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).
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.
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.Abstracts
Agricultural Research Service. Dr. Duke's Phytochemical and Ethnobotanical Databases. URL: www.ars-grin.gov/duke.
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Bok JW, Lermer L, Chilton J, Klingeman HG, Towers GH: Antitumor sterols from the mycelia of Cordyceps sinensis, Phytochemistry 1999 Aug;51(7):891-8
Chen GZ, Chen GL, Sun T, et al. Effects of Cordyceps sinensis on murine T lymphocyte subsets. Chin Med J (English) 1991; 104(1):4-8.
Chen YJ, Shiao MS, Lee SS, Wang SY. Effect of Cordyceps sinensis on the proliferation and differentiation of human leukemic U937 cells. Life Sci 1997;60(25):2349-59
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Lin CY, et al: Inhibition of activated human mesangial cell proliferation by the natural product of Cordyceps sinensis (H1-A): an implication for treatment of IgA mesangial nephropathy, J Lab Clin Med 1999 Jan;133(1):55-63
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