Cordyceps, also known as Dong Chong Xia Cao in Chinese, is one of the most highly prized medicinal mushrooms in the world. The species that are most widely used for medicinal and therapeutic purposes are Cordyceps sinensis and Cordyceps militaris. Cordyceps was originally discovered in the mountains of Tibet. It is also known as the "worm" or "caterpillar" fungus, because they invade and take over the host organism which are usually caterpillars or other insects. It has been used in Traditional Chinese Medicine for hundreds of years, although the earliest recorded use was in the 15th century by the Tibetans. Cordyceps contains various essential amino acids, Vitamins E, K, B1, B2, and B12. It is also rich in polysaccharide sugars, nucleosides, proteins, sterols, and other elements. The active compounds that are most interesting and beneficial to our health are:
-Polysaccharides: These long chained carbohydrates have a stimulating effect on the immune system. These polysaccharides, particularly Beta-Glucans, are notable for having the ability to stimulate and modulate our immune system.
-Cordycepic Acid: Also called D-Mannitol, is a sugar alcohol that is known to boost energy levels, and fight fatigue. It does so by raising ATP (Adenosine triphosphate) levels, increasing oxygen and blood flow, lowering lactic acid levels, and increasing insulin sensitivity.
-Cordycepin: Also known as Adenosine, is a nucleoside that is well known for its antiviral, antifungal, anti-inflammatory, and antioxidant properties.
To those who are unaware, there are currently 2 approved pharmaceutical drugs that are derived from Isaria sinclairii, which is the fungus that is found in Cordyceps. One is being marketed as an effective treatment for Multiple Sclerosis, and the other as an antibiotic.
*These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration.