HY, et al. Short-term observation of treating chronic hepatitis B and post-hepatitis cirrhosis with XinGanBao. Research of Chinese Materia Medica. 1994;1:19-20.
  12. Fu T, Lin J. Effect of Cordyceps sinensis on inhibiting systemic lupus erythematosus in MRL 1pr/1pr rats. Zhong Yao Cai. 2001;24:658-659.
  13. Koh JH, Kim KM, Kim JM, Song JC, Suh HJ. Antifatigue and antistress effect of the hot-water fraction from mycelia of Cordyceps sinensis. Biol Pharm Bull. 2003;26:691-694.
  14. Kiho T, Ookubo K, Usui S, Ukai S, Hirano K. Structural features and hypoglycemic activity of a polysaccharide (CS-F10) from the cultured mycelium of Cordyceps sinensis. Biol Pharm Bull. 1999;22:966-970.
  15. Zhao CS, Yin WT, Wang JY, Zhang Y, Yu H, Cooper R, Smidt C, Zhu JS. CordyMax Cs-4 improves glucose metabolism and increases insulin sensitivity in normal rats. J Altern Complement Med. 8(3):309-14.
  16. Bok JW, Lermer L, Chilton J, Klingeman HG, Towers GH. Antitumor sterols from the mycelia of Cordycepssinensis. Phytochemistry. 1999;51:891-898.
  17. Chiou WF, Chang PC, Chou CJ, Chen CF. Protein constituent contributes to the hypotensive and vasorelaxant activities of Cordyceps sinensis. Life Sci. 2000;66:1369-1376.
  18. Zhao X, Li L. Cordyceps sinensis in protection of the kidney from cyclosporine A nephrotoxicity [in Chinese]. Zhonghua Yi Xue Za Zhi. 1993;73:410-412, 447.
  19. Bao ZD, Wu ZG, Zheng F. Amelioration of aminoglycoside nephrotoxicity by Cordycepssinensis in old patients [in Chinese]. Chin J Integrated Med. 1994;14:259,271-273.
  20. Hsu CC, Tsai SJ, Huang YL, Huang BM. Regulatory mechanism of Cordyceps sinensis mycelium on mouse Leydig cell steroidogenesis. FEBS Lett. 2003;543:140-143.
  21. Huang BM, Chuang YM, Chen CF, Leu SF. Effects of extracted Cordyceps sinensis on steroidogenesis in MA-10 mouse Leydig tumor cells. Biol Pharm Bull. 2000;23:1532-1535.
  22. Hsu CC, Huang YL, Tsai SJ, Sheu CC, Huang BM. In vivo and in vitro stimulatory effects of Cordycepssinensis on testosterone production in mouse Leydig cells. Life Sci. 2003;73:2127-2136.
  23. Huang BM, Hsu CC, Tsai SJ, Sheu CC, Leu SF. Effects of Cordyceps sinensis on testosterone production in normal mouse Leydig cells. Life Sci. 2001;69:2593-2602.
  24. Huang BM, Ju SY, Wu CS, Chuang WJ, Sheu CC, Leu SF. Cordyceps sinensis and its fractions stimulate MA-10 mouse Leydig tumor cell steroidogenesis. J Androl. 2001;22:831-837.


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