A Brief Overview and History

The genus Cordyceps, a medicinal mushroom has around 750 different species and is found all over the world, although it is most common in Southeast Asia, North America and Europe.

Cordyceps is considered a powerful medicinal mushroom – it has been well-acknowledged in Chinese and Tibetan medicine for several hundred years and is used to treat a broad range of illnesses. The plant is a rare combination of fungus and caterpillar.

Currently, 35 unique Cordyceps species have been reported to have therapeutic and medicinal properties which include cytotoxic, antitumour, anti-inflammatory, anti-diabetic, antibacterial, and more.

Since its discovery, medicinal mushroom extracts have been widely used to provide much richer and more direct medicinal mushrooms benefits, as opposed to consuming medicinal mushrooms directly, such as cordyceps, reishi, maitake etc.

What are Medicinal Mushrooms?

Medicinal mushrooms may be described as macroscopic fungi which are used in the form of medicinal mushrooms extract powder or capsules to prevent, alleviate and at times, cure a variety of diseases.

Medicinal mushrooms have the potential to become commercial-scale disease-curing drugs, although more research and clinical trials are needed in this regard. With that said, medicinal mushrooms are available in the form of powders and capsules, have been shown to help alleviate and manage many different kinds of health conditions.

The potential Benefits of Cordyceps according to Current Research

Cordyceps benefits have been widely documented in scientific research. However, many centuries earlier, it had been traditionally used by folk healers, for example, to cure as many as 21 different health conditions.

In traditional Chinese medicine, more specifically, Cordyceps has been handpicked and dried for centuries in order to cure everything from kidney disease to low libido and diabetes. For a fact, many people today buy Cordyceps for the libido-boosting benefits alone.

Let’s explore more of Cordyceps’ benefits and what the current research says:


Antioxidants seems to be the buzzword in modern living because we can’t seem to get enough of this good stuff! They are essentially molecules responsible for protecting healthy cells against ageing and harmful environmental effects.


Extracts from Cordyceps militaris have shown promising potential as an antitumour and anticancer treatment, according to this .

Other studies, including this one, have shown how Cordyceps militaris can inhibit the growth of multiple cancers in human beings.


This in-depth study revealed that Cordyceps militaris exhibited potent antimicrobial, antioxidant and cytotoxic properties, helping to fight against tumours, and making its efficacy highly valuable in the health, medicine and food industry.


Research has shown that when human cells were exposed to Cordyceps, proteins responsible for increasing inflammation in the body were suppressed, thereby leading to reduced inflammation.

Thanks to this inflammation suppression, researchers claim that medicinal mushrooms may very well serve as a powerful inflammatory drug and/or supplement.


According to this study, medicinal mushrooms made from Cordyceps militaris can help modulate the airway inflammation found in asthma.

A mice study revealed how C. militaris can inhibit allergic responses and may be used as a therapeutic agent to cure and manage allergic diseases.


Cordyceps has a specific kind of sugar which may help people treat and manage Type II diabetes. The medicinal mushrooms, when taken in pill, capsule or extract form, can mimic how insulin works in the body. In multiple studies, such as this one and this one, Cordyceps was shows to lower blood sugar levels in mice.

According to this study, the inhibitory effects on blood urea nitrogen, creatinine, uric acid, and protein revealed the protection of Cordyceps militaris extracts against diabetic nephropathy, which was confirmed by pathological morphology reversion. Collectively, Cordyceps militaris extract, a safe pharmaceutical agent, presents excellent antidiabetic and antinephropathic activities.


Cordyceps has been known to help the body deliver better energy to working muscles, thereby reducing fatigue and exhaustion.

This in-depth mice study proves Cordyceps militaris’ efficacy as an anti-fatigue agent; while this study shows that when  Cordyceps-containing medicinal mushrooms were given to young adults, there was an 11% increase in VO2 max levels.


This study and this one demonstrated that the Cordyceps species exhibited anti-HIV effects, in addition to many others, such as the ones detailed above – anticancer, antioxidant, anti-tumour, anti-diabetic, etc.

Anti-bacterial & anti-fungal

This study of Cordyceps shows that it has strong potential for acting as an antibacterial and anti-fungal agent. It also showed the potential for Cordyceps to help eliminate certain kinds of bacteria and fungus in the breast, large lung, colon and cervical region.

Anti-Arthritic and Anti-Osteoporosis

The results in this study suggest that cordycepin can be a valuable bio-active compound for the treatment of osteoporosis and is able to prevent bone loss caused by estrogen deficiency.

To alleviate the symptoms of arthritis, glucocorticosteroids, nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory medications, and other biological agents are commonly used. Long-term use of these medicines reduces their efficacy and raises the likelihood of side effects. Recently, studies have been done in search of effective anti-arthritic medicines with increased therapeutic benefits and fewer adverse effects. Traditional herbal medicine, which has been proved to be more efficient, safer, and cost-effective, is gaining popularity in the treatment of arthritis. Cordycepin has also been shown to have a chondroprotective impact on osteoarthritis progression by inhibiting cartilage denegation and interfering with the inflammatory response.

What is the difference between Medicinal Mushroom Extracts and Powders?

Mushroom Powders

Mushroom powders are usually manufactured in a number of ways as standardisation does not really exist. Mushroom powders are created by dehydrating mushrooms at temperatures that do not entirely break down the chitin, the tough cellular walls of the mushroom that are mostly indigestible, and then grinding them into a powder after they have dried. Mushroom powders can be made up of either the fruiting body (the growing mushroom) or mycelium cultivated on grains.

Mycelium (consider mycelium as the mushroom’s roots) is responsible for absorbing nutrients and releasing enzymes. It functions as a sophisticated system that supplies the mushroom. The myceliated grains are then freeze-dried and crushed into a powder without any extraction procedure.

Mushroom Extracts

We’ve mentioned above that chitin is the tough cellular walls of the mushrooms. Because chitin is sensitive to temperature, heat-treated methods such as Hot Water Extraction can be utilised to break down the chitin. This can be achieved by boiling methods that thoroughly heat the fungus.

After that, the mixture is put through a spray-drier, which utilizes pressured hot air to remove any liquid.

This extraction method allows our natural digestive enzymes to absorb the key nutritional and bio-active components of extracted mushrooms. These bioactive components include proteins, B vitamins, vitamin D, minerals, and important nutrients known as – β-glucans (pronounced beta-glucan), which may be extracted using hot water since they are water-soluble. β–glucans are formed as a result of cellular wall breakdown.

The polysaccharides or Beta-Glucans (beta-D-glucan) is what we’re after, as there’s plenty of evidence that they can have an immune-boosting effect. They are also considered to be one of the key ingredients in mushroom extracts which are directly responsible for the plethora of health benefits.

So, just to recap – powders are ideal if you want to enjoy the benefits of mushrooms in your diet in order to cover some of your daily nutritional intake, although because the cellular walls are still intact, the nutrients are still enclosed in the cell walls. Extracts are best if you’re looking for medicinal value, and they contain β-glucans that are much easier for your body to digest and absorb after being extracted in hot water.

How to use

Cordyceps is often available in capsule, powder, and tablet form. Capsules or pills are a quick and easy method to obtain your daily dose.

There are no universal guidelines for using cordyceps or cordyceps supplements. Cordyceps dose varies depending on the purpose for usage, but most human studies have utilised 1,000–3,000 mg per day, which does not appear to be associated with any typical adverse effects. As a general rule., follow the dose instructions on your cordyceps supplement, or consult a medical practitioner if you have a specific medical condition.

Final Thoughts on Cordyceps

Cordyceps is a famous medicinal fungus that has been used for thousands of years to cure a variety of illnesses.

They are frequently hailed as the world’s most potent superfood, with scientific and anecdotal evidence indicating that they can boost immunity, improve athletic performance and stamina, boost libido, fight tumors and reduce cancer treatment symptoms, manage type 2 diabetes, fight inflammation, and promote heart health.

By using an extract rather than powder, you are giving your body more opportunity to fully absorb and digest the benefits.