Cordyceps sinensis – medicinal mushroom

Cordyceps sinensis is a wonderfully versatile mushroom, in terms of it’s many medicinal applications. Cordyceps sinensis has been applied medicinally for over 2000 years by doctors in China. Western medicine has not always adequately taken Eastern / herbal / traditional medicine into account. The recent discovery of the power of Cordyceps sinensis in the West is the reason for the explosion of popularity of the super mushroom.

Cordycepssinensis.org does make any medical claims, because the authors have no medical background, and are not qualified to make medical statements about Cordyceps sinensis. On Cordycepssinensis.org we will merely report some of the information we have gathered over the years of researhing Cordyceps sinensis.

A Chinese friend introduced us to Cordyceps sinensis, and we were so amazed by the powerful effects experimenting with it had on our health, that we began reading about it, and now we even run Cordycepssinensis.org as a hobby. Much of the information about Cordyceps sinensis comes from our extensive research on the subject, including conversations with people during our trips to China, including several traditional Chinese healers.

On Cordycepssinensis.org we will attempt to provide a good impression of the properties and potential applications of the medicinal mushroom Cordyceps sinensis.

The Healing power of Cordyceps sinensis

cordyceps sinensis fatigue syndrome

cordyceps sinensis can help people with fatigue syndrome

Cordyceps sinensis is seen as a very precious medicinal mushroom in China and other Asian countries. For over 2000 years, Cordyceps sinensis has been used as a tonic, to increase health and vitality, combat aging and prevent various (age-related) diseases. Cordyceps sinensis is used in traditional Chinese medicine to benefit the working of the kidney and lung meridians. The strengthening of these meridians is said to strengthen the body, making it resilliant against fatigue, night sweats, lower back-pain, decreased libido, impotence, hyperglycemia, severe exhaustion, respiratory disease, cardiovascular disease, kidney disease and even liver diseases. Cordyceps sinensis has been used medicinally in China for over 2000 years, but has only officially been classified as a medicine in Chinese medicine since 1964.

There are several varieties:

Varieties of Cordyceps sinensis

The Winter Worm and Summer Grass Varieties
Certain varieties of Cordyceps grow parasitically on the caterpillars of particular moths. Some species of Cordyceps are called “winter worm” (these mushrooms grow on a caterpillar, after killing it and filling it with mycelium) and “summer grass”. These endangered mushrooms only occurs in the high mountains (the Qinghai-Tibetan Plateau) in southwestern China and Tibet. Fortunately, the mycelia of Cordyceps sinensis can also be grown domestically, using a substrate such as rice. Researchers have found that the mycelia of domestic Cordyceps sinensis varieties contain the same pharmacological components and medicinal properties as the original, wild Cordyceps. This also applies to (domestic) mycelia of Cordyceps militaris.

Cordyceps Sinensis and cardiovascular health:

Cordyceps sinensis has several components that help explain why the medicinal mushroom is so good for the heart and blood vessels. Cordyceps supports a regular heart rhythm, lowers cholesterol, inhibits the clotting of platelets, has an anti-inflammatory and antioxidant effect and improves blood flow to the heart muscles. In an animal study, Cordyceps sinensis proved to have a healing effect on hypertension.

Laboratory animals on a cholesterol-rich diet which received a hot water extract of Cordyceps sinensis, had lower total cholesterol levels than the controls. The animal study suggests that Cordyceps sinensis counteracts atherosclerosis by improving blood lipids. Various human studies have shown that the use of Cordyceps (about 3 grams per day) leads to significant reduction in cholesterol and triglyceride levels, increase and improve the ratio between HDL and LDL cholesterol levels.

If you still need a reason to love Cordyceps sinensis, just consider how good it is for your heart!

Cordyceps Sinensis nourishes yin and boosts yang

Cordyceps is classified in traditional Chinese medicine as a tonic that nourishes the Yin (Yin stands for structure) and strengthens Yang (Yang stands for function).

The Yin qualities of Cordyceps sinensis are in its antioxidant activity and immune system strengthening properties. Cordyceps stimulates and strengthens the immune system when it is weakened or requires additional support (against infectious diseases, aging, cancer), and inhibits and regulates the immune system when it is overactive (chronic inflammatory diseases) or out of balance (stress, allergies, autoimmune diseases).

The Yang reinforcing quality of Cordyceps expresses itself by increasing the cellular (mitochondrial) energy production and partly by reducing oxidative stress and improving glucose metabolism. Several human studies, including one placebo-controlled study of older people with chronic fatigue, confirmed that Cordyceps increases vitality. Symptoms such as fatigue, cold intolerance, dizziness, tinnitus and memory problems significantly decreased with use of Cordyceps, compared to the control group. In another placebo-controlled study of healthy elderly people, endurance and maximum oxygen capacity significantly increased during exercise (cycling on a stationary bike) after the use of Cordyceps.

A simple and reliable method to see if a preparation has an effect on endurance and fatigue, is to conduct an animal experiment. It may sound cruel, but it is real proof. In an experiment in which mice are forced to swim until they are completely exhausted, it can be measured if mice that have received a supplement have greater endurance. This test used supplementation with a (hot) water extract of Cordyceps sinensis (rich in polysaccharides) to significantly increase endurance and decrease fatigue, partly by improving stress tolerance. The acute stress situation led to the control animals increasing pressure on the adrenal glands and reducing the size of the liver, spleen, thymus and thyroid functions. In the animals that received cordyceps extract, no effect was measured on the stress scale and the weight of these organs. In other words, despite the incredible stress of being to swim for their lives, mice did not react adversely to stress becasue of Cordyceps sinensis. Image all the stressed out people out there… Imagine how good it would be for their health to take Cordyceps sinensis!

Cordyceps sinensis can also benefit people by improving energy production, antioxidant uptake, immunocompetence and stress resistance to delay the aging process.

Cordyceps Sinensis and sexuality and fertility

Cordyceps sinensis is known as an aphrodisiac, which increases the libido in both men and women. This is especially considered to be the case with those people above… a certain age. This is partly because Cordyceps sinensis enhances the biosynthesis of steroid hormones (such as cortisol, testosterone and estrogen). The production of these hormones decreases with age, leading to a decrease of the libido. Who needs blue chemical pills, when there is such a natural, healthy option?

Cordyceps has also been used traditionally for a long time to enhance the fertility of both men and women. Scientists believe that Cordyceps is a suitable supplement for enhancing female fertility and improving the success rate of in-vitro fertilization. In-vitro studies have shown that Cordyceps sinensis produces 17β-estradiol (by ovary cells) and dose-dependently stimulates the expression of enzymes, including StAR (steroidogenic acute regulatory protein) and aromatase.

Cordyceps Sinensis and Health

Cordyceps Sinensis treatment for Infectious Diseases

Cordyceps sinensis stimulates innate immunity and includes anti-fungal, anti-viral (including HIV), antibacterial (including clostridium, streptococci) and larvicidal properties. Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) practitioners often recommend Cordyceps sinensis to increase immune resistance to infections like colds and the flu.

Cordyceps Sinensis treatment for Chronic inflammatory diseases

MMPs (matrix metalloproteinases) are key enzymes in the degradation of the extracellular matrix. Activation of MMPs plays a central role in chronic inflammatory diseases such as rheumatoid arthritis, an autoimmune disease characterized by hyperplasia of the synovium * (joint lining) and progressive joint destruction. MMP-1 and MMP-3 are produced by connective tissue cells (fibroblasts) in the synovium.

Inflammatory cytokines, particularly IL-1β (interleukin-1beta) and TNF-α (tumor necrosis factor-alpha), precautions rheumatics damage the joints by increasing local production and activity of MMPs and chemokines. In an in vitro study with synovial fibroblasts from rheumatoid arthritis patients, researchers concluded that cordycepine, a major constituent of Cordyceps sinensis, IL-1β stimulated the production of MMP-1, MMP3 and chemokines inhibits strongly and dose-dependent.

Cordyceps Sinensis Treatment for Illness of the Liver and

Kidneys

Cordyceps sinensis stimulates the liver (including assistance to detoxification processes), supports the immune system in fighting (viral) liver infections and inhibits operative changes in the liver (fibrosis, cirrhosis). The medicinal mushroom is often (complementary) used in China for the treatment of liver diseases such as hepatitis A, B and C, liver fibrosis and cirrhosis. In a clinical study where a blend of medicinal mushrooms such as Cordyceps were used to measure effectiveness of the antiviral drug lamivudine in the treatment of hepatitis B, it helped significantly. In another study, liver tests improved the health of all 22 subjects with liver cirrhosis (hepatitis) after three months of 6 to 9 grams of Cordyceps ingestd daily.

Cordyceps sinensis is used in Asian countries to treat kidney disease. The fungus protects the kidneys from damage (drug induced) oxidative stress and inflammation and deterioration of kidney functions. In several human studies involving patients with renal failure, the efficacy of Cordyceps was investigated. The longest duration (10-12 months) used the test subjects 3 to 5 grams of Cordyceps per day, resulting in significant improvement of renal function.

Cordyceps Sinensis treatment for Respiratory Illness

Cordyceps is used in TCM within the various symptoms and diseases of the airways such as coughing, mucus production, shortness of breath, asthma and COPD.  Research is needed to determine the effectiveness of Cordyceps to better identify these indications.

Cordyceps Sinensis treatment for Cancer

There is much experimental evidence from in vitro studies and animal studies that Cordyceps sinensis an inhibitory effect on the onset and progression of cancer, especially polysaccharides in Cordyceps have a strong anti-cancer activity, partly by strong activation of the immune. * Also sterols and adenosine in Cordyceps have antitumor activity. The medicinal mushroom in countries like Japan, Korea and China by cancer chemotherapy or radiation in addition to frequently used for side effects of conventional treatments such as immunosuppression and the combat effectiveness of cancer therapy to increase.

It is not yet clear how Cordyceps inhibits cancer cell growth. Scientific evidence suggests that several factors:
• Strengthens the immune system and the non-specific immunity;
• Selective inhibition of RNA synthesis, allowing the protein synthesis in cancer cells is disrupted;
• Inhibition of angiogenesis (formation of new blood vessels in cancer tissue);
• Induction of tumorcelapoptose (programmed cell death);
• Regulation of the disturbed signal transduction in cancer cells (signal transduction is the communication of cells with their environment through receptors and signaling molecules);
• Activity as an antioxidant and free radical scavenger;
• Inhibition of celmutaties;
• Inhibiting the replication of tumor-inducing virus;
• Induction of methylation of nucleic acids.

Cordyceps supports recovery after cancer treatment. Chemotherapy and radiation often lead to leukopenia (deficiency of white blood cells). Researchers showed in animal studies that Cordyceps sinensis provides for restoring the production of white blood cells after chemotherapy or radiation by restoring bone marrow function.

Cordyceps Sinensis to offset transplant rejection

Cordyceps sinensis supplementation inhibits the modulation of the immune rejection of transplanted organs and tissues (heart, kidney, skin,). This has been demonstrated in experimental animal research. Acute rejection of organ and tissue transplants can be successfully suppressed with cyclosporin A. Cyclosporin A inhibits the activity of certain inflammatory cells (CD4 + T-cells) that are largely responsible for acute rejection, other inflammatory cells (CD8 + T cells) play a modest role in acute rejection. After some years, many transplants, despite the use of cyclosporin A, yet repelled due to allograft vasculopathy (degenerative changes of the blood vessels in the graft) caused by CD8 + T cells. After three years in 75% of cases clear allograft vasculopathy occurred after 10 years in 90% of cases. Cordyceps sinensis is able (in vitro) the activity of CD8 + T cells and significantly inhibit (in vivo) allograft vasculopathy counter transplanted organ or tissue making it more “life”.

The effects of Cordyceps Sinensis on Glucose Metabolism

Numerous animal studies have shown that Cordyceps sinensis helps in preventing hyperglycemia (diabetes type 1 or 2) and provides improvements in the (peripheral) insulin sensitivity.

Cordyceps provides for: improvement of insulin secretion by the pancreas and / or inhibition of insulin degradation, reduction of oxidative stress, improvement of glucose-regulating enzymes in the liver (glucokinase, hexokinase), promoting a gradual absorption of glucose from the gastrointestinal tract. In an animal model for insulin-dependent diabetes were orally administered preparations of the mycelium and fruiting bodies of Cordyceps sinensis have similar anti-hyperglycemic effect (determined by oral glucose tolerance test, postprandial * and fasting blood glucose and serum fructosamine). with diabetes, the animals ate and drank less and had less weight than the controls, suggesting that Cordyceps diabetes and liver dysfunction associated catabolism * counters.

More research is desirable to determine whether supplementation with Cordyceps sinensis in diabetics and people with an increased risk of diabetes by insulin resistance (metabolic syndrome) helps to improve glucose metabolism.

In a clinical study, 95% of the diabetic C 3 grams sinensis daily intakes, glycemic levels seen, compared to 54% in the group receiving another treatment was given. In healthy subjects took Cordyceps (3 grams per day) also improved glycemic control with less pronounced fluctuations of glucose over during the day (within the normal range).

The effects of Cordyceps Sinensis on Mood and cognition

The risk of cognitive decline and dementia increases with age. Researchers have found a significant increase in the activity of antioxidant enzymes (glutathione peroxidase, superoxidedismutase, catalase), whose activity was decreased by the aging process. The (ultra) structure of the hippocampus, a brain area in which degenerative changes had occurred, increased strongly by supplementation with Cordyceps. The research suggests that Cordyceps sinensis helps keep the brains healthy with age, both structurally and functionally, partly by improving the antioxidant status.

Since fatigue and depression are closely linked, researchers wanted to know if Cordyceps sinensis has an antidepressant effect. They found confirmation of this hypothesis in a widely used animal model for depression (tail suspension test), in which cordyceps extract (obtained by supercritical fluid extraction with CO2) a significant antidepressant effect showed. The researchers found that the antidepressant activity partly based on influencing the adrenergic * and dopaminergic * systems (and not the serotonergic system). According to the “monoamine hypothesis” monoamines * (norepinephrine, dopamine, serotonin) play an important role in the development of depression symptoms.

Cordyceps sinensis broth – a super healthy tonic!

The following broth can be made using Cordyceps sinensis. It is a real health tonic!

Ingredients:

  • Cordyceps sinensis
  • Chinese Yam
  • Red Medeberry (or goji berries)
  • Lotus seed
  • Longan pulp
  • Dried orange peel
  • sand root Ginseng
  • Jade bamboo
 cordyceps sinensis broth


cordyceps sinensis broth

Add the mix to chickensoup broth. Boil the ingredients together for at least 2 or 3 hours. Enjoy!

Other species of Cordyceps

This website is dedicated to the almost magically healthy mushroom Cordyceps sinensis. But there are other types of Cordyceps, and this fascinating video shows how – as good news as Cordyceps are for humans – quite the opposite is true for insects. The “killer fungus” infects insects, kills them, and turns them into a source of food!

Cordyceps sinensis and Celiac disease

There is no cure for Celiac disease, other than completely eliminating gluten from the diet. People with celiac disease who do not get a Celiac disease diagnosis for a long time, can suffer from serious conditions as a result. Cordyceps sinensis has been shown to have a positive effect on people recovering from celiac disease. People who are not sure if they are able to tolerate gluten should consider getting a gluten intolerance test. Once gluten intolerance has been determined, further testing is needed to determine Celiac disease.