Cordyceps is a unique mushroom which has often been compared to ginseng. World acclaim found cordyceps following an international track and field event in which female Chinese runners credited their record-breaking success to this mushroom.
Historical or traditional use (may or may not be supported by scientific studies)
In ancient China, cordyceps was used in the Emperor’s palace and was considered to have ginseng-like properties. It was used to strengthen the body after exhaustion or long-term illness, and for impotence, neurasthenia, and backache. It was also used to cure opium addiction.
Cordyceps contains a wide variety of potentially important constituents, including polysaccharides, ophiocordin (an antibiotic compound), cordycepin, cordypyridones, nucleosides, bioxanthracenes, sterols, alkenoic acids, and exo-polymers. Many studies on the medicinal effects of cordyceps do not give a clear picture of its actions because many of the studies (1) are in animals or test tubes; (2) use different species, preparations, and intake levels; (3) inject cordyceps and/or its constituents rather than administering them orally; or (4) are not available in English and, therefore, cannot be reviewed for accuracy and design. There are some clinical trials supporting the efficacy of cordyceps, particularly for liver, kidney, and immune problems. A number of studies indicate that cordyceps may have a anti-cancer, anti-metastatic, immuno-enhancing, and antioxidant effects.
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