Cordyceps is a medicinal fungus, or mushroom, (See Ref 1) with a long history of use in Traditional Chinese Medicine. People take it for a variety of purposes, including to promote healthy blood sugar levels, reduce fatigue and for anti-aging. Pilot studies in humans and animals have yielded support for potential benefits. However, research into cordyceps is still in the early stages; large, long-term studies proving the benefits of cordyceps are lacking. Because cordyceps is considered a form of herbal medicine, talk to your doctor before taking it.
Improves Exercise Performance in Older Adults
Researchers of a small, double-blind, placebo-controlled pilot study found that cordyceps improved athletic performance in older adults. The study involved 20 healthy adults age 50 to 75 who took 333 milligrams of cordyceps three times daily for 12 weeks (See Ref 2 - abstract - design). Researchers assessed exercise capacity after 12 weeks and found that cordyceps improved markers for exercise performance (See Ref 2 - abstract - results). The authors concluded that cordyceps might benefit older adults. The results were published in the May 2010 edition of the "Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine (See Ref 2)."
Fights High Blood Sugar
Cordyceps appears to promote healthy blood sugar levels, according to an animal study published in the March 2014 edition of the journal "BioMed Research International (See Ref 3)." Researchers gave diabetic mice cordyceps to observe potential benefits. They found that cordyceps significantly lowered blood sugar by helping the body use glucose more efficiently, in a manner similar to the diabetes medication metformin (See Ref 3). Cordyceps suppressed blood levels of cholesterol and triglycerides as well, according to the study (See Ref 3).
Potential Anti-Aging Benefits
In an experimental animal study, researchers found that cordyceps appears to have anti-aging benefits, according to the results published in the January 2009 issue of the journal "Phytotherapy Research (See Ref 4)." The researchers examined learning, memory and sexual function in middle-aged mice given cordyceps (See Ref 4). They found cordyceps improved brain function and sexual function, suggesting anti-aging benefits, according to the study (See Ref 4). They found cordyceps had a beneficial effect on age-related enzymes as well (See Ref 4).
Dosage and Potential Side Effects
A general recommended dosage for cordyceps is lacking. A dose of 3 to 6 grams has been used in clinical studies, according to Drugs.com (See Ref 1). Work with a TCM practitioner to determine the proper dose. Like any supplement, cordyceps has the potential to cause unwanted side effects. Mild gastrointestinal side effects such as diarrhea nausea, dry mouth and stomach discomfort have been reported, according to Drugs.com (See Ref 1). No well-documented medicine interactions have been reported, but it's best to talk to your doctor first if you're currently prescribed medication.