Nature provides an amazing array of resources to improve our health and boost our immunity. Mushrooms are a type of fungus that are enjoyed by people all over the world and renowned for their nutritional benefits. In recent years, scientists have studied the medicinal benefits of the Cordyceps Sinensis mushroom and its effects on ameliorating the negative effects of stress on the body and brain among other things.
Mushrooms have been used as food, medicine, poison, and in spiritual/religious rituals across the world since at least 5000 BC. They have used in tonics, soups, teas, prepared foods, and herbal formulas to promote health and longevity. The mushroom fungus Penicillium was the raw material used to create the antibiotic, penicillin, which transformed the medical world.
Diseases characterized by a gradual worsening of a condition, including increased tissue damage, organ malfunction, and general poor health.
This can be caused by normal wear and tear on the body, lifestyle habits, exercise, or eating problems that exacerbate an underlying condition. These degenerative diseases can be cured through traditional medicines, but many of the diseases also have no established cure, so home remedies are often the best option for taking care of these conditions.
Some of the most common degenerative diseases are cancer, Alzheimer’s disease, Parkinson’s disease,multiple sclerosis, muscular dystrophy, atherosclerosis,diabetes, Osteoporosis, and rheumatoid arthritis.
Many of these are terrible afflictions that affect millions of people around the world. Without proper medical care or coverage, they can severely impact the quality of life of those affected, and many of these diseases are inevitably fatal. The best way to reduce the associated symptoms and even keep the degeneration at bay is to use home remedies. Some of the most popular and successful home remedies for the conditions listed above are explained below.
Muscular Dystrophy: It is a group of 30 inherited diseases which affects the muscle leading to muscle weakness and muscle loss. It is another terribly degenerative disease that many people suffer from; some of the home remedies include staying away from coffee, tobacco, alcohol, and carbonated soda.
Proper nutrition is very important and one’s diet should include foods that are high on fiber, high on protein and low on carbs. You should consume reishi mushrooms, rhodiola, cramp bark, causticum, Lathyrus, and Plumbum Met. Also, one needs to be physically active to be able to maintain good muscle health.
Alzheimer’s Disease: Some of the most common solutions for Alzheimer’s disease are ginkgo biloba extract, valerian root, a well-balance diet, folate, vitamin B12, balm, sage, vitamin E, and garlic extract are all known to decrease the impact of Alzheimer’s disease, or dementia. Furthermore, avoiding alcohol, cigarettes, processed foods, and metal pollutants like mercury can also slow down cognitive decline.
Stimulating the brain with things like crossword puzzles, memory games, and learning new subjects can also build new neural pathways and delay the forgetfulness associated with Alzheimer’s disease. Also, recent research suggests that activities such as climbing a tree and balancing on a beam may help to improve cognitive skills.
Parkinson’s Disease: Parkinson’s disease can keep a person from living a normal life due to the general inability to control muscular activity, so it is often classified as a movement disorder. Some home remedies to slow down the degenerative effects of Parkinson’s disease are eating a healthy diet including fruits,vegetables, cereals, legumes, non-dairy products and fish and poultry. Other remedies include exercising and physical therapy, working with a speech pathologist, handling depression in constructive ways, visualization processes to continue walking normally, reducing hand tremors by strengthening the muscles in your hands and forearms.
Cancer: The home remedies for cancer include consumption of broccoli, grapes, ginseng, myrrh, green tea,aloe vera, lycopene, maitake mushroom, soybeans, and wheat grass in ether direct or indirect forms. Any foods that are rich in antioxidants are also very important for treating cancer from home, because they are rich in antioxidants, which can neutralize free radicals.
Free radicals can cause cancer by causing normal cellular DNA to mutate, resulting in cancerous cells. Research suggests that exercising an hour daily reduces the risk of contracting breast cancer in women of any age and any weight. Research also suggests that physical activity and healthy diet may help to reducerisk of cancer.
Multiple Sclerosis: Some of the home remedies for multiple sclerosis include reducing animal protein intake, eliminate dairy products, eat organic foods, ginger, turmeric, soy, extra-virgin olive oil, fish, walnuts, flax, hempseed, and wheat products. In terms of behavior, light to moderate exercise is a good idea, as well as visualization and meditation.
Atherosclerosis: Atherosclerosis is a condition where cholesterol and plaque builds up on the inside of your blood vessels and arteries, and it can lead to heart attacks and strokes. Besides reducing your overall omega-6 fatty acid intake (LDL cholesterol), you should eat more fruits and vegetables, use warm water enemas, and eat seeds, nuts, grains, and sprouts. Use olive oil and flax seed oil, while avoiding saturated fats, white flour, sugar, tobacco, coffee, salt, processed foods, sauces, and pickles. Consume garlic and onions, lemon peels,parsley, and beet juice, as well as anything that has a high vitamin C content.
Diabetes: Diabetes is the body’s inability to manage its insulin and glucose levels within the body, which can be very dangerous. Some home remedies for diabetes include consuming a diet rich in fiber, as well asbilberry, apples, apricots, beets, berries, carrots, citrus fruits, parsnips, cactus juice, basil leaves, and wintersquash.
Osteoporosis: Osteoporosis is the degenerative disease that gradually erodes bone mineral density, leaving people weak and unable to function properly in their normal activities. The home remedies for this disease includes increasing your intake of minerals in your diet, like calcium, magnesium, iron, zinc, selenium, copper, and manganese. Foods include black cohosh, red clover,spinach, collard greens, milk, yogurt, cheese, ice cream,salmon, and sardines. Also, quit smoking, exercise regularly, and try to reduce intense physical activity that causes repetitive impacts on your joints and bones.
Rheumatoid Arthritis: Rheumatoid arthritis is a disease which is mainly an inflammation of joints, bones, and other connecting points in the body. They can have associated pain as well, so any anti-inflammatory nutritional elements are ideal. Some of these home remedies include silicon, leafy vegetables, vitamin C-laden foods, and regular exercise to get blood flowing to the affected areas. Avoid things like eggs, pepper, and tomatoes, which have been known to make the condition worse.
Some of the most interesting health benefits of cordyceps includes its ability to improve respiratory health, increase oxygen uptake, boost heart health, detoxify the body, prevent certain types of cancer, slow the aging process, increases energy, and improves the immune system.
The name cordyceps actually describes a genus of fungi that includes more than 400 unique species of parasitic types. Fungi are essential parts of many ecosystems, but this particular genus also has a great deal of importance for people, as it has been traditionally used in herbal medicine for centuries. These “club head”mushrooms have a wide range of chemical components and compounds that make them particularly valuable in traditional medicine, as they are globally available and relatively inexpensive. The wide spread of the Cordyceps genus make it particularly desirable. Cordyceps fungi varieties contain certain biochemicals that mimic current pharmacological substances in a natural way.
As the popularity of Cordyceps increases, so too did access and variety of the herbal supplements. Around the world, you can utilize Cordyceps in liquid extracts, tinctures, powders, and capsules, but the mushroomsthemselves, when dried, look like long thing, brown/orange fingers. You can also buy whole cordyceps in certain stores and add them directly to soups for flavor, or brew teafrom the dried and powdered fungi. The origin of most Cordyceps species seems to be Asia, prior to its global spread, which is why it is so frequently found in the traditional medicines of that region. Now, let’s take a closer look at the many health benefits of cordyceps.
Health Benefits of Cordyceps
Energy Booster: One of the most undeniable health benefits of cordyceps is its ability to significantly boost energy levels and has long been known to athletes for the bursts of energy it can provide. Cordyceps increases the amount of oxygen uptake in the body and enhances cellular energy production, thereby providing that extra push for people who need a shot of energy!
Heart Health: Research studies on the effects of cordyceps have come up with many exciting results, especially in relation to cardiovascular health. One study showed that patients given a powdered supplement of cordyceps were significantly less likely to suffer heart failure. This is mainly due to the anti-inflammatory and antispasmodic properties of the herb, which can prevent heart arrhythmias and other complications.
Cholesterol Levels: On a similar note, one of the chemical pathways affected by cordyceps is closely related to cholesterol levels. “Bad” cholesterol levels go up, and “good” cholesterol levels can go up, effectively protecting the heart, as well as numerous other organ systems that are affected by cholesterol, such as our metabolism and endocrine system. You can help prevent atherosclerosis and subsequent heart attacks and strokes by making cordyceps a part of your weekly herbal treatments.
Respiratory Function: As mentioned above, cordyceps is able to increase the amount of oxygen taken in by the lungs, and while this is helpful for athletes, it is also beneficial for those suffering from respiratory conditions, such as asthma or chronic bronchitis. By increasing your oxygen intake, you help prevent respiratory distress and weakness. Also, increasing oxygen levels helps to oxygenate the body’s extremities better, so organ systems as a whole run more efficiently.
Cancer Prevention: People are always looking for the next big solution in the battle against cancer, and some of the unique biochemical compounds found in cordyceps certainly fit the bill in that respect. There has been direct correlations between the consumption of Cordyceps sinensis and tumor size reduction. By shrinking tumors, cordyceps can help slow the spread of cancer, and even make it easier to eliminate or put into remission. This is combined by the antioxidant activities of cordyceps, which helps to eliminate free radicals throughout the body.
Immune System Booster: Cordyceps directly stimulates the production of NK cells (Natural Killer cells), which are one of the body’s first lines of defense against infection and illness. These immunoprotective effects help with a wide range of ailments, from cancer to the common cold and everything in between.
Anti-Aging Properties: Although many people claim to know the secret to anti-aging, some of the most reliable research stands behind using cordyceps, which has powerful concentrations of anti-aging compounds that can help to rejuvenate the skin, eliminate dead or dying cells, and improve the appearance of blemishes, wrinkles, and age spots, effectively shaving years off your life!
Sexual Dysfunction: One of the most interesting effects of cordyceps is its apparent impact on sexual dysfunction in men. Numerous research studies have shown that men suffering from low levels of sexual energy or poor libido saw clear improvement after adding cordyceps herbal supplements to their diet.
Detoxify the Body: Although the exact chemical pathway of this is unclear, studies have shown that kidney health improves notably after only one month of regular cordyceps herbal usage.
A Final Word of Warning: Cordyceps does have a small effect on lowering blood sugar levels, which can be dangerous for diabetics, so they should be aware of the risks before adding that herbal element to their regimen. Also, as a blood-thinner, it shouldn’t be taken before or after surgery, by those already taking blood-thinners, or people suffering from bleeding disorders.
The name Cordyceps comes from the Latin words cordand ceps, meaning “club” and “head.” Thus, the word quite accurately describes this club fungi. Cordyceps sinensis is probably the most well-known of the Cordyceps species throughout the world.
Cordyceps is known to have been ranked as the number one medicine in Tibetan and Chinese medicine for more than 2,000 years. With polysaccharides, nucleosides and cyclosporine, Cordyceps is known to stimulate the immune system, decrease blood sugar levels, have radio-protective effects and contain anti-cancer properties.
Alternative Chinese Medicine (TCM) has long focused on allowing the human body to restore its own self-regulating and self-healing agents. Many research studies using Cordyceps have shown it to stimulate the immune system by increasing the number of white blood cells in an individuals’ body. Because of these properties, Cordyceps is frequently suggested for patients who are recovering from surgery or a serious illness.
But how many species of the Cordyceps “mushroom” are known today? That quantity is hard to fix as a steadfast number.
The genus of Cordyceps has literally been known to have been found throughout the world and usually is accepted to contain approximately 400 different species. However, as the popularity of Cordyceps usage grows in today’s modern health practices, that number has continued to climb. Some experts put the number as high as 600 different species of Cordyceps.
According to one study, species of Cordyceps can now be found on all six inhabited continents in many different climates and feeding off a variety of hosts.
Because of the rarity of the natural product found in the wild, the past 20 years or so have seen a wide assortment of biotechnical firms joining the Cordyceps enthusiasts who wish to cultivate the product. This effort has met with much success, mainly due to the many successes on the medical frontlines as a whole. The demand for the rare Cordyceps health supplement has, of course, led to even more interest in developing new methods for growing Cordyceps in a controlled environment.
Some developers are even able to replicate the exact chemical analysis of Cordyceps found in the wild by using highly-sensitive monitoring equipment and duplicating the growing conditions of the best known species of Cordyceps.
Ancient folk medicine is known to have used Cordyceps to heal a myriad of health problems, including coughs, anemia, tuberculosis, senile weakness, infertility, back pain and impotence. In many areas of the West, Cordyceps has a reputation as a powerful aphrodisiac. Cordyceps has anti-inflammatory properties, regulates body temperature and reduces pain. Cordyceps also inhibits the growth of many viruses and bacteria, including herpes, adenoviruses and influenza.
Is it any wonder modern science is expending so much energy and so many man-hours to artificially create this uniquely-healing supplement?
1. History and Medical Use of Cordyceps Sinensis
Many ancient remedies are steeped in mystery. Thanks to their long-term history, the true origin and discovery is difficult to unearth. In the case of the rare fungus Cordyceps, this continues to be true. Various stories are told about noticing the benefits and impacts of ingesting the mushroom.
Cordyceps Sinensis is a unique and exotic mushroom that grows in the mountains of Tibet, Nepal and China. Cordyceps Sinensis has a long history in Tibet Medicine and Traditional Chine Medicine. The mushroom has been used for centuries to address and treat various health conditions and to maintain normal functions of all body systems.
Some stories tell that yak herders in the Hymalayas noticed that the animals became more energetic and invigorated during grazing. The fungus often grows off caterpillars spread randomly through grasses, so it actually possible that while cropping the grasses the yaks also ate mushrooms. The story goes that when the herders noticed the difference in animal behavior they investigated the source and discovered Cordyceps.
When it comes to information that can be verified, it turns out the first written record of the fungus traces back to 620 AD. At this point in Chinese history the high-altitude fungus was reserved for the Emperor’s medicinal use. Stewed into a broth, the medicinal soup was given to the divine leader for health, fertility and increased vigor.
Later, many records out of Tibet date to the 1400s. More details related to the benefits related to energy, overall health improvement and other factors are laid out in more detail during this writings. The Western world discovered cordyceps much later. At one point a catholic priest stayed with the Chinese Emperor. As an honored guest during the 1700s, he was introduced to the rare, powerful mushroom. As a result it was the middle 1700s when documentation began appearing in Western medical literature.
The tradition of considering this odd fungus a mushroom started during this time. Now we know it’s actually in a different family but tradition still holds in most writings about Cordyceps Sinesis. The West has also had an interesting relationship with the mushroom. For most people in European-derived cultures consuming a fungus that grows on an insect is completely disgusting, regardless how much it might benefit your immune system, energy levels, or heart. Today this has also changed.
Modern farmers have learned to cultivate the mushroom without the use of insect hosts. In fact, sourcing Cordyceps outside of Asia is highly recommended. The supplement is very popular again, so demand may outstrip the supply in some areas. As a result some harvesters adulterate the fungus. Any cases of poisoning you hear of related to Cordyceps are typically due to this practice. Some sources even contain lead to increase the weight of this very valuable mushroom. This practice is more common outside countries with good quality controls such as Canada, New Zealand, Australia, and the United States.
In modern herbal practice, Cordyceps is recommended for a variety of conditions. This supplement works in a highly adaptive manner: it adapts to your body and needs. The adaptations include a variety of ways to make your body more efficient resulting in more energy for healing. Common conditions supported by Cordyceps include chronic fatigue, heart conditions (including cholesterol issues), asthma, and others related to the balance between circulation and energy.
Presently this fungus has been under threat of extinction due to its high market price and over-exploitation. Cordyceps can survive only at an altitude of 3–5,000 meters above sea level therefore is the most difficult herb to harvest, which made it the most expensive. There are more than 680 species of Cordyceps, but Cordyceps Sinensis is the most famous and well known for its healing qualities.
Cordyceps Sinensis is by far the most profitable mushroom on the Tibetan Plateau. It is the most widely distributed of Tibet’s economically important wild mushrooms because it occurs in grasslands, the environmental basis for livestock herding.
The following are the most well know benefits:
One of the active elements of Cordyceps Sinensis is cordycepin acid; it acts as an anti-oxidant and helps in promoting the metabolic process. Cordyceps Sinensis contains approximately 20 elements, these are also important as they help in maintaining the electrolytes and elements that are homeostatic in the body.
2. Cordyceps Health Benefits
Occasionally a product comes along that seems like a miracle. Those that live up to those claims are rare. Even rarer is a supplement that has actually been studied to demonstrate potential benefits. Today Cordyceps is one of the few that brings all of these factors to customers. While any consumer is well-served to investigate “miracle” products, studies have been conducted and published regarding the benefits of this supplement.
The variety of health benefits possible with Cordyceps is perhaps one of the amazing qualities of this rare mushroom. Once you understand how and why so many changes are possible, it’s easier to invest in seeing the results for yourself.
Cordyceps can create a variety of benefits because of how it works with the body. It can literally improve the function of every cell in your system. Due to function and chemical components, this powerful mushroom makes the process of taking nutrition into each cell more efficient. As a result all the normal functions your body conducts are easier: they take less work. Here is what creates all the benefits.
Less work means less inflammation. For those struggling with immune challenges this is a huge benefit. Irritation means more effort. By easing the process of the immune system at a cellular level, you may reach an increased ability to heal, function, and enjoy your life.
The following are just some of the known Cordyceps health benefits.
Cordyceps sinensis species is used to cure liver fibrosis as a result of metalloproteinases-2 content in it. In a study conducted by researchers from Shanghai University that holds Traditional Chinese Medicine, it was found that Cordyceps sinensis is capable of T lymphocyte level adjustment therefore treating hepatic fibrosis in chronic hepatitis patients. Diabetes-people suffering from blood sugar disease can benefit from Cordyceps since the presence of polysaccharide and Cordyceps mycelia can lower the level of glucose in the blood. Cordyceps militaris also has the effect of improving utilization of glucose in the blood stream thereby enhancing insulin resistance.
Some types of cancer are cured by Cordyceps offering a relief to patients suffering from those cancer types. Cordyceps militaris has cytotoxic effects, which is a panacea to leukemia due to its cultivated fruiting body extracts. Cordyceps also contains the anti tumor extract, which significantly inhibits abnormal cell growth. It also modulates immunity in the body and the production of interleukin factor. Alteration in testosterone levels-it has been found that Cordyceps has an effect on the secretion of testosterone, which is in doses thus giving benefits to those having reproductive problems.
Cultured Cordyceps Sinensis has been perceived as a major benefit to those with cardiovascular complications. The extracts of fruiting bodies of Cordyceps sinensis contributes greatly to the beneficial effect in the formation of chemicals used to inhibit cholesterol levels. This creates a smooth line of blood circulation and inhibits heart conditions. Cordyceps also has the effect to lower blood pressure hence creating vaso relaxation effects.
Cordyceps brings about free radical scavenging effect, which is significant in inducing death of neuronal cell and loss of memory. This is a benefit to people with memory deficits. The radical scavenging effect also helps in anti-oxidative activities.
Cordyceps are beneficial in that they help lower the cholesterol effects in the body.
It is evident that Cordyceps is beneficial to the body when taken purposefully, and as it is used for its curative effects, researchers are still working out any possibility to find out if it has health benefits in kidney.
3. Safety & Species of Cordyceps
There are more than 680 species of Cordyceps, many of which are used medicinally in China. Common medicinal species include:
ous clinical studies have been performed on Cordyceps and no side effects were identified. However it is recommended to use Cordyceps cautiously in patients with prostate conditions or in individuals taking immuno suppressive medications, and hormonal replacement therapy. Avoid in patients with myelogenous-type cancers based on reports of Cordyceps causing proliferation of progenitor red blood cells.
Pregnant and breastfeeding women should avoid it as its effects on the human body during pregnancy and breastfeeding are not sufficiently well studied.
In addition, there is no reaction between this product and other drugs that has been confirmed.
Due to the increasing popularity of Cordyceps sinensis, some supplements have been adulterated; some manufacturers substitute other species of cordyceps. The safety of these supplements is not known.
Article provided by:
Over the past six years there were very convincing consumption results with fast-effecting biological immune system and the energy regulators, produced by higher fungi Cordyceps, Linchzhi Shiitake, gathered. Recently, there were some new reports about even greater impact of these products.
It is already possible to conclude that, improved “Fohow” higher fungus products significantly surpass their predecessors on impact and helps to achieve positive results more quickly with a smaller dose.
When considering options for use of products, there were a number of international and regional medical conferences, seminars and roundtable discussions held. Such events for pharmaceutical and medical specialists were organized in many countries: Russia (Moscow, St. Petersburg, Novosibirsk, Yekaterinburg, etc.), Ukraine (Kiev, Donetsk, Simferopol, Vinnytsia), Belarus (Minsk, Grodno), Lithuania (Vilnius, Kaunas, Klaipeda), Latvia (Riga, Liepaja), Estonia (Tallinn, Narva), Israel (Tel Aviv), Jerusalem), Germany (Bremen, Augsburg), Poland(Warsaw, Lodz, Katowice), UK (London), Kazakhstan (Alma-Ata), Uzbekistan (Tashkent), Armenia (Yerevan), and many others. There were sets of reports on the results of treatment with these products released.
Great job in informing medical public and other people about the company products is done by Professor Alla Girich (Moscow). Clinical pharmacology experience of A. Girich helps carefully analyze mechanisms involved in biological immune and energy systems’ regulators, with ones we work in recent years. In other countries, other lecturers-doctors and nutritionists, who have experience with these products, are actively working as well: in Israel – medical doctor Nodar Gazneli, in Lithuania – Dr. Nijole Jankuniene and Dalia Sekmokiene, and many more countries and professionals.
Over the past few years there has been practice on consumption of fast-effecting biological immune systems and energy regulators accumulated. It’s safe to say that BAP is safe and in many cases, the positive impact is even bigger than that of drugs. Wide consumption of supplements as preventive and wellness products helps to significantly improve health.
The products are most widely used in preventive medicine. In the international medical conference in Moscow in 2002 the Associate Professor T Lemzitskova (Ukraine) presented a compelling example of the effectiveness of the products: in Kiev, pupils from two kindergartens had no viral respiratory tract infections during all year, as they have used Cordyceps products for prevention.
Therefore, we recommend oral liquid concentrated Cordyceps preparations-elixirs named “Phoenix” and “Sanbao” as a truly effective preventive measure, especially for those people whose immune system is weakened. Biological active agents of Cordyceps are commonly used in patients with multiple chronic diseases.
According to statistics, cancer patients use this product more often than other people do. It should be noted that, thanks to advanced biotechnology, the latest fluid concentrated forms of “Fohow” products – elixirs “Phoenix” and “Sanbao” – contain much more polysaccharides which the immune modulating component is.
There is no doubt that these immunomodulators are necessary for cancer patients, as well as for various other people with pre-cancer and other chronic diseases that develop due to immunodeficiency. At present, there is found that about 80 percent (!) of diseases are diagnosed in people with impaired immunity.
The amounts of patients with oncology and hematologic illnesses that use Cordyceps, are mentored and observed in Lithuania and other European countries, reaches five thousand. This is really a big contingent of differences in age, clinical diagnoses and diversity. It was found that using fast effecting concentrated immunomodulators, almost always has a positive impact, both in combination with conventional medicines and medical instruments, as well as without them. Even at last stages of cancer, the use of these products actually work. Eight years monitoring. Eight years monitoring results of cancer patients treated with fast acting BAP, showed a very low mortality rate. In addition, almost all deaths have been recorded in the fourth stage cancer patients.
Since Cordyceps concentrated preparations contain high levels of immunomodulating polysaccharides and some other specific components, they hamper the formation of tumors (Yoshida, J., 1989, Nakamura, K., 1999, Alexeyeva B., 2003; Girich A., 2003). Therefore, in oncology these products can be widely used as an additional (Jankuniene N., 2004) and sometimes as the main therapeutic tool (Liu Yu, 1997).
“Fohow” Cordyceps preparations are good for patients with various cardiovascular diseases and especially – patients with atherosclerosis and those who develop complications (arterial hypertension, heart attack, stroke). Even with patients who develop stable hypertension there have been reported about good results, when fast-effecting biological regulator elixir “Phoenix” has been used from one to several months (when a daily dose is from few to 15ml). More than a half of patients’ blood pressure returned to normal, and about 40 percent dropped sharply. Similar results were described by O. Beskaravainaja (2003), I. Pajarskiene (2004) and others.
Cordyceps products are successfully used in veterinary practice as well (A. Bugajev, Kiev, 2003).
Source of the above information: Recent Achievements of Ancient Medicine by Prof. Dr. Arkadijus Gamperis,
Medical Doctor and Professor of Oriental Medicine, Vilnius, Lithuania - ISBN 978-609-95273-3-8
Cordyceps sinensis has been described as a medicine in old Chinese medical books and Tibetan medicine. It is a rare combination of a caterpillar and a fungus and found at altitudes above 4500m in Sikkim. Traditional healers and local people of North Sikkim recommend the mushroom, i.e., Yarsa gumba, Keera jhar (C. sinensis ) for all diseases either as a single drug or combined with other herbs. The present study was undertaken to collect information regarding the traditional uses of cordyceps in Sikkim. It was found that most local folk healers/traditional healers use cordyceps for the treatment of 21 ailments. A modern literature search was carried out to assess whether the curative effects are valid or just blind faith of local people. Chemical constituents of cordyceps are given and pharmacological and biological studies reviewed. More mechanism-based and disease-oriented clinical studies are recommended.
Keywords: Cordyceps, disease, folk healers, fungus, mushroom, North Sikkim
Mushrooms have been used as food, medicine, poison, and in spiritual mushroom practices in religious rituals across the world since at least 5000 BC.  Gordon Wasson (father of modern Ethno mycology) believed that the Soma plant used in religious ceremonies, over 4000 years ago, before the beginning of the Christian era, by the people who called themselves "Aryans" was a mushroom. The Vedic juice called "soma rasa" is said to bestow divine qualities on the soul of the consumer, even immortality.  Ayurveda classifies mushrooms undertamasika ahara, and as a medicine for enhancing vigor and vitality.  The fungus Cordyceps sinensis has been described in old Chinese medical books from ancient times, and is also found in Tibetan medicine.  The fungus Penicillium from which the antibiotic penicillin is derived is the most famous medicine of the age, and the most potent hallucinogen agent Lysergic acid diethylamide (LCD), has also been derived from the plant - parasite ergot fungus Claviceps purpurea. ,
Traditional healers in Sikkim recommend the fungus/mushroom Cordyceps sinensis for "all illnesses" as a tonic, because they claim that it improves energy, appetite, stamina, libido, endurance, and sleeping patterns. It is a rare combination of a caterpillar and fungus found in Sikkim at altitudes above 3,800 m. The mushroom is most popular in the Lachung and Lachen area of North Sikkim and has the reputation of being a precious longevity-promoting herb. The present study was undertaken to collect as much information as possible regarding traditional claims for its uses in different diseases. Attempts to evaluate such claims through studies of available modern literature were also made.
North Sikkim is a vast reservoir of high-altitude medicinal and aromatic plants. Its people possess a treasury of knowledge related to their management and uses. There are a number of reputed classes of practitioner like the Amchi (Tibetan folk practitioner) and Vaidyas(herbalist/folk healers). Relevant information was gathered from local people, local practitioners, folk healers, and by direct contact with herb collectors of Lachung and Lachen, during repeated field visits between June 2008 and September 2009.
Information was collected through an open-ended questionnaire from a large number of individual respondents, as well as through semi-structured interviews. They were asked for herbs' local names, traditional and commercial uses, parts used, and mode of administration. Information obtained in each locality was cross-checked at different places with other respondents. To substantiate the usefulness of CS, scientific information for the chemical constituents, curative effect, biological studies, and pharmacological studies was collated from journals.
C. Sinensis is an annual Ascomycetes fungus closely related to the mushroom. Although not actually a mushroom taxonomically, it has been described as an exotic medicinal mushroom in traditional Chinese and Tibetan medicine. The name cordyceps comes from Latin words meaning club and head. The mycological features, related species and vernacular names are given in [Table 1] . The normal harvesting period stretches from April to August. It grows only in high-altitude regions of about 3800 m above sea level, in cold, grassy, alpine meadows of the Himalayan mountains. The fungus is parasitic in nature. The base of the mushroom first originates from an insect larval host ( Hepialis armoricanus family Hepialidac) and ends at the club-like cap, including the stipe and stroma. The fruit body is dark brown to black, and the root of organism, the larval body pervaded by the mycelium, is yellowish to brown color.  The immature larvae (host) on which cordyceps grows usually lies about 6 inches below the surface of the ground. As the fungus approaches maturity, it consumes more than 90% of the infected insect effectively mummifying its host. As the stroma matures, it swells up and develops perihelia . The average weight of cordyceps is about 300-500 mg.
Result and Discussion
The people of North Sikkim call the fungus/mushroom/herb yarsa gumba ; its Tibetan name [winter (yarsa) and summer (gumba)]. In the literature, "gunba" or "gonba" have also been used instead of "gumba." It is called Keera Jhar (insect herb) by the local Nepalese. It is also known as the Himalayan Viagra. It costs approximately 6.77 U.S. dollar per piece in the international market and is locally available at Rs.100/- per piece.
Initially local herders observed that yak, goat, sheep, etc. consuming C. Sinensis during their grazing in the forest became very strong and stout. This observation paved the way for the discovery of its medicinal value. Thereafter, local people and herders used the fungus powder with jaggery to increase milk production, and improve reproductive capacity and vitality of their cattle. Then its relevant medicinal properties were explored, collecting only the aerial part (fruiting body/stroma), which they dried in sunlight as primary processing. Then they themselves consumed it and became convinced of its medicinal effects in enhancing vigor and vitality. They further claimed that it has aphrodisiac effects, and hence they used to give it as a gift to relatives and friends from Gangtok and adjoining areas.
At present, local folk practitioners use the product alone or in combination with other medicinal herbs to treat various diseases, administering different doses for different ailments according to their experience, based on an empirical trial-and-error method. People of both sexes usually take one piece of C. sinensis with a cup of milk to enhance their sexual potency and desire. The Bhutia community put one piece of C. sinensis in a cup of local-made alcohol ( chang ), leave it for 1 hour, and drink it morning and evening as a tonic. Some use hot water instead of alcohol. Some folk healers use C. sinensis for diabetes and other wasting diseases. It is used for cancer mixed with texus leaf and Ginseng root decoction. Similar reports are also available from Nepal. ,, An attempt was made to evaluate the strength of the folk claims by counting the number of users for particular illnesses. Prolonged, continuous use by local folk healers/traditional healers for the treatment of 21 ailments, including cancer, bronchial asthma, bronchitis, TB, diabetes, cough and cold, erectile dysfunction, BHP, jaundice, alcoholic hepatitis, etc., were noted [Table 2]. Most traditional healers and elderly people use it to increase longevity and cure erectile dysfunction. 
Evidence and studies
arious pharmacological and biological studies establishing the curative effect of corydeps involving various experimental models ( in vitroand in vivo ) and some clinical trials in volunteer athletes. , C. sinensis exhibits very broad biological and pharmacological actions in hepatic, renal, and cardiovascular diseases. It has effects on immunological disorders including cancer. Pharmacological actions of cordyceps are primarily due to bioactive polysaccharides, modified nucleosides, and cyclosporine like metabolites.
Also, the fermentable strain of the mycelia causes normal fat mobilization and beta-oxidation, thereby maintaining blood glucose level during prolonged exercise in athletes.
A Chinese study conducted on mice, a double-blind, placebo-controlled trial, investigated whether oral administration of cordyceps results in enhanced endurance and resistance to fatigue. After 3 weeks of administration, the groups given CS-4 were able to swim significantly longer than the control groups. The results of the study were dose-dependent with results of one group on a higher dose showing a 30% increase in endurance and the second group showing a 73% increase in endurance. The study concluded that the cardiotonic action, inhibition of tracheal constrictions, and relaxation of contracted vascular smooth muscle (which CS-4 evokes) increase the ability and endurance of exercise. Another double-blind, placebo-controlled study was conducted to test the effects on physical performance in 1998 led by S. Morrissey of Beijing Medical University Sports Research Institute. They found that the group given the most of the product containing cordyceps experienced improved lactate clearance. Researchers concluded that lactate clearance improved due to improved lactate energy metabolism within the cell. Hence the authors concluded that using this CS formulation would enhance lactate clearance and allow athletes greater anaerobic physical performance  [Table 3].
Scientific proof of the effects of the Cordyceps mushroom seem to be quite promising and coincide with folk practices of Sikkim and other parts of India, China, Nepal and Bhutan. The Cordyceps mushroom also has potent antioxidant properties. 
Natural product chemistry of Cordyceps
Many natural products have been identified from the fruiting bodies and cultured mycelium of cordyceps and related species. The major chemical constituent is cordycepic acid with other amino acids, vitamins and minerals [Table 4].
The folk healers of Sikkim use C. sinensis to cure 21 ailments including cancer, asthma, TB, diabetics, cough and cold, erectile dysfunction in males and female BHP, hepatitis, etc. Many studies in vitro and in vivo support C. sinensis having diverse biological activities and pharmacological potential [Table 3]. Its effects on renal and hepatic function and immunomodulatory-related antitumor activities are most promising and deserve further attention. Although the origin and preparation of cordyceps have not always been clearly addressed, most studies use water-soluble, polysaccharide-rich fractions or alcohol extracts.
Now all possible measures have to be undertaken to ensure that a healthy environment is sustained so that substantial harvesting can be carried out for the medicinal fungi and plants, which will be able to provide the basic income for folk healers and other rural people. Fermented mycelia can be constantly produced on a large scale, and are a better source of the medicine. Available evidence regarding C. sinensis's medicinal value look very promising, but there is a lack of study performed specifically on humans. More mechanism-based and disease-oriented pharmacological studies are required. The need of the hour is now to undertake detailed pharmacological studies of C. sinensis for its pharmacokinetics, pharmacodynamics, and toxicities in humans. In the Ayurvedic pharmacopoeia, the mushroom/fungus, C. sinensis, can be considered to fall in the Rasayana category.
1. Winkler D. Present and historic relevance of Yartsa Gunbu (Cordyceps sinensis).An ancient myco-medicinal in Tibet. Fungi. 2008;1:6–7.
2. Wasson R. New York: New York Press; 1968. Gordon, Soma: Divine mushroom of immortality; pp. 3–4.
3. Adhikari MK. Chyau: Ayurvediya vishleshan ek vivechana (Mushrooms: An Ayurvedic concepts) J Nep Pharm Asso. 1981;9:17–21.
4. Howard JM. Potential of the fungus used in Chiense Traditional remedies: The catapillar fungus (Cordyceps sinensis) [Last accessed on 2003]. Available from: http://www.world-of-fungi.org/Mostly_Medical/James_Howard/James_HowardSSM.htm .
5. Diggin FE. The true history of discovery of penicillin. Br J Biomed Sci. 1999;25:2–3.
6. Hofmann A. Switzerland: J.B. Lippincott Company; 1970. The Discovery of LSD and Subsequent Investigations on Naturally Occurring Hallucinogens in Discoveries in Biological Psychiatry. Chapter -7; pp. 34–7.
7. Kinjo N, Zang M. Morphological and phylogenetic studies on coryceps Sinensis. Mycoscience.2001;42:567–74.
8. Devkota S. Yarsagumba (Cordyceps sinensis): Reflection on Historical Perspectives. Soc Life.2007;13:40–1.
9. Devokota S. Yarsagumba [Cordyceps sinensis (Berk.) Sacc.] Traditional utilization in Dolpa district. West Nepal. Our Nat. 2006;4:48–52.
10. Lama YC, Ghimire SK, Thomas YA. Amchis’ Knowledge and Conservation. Kathmandu: People and Plants Initiative, WWF Nepal Program; 2001. Medicinal Plants of Dolpo; p. 56.
11. Adhikari MK, Devkota S, Tiwari RD. Ethnomycolgical Knowledge on Uses of Wild Mushrooms in Western and Central Nepal. Our Nat. 2005;3:13–9.
12. Panda AK. Tracing the historical prospective of Cordyceps sinensis –an aphrodisiac in Sikkim Himalya. Ind J Hist Sci. 2010;45:189–98.
13. Zhu JS, Halpen GM, Jones K. The scientific of an ancient Chinese medicine: Cordyceps sinensis. Part-1. J Altern Complement Med. 1998;4:289–303. [PubMed]
14. Zhu JS, Halpen GM, Jones K. The Scientific study of an ancient Chinese medicine: Cordyceps sinensis. Part-2. J Altern Complement Med. 1998;4:429–57. [PubMed]
15. Wang ZX, Wang XM, Wang TZ. Current status of pharmacological studies on Cordyceps sinensis and Cordyceps hyphae. Chung-Kuo Chung His I Chieh ho Tsa Chih. 1995;15:255–6. [PubMed]
16. Wang SY, Shiao MS. Pharmacological function of Chinese medicinal fungus Cordyceps sinensis and related species. J Food Drug Anal. 2000;8:248–57.
17. Li SP, Li P, Dong TT, Tsim KW. Anti –oxidant activity of different types of natural Cordyceps sinensis and cultured Cordyceps mycelia. Phytomedicine. 2001;8:207–12. [PubMed]
18. Tsuno A, Taketomo N, Hiroyuki I. Healthful composition obtained from the hot water extract of Cordyceps sinensis mycelia. J Lab Clin Med. 1995;8:134–7.
19. Xiao YQ, Liu JM, Tu YY. Studies on chemical constituents in Cordyceps sinensis. Bull Chin Mater Med. 1983;8:32–3.
20. You-Ping Zhu. Australia: Harwood Academic Publication; 1998. Chinese Material Medical – Chimistry, Pharmacology and Appilcation; pp. 10–121.
A promising cancer drug, first discovered in a mushroom commonly used in Chinese medicine, could be made more effective thanks to researchers who have discovered how the drug works. The research, carried out by The University of Nottingham, was funded by the Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council (BBSRC).
In research to be published in the Journal of Biological Chemistry, Dr Cornelia de Moor and her team, in the School of Pharmacy, investigated a drug called cordycepin, which was originally extracted from a rare kind of wild mushroom called cordyceps — a strange parasitic mushroom that grows on caterpillars (see image and notes on use of image) — and is now prepared from a cultivated form.
Dr de Moor said: “Our discovery will open up the possibility of investigating the range of different cancers that could be treated with cordycepin. We have also developed a very effective method that can be used to test new, more efficient or more stable versions of the drug in the Petri dish. This is a great advantage as it will allow us to rule out any non-runners before anyone considers testing them in animals.”
Properties attributed to cordyceps mushroom in Chinese medicine made it interesting to investigate and it has been studied for some time. In fact, the first scientific publication on cordycepin was in 1950. The problem was that although cordycepin was a promising drug, it was quickly degraded in the body. It can now be given with another drug to help combat this, but the side effects of the second drug are a limit to its potential use.
Dr de Moor continued: “Because of technical obstacles and people moving on to other subjects, it’s taken a long time to figure out exactly how cordycepin works on cells. With this knowledge, it will be possible to predict what types of cancers might be sensitive and what other cancer drugs it may effectively combine with. It could also lay the groundwork for the design of new cancer drugs that work on the same principle.”
The team has observed two effects on the cells: at a low dose cordycepin inhibits the uncontrolled growth and division of the cells and at high doses it stops cells from sticking together, which also inhibits growth. Both of these effects probably have the same underlying mechanism, which is that cordycepin interferes with how cells make proteins. At low doses cordycepin interferes with the production of mRNA, the molecule that gives instructions on how to assemble a protein. And at higher doses it has a direct impact on the making of proteins.
Professor Janet Allen, BBSRC Director of Research, said: “Research to understand the underlying bioscience of a problem is always important. This project shows that we can always return to asking questions about the fundamental biology of something in order to refine the solution or resolve unanswered questions. The knowledge generated by this research demonstrates the mechanisms of drug action and could have an impact on one of the most important challenges to health.”
The research is due to be published in The Journal of Biological Chemistry and is available via early online publication here.
Source: The University of Nottingham