5 Benefits of Cordyceps For Your Brain and Body

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5 Benefits of Cordyceps:

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.

Mushrooms have been used as food, medicine, poison, and in spiritual mushroom practices in religious rituals across the world since at least 5000 BC.  These 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.

What is Cordyceps?

This oddly shaped mushroom grows native to China and is all around the Tibetan area.  For years it was thought to be a living worm rather than a mushroom and was nicknamed the caterpillar fungus as it is seen growing on the sides of trees.  Cordyceps is actually a fungal spore that kills insects such as caterpillars and moths and feeds off their tissues.

The Cordyceps mushroom has been described in old Chinese medical books from ancient times, and is also found in Tibetan medicine. Traditional Tibetan healers have recommended Cordyceps as a tonic for all illnesses.  This is because they continually witness how it improves people’s energy, sleep habits, digestion, stamina, libido and endurance.

Cordyceps first became popular in the western world when the coach of the record breaking Chinese female runners credited it with the teams extraordinary success.  Today, many researchers believe Cordyceps to be one of the most powerful performance and longevity promoting herbs (1).

1. Kidney Health:

Chronic kidney disease is a global health problem that is very hard to treat, costs the healthcare system billions of dollars each year and has a high fatality rate.  A 2011 study out of Zhejiang University found that Cordyceps has the potential to inhibit renal fibrosis by shutting down inflammatory pathways that destroy the kidneys normal function and produce fibrous scar tissue (2).

A 2014 study published in the journal Phytomedicine confirmed this earlier 2011 study.  The researchers found that the Ergosterol peroxide (EP), the major sterol produced by Cordyceps was the major component that was able to shut down the transforming growth factor-β1 (TGF-β1) pathway that promotes the fibrous growth patterns that render the kidney useless (3).

Rhodiola, Top 6 Health Benefits of Rhodiola2. Adrenal Health:

The adrenal glands are critical for maintaining healthy energy levels, physical and mental performance and good sleeping patterns.  Adrenal fatigue is a state where the adrenal glands are overworked and unable to perform their functions effectively.  Individuals with adrenal fatigue suffer from low energy, poor hormonal function and chronic inflammation.

Adaptogenic substances was originally defined by Russian scientist Dr Nikolai Lazarev in the late 1940’s following research done on the eleuthero root.  Israel Brekham, PhD and Dr. I.V. Dardymov formally defined adaptogens with three major characteristics

  1. Adaptogens are non-toxic – this means they don’t have harmful effects on the body and are safe to be taken for long periods of time.
  2. They produce a non-specific biological response that improves the bodies ability to resist from physical, chemical, emotional and other biological stressors.
  3. They have a strong influence on the body towards homeostatic balance. This means that they move the body in the direction of a normal homeostatic set point.  If stress hormones are too high, they lower and stabilize them and if stress hormones are too low, they raise and stabilize them.

Cordyceps is shown to help the body produce and balance cortisol and other stress hormones (4).  The adaptogenic qualities allows them to influence the body towards homeostatic balance.  This means that they move the body in the direction of a normal homeostatic set point.  If stress hormones are too high, they lower and stabilize them and if stress hormones are too low, they raise and stabilize them (5).

In a 2003 study, Cordyceps extract was shown to improve a group of rats physical performance in an endurance swim by over 16% .  The rats also showed signs of reduced stress during the swim compared to the placebo group (6).

A 2014 study showed that Cordyceps markedly reduced exercise induced oxidative stress in a group of rats.  The study showed that the rats using Cordyceps has significantly increased production of intracellular anti-oxidants superoxide dismutase, glutathione and catalase in their serum, liver and muscle.  They had considerably lower oxidative stress markers in their serum, liver and muscle (7).

adaptogens, Top 5 Adaptogens for Stress Reduction3.  Hormonal Health:

Cordyceps has been known for centuries in Asian culture as an aphrodisiac.   It has commonly been used as an aid for lowered libido among other things.

Researchers hypothesized that it has a positive effect on reducing the negative effects of stress and improving sex hormone production.  A 1998 study showed that Cordyceps has positive effect on steroidogenesis or the production of steroid hormones (8)

cordyceps4. Diabetes & Blood Sugar Support

Cordyceps has been shown to improve insulin secretion by the pancreas and it inhibits insulin degradation.  It also reduces oxidative stress which is a major culprit in insulin resistance.  It improves the function of glucose-regulating enzymes in the liver and promotes a gradual absorption of glucose from the digestive system into the blood stream.

A 1999 study in the Biological and Pharmaceutical Bulletin showed that cordyceps was able to stabilize blood sugar in drug-induced hyperglycemic diabetic rats.  The researchers in this study presume that the benefits were due to an increase in the liver enzymes hepatic glucokinase and glucose transporter isoform-2 (GLUT-2) (9).

5. Brain Health:

We have all experienced how stress fatigues our brain and it is well-understood that chronic stress creates chronic inflammatory states in the brain.  These chronic inflammatory states are observed in studies through various pro-inflammatory markers.  Additionally, chronic stress is often seen with imbalanced neurotransmitter levels and lowered levels of brain derived neurotrophic growth factors (BDNF).

Chronic stress impairs memory, cognitive acceleration or the speed of cognitive processing and judgement or reasoning skills.  Additionally, chronic stress induces mood disorders and depression.  It also accelerates the process of neurodegeneration that can ultimately lead to diseases such as Parkinson’s, dementia and Alzheimer’s.

When scientists are studying the delirious effects of chronic stress on brain health they look at inflammatory markers such as tumor necrosis factor alpha (TNF-a), interleukin-6 and NF-kb.  They also look at the key neurotransmitters such as serotonin, norepinephrine, dopamine, acetylcholine and gamma amino butyric acid among others.

A 2014 study published in Evidence Based Complimentary and Alternative Medicine showed that Cordyceps supplementation reduced inflammatory markers in the hippocampus of the brain.  It also raised up brain-derived neurotrophic growth factor and 5-HTP (precursor to serotonin and norepinephrine levels).  These results demonstrated that cordyceps has positive benefits on mood and memory levels (10).

Another 2012 study showed that cordyceps lowered inflammatory markers in the brain of D-galactose injected mice and increased key anti-oxidants such as superoxide dismutase and glutathione.  The non-treated mice showed signs of early mental decline while the cordyceps treated mice showed great ability to think and function at a high level (11).  The researchers suggested based on study results that cordyceps improves memory and ameliorates the decline of mental function.


How I Use Cordyceps:

You can purchase dried cordyceps mushroom powder here and add it to smoothies or brew it and make it into a tea.  You can also get it in a more instant form here that is easy to add to tea and coffee.

You can also find pure cordyceps supplements or use combination supplements to enhance adrenal health and energy levels.  I personally take this everyday along with 7 other organically grown medicinal mushrooms in the Organic Multi-Mushroom complex from True Immunity Organics.  This extraordinary product is a combination of 8 powerful organic mushroom compounds in a synergistic formulation.

This product contains clinical dosages of cordyceps, reishi, lion’s mane, turkey tail, shitake, maitake, chaga and white jelly,   I use this product to enhance my mental focus, energy and overall performance.  Here are the benefits of the various adaptogens in the product.


This is the “High Performance” adaptogen that is renowned for its ability to increases energy and endurance, stabilize blood sugar, reduce exercise induced oxidative stress and improve mood and mental clarity under stress.


Reduces anxiety, combats fatigue, improves sleep quality and helps individuals overcome insomnia and stabilizes blood pressure


This is called the “Smart Mushroom,” because it supports nerve regeneration, nerve myelination and nerve growth factor for improved memory, mental clarity and mental processing speed.  It also supports a healthy digestive tract.



This is the “Longevity and Anti-Aging” mushroom that supports white blood cell development and T-helper cell function to reduce autoimmunity and inflammation to reduce tissue damage within the body.


This is super rich in antioxidant compounds that support healthy circulation, oxygen delivery and enhanced performance.  It also supports healthy cholesterol levels and reduces overall inflammation throughout the body.


This is the “Immune Boosting” mushroom with the most well-studied benefits on strengthening the immune system and combatting abnormal cell development and suppressing tumor growth.  It is also a powerful immune booster in helping to fight off bacterial, viral and parasitic infections.    

Organic Multi-Mushroom is a revolutionary product designed for the high achiever who wants to improve their health and get the most out of life.  This proprietary formula of 8 organic full spectrum mushrooms helps improve your energy, mental clarity and stamina to do the things you want to do in life!  Use the coupon code Jockers10 at checkout to save 10% off your order here

Sources For This Article Include:

1. Panda AK, Swain KC. Traditional uses and medicinal potential of Cordyceps sinensis of Sikkim. Journal of Ayurveda and Integrative Medicine. 2011;2(1):9-13.
2. Zhu R, Chen Y, Deng Y, et al. Cordyceps cicadae extracts ameliorate renal malfunction in a remnant kidney model . Journal of Zhejiang University Science B. 2011;12(12):1024-1033.
3. Zhu R, Zheng R, Deng Y, Chen Y, Zhang S. Ergosterol peroxide from Cordyceps cicadae ameliorates TGF-β1-induced activation of kidney fibroblasts. Phytomedicine. 2014 Feb 15;21(3):372-8. PMID: 24095053
4. Leu SF, Chien CH, Tseng CY, Kuo YM, Huang BM. The in vivo effect of Cordyceps sinensis mycelium on plasma corticosterone level in male mouse. Biol Pharm Bull. 2005 Sep;28(9):1722-5. PMID: 16141547
5. Ng TB, Wang HX. Pharmacological actions of Cordyceps, a prized folk medicine. J Pharm Pharmacol. 2005 Dec;57(12):1509-19. PMID: 16354395
6. Koh JH, Kim KM, Kim JM, Song JC, Suh HJ. Antifatigue and antistress effect of the hot-water fraction from mycelia of Cordyceps sinensis. Biol Pharm Bull. 2003 May;26(5):691-4. PMID: 12736514
7. Yan F, Wang B, Zhang Y. Polysaccharides from Cordyceps sinensis mycelium ameliorate exhaustive swimming exercise-induced oxidative stress. Pharm Biol. 2014 Feb;52(2):157-61. PMID: 24047103
8. Wang SM, Lee LJ, Lin WW, Chang CM. Effects of a water-soluble extract of Cordyceps sinensis on steroidogenesis and capsular morphology of lipid droplets in cultured rat adrenocortical cells. J Cell Biochem. 1998 Jun 15;69(4):483-9. PMID: 9620174
9. Kiho T, Ookubo K, Usui S, Ukai S, Hirano K. Structural features and hypoglycemic activity of a polysaccharide (CS-F10) from the cultured mycelium of Cordyceps sinensis. Biol Pharm Bull. 1999 Sep;22(9):966-70. PMID: 10513622
10. Tianzhu Z, Shihai Y, Juan D. Antidepressant-like effects of cordycepin in a mice model of chronic unpredictable mild stress. Evid Based Complement Alternat Med. 2014;2014:438506. PMID: 25587342
11. Li Z, Zhang Z, Zhang J, Jia J, Ding J, Luo R, Liu Z. Cordyceps militaris extract attenuates D-galactose-induced memory impairment in mice. J Med Food. 2012 Dec;15(12):1057-63. PMID: 23216110

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Dr. Jockers

Dr David Jockers is passionate about seeing people reach their health potential in mind, body and spirit. He is the host of the popular “Dr Jockers Functional Nutrition” podcast and the author of the best-selling books, “The Keto Metabolic Breakthrough” and “The Fasting Transformation.”


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  1. a friend has polycystic kidney disease and is now in stage 4.. w/ only 11% kidney function remaining. she is still very alert and able to drive, climb stairs etc.. i want to help her and because she doesn’t use the internet i took upon myself to try and find a mushroom or form of cordyceps that might be of help to her,, i understand that militaris cordyceps may be an answer to this or at least help provide her w/some defense.. in her willingness to become well again.. is the militaris the prefered choice~ as i’ve also read about the caterpillar mushroom being a good one.. however that’s hard to come by and costly from what i’ve seen! Any thoughts please, & thank You…

    1. So sorry to hear about your friend Greg! I believe by caterpillar mushroom you are referring to Cordyceps Sinensis which is the form I use in Adapt-Strong. There is also a company called Four Sigmatic that makes some good high-quality mushroom extracts. They do have a cordyceps (here).

      I ketogenic diet may help as well. I have had clients improve similar conditions (Testimony Here).

  2. I am from overseas, I have constant sore throat which resulting in constant phlegm in the airway system, prescribed meds wouldn’t work, is this herb suitable for me? Thanks

  3. I have stage 2 kidney failure and I am using drugs that the doctor prescribe for me. Can I use both cordyceps and drugs? Is it okay?. Thanks

  4. I would like to know if cordyceps can help with cervical pain when menstrual circle comes? Please help…

  5. Kia ora Dr. Jockers wow this is a wonder herb for all organs of the body, I feel it. I would like to be a distributor of this product.

  6. Thanks for the comparison pictures. Very helpful, I almost purchased lesser version . The amazon link does look like the militaris and not sinenuis despite label. Can you provide insight?

  7. hi
    i have some really good quality wild stocks of Tibetan cordycep sinensis here in Toronto, Canada. even have certificate of authentication. call or text me at 647-882-9440 or email me if interested.

  8. I took Cordyceps a few years ago and got a terrible bout of restless leg syndrome. And just this week, I took a supplement called SR Stamina. I took a half dose and had no problem. Next day, I took another half dose at dinner. I woke up at 2:30 am with significant restlesslness and a deep pain in my lower hips (my saddlebags, for a more accurate description). Walking eased the discomfort. Laying down was painful. I took ibuprofen, then a small dose of Ambien, then some magnesium. It kept me up for a couple hours. Next morning, sitting is still uncomfortable.

    I cannot find anything online to explain this side effect. Do you have any idea what’s causing it?

  9. My brother just got diagnosed with frontal lobe dementia. He seems great. Would this supplement keep him fr progressing?

    Also my grandaughter has MS. She is only 19.

    Can you respond to my email. Thank you.

  10. Doctor,

    Would cordyceps be good to take for low cortisol/adrenal fatigue? It helps to balance cortisol whether it is low or high, is that correct?

  11. It has great benefits but the authentic Himalayan cordyceps sinensis is very hard to find in the west. Most of the stuff out there claiming to be “100 natural” is grown using DNA profiling which nowhere as potent ,hence cheaper.

    After looking tonnes of places, I came across curewithearth.com and have been ordering my supply for quite some time now. They offer the best quality at a reasonable price.

  12. Can this help with stress, anxiety and depression? I find I am feeling on edge a lot and I also get some social anxiety and just want something help me. Is this something that will help? I feel tired a lot and just feel like I need more energy and perking up, but I don’t drink caffeine because it just gives me the jitters and then a massive crash later on. Thanks. I’m not expecting am miracle cure but something to feel like my body is with me, not against me.

    1. Hey Ahmed, I provide a few recommendations on different cordyceps to take in the “How I Use Cordyceps” section above. I would follow the supplement guidelines for whichever form you take or work with a functional health practitioner to find what works best for your health goals!

  13. Dear Doctor Jockers,

    I read that cordyceps is able to increase (dopamine and) noradrenaline activity by increasing l-tyrosine hydroxylase levels (neuronootropic.org). I also read that noradrenaline contracts both the corpus cavernosum and penile vessels via stimulation of alpha(1) adrenoreceptors (pubmed,ncbi.nlm.nih.gov). So it would seem that cordyceps would be bad to take for erections. Increasing dopamine seems good but increasing noradrenaline seems very bad. Please tell me what you think.

    Thank you very much.

    Randy B.

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