Parts Used & Where Grown
Cordyceps sinensis in its sexual stage is the primary form used.1 However, more than ten related species (in sexual and asexual stages) as well as artificially cultured mycelium are today used as substitutes in commercial preparations. C. sinensis, C. ophioglossoides, C. capita, and C. militaris are the most common species in commerce.
How It Works
Cordyceps contains a wide variety of potentially important constituents, including polysaccharides, ophiocordin (an antibiotic compound), cordycepin, cordypyridones, nucleosides, bioxanthracenes, sterols, alkenoic acids, and exo-polymers.2,3,4,5,6,7,8
Many studies on the medicinal effects of cordyceps do not give a clear picture of its actions because many of the studies (1) are in animals or test tubes; (2) use different species, preparations, and intake levels; (3) inject cordyceps and/or its constituents rather than administering them orally; or (4) are not available in English and, therefore, cannot be reviewed for accuracy and design.
There are some clinical trials supporting the efficacy of cordyceps, particularly for liver, kidney, and immune problems. A number of studies indicate that cordyceps may have a anti-cancer, anti-metastatic, immuno-enhancing, and antioxidant effects.9,10,11,12,13