Cordyceps (Ophiocordyceps sinensis) is a hot water–extracted medicinal mushroom formula standardized to contain 30% polysaccharides (500 mg per capsule). Hot-water extraction is critical in obtaining a high-quality and effective mushroom product, and is the traditional Asian method of extraction. The mycelium contains polysaccharides which are bound by indigestible cell wall comprised of chitin; chitin must be dissolved through hot water in order to gently release the medicinal components. Conversely, grinding the mycelium or the mushroom may cause damage to the long-chain polysaccharides and fails to remove the indigestible chitin (fibre), limiting the amount of therapeutic constituents that can be fit per capsule. Standardization ensures that the final product contains a consistent amount of polysaccharides to allow delivery of a therapeutic dose.
Cordyceps is unique among the medicinal mushrooms in that it is not grown on a plant (e.g. tree), but has an insect host; its English name is “caterpillar fungus,” and it is naturally occurring in the region of Tibet. Today, to increase efficiency and meet higher demands, cordyceps is grown on a matrix of grain-based substrate; however, HPLC analysis demonstrates an identical chemical profile to the traditionally grown fungus.
The active constituents in cordyceps have been identified as beta‑1,3‑glucan and beta‑1,6-glucan, types of protein-bound polysaccharides. Lesser ingredients include nucleosides such as 3‑deoxyadenosine (cordycepin), polyamines such as spermine and spermidine, and vitamin D3. Mushroom polysaccharides interact with receptors on the surfaces of cells to mediate specific functions. Cordyceps has been shown to stimulate production of T helper cells, prolong the survival of lymphocytes, and increase the activity of NK cells. In animals, cordyceps has been shown to increase hormone synthesis, specifically estrogen and progesterone, and improve sperm motility and the progressiveness of sperm movement in middle-aged rats.
Cordyceps is best known for its antiaging properties, and related indications such as adrenal fatigue, fertility, sexual function, athletic performance, diabetes, liver disease, and respiratory conditions. In China, it is regarded as “superginseng” for promoting rejuvenation and stamina, and in traditional Chinese medicine, it is considered to benefit the lung and kidney channels.
Cordyceps should be used as recommended by a Health Care Professional.