Herb of The Month - Cordyceps

Author: Alyce Cimino   Date Posted:1 August 2017 

Herb of the month – Cordyceps sinensis

Mushrooms have been used for food, medicine and in spiritual practices across the world since at least 500BC. This special fungus was discovered by chance. Farmers would observe animals eating the wild fungus and see the animals growing strong. Over time farmers started to use the fungus by drying it in the sun and adding the powder to teas.

Cordyceps is also known by the other names Caterpillar Fungus or Caterpillar mushroom; this is due to how the fungus is grown. It is actually parasitic in nature, it grows on a specific type of caterpillar and as time passes, it actually ends up eating the caterpillar host!

This unique mushroom is often used in Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM), with some traditional healers recommending Cordyceps as a general tonic. Often used for its role on improving energy, stamina, endurance, balancing immunity and improving sleeping patterns. With the new attention that medicinal mushrooms are getting, we can expect more and more research around their many benefits.

A closer look at Cordyceps:

Immune supporting

Over the recent years, researchers have been observing the role of mushrooms on the human body. This means that we are learning more and more about how mushrooms can benefit our long term health. One study has found that when consumed, Cordyceps may increase the production of our natural killer cells, these cells are our first line of immune defence [4]. Through this research it has been suggested that Cordyceps has an immune-protective role and help to naturally support our immune system and its function [3].

Endurance building

Cordyceps was used traditionally for its ability to boost stamina and endurance. One double bind, placebo-controlled study was conducted to observe the effects of Cordyceps and physical performance. The study found the people using a Cordyceps formulation had improved anaerobic physical performance compared to those in the placebo group [3]. Cordyceps is popular amongst the elderly Chinese community and is traditionally used to help support energy levels and stamina.

Anti-inflammatory

Another popular research area for Cordyceps, is its role on general inflammation within the body. Thought to be due to the natural occurring polysaccharides, peptides and other active components, Cordyceps has been found to have positively correlation towards reducing general inflammation in the body [1].

Sexual Tonic

Mushrooms are often a key part of Chinese herbal medicine, another traditional use of Cordyceps is as a sexual tonic amongst the elderly. Often thought of to boost stamina and longevity.

Cordyceps is often found added into capsules and tablet formulations, you are also able to find it as a powder or made into a tea.

*Always speak with your health care provider before starting a new supplement or health routine.

Reference list:

1. Elsayed EA, El Enshasy H, Wadaan MAM, Aziz R. Mushrooms: A Potential Natural Source of Anti-Inflammatory Compounds for Medical Applications. Mediators of Inflammation. 2014;2014:805841. doi:10.1155/2014/805841.

3. Panda A & Swain K., 2011, Traditional uses and medicinal potential or Cordyceps sinensis of Sikkim, Journal of Ayurveda and Integrative Medicine, 2(1): 9–13.

4. Soltani M, Kamyab H, El-Enshasy A., 2013, ‘Molecular Weight (Mw) and Monosaccharide Composition (MC): Two Major Factors Affecting the Therapeutic Action of Polysaccharides Extracted from Cordyceps sinensis-Mini Review’, Journal of pure and applied microbiology, Vol 7 (3), p. 1601-1613 

Written by Alyce Cimino

Alyce Cimino (BHSc Naturopathy) is a qualified Naturopath with a passion for nutrition, food as medicine and helping others achieve their health goals towards a happy and healthy lifestyle. Alyce believes health begins with delicious whole foods and in her spare time you can find her in the kitchen creating something deliciously healthy or at the beach enjoying the sunshine and ocean.

Alyce has a love for herbal teas, but all teas are better with a little raw cheesecake on the side.


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