Cordyceps, a mushroom native to Asia, is one of the strangest natural remedies available today. Known as the “caterpillar fungus,” cordyceps is actually a parasite that infects and kills caterpillars. It grows out of their bodies, looking much like a worm itself. How in the world these ancient Eastern healers decided this would be good for humans is beyond me. Despite the ick factor, cordyceps has been shown to be effective with several health issues.
In the mid 1800s, the New York Journal of Medicine reported that cordyceps was a general tonic for energy and overall stamina; and that is still its main use today. In Eastern countries like Nepal and China, it is used for its anti-oxidant properties, to reduce cholesterol, to prevent kidney organ rejection, to aid in liver function and to improve lung function. Today, cultures of cordyceps are grown industrially without having to use insect larvae. These commercially available mushrooms are rich in B and K vitamins and beneficial amino acids. The National Institutes of Health have published several studies showing cordyceps’ therapeutic value, specifically with heart issues and increased lung function.
Cordyceps is considered safe in most cases by naturopaths and herbalists. Since cordyceps could slow clotting,however, it’s important to consult a physician before adding it to any drug regimen. It can also make Prednisolone less effective. Pregnant or nursing women should not take cordyceps. This strange fungi can certainly give more energy, but only when used responsibly.