Cordyceps mushroom

Scientific names: Cordyceps Sinensis

Other common names: Caterpillar mushroom


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WHAT IS Cordyceps mushroom USED FOR?

Sinensisis an annual Ascomycetes fungus closely related to the mushroom. Although not actually a mushroom taxonomically, it has been described as an exotic medicinal mushroom in traditional Chinese and Tibetan medicine. The name cordycepscomes from Latin words meaning club and head. The mycological features, related species and vernacular names are given i. The normal harvesting period stretches from April to August. It grows only in high-altitude regions of about 3800 m above sea level, in cold, grassy, alpine meadows of the Himalayan mountains. The fungus is parasitic in nature. The base of the mushroom first originates from an insect larval host (Hepialis armoricanus family Hepialidac) and ends at the club-like cap, including the stipe and stroma. The fruit body is dark brown to black, and the root of organism, the larval body pervaded by the mycelium, is yellowish to brown color.

Traditional healers in Sikkim recommend the fungus/mushroom Cordyceps sinensis for “all illnesses” as a tonic, because they claim that it improves energy, appetite, stamina, libido, endurance, and sleeping patterns. It is a rare combination of a caterpillar and fungus found in Sikkim at altitudes above 3,800 m. The mushroom is most popular in the Lachung and Lachen area of North Sikkim and has the reputation of being a precious longevity-promoting herb.

Various pharmacological and biological studies establishing the curative effect of corydeps involving various experimental models (in vitro and in vivo) and some clinical trials in volunteer athletes. C. Sinensis exhibits very broad biological and pharmacological actions in hepatic, renal, and cardiovascular diseases. It has effects on various immunological disorders. Pharmacological actions of cordyceps are primarily due to bioactive polysaccharides, modified nucleosides, and cyclosporine like metabolites.

Also, the fermentable strain of the mycelia causes normal fat mobilization and beta-oxidation, thereby maintaining blood glucose level during prolonged exercise in athletes.(1).


The principle chemical constituents consist of:

polysaccharides, triterpenes, and polyphenols

Parts Used

fruiting body, mycelium

Additional Resources


Important Precautions

Not for use during pregnancy or lactation. If you have a medical condition or take pharmaceutical drugs please consult your doctor prior to use.


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.