Cordyceps sinensis are so highly valued in Traditional Chinese Medicine that they were exclusively available to the emperor’s family in ancient China. TCM traditionally used Cordyceps as an adaptogen and immunosupportive herb, to support the kidney and lung systems.* Cordyceps grows wild in the Himalayan foothills of Tibet and Bhutan, where it infects and then devours the pupal stage (or caterpillar) of ghost moths. From this caterpillar, it grows a grass-shaped fruiting body, which then releases spores for reproduction. Due to the unique nature of its development, the Chinese named it “winter worm summer grass.” Wild C. sinensis is both expensive and rare.
Recently, cultivated varieties (Cordyceps militaris) have been developed. These Cordyceps fruiting bodies are cultivated on nutritious barley substrate, and they are therefore vegan. Research has shown that C. militaris and C. sinensis provide similar support, and they are used interchangeably in TCM and other branches of herbalism.*
A mushroom goes through many stages during its life cycle, just like any plant or animal. Each part of a mushroom has unique attributes that support wellness and serve a different purpose for the organism, but it’s the fruiting bodies that receive the most attention and are the most familiar. Fruiting bodies emerge from the substrate on which they grow — such as trees or fallen logs — to become the part of the mushroom we recognize. They’re the above-ground part that we can see when we walk through the woods, and they’re also what have been traditionally foraged and consumed, in food and supplements.
Modern herbalists use Cordyceps to support healthy stamina and physical energy levels.* It is considered to be an immune modulator and adaptogen that promotes overall endocrine health, and it is used to support the liver and kidneys.* Cordyceps provides antioxidant support, and it also has been used to support normal, healthy male fertility.* Cordyceps’ diverse functions make it similar to a conductor within the body, supporting the communication between the adrenals (they control the body’s natural stress response) and a number of aspects of the immune system.*
The fruiting bodies of this mushroom contain polysaccharides, specifically a type called beta-glucans, which have been studied to support immune health and overall wellness, as well as normal, healthy cell growth and turnover.* The fruiting body extracts we use contain these polysaccharides, without unnecessary fillers or starches.
Uses of Cordyceps
This information in our Herbal Reference Guide is intended only as a general reference for further exploration, and is not a replacement for professional health advice. This content does not provide dosage information, format recommendations, toxicity levels, or possible interactions with prescription drugs. Accordingly, this information should be used only under the direct supervision of a qualified health practitioner such as a naturopathic physician.