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Nutritional Supplement

Cordyceps

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

References

1. Yue QC, Ning W, Hui Z, Liang HQ. Differentiation of medicinal Cordyceps species by rDNA ITS sequence analysis. Planta Med 2002;68:635-39.

2. Ling YJ, Sun YJ, Zhang LvP, Zhang CK. Measurement of cordycepin and adenosine in stroma of Cordyceps sp. by capillary zone electrophoresis (CZE). J Biosci Bioeng 2002;94:371-74.

3. Yuan YS, Zhang L, Xu XF, et al. Determination of nucleosides in cordyceps by RP-HPLC. Chin Pharm J China 2002;37:776-8.

4. Isaka M, Tantichareon M, Thebtaranonth Y. Structures of cordypyridones A-D, antimalarial N-hydroxy- and N-methoxy-2-pyridones from the insect pathogenic fungus Cordyceps nipponica. J Org Chem 2001;66:4803-08.

5. Isaka M, Kongsaeree P, Thebtaranonth Y. Bioxanthracenes from the insect pathogenic fungus Cordyceps pseudomilitaris BCC 1620 II. Structure elucidation. J Antibiot 2001;54:36-43.

6. Isaka M, Tanticharoen M, Thebtaranonth Y. Cordyanhydrides A and B. Two unique anhydrides from the insect pathogenic fungus Cordyceps pseudomilitaris BCC 1620. Tetrahedron Lett 2000;41:1657-60.

7. Kim DH, Yang BK, Jeong SC, et al. A preliminary study on the hypoglycemic effect of the exo-polymers produced by five different medicinal mushrooms. J Microbiol Biotechn 2001;11:167-71.

8. Bok JW, Lermer L, Chilton J, et al. Antitumor sterols from the mycelia of Cordyceps sinensis. Phytochem 1999;51:891-898.

9. Nakamura K, Yamaguchi Y, Kagota S, et al. Activation of in vivo Kupffer cell function by oral administration of Cordyceps sinensis in rats. Jpn J Pharmacol 1999;79:505-8.

10. Nakamura K, Yamaguchi Y, Kagota S, et al. Inhibitory effect of Cordyceps sinensis on spontaneous liver metastasis of Lewis lung carcinoma and B16 melanoma cells in syngenic mice. Jpn J Pharmacol 1999;79:335-41.

11. Lui JL, Lui RY. Enhancement of cordyceps tail polysaccharide on cellular immunological function in vitro. Chin Pharm J China 2001;36:738-41 [in Chinese].

12. Shin KH, Lim SS, Lee SH, et al. Antioxidant and immunostimulating activities of the fruiting bodies of Paecilomyces japonica, a new type of Cordyceps sp. Ann NY Acad Sci 2001;928:261-73.

13. Yamaguchi Y, Kagota S, Nakamura K, et al. Antioxidant activity of the extracts from fruiting bodies of cultured Cordyceps sinensis. Phytother Res 2000;14:647-9.

14. Zhu JL, Liu C. Modulating effects of extractum semen persicae and cultivated cordyceps hyphae on immuno-dysfunction of inpatients with posthepatitic cirrhosis. Zhongguo Zhong Xi Yi Jie He Za Zhi 1992;12(4):207-9, 195 [in Chinese.

15. Nakamura K, Yamaguchi Y, Kagota S, et al. Activation of in vivo Kupffer cell function by oral administration of Cordyceps sinensis in rats. Jpn J Pharmacol 1999;79:505-8.

16. Hobbs C. Medicinal Mushrooms: An exploration of tradition, healing and culture. Santa Cruz, CA: Botanica Press, 1995.

17. Hobbs C. Medicinal Mushrooms: An exploration of tradition, healing and culture. Santa Cruz, CA: Botanica Press, 1995.

18. McGuffin M, Hobbs C, Upton R, Goldberg A, eds. American Herbal Products Association's Botanical Safety Handbook. Boca Raton, FL: CRC Press, 1998.

19. Wu TN, Yang KC, Wang CM, et al. Lead poisoning caused by contaminated Cordyceps, a Chinese herbal medicine: Two case reports. Sci Total Environ 1996;182:193-5.

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The information presented by Healthnotes is for informational purposes only. It is based on scientific studies (human, animal, or in vitro), clinical experience, or traditional usage as cited in each article. The results reported may not necessarily occur in all individuals. For many of the conditions discussed, treatment with prescription or over the counter medication is also available. Consult your doctor, practitioner, and/or pharmacist for any health problem and before using any supplements or before making any changes in prescribed medications. Information expires December 2020.