Findings of studies on cordyceps

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Cordyceps, one of the most valued Chinese medicinal herbs, has been used in traditional Chinese medicine to fortify the lungs and kidneys, supplement one's vital essence and support the immune system.


Clinical studies have also reported on the safety and efficacy of the herb, known as Chinese caterpillar fungus or dongcong xiacao in Chinese (translated as "winter worm, summer grass").

Here are some studies reviewed in The Journal Of Alternative And Complementary Medicine in 1998.

1. Improves sexual function

The herb was given to elderly people who suffered from a decreased libido and other symptoms related to sexual function. Meanwhile, another group were given a placebo.

After 40 days, the percentage of people in the first group who reported improvements in their sexual function was double that of the control group.

The authors said the herb may have taken effect either through sex hormones or by acting directly on one's sexual centre of the brain and one's sexual organs.

In another trial, the sperm count of men went up by an average of 33 per cent after taking cordyceps.

In addition, the amount of deformed sperm was lowered and sperm survival rate increased.

Researchers suggested that this was due to cordyceps being rich in amino acids, vitamins and trace elements, such as zinc - factors that are essential for sperm health.

2. Protects against free-radical damage

After taking cordyceps, patients with either chronic obstructive pulmonary disease or chronic kidney dysfunction had a significant increase in superoxide dismutase, a powerful antioxidant that is said to prevent ageing.

The findings suggested that the herb has the ability to enhance the body's ability to remove free radicals - waste products of chemical reactions that can damage cells - in people with different diseases.

3. Keeps cholesterol in check

In a study of 273 patients with high cholesterol levels, a significant reduction of triglycerides was noted after only a month's use of cordyceps. After two months, there was a significant reduction in serum total cholesterol levels and a significant increase in high-density lipoprotein cholesterol ("good" cholesterol) levels.

4. Improves respiratory function

By using cordyceps alongside Western medicine, 81 per cent of patients with a cough improved. This surpasses the 61 per cent recorded in the control group, who were treated with Western medicine alone.

Plus, the cough symptoms of those who consumed cordyceps took an average of five days to clear up. This is faster than the nine days for for the control group.

5. Enhances tolerance for cancer treatment

More lung cancer patients who took cordyceps during their treatment were able to tolerate radiation therapy and chemotherapy better, compared with those who did not.

For instance, more of them had blood counts within the normal range after cancer treatment.

Cordyceps nectar tea

(Serves one)


3g cordyceps

1 piece of cinnamon

1 tbs wolfberries

1 tbs green tea leaves

50g rock sugar

200ml hot water


Rinse the cordyceps and put them into a teacup together with the rest of the ingredients.

Pour hot water into the cup and allow it to steep. Stir the mixture after five minutes and serve.

You can add more hot water for a second and third serving.

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