Cordyceps sinensis are so highly valued in Traditional Chinese Medicine that they were exclusively available to the emperor’s family in ancient China. TCM traditionally used Cordyceps as an adaptogen and immunosupportive herb, to support the kidney and lung systems.* Cordyceps grows wild in the Himalayan foothills of Tibet and Bhutan, where it infects and then devours the pupal stage (or caterpillar) of ghost moths. From this caterpillar, it grows a grass-shaped fruiting body, which then releases spores for reproduction. Due to the unique nature of its development, the Chinese named it “winter worm summer grass.” Wild C. sinensis is both expensive and rare.
Recently, cultivated varieties (Cordyceps militaris) have been developed. These Cordyceps fruiting bodies are cultivated on nutritious barley substrate, and they are therefore vegan. Research has shown that C. militaris and C. sinensis provide similar support, and they are used interchangeably in TCM and other branches of herbalism.*
Modern herbalists use Cordyceps to support healthy stamina and physical energy levels.* It is considered to be an immune modulator and adaptogen that promotes overall endocrine health, and it is used to support the liver and kidneys.* Cordyceps provides antioxidant support, and it also has been used to support normal, healthy male fertility.* Cordyceps’ diverse functions make it similar to a conductor within the body, supporting the communication between the adrenals (they control the body’s natural stress response) and a number of aspects of the immune system.*
Uses of Cordyceps
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.