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Cordyceps sinensis is a fungus parasite that lives on caterpillars in high mountain regions of China. Cordyceps seems to have a beneficial effects on the immune, endocrine, cardiovascular, respiratory, renal, sexual, hepatic, immunologic, and nervous systems.

Cordyceps is used orally for the following:

  • Strengthening the immune system
  • Improving athletic performance
  • Reducing the effects of aging
  • Promoting longevity
  • Treating lethargy
  • Improving liver function in people with hepatitis B
  • Coughs
  • Chronic bronchitis
  • Respiratory disorders
  • Kidney disorders
  • Frequent nocturia
  • Male sexual dysfunction
  • Anemia
  • Heart arrhythmias
  • High cholesterol
  • Liver disorders
  • Dizziness
  • Weakness
  • Tinnitus
  • Wasting
  • Opium addiction

It is also used as a stimulant, a tonic, and an adaptogen which is used to increase energy, enhance stamina, and to reduce fatigue.

Also known as:  Caterpillar Fungus, Caterpillar Mushroom, Champignon Chenille, Chinese Caterpillar Fungus, Cs-4, Dong Chong Xia Cao, Dong Chong Zia Cao, Hsia Ts'Ao Tung Ch'Ung, Tochukaso, Vegetable Caterpillar

Diseases and Conditions

Cordyceps is possibly ineffective for improving athletic performance. Endurance-trained cyclists who took a specific cordyceps preparation (CordyMax Cs-4) of three and fifteen-hundredths grams per day for five weeks did not seem to have improved endurance time trials or improved aerobic capacity (VO2-peak). There is insufficient reliable evidence available about the effectiveness of cordyceps for other uses.


Cordyceps and cordyceps are likely safe for use orally in the short-term.

There is insufficient information on the safety of cordyceps for children, pregnant, and breastfeeding women.

Side effects from using cordyceps are minimal but may include the following:

  • Palpitations
  • Tightness in chest
  • Skin rashes
  • Hypoglycemia
  • Nausea
  • Dry mouth
  • Diarrhea
  • Loss of appetite
  • Dizziness
  • Drowsiness
  • Wheezing

Cordyceps may inhibit platelet aggregation which can cause excessive bleeding; discontinue use at least 2 weeks before surgery.

Medication Interactions

Cordyceps has a minor interaction with testosterone and moderate interactions with the following medications:

  • Anticoagulantantiplatelet drugs
  • Cyclophosphamide
  • Immunosuppressants
  • Prednisolone

Evidence from animal and laboratory research has suggested that cordyceps extract inhibits platelet aggregation and function, which means cordyceps might increase the risk of bleeding when used with antiplatelet or anticoagulant drugs. In theory, cordyceps might reduce the immunosuppressive effects of cyclophosphamide. Cordyceps might stimulate the immune system, which means concurrent use of cordyceps might interfere with immunosuppressive therapy. Lastly, cordyceps might reduce the immunosuppressive effects of prednisolone.

Supplement and Food Interactions

Cordyceps may have an interaction with the following supplements, herbs, and foods:

  • Anticoagulant/antiplatelet herbs and supplements, such as:
    • Angelica
    • Clove
    • Danshen
    • Garlic
    • Ginger
    • Ginkgo
    • Panax ginseng

Cordyceps might increase the risk of bleeding when used with other herbs and supplements that inhibit platelet aggregation. However, this interaction has not been reported in humans.


The correct dosage of any supplement requires a comprehensive analysis of many factors including your age, sex, health conditions, DNA, andlifestyle. 

The recommended dosage for cordyceps depends on what it is being used for.

  • For general use, the recommended dosage is two capsules, two to three times daily. The traditional recommendation is to include three to nine grams daily in a hot tea or cooled meal.
  • For anti-aging, the recommended dosage is three grams of Cs-4 extract taken daily for three months.
  • For asthma, the recommended dosage is taking cordyceps (dong chong xia cao) capsules in addition to inhaled corticosteroid and as-needed rescue beta-agonist.
  • For exercise performance enhancement, the recommended dosage is three grams of CordyMax tablets taken daily for up to six weeks.
  • For hyperlipidemia, the recommended dosage is nine hundred ninety-nine milligrams (in three capsules) taken three times daily for four to eight weeks.
  • For immunosuppression, the recommended dosage is cordyceps sinensis mycelia capsules (exact dose unknown) in addition to cyclosporin A and prednisone prevented organ rejection in patients undergoing kidney transplant.
  • For liver disease, the recommended dosage is four and one-half grams of XinGanBao capsule daily.
  • For nephrotoxicity (drug-induced), the recommended dosage is three grams of Cordyceps sinensis used daily for fifteen days.
  • For renal failure (chronic), the recommended dosage is three to five grams of Cordyceps sinensis daily.
  • For respiratory disorders, the recommended dosage is one thousand milligrams three times daily of Cordyceps CS-4 strain taken for forty days in patients with chronic bronchitis, pulmonary heart disease, and pneumocystitis.
  • For sexual dysfunction, the recommended dosage is three capsules (each containing three hundred thirty-three milligrams of CS-4 or of natural cordyceps) taken three times daily for forty days.


Cordyceps is not found in foods.

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