If you’ve never heard of cordyceps mushroom extract powder, you’ll probably be hearing a lot about it -- soon. Cordyceps mushroom extract has grown in popularity recently due to its reported health-promoting benefits.
Cordyceps -- also known as Caterpillar Fungus and Caterpillar Mushroom -- is a fungus that lives on certain caterpillars in China. Though a “fungus” doesn’t sound that appealing, there is compelling scientific evidence that this type of fungus offers many health benefits. 1
What Is Cordyceps Mushroom Extract Used For?
Used for centuries in China, Cordyceps is arguably one of the most powerful medicinal mushrooms in traditional Chinese health practices. News about Cordyceps mushroom extract finally made its way to the West a couple decades ago, and many people started researching its health-supporting properties.
Here are just a few of the health benefits of Cordyceps mushroom extract that have been observed in scientific studies.
May Boost Immunity
Cordyceps mushroom extract may boost immunity by stimulating certain cells in the immune system. This can help protect you against a variety of illnesses.
In a clinical research trial published in the 2019 edition of BMC Complementary and Alternative Medicine, healthy adults were divided into 2 groups. The first group was given 1.68 grams per day of Cordyceps mycelium culture extract in capsule form for 8 weeks. The other group was given placebos. The results? The Cordyceps group showed significant enhancement in natural killer cell activity -- an indication of improved immune function -- compared to the placebo group. 2
May Fight Cancer
Multiple test-tube studies suggest that Cordyceps mushroom extract may help fight cancer by inhibiting the growth of many types of cancer cells. Several animal studies have also revealed it may have an anti-cancer effect on several types of cancer, including breast, melanoma, lung, and lymphoma due in part to its Polysaccharide content and by increasing antibody responses. 3, 4, 5, 6, 7
But perhaps of even more interest to researchers is the positive effect Cordyceps mushroom extract may have on those experiencing side-effects from cancer treatments, such as radiation and chemotherapy. One of the side effects is a reduction in white blood cells, a condition called leukopenia, which depresses the immune system, leaving the patient vulnerable to a host of viruses and other illnesses. Numerous animal studies indicate that Cordyceps mushroom extract may promote recovery from leukopenia. 8, 9
May Help You Manage Type 2 Diabetes
Type 2 diabetes is a condition in which blood glucose levels are higher than they should be. This is due to either the body not responding properly to insulin -- a hormone tasked with transporting glucose to the cells -- or the body doesn’t produce enough insulin. Either way, it can lead to elevated blood glucose levels that if not regulated can lead to type 2 diabetes that may eventually lead to heart disease, kidney failure, and other dangerous conditions.
Managing type 2 diabetes is often a matter of lowering and stabilizing blood glucose levels, and it appears that Cordyceps mushroom extract may help you do that. Numerous studies on diabetic rats indicated Cordyceps mushroom extract has a glucose-lowering effect, which can help in the management of type 2 diabetes. 10, 11
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1- WebMD. Cordyceps. Accessed Feb 1, 2021. https://www.webmd.com/vitamins/ai/ingredientmono-602/cordyceps
2- Jung, SJ., Jung, ES., Choi, EK. et al. Immunomodulatory effects of a mycelium extract of Cordyceps (Paecilomyces hepiali; CBG-CS-2): a randomized and double-blind clinical trial. BMC Complement Altern Med 19, 77 (2019). https://doi.org/10.1186/s12906-019-2483-y
3- Bizarro A, Ferreira IC, Soković M, van Griensven LJ, Sousa D, Vasconcelos MH, Lima RT. Cordyceps militaris (L.) Link Fruiting Body Reduces the Growth of a Non-Small Cell Lung Cancer Cell Line by Increasing Cellular Levels of p53 and p21. Molecules. 2015 Jul 31;20(8):13927-40. doi: 10.3390/molecules200813927. PMID: 26263965; PMCID: PMC6332316.
4- Lee HH, Lee S, Lee K, Shin YS, Kang H, Cho H. Anti-cancer effect of Cordyceps militaris in human colorectal carcinoma RKO cells via cell cycle arrest and mitochondrial apoptosis. Daru. 2015 Jul 4;23(1):35. doi: 10.1186/s40199-015-0117-6. PMID: 26141646; PMCID: PMC4491205.
5- Ng TB, Wang HX. Pharmacological actions of Cordyceps, a prized folk medicine. J Pharm Pharmacol. 2005 Dec;57(12):1509-19. doi: 10.1211/jpp.57.12.0001. PMID: 16354395.
6- Yamaguchi N, Yoshida J, Ren LJ, Chen H, Miyazawa Y, Fujii Y, Huang YX, Takamura S, Suzuki S, Koshimura S, et al. Augmentation of various immune reactivities of tumor-bearing hosts with an extract of Cordyceps sinensis. Biotherapy. 1990;2(3):199-205. doi: 10.1007/BF02173520. PMID: 2206772.
7- Wu JY, Zhang QX, Leung PH. Inhibitory effects of ethyl acetate extract of Cordyceps sinensis mycelium on various cancer cells in culture and B16 melanoma in C57BL/6 mice. Phytomedicine. 2007 Jan;14(1):43-9. doi: 10.1016/j.phymed.2005.11.005. Epub 2006 Jan 19. PMID: 16423520.
8- Honda T, Uehara T, Matsumoto G, Arai S, Sugano M. Neutrophil left shift and white blood cell count as markers of bacterial infection. Clin Chim Acta. 2016 Jun 1;457:46-53. doi: 10.1016/j.cca.2016.03.017. Epub 2016 Mar 28. PMID: 27034055.
9- Liu WC, Chuang WL, Tsai ML, Hong JH, McBride WH, Chiang CS. Cordyceps sinensis health supplement enhances recovery from taxol-induced leukopenia. Exp Biol Med (Maywood). 2008;233(4):447-455. doi:10.3181/0708-RM-230
10- Lo HC, Tu ST, Lin KC, Lin SC. The anti-hyperglycemic activity of the fruiting body of Cordyceps in diabetic rats induced by nicotinamide and streptozotocin. Life Sci. 2004 Apr 23;74(23):2897-908. doi: 10.1016/j.lfs.2003.11.003. PMID: 15050427.
11- Liu C, Song J, Teng M, Zheng X, Li X, Tian Y, Pan M, Li Y, Lee RJ, Wang D. Antidiabetic and Antinephritic Activities of Aqueous Extract of Cordyceps militaris Fruit Body in Diet-Streptozotocin-Induced Diabetic Sprague Dawley Rats. Oxid Med Cell Longev. 2016;2016:9685257. doi: 10.1155/2016/9685257. Epub 2016 May 4. PMID: 27274781; PMCID: PMC4870376.