Your Total Guide To Adaptogens | Part 5 | Cordyceps

Your Total Guide To Adaptogens | Part Five | Cordyceps

Is Cordyceps an herb?

Cordyceps is a genus of parasitic fungi that grows on the larvae of “ghost moths”, and that may sound weird, but in Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) even minerals and insects are classified as “herbs”.


I personally only use only herbs, but if you are taking herbal formulas, you should make sure that it does not contain anything that you would find unethical to eat. This parasitic fungus called cordyceps, falls in the category of “question its necessity” for me, so I don’t use it for myself, and i don’t prescribe it to clients. It is one of those herbs that achieved sudden popularity in the west, and caused a demand that is higher than the supply can produce. This in turn causes unethical production, and it is often possible to substitute this herb for another herb.

The cordyceps you buy might be man made cordyceps, that is, fake cordyceps created by linking together broken or damaged worms with iron wire or toothpicks, then adding glue to increase the weight of the cordyceps, and covering them with metallic powders to give them a better color. Consider the additional possibility of toxic compounds. Natural found cordyceps have also been found to sometimes contain arsenic.

Cordyceps are mainly found in the meadows above 11,000 feet on  the Tibetan Plateau and in other Himalayan regions of Bhutan and Nepal. It parasitizes larvae of ghost moths and these larvae are harvested for the fungus. When harvested, the fungus must come out completely intact, if it is damaged, it’s worth significantly less.

The search for natural cordyceps threatens the environment of the Tibetan Plateau.  Cultivated cordyceps is an alternative to wild-harvested.

Artificial cordyceps  are typically created by growth of pure mycelia in liquid culture or on grains.

If you want to add this herb to your medicine cabinet, I suggest adding the search terms “American” and “Artificial” when you purchase it.

If you want to add this herb to your medicine cabinet, I suggest adding the search terms “American” and “Artificial” when you purchase it.

Cordyceps helps the body by creating and maintaining balance in times of stress. It influences how our cells make ATP and enhances oxygen utilization. Cordyceps acts as a stimulant and an aphrodisiac, and it reinvigorates the neuro-endocrine system. Cordyceps lower cholesterol, and increases the fluidity of the blood and thereby reduces the potential of cardiovascular disease or damage.  It protects the liver and balances glucose production, it is an antioxidant. Cordyceps reduces the expression of inflammatory genes and pro-inflammatory cytokines such as TNF, IL8 and COX2and this means less systemic or chronic inflammation, and a reduced risk of chronic inflammatory diseases.

It is the true definition of an adaptogen and can be beneficial in various treatments related to kidney, hyperglycemia and liver damage. It has a thrombolytic effect, is useful in the treatment of diabetes, and infertility. It functions as an antimicrobial, anticancer, hypocholesterolemic, antioxidant, antiviral, anti-inflammatory, organ protective agent!

In Chinese Medicine it is called: Dong Chong Xia Cao, and it is categorized under “Herbs that Tonify the Yang” which is a pretty common category for the adaptogens. It is used for things like Tonifying the Kidneys, strengthening Yang and Jing, Nourishing Lung Yin, transforming Phlegm and
stopping bleeding. It is generally used for the same things as in Western herbal medicine, with the addition of asthma, lung cancer, coughing up blood, joint pain.

The method of blending herbs is a significant difference in how this herb can be used, and knowing its synergistic effects can increase it usability.

Over all cordyceps is an incredible herb, but often the specific effect can be reached better using different herbs, so this is one herb you should get advice on!

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