Nestled in the foothills of the Himalaya mountains in Tibet and Bhutan, the cordyceps mushroom (Cordyceps sinesis) has a long history of use in the Chinese herbal tradition. Unfortunately, due to over-harvesting it is now rarely found in the wild, but it can be (and is!) cultivated for consumption.
According to Donald Yance, clinical herbalist and author of Adaptogens in Medical Herbalism, “It is considered to be one of the most valuable . . . herbs used traditionally in China, equaling ginseng as a restorative tonic.”
Benefits of Cordyceps
This adaptogen is considered helpful for:
- Promoting balance during stressful experiences
- Endurance (both physical and mental)
- Immune support
- Endocrine function
Source: Adaptogens in Medical Herbalism
Is cordyceps safe during pregnancy and breastfeeding?
According to the Botanical Safety Handbook: 2nd Edition, cordyceps is a Safety Class 1A herb – the safest rating possible. This category is described as:
“Herbs that can be safely consumed when used appropriately.
- History of safe traditional use
- No case reports of significant adverse events with high probability of causality
- No significant adverse events in clinical trials
- No identified concerns for use during pregnancy or lactation
- No innately toxic constituents
- Toxicity associated with excessive use is not a basis for exclusion from this class
- Minor or self-limiting side effects are not bases for exclusion from this class”
For a more in-depth discussion of opinions regarding the use of adaptogens during pregnancy/breastfeeding, see this post.
How much is recommended?
Adaptogens are herbs rather than pharmaceutical drugs, so there are no dosages. However, herbalists do share knowledge about what methods of consumption seem to produce a beneficial effect for most people.
The suggestions below are based on those found in Adaptogens: Herbs for Strength, Stamina and Stress Relief by ethnobotanist David Winston and herbal expert Steven Maimes:
- For a 1:5 tincture – which is 1 ounce dried cordyceps by weight, mixed with 5 ounces of 60 proof or higher alcohol and allowed to infuse for six to eight weeks – 20-40 drops up to three times per day. Another option is to purchase a pre-made organic cordyceps tincture here and follow the instructions on the label after talking with your healthcare provider.
- As a decoction – “Add 1/4 to 1/2 teaspoon cordyceps mushroom powder or crushed whole mushroom to 10 ounces of water. Simmer on low for 15 minutes, steep for 1 hour. Drink one to two cups per day (Source: Adaptogens: Herbs for Strength, Stamina and Stress Relief, p. 153)
What else do I need to know?
While appropriate amounts of cordyceps are thought to support the immune system, excessive amounts may be counterproductive in this respect. Also, please check with your health care provider before using any herbal remedy.