Cordyceps is a genus of Ascomycete fungi, or sac fungi. The genus includes approximately 400 species. All species of Cordyceps are endoparasitoids, which are organisms that spend most of their lives within or attached to a host organism. This relationship is basically that of a parasite and host except that in this case the parasitoids eventually kill, sterilize or consume their hosts. Most species of Ascomycete fungi have insects or other arthropods as their hosts. Some, however, have other fungi as their hosts.
Cordyceps Sinensis is perhaps the best known species of the Ascomycete genus. It was first recorded in Tibet during the 15th century and referred to as Yarsha Gunbu. It is known in Nepal as Yarsha Gumba. In English, it is known as Caterpillar fungus. The Chinese refer to it as dong chong xia cao, which means "winter worm, summer grass.” The Latin name Cordyceps means "club head", and sinensis means "from China.” The Cordyceps Sinensis species grows only on the Tibetan Plateau. Its hosts are the larvae of several species of ghost moths. The fruiting body is generally about 4 inches long by around one-fifth inches wide and is brown or orange in color. Cordyceps Sinensis has been used for thousands of years in traditional Oriental medicine as a medicinal mushroom.
Medicinal Use of Cordyceps
Cordyceps Sinensis has long been used in traditional Chinese medicine and is now prominent in Western cultures as well as a Medicinal Mushroom. Some of its uses include:
Nutritional Elements of Cordyceps
Scientific Research on CordycepsSince 1950, there has been a lot of scientific research about Cordyceps Sinensis. One study, Derivatives Of A Rare Chinese Mushroom Can Improve Capacity For Aerobic Exercise And Endurance In The Mid-Age To Elderly, Sedentary Humans, conducted by the American Physiological Society, showed that Cordyceps was effective in “enhancing aerobic exercise capability, endurance exercise performance, exercise metabolism and alleviating fatigue in healthy humans.”
Another study conducted by the University of Nottingham and funded by the Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council (BBSRC) showed evidence that Cordyceps is effective as an anti-cancer treatment.