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Cordyceps sinensis

Cordyceps sinensis

Description

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.

Abstracts

References

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

Bao ZD, Wu ZG, Zheng F. [Amelioration of aminoglycoside nephrotoxicity by Cordyceps sinensis in old patients]. [Article in Chinese] Chung Kuo Chung Hsi I Chieh Ho Tsa Chih 1994;14(5):271-3, 259.

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

Cheng Q. [Effect of cordyceps sinensis on cellular immunity in rats with chronic renal insufficiency]. [Article in Chinese] Chung Hua I Hsueh Tsa Chih (Taipei) 1992;72(1):27-9, 63.

Chiou WF, Chang PC, Chou CJ, Chen CF: Protein constituent contributes to the hypotensive and vasorelaxant activities of Cordyceps sinensis, Life Sci 2000 Feb 25;66(14):1369-76

Kuo YC, Tsai WJ, Shiao MS, et al. Cordyceps sinensis as an immunomodulatory agent. Am J Chin Med 1996;24(2):111-25.

Li LS, Zheng F, Liu ZH: [Experimental study on effect of Cordyceps sinensis in ameliorating aminoglycoside induced nephrotoxicity], Chung Kuo Chung Hsi I Chieh Ho Tsa Chih 1996 Dec;16(12):733-7

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

Liu C, Lu S, Ji MR. [Effects of Cordyceps sinensis (CS) on in vitro natural killer cells]. [Article in Chinese] Chung Kuo Chung Hsi I Chieh Ho Tsa Chih 1992;12(5):267-9, 259.

McGuffin M, et al., ed. American Herbal Products Association's Botanical Safety Handbook. Boca Raton, FL: CRC Press, 1997.

Xu F, Huang JB, Jiang L, et al. Amelioration of cyclosporin nephrotoxicity by Cordyceps sinensis in kidney-transplanted recipients. Nephrol Dial Transplant 1995;10(1):142-3.

Zhao-Long W, Xiao-Xia W, Wei-Ying C: Inhibitory effect of Cordyceps sinensis and Cordyceps militaris on human glomerular mesangial cell proliferation induced by native LDL, Cell Biochem Funct 2000 Jun;18(2):93-7

Zhou DH, Lin LZ. [Effect of Jinshuibao capsule on the immunological function of 36 patients with advanced cancer]. [Article in Chinese] Chung Kuo Chung Hsi I Chieh Ho Tsa Chih 1995;15(8):476-8.

Zhou L, Yang W, Xu Y, et la. [Short-term curative effect of cultured Cordyceps sinensis (Berk.) Sacc. Mycelia in chronic hepatitis B]. [Article in Chinese] Chung Kuo Chung Yao Tsa Chih 1990;15(1):53-5, 65.

Zhu JS, Halpern GM, Jones K. The scientific rediscovery of an ancient Chinese herbal medicine: Cordyceps sinensis: part I, J Altern Complement Med, 1998; 4(3):289-303