- Side Effects
- Drug Interactions
- Pregnancy & Breastfeeding
- What Else to Know
Generic Name: cordyceps
Brand and Other Names: Cordyceps sinensis, CordyMax
Drug Class: Herbals
What is cordyceps, and what is it used for?
Cordyceps is a fungus/mushroom that grows as a parasite on a moth larva found in the high mountain ranges of China, Tibet, Bhutan, Nepal, and India. More than 350 species of Cordyceps fungi have been identified, but the fungus that has been traditionally used in Chinese and Indian herbal medicine systems is Cordyceps sinensis. Wild cordyceps has become rare and most of the supplements available now in the U.S. are grown in a lab. Cordyceps supplements are available over the counter (OTC) as powders, capsules, and liquid extracts.
Cordyceps is considered an adaptogen, a substance that is believed to help people adapt to and manage stress, anxiety, and fatigue, and is believed to enhance overall health, kidney and liver function, athletic performance, and cognitive abilities. In addition, cordyceps is believed to have immune-boosting, antitumor, and antioxidant properties and appears to also reduce blood glucose levels and slow blood clotting process.
The therapeutic properties of cordyceps is from its active components cordycepin and cordycepic acid. Cordyceps also contains vitamin E, K, B1, B2, B12, proteins, carbohydrates, sterols, and nucleosides including adenosine, a natural substance in the body with many important functions. Although cordyceps is used for many ailments, there is insufficient scientific evidence to back any of its uses.
Suggested uses of cordyceps include:
- Do not take cordyceps if you are pregnant or breastfeeding.
- Cordyceps may increase immune activity, avoid if you have any autoimmune conditions such as rheumatoid arthritis, multiple sclerosis or systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE).
- Avoid taking cordyceps concurrently with antidiabetic medications, it may seriously lower blood glucose levels.
- Cordyceps may slow down the blood clotting process, avoid taking if you are on blood thinning medications or if you have any bleeding disorder. Stop taking cordyceps at least 2 weeks before any scheduled surgery.
What are the side effects of cordyceps?
Cordyceps is generally safe for most adults. Rare, mild side effects include:
- Stomach discomfort
Call your doctor immediately if you experience any of the following symptoms or serious side effects while using this drug:
- Serious heart symptoms include fast or pounding heartbeats, fluttering in your chest, shortness of breath, and sudden dizziness;
- Severe headache, confusion, slurred speech, severe weakness, vomiting, loss of coordination, feeling unsteady;
- Severe nervous system reaction with very stiff muscles, high fever, sweating, confusion, fast or uneven heartbeats, tremors, and feeling like you might pass out; or
- Serious eye symptoms include blurred vision, tunnel vision, eye pain or swelling, or seeing halos around lights.
This is not a complete list of all side effects or adverse reactions that may occur from the use of this drug. Call your doctor for medical advice about serious side effects or adverse reactions. You may also report side effects or health problems to the FDA at 1-800-FDA-1088.
What are the dosages of cordyceps?
There is insufficient reliable information on what might be an appropriate dose for cordyceps. Suggested dosage:
- 3 g/day fermented in tea
- 1050 mg extract two to three times daily
- Standardized to 0.14% adenosine
- There are no reports of cordyceps overdose. Overdose may cause gastrointestinal side effects and long-term use may cause bleeding disorders and exacerbate autoimmune conditions.
- Symptoms of overdose and excessive use should resolve with discontinuation of cordyceps. In case symptoms persist, seek medical help.
What drugs interact with cordyceps?
Inform your doctor of all medications you are currently taking, who can advise you on any possible drug interactions. Never begin taking, suddenly discontinue, or change the dosage of any medication without your doctor’s recommendation.
- Cordyceps has no known severe or serious interactions with other drugs.
- Cordyceps has moderate interactions with at least 72 different drugs.
- Mild interactions of cordyceps include:
- devil's claw
- neomycin PO
The drug interactions listed above are not all of the possible interactions or adverse effects. For more information on drug interactions, visit the RxList Drug Interaction Checker.
It is important to always tell your doctor, pharmacist, or health care provider of all prescription and over-the-counter medications you use, as well as the dosage for each, and keep a list of the information. Check with your doctor or health care provider if you have any questions about the medication.
Pregnancy and breastfeeding
What else should I know about cordyceps?
- Cordyceps is possibly safe for most adults when taken in recommended doses for a short period.
- Check with your healthcare provider before using any supplement, including cordyceps.
- Take cordyceps exactly as per label instructions.
- Herbal products often contain many ingredients. Check labels for the components in the cordyceps product you choose.
- Cordyceps is marketed as a dietary supplement and is not regulated by the FDA. Products may differ in formulations and strengths, and labels may not always match contents; exercise caution in choosing your product.
- Store safely out of reach of children.
- In case of overdose, report to Poison Control.
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Cordyceps is considered an adaptogen, a substance that is believed to help people adapt to and manage stress, anxiety, and fatigue, and is believed to enhance overall health, kidney and liver function, athletic performance, and cognitive abilities. Cordyceps is believed to have immune-boosting, antitumor, and antioxidant properties and appears to also reduce blood glucose levels and slow blood clotting process. Cordyceps is generally safe for most adults. Rare, mild side effects include stomach discomfort, diarrhea, and constipation. Do not take cordyceps if pregnant or breastfeeding.
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