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Cordyceps sinensis

Cordyceps sinensis


Used in Chinese medicine for centuries, Cordyceps sinensis is a member of the Ascomycetes or Clavicipitaceae family of fungi. It is also called caterpillar fungus or "winter worm summer plant."

Method of Action

In vitro analysis has shown that protein constituents of cordyceps sinensis may help to dilate blood vessels, contributing to action against hypertension, impotence, kidney disorders, and fatigue induced by insufficient circulation. Cordyceps may also prevent LDL-cholesterol-induced damage to kidneys.

These properties may also make cordyceps useful for cholesterol reduction.

Cordyceps has been shown to improve the immune response, by increasing T-cell levels, increasing activity of natural killer cells, and enhancing the function of numerous other immune molecules (interfereon-gamma, TNF-alpha, interleukin-1, and lymphocytes).

Therapeutic Approaches

Cordyceps may be useful when taken orally for immune support after chemotherapy for cancer, and when taken for improving liver function in patients with hepatitis B.

Cordyceps may also significantly improve the overall immune response, and may help to prevent or treat hypertension.

Unproven oral uses for cordyceps include aging, lethargy, kidney disorders, impotence, liver disorders, tinnitus, opium addiction, and fatigue.

Toxicity factors

No adverse effects have been reported. However, this lack of information does not mean that interactions or reactions cannot occur. As with any herb or supplement, patients should use cordyceps with caution.



Agricultural Research Service. Dr. Duke's Phytochemical and Ethnobotanical Databases. URL: www.ars-grin.gov/duke.

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