Caterpillar Fungus, Caterpillar Mushroom, Cs-4, Champignon Chenille, Chinese Caterpillar Fungus, Cordyceps sinensis, Dong Chong Xia Cao, Dong Chong Zia Cao, Hsia Ts'Ao Tung Ch'Ung, Jinshuibao Jiaonang, Jinshuibao Pian, Ophiocordyceps sinensis, Tochukaso, Vegetable Caterpillar.


Overview Information

Cordyceps is a fungus that lives on certain caterpillars in the high mountain regions of China. Natural cordyceps is hard to get and may be expensive. Most supplements are made with cordyceps grown in a laboratory.

Cordyceps is most commonly used for kidney disorders and male sexual problems. It is also used after a kidney transplant. It is also used for liver problems, improving athletic performance, and many other conditions but there is no good scientific evidence to support these uses.

How does it work?

Cordyceps might improve immunity by stimulating cells and specific chemicals in the immune system. It may also have activity against cancer cells and may shrink tumor size, particularly with lung or skin cancers.


Uses & Effectiveness?

Possibly Ineffective for

  • Athletic performance. Several studies have shown that taking cordyceps or a combination of cordyceps and roseroot does not improve endurance in trained male cyclists.

Insufficient Evidence for

  • Kidney injury caused by certain antibiotics (aminoglycoside nephrotoxicity). Early research shows that using cordyceps with the drug amikacin might reduce kidney damage caused by the drug in older people.
  • Asthma. Early research suggests that taking cordyceps alone can reduce asthma symptoms in adults. However, other early research shows that taking cordyceps along with other herbs for 6 months does not reduce the need for medication or improve asthma symptoms in children.
  • Long-term kidney disease (chronic kidney disease or CKD). Early research shows that taking cordyceps along with standard therapy for chronic kidney disease may improve kidney function. However, most of these studies are low quality and were conducted for only 6 months or less.
  • Kidney damage caused by contrast dyes (contrast induced nephropathy). Some early research shows that taking cordyceps while undergoing an exam using contrast dye reduces the chance of kidney damage caused by the dye. But other early research shows no benefit.
  • Kidney damage caused by the drug cyclosporine. There is early evidence that taking cordyceps with cyclosporine can reduce kidney damage caused by cyclosporine in people with kidney transplants.
  • Swelling (inflammation) of the liver caused by the hepatitis B virus (hepatitis B). Early evidence shows that taking cordyceps by mouth might improve liver function in people with hepatitis B. However, cordyceps seems to be less effective than the supplementsastragalus and fo-ti.
  • Kidney transplant. Early research shows that taking cordyceps with low-dose cyclosporine can improve 1-year survival, prevent transplant rejection, and reduce the risk of infection similar to taking standard dose cyclosporine in people who received a kidney transplant. Also, cordyceps seems to improve kidney transplant survival, kidney transplant rejection, and infection similar to azathioprine when taken with medications to prevent organ rejection. It might also reduce the risk of long-term impaired kidney function called chronic allograft nephropathy, which is the leading cause of kidney transplant failure.
  • Sexual problems that prevent satisfaction during sexual activity. Early research shows that taking a specific cordyceps product (CordyMax Cs-4) daily for 40 days might improve sex drive in people with low sex drive.
  • Anemia.
  • Breathing disorders.
  • Lung infections (Bronchitis).
  • Cough.
  • Decreasing fatigue.
  • Dizziness.
  • Frequent urination at night.
  • Heart arrhythmias.
  • High cholesterol.
  • Liver disorders.
  • Promoting longevity.
  • Ringing in the ears.
  • Weakness.
  • Other conditions.
More evidence is needed to rate the effectiveness of cordyceps for these uses.

Side Effects

Side Effects & Safety

When taken by mouth: Cordyceps is POSSIBLY SAFE for most people when taken appropriately, short-term. It might cause mild side effects such as diarrhea, constipation, and abdominal discomfort.

Special Precautions & Warnings:

Pregnancy and breast-feeding: There isn't enough reliable information to know if cordyceps is safe to use when pregnant or breast-feeding or what the side effects might be. Stay on the safe side and avoid use.

"Auto-immune diseases" such as multiple sclerosis (MS), lupus (systemic lupus erythematosus, SLE), rheumatoid arthritis (RA), or other conditions: When taken by mouth, cordyceps might cause the immune system to become more active. This could increase the symptoms of auto-immune diseases. If you have one of these conditions, it's best to avoid using cordyceps.

Bleeding disorders: When taken by mouth, cordyceps might slow blood clotting. Taking cordyceps might increase the risk of bleeding in people with bleeding disorders.

Surgery: When taken by mouth, cordyceps might increase the risk of bleeding during surgery. Stop taking cordyceps 2 weeks before surgery.



Moderate Interaction

Be cautious with this combination

  • Cyclophosphamide (Cytoxan, Neosar) interacts with CORDYCEPS

    Cyclophosphamide (Cytoxan, Neosar) is used to decrease the immune system. Cordyceps seems to increase the immune system. Taking cordyceps along with cyclophosphamide (Cytoxan, Neosar) might decrease the effectiveness of cyclophosphamide (Cytoxan, Neosar).

  • Medications that decrease the immune system (Immunosuppressants) interacts with CORDYCEPS

    Cordyceps might increase the immune system. By increasing the immune system, cordyceps might decrease the effectiveness of medications that decrease the immune system.

    Some medications that decrease the immune system include azathioprine (Imuran), basiliximab (Simulect), cyclosporine (Neoral, Sandimmune), daclizumab (Zenapax), muromonab-CD3 (OKT3, Orthoclone OKT3), mycophenolate (CellCept), tacrolimus (FK506, Prograf), sirolimus (Rapamune), prednisone (Deltasone, Orasone), corticosteroids (glucocorticoids), and others.

  • Prednisolone interacts with CORDYCEPS

    Prednisolone is sometimes used to decrease the immune system. Taking cordyceps might make prednisolone less effective for decreasing the immune system.



The appropriate dose of cordyceps depends on several factors such as the user's age, health, and several other conditions. At this time there is not enough scientific information to determine an appropriate range of doses for cordyceps. Keep in mind that natural products are not always necessarily safe and dosages can be important. Be sure to follow relevant directions on product labels and consult your pharmacist or physician or other healthcare professional before using.

View References


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