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Quick Cordyceps Summary Points

  • Cordyceps sinensis is a fungus that has a rich history of traditional use as a aphrodisiac
  • Other proven benefits of cordyceps include enhanced immunity, improved endurance and improved sperm count and quality 
  • Cordyceps sinensis is relatively expensive as a raw material and therefore cost can be a barrier to taking effective doses required for maximum therapeutic effect

What is Cordyceps?

Cordyceps sinensis (also known as Ophiocordyceps sinensis, caterpillar fungus, or Yartsa gunbu) is a species of fungus that has been used as a traditional herbal aphrodisiac and treatment for fatigue in China and Tibet. Today, it is extremely valuable and has applications in bodybuilding and sports nutrition because of its potential to reduce fatigue and increase endurance.

Where Does Cordyceps Come From?

Cordyceps can be found in the humid temperate and tropical forests of Asian countries such as China, Nepal, Japan, and Korea.

Cordyceps Benefits

Cordyceps has a variety of pharmacologically active compounds that may have beneficial effects for the bodybuilder and average person.

Cordyceps Benefits for Endurance

It has been shown that supplementing with 240 mg cordyceps extract/day for a week was able to significantly improve measurements for endurance. After running, those receiving supplementation showed lower lactic acid accumulation and other markers of fatigue, compared to those receiving a placebo (Akira et al, 2002). Such findings were then replicated again a few years later by the same group of scientists (Akira et al, 2006). This implies that supplementation with Cordyceps may improve endurance performance as a result of attenuating the negative metabolic effects of prolonged exercise.

Cordyceps Benefits for Libido and Fertility

Because cordyceps has been used for centuries as traditional medicine by the Chinese, much of the scientific research behind cordyceps has been performed by Chinese scientists. It has been shown that treatment with cordyceps was over three times more effective in increasing libido of men with decreased sex drive, compared to a placebo (Yang et al, 1995). This resulted in over 60% of treated subjects reporting improvements. Similar results were reported by another research group (Wan et al, 1988). It has also been reported that treatment with cordyceps resulted in a 33% increase in sperm count. This increase has been attributed by some to nutrients within cordyceps, such as amino acids, vitamins, and zinc (Zhu et al, 1998a).

Cordyceps Negatives and Side Effects

Cordyceps is extremely valuable and the price for raw wild cordyceps can be up to US$18,000/kg. Consequently, supplements containing large amounts of high quality cordyceps can be expensive.

Cordyceps has been used for centuries as a traditional medicine. In a review, it was concluded that it is an extremely safe herb, with animal studies failing to find a lethal dose. It has been reported that mild cases of digestive upsets have been reported by patients using cordyceps, and there is a single report of one patient suffering from a cordyceps allergy (Zhu et al, 1998b).

Cordyceps Recommended Doses and Ingredient Timing

It has been found that a 240 mg cordyceps extract/day was effective in increasing endurance performance (Akira et al, 2002). However, if not taking the extract, the dose is between 3 and 10 grams. It can be taken once a day before training.

Cordyceps Supplements

Cordyceps can be found in traditional Asian medicine shops. It may originate from wild harvested fungi, or cultured. It has been shown that cultured cordyceps also shows good efficacy (Akira et al, 2006). Because of the extremely expensive nature of this ingredient, it is not easily found. However, because of the potential libido and endurance enhancing properties of cordyceps, it can be found in some aromatase inhibitors and concentrated pre workout supplements.

Stacking Cordyceps

Cordyceps can be stacked with testosterone boosting ingredients such as tribulus, long jack, and D-aspartic acid. It can also be stacked with pre workout ingredients such as beta alanine, caffeine, and citrulline.

Akira et al (2002), Anti-fatigue Effectiveness of Cordyceps sinensis Extract by the Double Blind Method. Hiro to Kyuyo no Kagaku, 17: 89-97.
Akira et al (2006), Supplemental anti-fatigue effects of Cordyceps sinesis (Tochu-Kaso) extract powder during three stepwise exercise of human. Japanese Journal of Physical Fitness and Sports Medicine, 55: 145-151
Wan et al (1988), Sex Hormone-like effects of JinShuiBao capsule: Pharmacological and clinical studies. Chinese Traditional Patented Med, 9: 29-31
Yang et al (1995), Clinical study of fermentation product of Cordyceps sinensis on treatment of hyposexuality. J Administration Traditional Chinese Med, 1995: 23-24
Zhu et al (1998a), The Scientific Rediscovery of an Ancient Chinese herbal Medicine: Cordyceps sinensis Part I. The Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine, 4: 289-303
Zhu et al (1998b), The Scientific Rediscovery of an Ancient Chinese herbal Medicine: Cordyceps sinensis Part II. The Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine, 4: 429-457

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