Cordyceps Mushroom Benefits, Usage, and Side Effects

It’s unlikely that you’ve ever seen a Cordyceps mushroom in the wild, but you may have heard about this unusual fungus. Although they look strange and grow in an odd manner, there are many benefits of Cordyceps mushrooms to help support your well-being.*

In this article, we’ll talk about several of these benefits and how you can take advantage of Cordyceps mushrooms. But first things first: Let’s look at what they are and where they grow.

What Are Cordyceps Mushrooms?

Wild Cordyceps mushrooms, technically Cordyceps sinensis, can be found in the Himalayan foothills of Tibet and Bhutan.

The fruiting body of these mushrooms is small and grass-shaped. In fact, Cordyceps gets its Chinese name, "winter worm summer grass," from its unique appearance.

But how Cordyceps mushrooms grow is, without doubt, the most interesting thing about these fungi. Their spores land and germinate on insects.

Mycelia (roots of the mushroom) begin to grow in the insect, slowly devouring it from the inside. The mushroom then grows its grass-shaped fruiting body (the above-ground part of the mushroom), which is what releases spores to reproduce.

Cordyceps mushroom

As you can imagine, these Asian, insect-devouring mushrooms are quite rare and, therefore, also very expensive. However, a variety called Cordyceps militaris has been developed for cultivation.

This variety grows on a barley substrate, making it vegan. Plus, research shows that the cultivated variety has similar benefits to the wild variety and “has traditionally been used as an alternative to Cordyceps sinensis in Traditional Chinese Medicine.”*1

Cordyceps mushroom growing in jars

The first mention of Cordyceps mushrooms in written records dates to the year 620 AD.

They were traditionally used as a tonic for the lung and kidneys—for respiratory issues, fatigue, and to improve a "weak constitution."*1 Traditional literature also indicates usage for low sexual function, libido, and performance.*1

These mushrooms have also been used for their adaptogenic and immune-supporting properties.* Today, we love Cordyceps mushrooms for many of the same reasons.

Let’s take a look at Cordyceps mushroom benefits and how you can work this mushroom into your health regimen.

Cordyceps Mushroom Benefits

Cordyceps Mushrooms Are Adaptogenic

Cordyceps mushrooms are adaptogens. If you aren’t familiar with adaptogens, they are plants or, in this case, mushrooms that help to normalize the body, especially during times of stress.* They support your body so that it can better cope with whatever stress you’re experiencing.*

This mushroom, like other adaptogens, “assists the body in creating and maintaining balance during times of stress.”*2

Other adaptogens include American Ginseng, Reishi, Eleuthero, Schisandra, Holy Basil, and Ashwagandha.

Cordyceps Mushrooms Provide Antioxidant Support*

Antioxidants are important for overall health, as they minimize cell damage from free radicals, thus also minimizing oxidative stress. Cordyceps mushrooms are a good source of antioxidant support.*

In Herbal Medicine: Biomolecular and Clinical Aspects, authors Bao-qin Lin and Shao-ping Li share, “There is increasing evidence that Cordyceps has antioxidant activity...”*3

And, from the results of a study on antioxidation activity, we see that “Cordyceps, in general, possesses a strong anti-oxidation activity in all assays tested.”*4

Cordyceps Mushrooms Support Male Reproductive Health*

A couple at the beach enjoying Cordyceps mushroom benefits

Cordyceps’ antioxidant effect also impacts male reproductive health. One study “showed evidence that C. militaris may be able to protect testicles against oxidative damage” from BPA, a plasticizer.*5

But that’s not all that Cordyceps mushrooms do for male reproductive health.* Lin and Li note that both wild and cultivated Cordyceps have been shown to support reproductive activity and help with impaired reproductive function.*3

Meanwhile, the results of an animal study “indicate that supplementation with [Cordyceps militaris] improves sperm quality and quantity in rats.”*6 While this study was performed on rats, Cordyceps are believed to support normal, healthy male fertility in humans.* However, further human clinical studies are needed to confirm this finding.

Cordyceps Mushrooms Support the Immune System*

One of our favorite Cordyceps mushroom benefits is that it supports the immune system in a variety of ways.*

As we mentioned, this mushroom was traditionally used to treat the lungs.* Lin and Li suggest that this is thanks to “immune activation, particularly the promotion of innate immunity.”*3 But the benefits of Cordyceps for the immune system go even further—all the way down to your gut.*

Your gut flora actually has a lot to do with immune health, and there is evidence that Cordyceps sinensis can help regulate intestinal bacteria by improving [gastrointestinal-associated lymphoid tissue], systemic immunity, or both.”*3

Cordyceps Mushrooms Support Healthy Stamina and Energy*

Couple running on a trail while enjoying Cordyceps mushroom benefits

In addition to the general support that Cordyceps provides for overall health, this mushroom is most well-known for promoting healthy energy levels.* It also supports physical stamina, even enhancing “cellular energy in the form of ATP (adenosine tri-phosphate).”*8

This is of interest especially for athletes and older adults. One study administered Cordyceps sinensis to older adults, and both the metabolic threshold and the ventilatory threshold showed signs of increase after 12 weeks.*

The study suggests that Cordyceps sinensis “improves exercise performance and might contribute to wellness in healthy older subjects.”*9

How to Experience Cordyceps Mushroom Benefits

We’ve gone over a few of the wonderful benefits that Cordyceps mushrooms provide. Now the important part is how to work these mushrooms into your daily life.

The easiest way to do so is to take a capsule or use a powder supplement. We’ll look at both options to see what might fit your lifestyle best. But first, let’s dive a bit deeper into where our mushrooms come from.

Source and Quality

Gaia Herbs sources the mushrooms used in our products from North American Medicinal Mushroom Extract (Nammex). Nammex operates 100% Certified Organic growing and manufacturing operations in Qingyuan County China.

This is a remote, mountainous region far from highly populated cities and industrial manufacturing areas, and it is often referred to as the best ecological environment in all of China.

People sometimes question the quality of mushrooms grown in China, but we can assure you that Traditional Chinese Medicine is one of the oldest sources for the use of mushrooms for health purposes.

Gaia Herbs chose Nammex as our mushroom provider because their growing conditions are similar to the mushrooms’ natural habitats.

All of our mushrooms are harvested from their growing substrate, never incorporating any of the growing medium into the final product. This results in a 100% organic supplement that, in the case of our new line of mushroom capsules, is 100% mushrooms and nothing else—no fillers, starch, or grains with guaranteed levels of beneficial beta glucans.* Our mushroom powders and herb and mushroom blend formulas are also free of fillers, starch, and grains.

There is no mycelium in our mushroom products either, as we use only mushroom fruiting bodies. Why? Fruiting bodies have been used for thousands of years in traditional herbal medicine. The concentration of powerful biochemical compounds such as beta glucans is highest in the fruiting body versus the mycelium.

If you’re interested in learning more, take a look at our Meet Your Herbs® program. Because we value transparency, we created meetyourherbs.com, the world’s first herb traceability platform.

In this program, you can enter the ID number located on the back of any Gaia Herbs product and instantly learn when your product was manufactured and about each herb in your product—where it came from; how it was grown, harvested, and extracted; and see validation of your product’s level of purity and potency.

You can be assured that our products are safely produced without the use of pesticides and other toxins that can damage our bodies and the earth.

Cordyceps Mushroom Capsules

With a glass of water and a capsule, you can easily provide your body the benefits that Cordyceps mushrooms provide.* You can find these beneficial fungi in several Gaia Herbs products.

Cordyceps Mushroom

 Cordyceps Mushroom supplement

To provide you with all the benefits that Cordyceps mushrooms offer, we have created these capsules that contain a potent dose of 100% organically grown Cordyceps mushrooms. Each one-capsule serving contains the equivalent of 2,500 mg of dried mushroom extract, creating 5x strength, highly concentrated capsules.

Our Cordyceps Mushroom supplement provides safe, effective, and natural adaptogenic support for energy and stamina, and it can also help your body better cope with stress.* And best of all, these capsules are delivered in a 40-count bottle, providing a better value when compared to the 30-count bottles offered by many companies.

Immune Mushroom Blend

Gaia Herbs Immune Mushroom Blend with Cordyceps Mushroom Benefits

Traditional mushrooms contain powerful biochemical compounds that help maintain overall health.* Taking Gaia Herbs Immune Mushroom Blend is another way to support your immune system with mushrooms like Cordyceps.

These capsules contain a blend of five potent and powerful immune-supporting mushrooms: Reishi, Cordyceps, Turkey Tail, Shiitake, and Chaga. Our formula can help your body build its immune defenses so you can stay healthy and thriving all year long.*

Respiratory Mushroom Blend

Gaia Herbs Respiratory Mushroom Blend with Cordyceps Mushroom Benefits

Gaia Herbs Respiratory Mushroom Blend capsules provide lung support via 100% organically grown Reishi and Cordyceps, two adaptogenic, respiratory-supporting mushrooms.

This formula is designed to help maintain overall lung and respiratory health so you can keep breathing easy.*

Mental Clarity Mushrooms & Herbs

 

Gaia Herbs Mental Clarity Mushrooms & Herbs

Gaia Herbs Mental Clarity Mushrooms & Herbs capsules are made with a blend of mushrooms and herbs traditionally used for supporting memory and cognitive function.*

In addition to Cordyceps, this formula includes Lion’s Mane and Reishi mushrooms, as well as Gotu Kola, Holy Basil, and Rosemary.

Everyday Immune Mushrooms & Herbs

Gaia Herbs Everyday Immune Mushrooms & Herbs

To take advantage of Cordyceps’ immune-supportive effects, turn to Gaia Herbs Everyday Immune Mushrooms & Herbs.*

Designed to be taken daily to help sustain overall wellness, these capsules contain a blend of organic mushrooms including Chaga, Cordyceps, Maitake, and Reishi, as well as the herbs Astragalus, Schisandra, and Turmeric.*

Adaptogen Performance Mushrooms & Herbs

Gaia Herbs Adaptogen Performance Mushrooms & HerbsGaia Herbs Adaptogen Performance Mushrooms & Herbs combines Cordyceps with other adaptogens and herbs to support healthy energy levels.*

This formula, made with Ashwagandha, Cordyceps, and Ginger in a vegan capsule, is great for athletes and weekend warriors to help maintain peak performance.*

Adrenal Health® Nightly Restore

Adrenal Health® Nightly Restore

As you sleep, your body repairs and restores itself. The blend of Ashwagandha, Magnolia bark, Cordyceps, and Lemon Balm in Adrenal Health® Nightly Restore nourishes the adrenals while you rest.*

At Gaia Herbs, we are firm believers that the quality of an herbal supplement can only be as good as the quality of the herbs that go into it. That’s why many of the herbs in our products are grown on our own farm, where we can cultivate them exactly the way we want. The Lemon Balm used in this supplement is grown on the Gaia Farm, which is nestled in the pristine Blue Ridge Mountains near Brevard, North Carolina.

And for plants used in our supplements that we source and cannot grow on our own farm or cannot grow in the quantity that we need, our network of organic and sustainable communities allows us to source herbs from where they grow best, and where conditions are ideal to produce the highest possible level of botanical compounds.

Cordyceps Mushroom Powder

Everyday Adaptogen

Gaia Herbs Everyday Adaptogen™ with Cordyceps Mushroom Benefits

While capsules are easy to take on the go, we also love using a powder that contains Cordyceps mushrooms, such as Gaia Herbs Everyday Adaptogen™.

The busyness of daily life can make it easy to feel fatigued. Made with Cordyceps, Rhodiola, Maca, Ashwagandha, adding Everyday Adaptogen powder to your diet is a simple way to help you stay feeling active and energized.*

And you can easily add this USDA Certified Organic powder to your daily wellness regimen. It can be added to a smoothie, dairy or non-dairy milk, or any other beverage of choice.

That way, you get all of the health benefits of organic mushrooms plus herbs with no added fillers, flavors, or sweeteners.*

Cordyceps Mushroom Side Effects and Precautions

Remember that before you start using any herbal supplement, you should consult your doctor, especially if you are already taking medications or have a medical condition.

The same rule applies to Cordyceps mushroom capsules or powders. And be advised that Cordyceps are not recommended for use during pregnancy or lactation.

Cordyceps Mushrooms for Your Well-Being*

Cordyceps Mushrooms

These fungi are yet another gift from Nature to help keep your body in tip-top shape.*

We’ve gone over Cordyceps mushroom benefits and seen that these adaptogenic mushrooms can provide antioxidant support, promote male reproductive health, support your immune system, and help maintain healthy energy and stamina.*

Add these beneficial mushrooms to your daily routine with a capsule or powder such as Gaia Herbs Cordyceps Mushroom, Immune Mushroom Blend, Respiratory Mushroom Blend, Mental Clarity Mushrooms & Herbs, Everyday Immune Mushrooms & Herbs, Adaptogen Performance Mushrooms & Herbs, and Adrenal Health® Nightly Restore or our Everyday Adaptogen powder.

Don’t wait to take advantage of Cordyceps and experience everything that it can do for your overall wellness!*

REFERENCES:

1. Skye Chilton, “Cordyceps Mushrooms: Supplement Types Explained + The Health Benefits,” Real Mushrooms, November 24, 2020, https://www.realmushrooms.com/cordyceps-supplements-guide.

2. Pharmaca, “Adaptogens in Focus: Cordyceps Mushrooms,” Project Wellness, 2013, https://www.pharmaca.com/projectwellness/adaptogens-in-focus-cordyceps.

3. Bao-qin Lin and Shao-ping Li, “Herbal Medicine: Biomolecular and Clinical Aspects,” chap. 5, 2011, https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK92758.

4. S.P. Li et al. “Anti-oxidation Activity of Different Types of Natural Cordyceps Sinensis and Cultured Cordyceps Mycelia,” Phytomedicine 8, no. 3 (2001): 207-212, https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/abs/pii/S0944711304700306?via%3Dihub.

5. Jian Wang et al. “Protective Effect of Cordyceps Militaris Extract Against Bisphenol A Induced Reproductive Damage,” Systems Biology in Reproductive Medicine 62, no. 4 (2016): 249-257, https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/full/10.1080/19396368.2016.1182234.

6. Ying Chang et al. “Effect of Cordyceps Militaris Supplementation on Sperm Production, Sperm Motility and Hormones in Sprague-Dawley Rats,” The American Journal of Chinese Medicine 36 (2008): 849-859, https://www.worldscientific.com/doi/abs/10.1142/S0192415X08006296.

7. Niki Caldwell, “Cordyceps Sinensis: The Functional Mushroom for Immunity, Wellness, and Energy,” NuLivScience, 2018, https://nulivscience.com/blog/cordyceps-sinensis-functional-mushroom-immunity-wellness-and-energy.

8. Hardeep S. Tuli, Sardul S. Sandhu, and A. K. Sharma, “Pharmacological and Therapeutic Potential of Cordyceps With Special Reference to Cordycepin,” 3 Biotech 4, no. 1 (2013): 1-12, https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3909570.

9. Steve Chen et al. “Effect of Cs-4® (Cordyceps sinensis) on Exercise Performance in Healthy Older Subjects: A Double-Blind, Placebo-Controlled Trial,” The Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine 16, no. 5 (2010), https://www.liebertpub.com/doi/10.1089/acm.2009.0226.