Cordyceps sinensis is a widely used traditional Chinese medicine that has been used for more than 700 years.
It is generally believed that in addition to anti-cancer, antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, anti-microbial and other effects, its products also have clinical health care effects on the liver, kidney, cardiovascular, respiratory, nervous and immune systems.
In recent years, wild cordyceps has been known in China as “soft gold” or “Himalayan Viagra” due to its wide clinical and commercial value, with prices ranging from around $20,000 to $40,000 per kilogram.
What are the benefits of cordyceps in empirical medicine? Are there any side effects of cordyceps? See text analysis for details
What is Cordyceps?
Cordyceps sinensis refers to a fungus of the genus Cordyceps ascomycetes that parasitizes the complex mycelium formed by lepidopteran larvae, mainly found in grassland soils at altitudes of 3500 to 5000 meters in Tibet, Qinghai, Sichuan, Yunnan and other provinces of China.
The origin of its name is due to the fact that in late summer and early autumn, the larvae of arthropods are infected by fungal spores, the tissue is gradually engulfed by fungal hyphae, and in winter it becomes “hard worm”, and in the spring and early summer of the following year, the head of the larvae forms a substrate or fruiting body, which grows from the ground like grass.
The various pharmacological effects of Cordyceps can be attributed to its chemical composition, including polysaccharides, proteins, nucleotides, mannitol, ergosterol, aminophenols, fatty acids, and trace elements.
Cordyceps sinensis requires specific growing conditions and is small, so large-scale collection of this mushroom is a difficult task and difficult to meet the growing demand.
At present, fermentation technology has been widely used in the large-scale production of fungal mycelium and other useful ingredients. In the case of controllable heavy metal pollution, fully cultivated strains are not only similar in morphology to wild strains, but also have similar medicinal effects, which have been valued by the market.
What are the proven benefits of Cordyceps sinensis?
1. Cordyceps sinensis is beneficial to arrhythmia
Cardiac arrhythmia refers to a group of conditions that cause the heart to beat irregularly, too slowly, or too fast. In this case, a person’s heart may beat too fast (60 beats per minute), too slow (100 beats per minute), too early, or with an irregular rhythm.
Symptoms of arrhythmias are dizziness, palpitations, fast heartbeat, feeling weak, shortness of breath, chest pain, and extra strong heartbeat.
About 50% of heart disease patients die from arrhythmias, but it can be controlled by automated external defibrillators, which can reduce mortality if used quickly within minutes of the first heart attack.
A systematic literature review and meta-analysis (13 randomized controlled trials, 1379 patients with arrhythmias) noted that Compared with the control group treated with only anti-arrhythmic western drugs, the use of Ning Xinbao capsules (cordyceps mycelium) combined with anti-arrhythmic western drugs for intervention, in clinical efficacy, dynamic electrocardiogram, and average heart rate in patients with bradycardia bradycardia) were superior to the control group, and the difference was statistically significant. Note 1
In addition, Ning Xinbao capsules have fewer adverse reactions, which may reduce the toxic side effects of anti-arrhythmic drugs.
*Conclusion: For arrhythmias, Ningxinbao capsules (Cordyceps sinensis mycelium) may bring positive help, but due to the limited quality of the included studies, more studies are needed to support this
2. Cordyceps sinensis is beneficial for chronic obstructive pulmonary disease
Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, characterized by progressive and persistent airflow obstruction, accompanied by an enhanced chronic inflammatory response, is mainly caused by environmental exposure to smoke and smoking, and is one of the top ten causes of death in the world.
Associated clinical manifestations include dyspnea, chronic cough, low exercise capacity, audible wheezing, and more frequent or prolonged bronchial infections, which can lead to weight loss in severe cases.
A systematic literature review and meta-analysis (13 interventional studies involving 1,092 patients with GOLD grade 2 or 3 stable COPD) pointed to the potential benefit of Cordyceps sinensis preparations or formulations containing Cordyceps sinensis for lung function, exercise tolerance, quality of life, and symptom improvement. Note 1
*Conclusion: Cordyceps may be a positive help for chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, but more studies are needed to verify it due to small sample sizes and publication bias
3. Cordyceps sinensis is beneficial for chronic kidney disease
Chronic kidney disease is a common condition that refers to the long-term loss of kidney function and is often diagnosed with other comorbidities, particularly high blood pressure, diabetes, and cardiovascular disease.
For most people with chronic kidney disease, the risk of developing a cardiovascular event is greater than the risk of developing end-stage renal disease, and it is the 18th most common cause of death in the Global Burden of Disease Study.
A Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews (22 randomized controlled studies of 1746 patients without dialysis for chronic kidney disease) noted that cordyceps preparations as an adjunct to conventional drugs have been shown to reduce serum creatinine, increase creatinine clearance, reduce proteinuria, and reduce chronic kidney disease-related complications such as elevated haemoglobin and serum albumin. Note 2
*Conclusion: For chronic kidney disease, oral Cordyceps sinensis-related preparations may be of positive help to the condition, but due to the low quality of the available evidence, more studies are needed to further validate
4. Cordyceps sinensis is beneficial for kidney transplantation
Since Joseph Murray had the first human kidney transplantation in 1954, kidney transplantation has been considered the most cost-effective treatment for end-stage kidney disease.
Complications of kidney transplantation can be divided into pathology and surgery. Pathologic complications include rejection, infection, and cardiovascular events, while surgical complications include vascular and urinary complications, lymphangiomas, wound infections, and hernias.
A systematic literature review and meta-analysis (9 randomized controlled trials, 907 kidney transplant patients) suggested that the combination of Cordyceps sinensis preparations helped reduce the incidence of hyperuricemia, hyperlipidemia, hyperglycemia, proteinuria, and liver injury, and reduced treatment-induced nephrotoxicity compared with immunosuppressants alone. Note 3
*Conclusion: Cordyceps sinensis as an adjunct to conventional immunosuppressants may be beneficial in kidney transplant patients, but due to the low quality of the available evidence, more high-quality large studies are needed to further validate
5. Cordyceps sinensis is beneficial to immune regulation
The immune response plays a vital role in maintaining human health by recognizing and killing pathogens, senescent cells, or tumor cells.
Immunomodulation refers to the ability of the immune system to control various life-threatening diseases such as cancer, human immunodeficiency virus, multiple sclerosis, and aging.
An 8-week randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled clinical trial of 80 healthy adults showed that oral administration of Cordyceps sinensis mycelium extract increased the activity of natural killer cells. Note 4
*Conclusion: Cordyceps may have immunomodulatory effects, but limited by the small sample size, more studies are needed to support it
6. Cordyceps sinensis is beneficial for chronic hepatitis B
An estimated 0.4 billion people worldwide are infected with chronic hepatitis B virus, resulting in an estimated 750,000 deaths each year from related complications.
Hepatitis B virus carriers are not only prone to cirrhosis and hepatic insufficiency, but also have a 100-fold increased risk of developing hepatocellular carcinoma.
Therefore, early diagnosis and treatment are essential to reduce the morbidity and mortality of chronic hepatitis B infection.
A randomized controlled trial (6 months, 60 patients with chronic hepatitis B) showed that oral administration of Ci’anbao capsules (composed of artificial cordyceps mycelium powder) reduced serum ALT, AST, hyaluronic acid, type III procollagen, and Laminin levels. Note 5
*Conclusion: For hepatitis B, cordyceps may bring positive help, but limited by the small sample size, more studies are still needed for further verification
Are there any side effects of Cordyceps?
For most people in good health, proper use of Cordyceps is safe.
However, side effects or adverse effects that have been reported include diarrhea, constipation, nausea, or dry mouth.
Safety precautions (11 contraindications for use)
1. Do not use if pregnant or lactating women (due to unknown safety)
2. Do not use autoimmune-related diseases (such as multiple sclerosis, systemic lupus erythematosus, rheumatoid arthritis, Hugaren syndrome, Hashimoto’s thyroiditis, Gravetz’s disease), because cordyceps has an activating immune effect, which may cause symptoms to worsen
3. Do not use for patients with coagulation dysfunction or taking related anticoagulants, which may increase the risk of bruising or bleeding (because cordyceps may slow blood clotting)
4. Please suspend use for two weeks before surgery (may affect coagulation function and increase bleeding risk)
5. Do not use in combination with cyclophosphamide (a chemical therapy drug), which may reduce the efficacy of the drug
6. Do not use in combination with immunosuppressants, may reduce the effectiveness of drugs, common drug names are: azathioprine (imidazolthiioprine), basiliximab (imidazolthiimine), cyclosporine, daclizumab, muromonab-CD3 (mologonumab), mycophenolate, tacrolimus, Sirolimus, prednisone, corticosteroids
7. Do not use if you have been allergic to mold or yeast, it may induce allergic reactions
8. Do not use for diabetic patients or those taking related hypoglycemic drugs, which may affect blood sugar control (because cordyceps may have hypoglycemic effects)
9. Do not combine with antidepressant drugs: Monoamine oxidase inhibitor, which may reduce the effectiveness of the drug
10. Do not combine antiviral drugs, which may affect the efficacy of the drug
11. May interfere with laboratory blood test values, please check with your doctor before use.