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Cordyceps mushrooms are a family of club-shaped mushrooms that grow on and kill insects, such as caterpillars. Full of nutrients, cordyceps mushrooms have been both eaten and used in traditional medicine for thousands of years. [1, 2]
So in this article, what is cordyceps? For the most part, cordyceps refers to Cordyceps sinensis, the Chinese caterpillar fungus, because this is the species most often used in traditional Chinese medicine, Ayurvedic medicine. There was also an Olympic scandal involving cordyceps mushrooms for athletes that then broke records.  However, other species of this mushroom, Cordyceps militaris, Cordyceps pruinose, and Cordyceps ophioglossoides, have also been studied.
Though these different species can vary in their nutritional values and their medicinal properties, they are often mixed together in supplements and used interchangeably in practice.
Cordyceps mushroom benefits include antioxidant protection, immune system support, antibacterial, antiviral, and antifungal power. It may also protect the kidneys and liver, reduce blood clotting, and improve sexual health. In some studies, cordyceps mushroom powder has been linked to possible anti-cancer activity. It is usually taken as a powder or steeped into a cordyceps tea. [4, 5]
Benefits and Effects
Cordyceps health benefits come from its high levels of amino acids, vitamin D, and minerals such as magnesium, zinc, and selenium that are important to the body. It can work well with other supplements that stack with amino acids, vitamin D, magnesium, zinc, and selenium.  8
Cordyceps powder was observed to not only reduce the likelihood of cancers (particularly in the lung and skin) but to shrink existing tumors in the lungs, skin, breast, liver, and colon. It may have this anticancer effect in other organs throughout the body. [6, 7, 8, 9, 10]
This potent anticancer power may be due to cordyceps boosting the immune system and making it better able to fight cancer. Or, it may protect cells from becoming damaged into cancer cells in the first place through its antioxidant activity. 
One of the key nutrients found in the mushrooms, cordycepin, may also be attacking the tumors itself by preventing cancer cells from creating the proteins they need to survive. This encourages these cells to die off., shrinking the tumors. [12, 13, 14, 15, 16]
Certain unnamed compounds in cordyceps mushroom powder help make the immune system more active, helping it function better. In particular, it enhances the aspect of the immune system that fights off invaders such as bacteria and viruses, helping the body better find and attack disease.
These mushrooms also contain several compounds that kill bacteria and prevent viruses from multiplying in the body, making it easier for the body to fight off these diseases.  This appears to be true even in immunosuppressed and vulnerable subjects (mice in this case), making cordyceps a potentially valuable disease fighting supplement for people with weakened immune systems. [18, 19, 20]
Although cordyceps mushrooms boost the immune system, many species of used in cordyceps mushroom supplements are also linked to anti-inflammatory activity. It tones down the aspect of the immune system responsible for inflammation and allergic reactions, targeting the mast cells in the body – the cells responsible for the swelling responses seen in hives, angioedema (skin swelling), and anaphylactic shock. 
Some studies on cordyceps mushrooms show success when used to treat chronic inflammation (including inflammatory bowel disease) and allergies. However, using cordyceps for autoimmune diseases – a result of the immune system attacking the body’s own cells – is not recommended.
Because cordyceps mushroom benefits include both an increase and a reduction in the activity of the immune system, they may help support a balanced and healthy immune system response.
Certain nutrients in the cordyceps mushroom are antioxidants, able to protect cells from oxidation damage. Oxidation and the damage that it causes is heavily linked to age-related disease, and antioxidants are known to help people look and feel younger. [18, 21, 22]
Cordyceps mushroom extract may also help keep cells alive for longer and improve their function over a long period of time. [23, 24]
Kidney and liver protection
Cordyceps supplements have been linked to lower rates of renal failure and liver disease, probably due to their antioxidant effects.  Cordyceps may also have other protective effects on these organs that have not been determined. 
Cordyceps mushroom powder supplements have been linked to lower rates of blood clots, heart attacks, and ischemic strokes. It can also help transplants It is unknown which compounds affect clotting, but it may be several different ones.
However, lowered clotting can lead to complications, such as bleeding in surgery or problems with bleeding strokes.
The magnesium, zinc, and selenium, found in cordyceps mushrooms boost metabolism and encourage healthy glucose levels in the bloodstream. Aside from these minerals, there may also be other cordyceps compounds assisting in metabolism.
Cordyceps for men raises testosterone levels and leads to a higher level of healthy sexual activity in human subjects.  Cordyceps mushrooms are also a source of selenium, which is vital to reproductive health.
Cordyceps mushrooms are used traditionally to boost the stamina of athletes. This is probably due to its metabolism boosting and anti-inflammatory effects but may also be because of other vitamins and nutrients that they provide. They also provide a small amount of energy through glucose-containing polysaccharides and may increase ATP levels – the energy currency of the cell, which is responsible for powering every action we take. [28, 29, 30, 31, 32]
How Product Works
Cordyceps mushroom powder benefits come from a wide range of health-supporting compounds, including antioxidants, a variety of amino acids, important minerals such as magnesium, zinc, and selenium, vitamin D, and the special compounds cordycepin and cordiceptic acid. [4, 33]
Most of the health-supporting compounds are special proteins called polysaccharides, which can be broken down for energy but also have other effects in the body. There are many different types, and not all of them are well known. It is thought that the polysaccharides in cordyceps are responsible for several of its benefits, including the immune system boosting, inflammation-calming, and antioxidant effects. They also may support the benefits granted by the other nutrients that cordyceps mushrooms provide.
Zinc and magnesium are minerals important to healthy metabolism, proper glucose levels, protein synthesis, muscle, and nerve function. They support good overall health, stamina, and help fight diabetes.  Selenium is a mineral involved in proper hormone levels and reproductive health. [8, 35]
Cordycepin and cordycepic acid are unique to cordyceps mushrooms. To the cell, it looks a lot like adenosine, an important amino acid used in protein synthesis. However, when the cell tries to use cordycepin to build proteins, it gets stuck. Although a healthy cell can overcome this obstacle with ease, cancer cells, which are more vulnerable to these sorts of problems, can be forced to die off. Even if they don’t die, cordycepin makes it difficult for cancer cells to divide easily, preventing tumors from growing. 
Cordycepin is linked to slowed tumor growth and shrinking tumors.
Take cordyceps extract supplements with meals, 2-3 times a day. Cordyceps dosage ranges from 1000-3000mg, but there does not appear to be an actual upper limit. In fact, you may need to take more than 3000mg of cordyceps extract in order to see the effects. There is no known overdose level, so taking more than 3000mg will be safe for you.
There are no known cordyceps side effects. However, it may interact with other conditions and cause them to be worse.
Cordyceps and Bleeding
Because cordyceps mushroom powder makes platelets less “sticky” and less likely to clot, it can cause bleeding issues. If you are already having problems forming normal blood clots, cordyceps supplements can make this problem worse. In addition, be careful about taking it with other medicines and supplements that reduce clotting, as this can lead to serious side effects and bleeding.
Do not use cordyceps mushrooms if you are about to have surgery, at a high risk of getting injured, or if you have a high risk of bleeding strokes.
Cordyceps and the Immune System
Cordyceps mushroom powder is an immune system booster, which can lead to the immune system being over-active. Although cordyceps appears to reduce some inflammation and allergy intensity, most experts warn that it may make autoimmune diseases more severe. Because of the potential damage, do not take cordyceps fungus if you have an autoimmune disorder.
Cordyceps and Caffeine
Cordyceps may interact with caffeine, leading to lower levels of testosterone. If you are using cordyceps as part of a stack for physical fitness or activity, cut back on the caffeine.
Cordyceps mushroom powder is a highly versatile supplement that can be worked into immune boosting, anticancer, antidiabetic, heart health, pre-workout, testosterone-boosting, kidney protection, and liver protection stacks. Avoid caffeine, guarana, and L-thiamine due to the testosterone interference – otherwise, there is a lot of room for personal choice.
Here are a few possible stacks you can use with cordyceps mushroom powder – or you can take it on its own.
Shiitake, Reishi, and Cordyceps
These three mushrooms are often combined into whole-body boosting supplements aimed at providing balanced nutrition and towards boosting the immune system against disease. They have been used traditionally together for thousands of years, both as medicines and as food, and interact well together. 
Cordyceps, DAA, and Creatine
Some people suggest this stack for motivation, concentration, and physical stamina.
If you are aiming for brain health, oxiracetam may be a good choice as it works well together with the magnesium in cordyceps.