Although the use of mushrooms for medicinal purposes is nothing new, research on the efficacy of mushrooms as cancer treatments is still in its early stages. However, there are a few mushrooms that show promise in helping to fight cancer.
One such mushroom is cordyceps. Continue reading to learn more about how cordyceps can help treat cancer. This detailed guide also carries evidence that supports the effectiveness of cordyceps mushrooms when it comes to managing cancer.
Cordyceps Mushroom: What Is It And What Are Its General Benefits?
Cordyceps is a parasitic fungus, that grows on the larvae of insects. These fungi attach to the larva, replace its tissue, and sprout a long stem outside the larva’s body.
The mushroom has been used in China and the eastern part of the world for centuries. Recently, the traditional Chinese medicine cordyceps is gaining popularity in the western world due to its numerous health benefits.
There are more than 600 species of cordyceps mushroom. Among them, two species that have become the focus of study are Cordyceps Sinensis and Cordyceps militaris.
These mushrooms are considered adaptogens because they have got various health benefits and promote overall well-being. Cordyceps mushrooms are found to be effective in exercise performance, anti-aging, anti-tumor effects, Type 2 Diabetes Mellitus, heart health, and inflammatory conditions.
When cordyceps is used pre-workout, its bioactive compounds in the medicinal mushroom guarantee increased oxygen delivery and utilization which improve exercise tolerance by raising the anaerobic threshold and delaying fatigue onset.
The mushroom is known to help people dealing with sexual health issues. Therefore, in addition to helping people deal with cancer, cordyceps can be used for libido.
What's more, the mushroom can be combined with other mushrooms to generate better results. For example, Lion's mane and cordyceps can be used together.
One of Lion’s mane mushroom benefits is helping with cancer treatment. This means that when a combination of cordyceps and Lion’s mane is used at the right dosage, it can offer better results when it comes to fighting cancer.
In addition to leveraging Lion’s mane and cordyceps, keep in mind that you do not have to use cordyceps alone when taking advantage of its immunotherapy benefits for tumors. Other functional mushrooms have been shown to have targeted therapy for mutation and cancer biomarker in more than one clinical trial—one such mushroom is Chaga.
Combining Chaga benefits for cancer with cordyceps cancer benefits can result in better results. The results may be better than precision medicine and radiation as the mushrooms carry minimal side effects—for example, the cordyceps dangers are minimal and generally affect people if they exceed the recommended cordyceps dosage.
In addition to helping you avoid drugs that often carry side effects, cordyceps can also help you avoid surgery. By reducing the risk of developing human cancer cells, the cordyceps mushroom can help you avoid going under the knife to remove tumors.
In this article, we will explain the use of the cordyceps cancer-treating ability for various types of cancer, how it works, how to consume the mushroom, and recommendations for the consumption.
Cordyceps Cancer Effects: Could This Mushroom Hold The Cure To Cancer?
Cordyceps cancer treatment effect has been the significant focus of study and gained some promising results in recent years.
Cordycepin is a bioactive compound found in the cordyceps mushroom. The nucleotide provides various anticancer properties by causing the death of tumor cells and preventing metastasis of tumor cells from one site to another(1). The bioactive compound has been used for centuries as part of ancient Chinese medicine for cancer treatment and anti-inflammatory properties.
The researchers from Oxford University have collaborated with a biopharmaceutical company NuCana for the development of a novel chemotherapeutic drug using the cordycepin component found in cordyceps mushrooms.
Early results of the study have shown good signs of anticancer properties of the drug. Also, studies have shown that the cordyceps mushroom is also effective in reducing the side effects associated with chemotherapy.
Thus, it is shown that cordyceps cancer treatment effects are found to be effective in various studies but it is not conclusive yet due to limited human trials. Let us discuss how cordyceps mushrooms are effective in the treatment of various types of cancer.
1. Cordyceps And Breast Cancer
Cordyceps mushrooms help in the inhibition of breast cancer growth. Research study has shown that the tumor-suppressing activity of cordyceps mushroom is related to activation of the NF-κB signaling pathway promoting macrophage polarization(2).
Furthermore, Cordyceps is effective in the prevention of breast cancer.
Thus, Cordyceps cancer treatment effect for breast cancer is found to be assured according to the studies conducted in the animal model. However, further research on the human model is required to recommend therapeutic use.
2. Cordyceps And Prostate Cancer
The cordycepin found in cordyceps mushroom is found to be effective for inducing apoptosis in human prostate cells and suggests that cordycepin can act as a potential chemotherapeutic agent for the treatment of prostate cancer(3).
Also, it has been found that cordycepin inhibits the migration and invasion of prostate cancer cells by inhibiting the activity of tight junctions and matrix metalloproteinases.(4)
3. Cordyceps And Skin Cancer Cells
A research study has suggested that the cordycepin extracted from the Cordyceps Sinensis causes a dose-dependent inhibitory effect on the proliferation of four cancer cell lines including melanoma cells (a type of skin cancer), breast cancer cells, liver cancer cells, and leukemia cells.
In addition to treating leukemia cells and other types of cancer cells, cordyceps mushrooms have much lower cytotoxic effects on the bone marrow cells. So, Cordyceps mushroom is effective in the treatment of skin cancer without having the severe side effects of conventional chemotherapy.(5)
The mechanism by which the cordyceps mushroom causes melanoma cancer cell death is by inhibiting angiogenesis and activating apoptosis of cancer cells.
4. Traditional Chinese Medicine Cordyceps And Lung Cancer
Traditionally, cordyceps mushrooms have been used for enhancing lung capacity but recent studies have been done to study its effect on the management of lung cancer.
The current research studies have shown that cordycepin induced apoptosis may be effective in the treatment of lung cancer, especially when used in combination with a chemotherapy drug. The mushroom's anti tumor effect can keep lung cancer from continued growth.
The result of the study has shown that the extracts of Cordyceps militaris decreased cellular proliferation, induce cell cycle arrest, and increase apoptosis of the non-small cancer cell line(6).
Also, it has been found that the polysaccharides extracted from cordyceps mushroom when combined with other chemotherapeutic agents, enhances the therapeutic effect of those medicine in the treatment of non-small cell lung cancer(7).
5. Cordyceps and Human Colorectal Carcinoma Cells
Colorectal cancer is a type of gastric cancer that affects the rectum or the colon. Most cases begin as non-cancerous polyps.
While the treatment for colorectal cancer is largely dependent on the location and size of the tumor, research has shown that people can leverage the benefits of Cordyceps and Colorectal Cancer. Research has been used to prove that this ancient Chinese herbal medicine can help with the treatment of colorectal carcinoma.
A research study conducted in 2015(8) determined that cordyceps militaris can help in the treatment of colorectal cancer. In the research study, colorectal cancer cells were treated with varying concentrations of cordyceps ethanol extracts for 48 hours.
The cytotoxicity of the mushroom on the cordyceps militaris was measured. The results showed that the growth of the tumor in the xenograft model was suppressed by the ethanol extract of Cordyceps militaris, which was highly cytotoxic to human colorectal cancer RKO cells. Cordyceps militaris' anti-tumor activity was linked to the induction of cell cycle arrest and mitochondrial-mediated apoptosis.
From this research study, it is easy to see that using Cordyceps can help with the treatment of colorectal cancer. However, for maximum results, you may need to combine cordyceps with other solutions—talking to your doctor about using cordyceps sinensis for colorectal cancer can help you determine if this is the only solution you will need to restore your health.
6. Cordyceps and Ovarian Cancer Cells
Researchers conducted a study in 2020(9) to determine whether cordyceps could help with reducing ovarian cancer tumor growth. Researchers analyzed the effect of cordyceps militaris on the proliferation of the cancer cells by confirming viability, migration assay, and morphological changes.
After analyzing the results, the researchers determined the findings imply that C. militaris suppressed the growth, survival, and migration of ovarian cancer cells, possibly via coordinating TNF-/TNFR1 signaling and NF-B activation. According to the researchers, when seen as a whole, the findings from the study offer fresh insight into a cutting-edge Cordyceps militaris therapy approach for ovarian cancer.
7. Cordyceps and Human Bladder Cancer Cells
The anti cancer effects of cordyceps have been shown to play a key role in the treatment of bladder cancer. One of the most complicated health problems, the mushroom showed that it could help with bladder cancer therapy in a research study conducted in 2017.
In the 2017 research study(10), Human T24 bladder carcinoma cells were treated with Cordyceps militaris hot water extracts containing cordycepin. Researchers discovered that this treatment reduced T24 cell survival in a dose-dependent manner. This effect appeared to be mediated by activation of the A3 adenosine receptor and the subsequent inactivation of Akt pathways, which increased levels of cleaved Caspase-3 and apoptosis.
8. Cordyceps Helps with Inflammation Treatment
Research has linked inflammatory diseases with cancer. A research study published in 2019(11) determined that if the underlying cause of the inflammation doesn't go away or certain control systems meant to stop the process from continuing fail, the inflammation may become chronic. Chronic inflammatory responses can lead to cell proliferation and mutation, frequently fostering the conditions for the growth of cancer.
Cordyceps mushrooms carry antioxidants that fight free radicals—this reduces the risk of suffering from inflammation that often ends up creating an environment conducive to the growth of cancer cells. This shows that by simply fighting the underlying causes of inflammation, the traditional Chinese medicine cordyceps indirectly helps fight cancer.
Cordyceps And Cancer Treatment
In a patient undergoing cancer treatment, chemotherapy can lead to various side effects. The use of cordyceps mushroom not only helps in the treatment of cancer but also helps to offset these symptoms associated with chemotherapy. The mushroom helps with immune system activation, allowing the body to fight against the impacts of chemotherapy.
The mushroom most likely helps by protecting the stem cells in the bone marrow from the cytotoxic effects of chemotherapy. This maintains the immunity in patients receiving chemotherapy and thus prevents frequent infections and other symptoms related to cytotoxicity.
What Are The Risks Involved?
Cordyceps mushroom is generally considered safe and is well tolerated for consumption with minimal side effects reported. Taking cordyceps mushroom before sleep may cause sleep disturbance. So, it's advised to take it in the morning. However, there are certain situations in which you should be careful.
- If you are allergic to other mushrooms, yeast, molds, fungi, or their products.
- If you are diagnosed with any bleeding disorders.
- Few weeks before and after any surgeries.
- If you are pregnant or planning to have babies.
You need to consult your healthcare provider in the above-mentioned situations.
Taking Cordyceps Mushrooms
You can take cordyceps mushrooms as part of your regular diet for their nutritious values. Moreover, you can take the supplements available for different health benefits and therapeutic reasons. However, it's always better to take supplements after consulting your healthcare provider.
Cordyceps mushrooms have a cost as high as 9000 USD per pound. However, with synthetic cordyceps products on the market, you do not have to worry about spending all this money.
Synthetic cordyceps mushrooms are lab grown but deliver the same results as actual mushrooms. However, the lab-grown cordyceps mushrooms are much more affordable.
You must look for brands that carry the United States Pharmacopeia (USP) or NSF International (NSF) seal to ensure good quality.
Although the exact dosage of the supplement is not formulated, it has been shown that 1000-3000 mg per day of cordyceps supplements is effective with minimal side effects.
Is Cordyceps Good For Cancer Patients?
Yes, cordyceps is found to be beneficial in cancer patients by reducing cancer size and improving the side effects associated with chemotherapy. However, further study in human subjects is required for its therapeutic recommendation.
Can Cordyceps Cause Cancer?
Cordyceps is not associated with causing cancer. In contrast, it helps in the prevention of cancer.
Is Cordyceps Good For Breast Cancer?
Various studies in animals have shown that cordyceps is beneficial for reducing the tumor size of breast cancer and also helps prevent breast cancer.
Cordyceps mushroom has been used traditionally as a part of Chinese medicine for its various health benefits. Recently, it has been gaining popularity in the western world due to various medicinal benefits. It has been shown by various studies that the cordyceps mushroom is effective in the treatment of various cancer including breast, prostate, skin, and lung cancers.
However, the study of humans is limited. Further study is required to make any recommendations at this time. So, you need to consult your doctor and follow their advice before the consumption of the mushroom for the treatment of cancer.
If you’re interested in trying this natural remedy, speak with your doctor about adding cordyceps supplements to your treatment plan.
Have you used cordyceps mushrooms before for any health condition? Let us know how you’ve used cordyceps mushrooms to improve your health in the comments below!
- The Anticancer Properties of Cordycepin and Their Underlying Mechanisms. (1) https://doi.org/10.3390/ijms19103027
Extracts of Cordyceps sinensis inhibit breast cancer growth through promoting M1 macrophage polarization via NF-κB pathway activation (2) https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jep.2020.112969
Apoptosis induction of human prostate carcinoma cells by cordycepin through reactive oxygen species‑mediated mitochondrial death pathway, (3) https://doi.org/10.3892/ijo.2013.1762
Inhibition of migration and invasion of LNCaP human prostate carcinoma cells by cordycepin through inactivation of Akt (4) https://doi.org/10.3892/ijo.2012.1332
Inhibitory effects of ethyl acetate extract of Cordyceps sinensis mycelium on various cancer cells in culture and B16 melanoma in C57BL/6 mice (5) https://doi.org/10.1016/j.phymed.2005.11.005
Cordyceps militaris (L.) Link Fruiting Body Reduces the Growth of a Non-Small Cell Lung Cancer Cell Line by Increasing Cellular Levels of p53 and p21, (6) https://doi.org/10.3390/molecules200813927
- Polysaccharide of Cordyceps sinensis Enhances Cisplatin Cytotoxicity in Non–Small Cell Lung Cancer H157 Cell Line (7) https://doi.org/10.1177/1534735410392573
- Anti-cancer effect of Cordyceps militaris in human colorectal carcinoma RKO cells via cell cycle arrest and mitochondrial apoptosis, (8) https://doi.org/10.1186/s40199-015-0117-6
- Cordyceps militaris induces apoptosis in ovarian cancer cells through TNF-α/TNFR1-mediated inhibition of NF-κB phosphorylation, (9) https://doi.org/10.1186/s12906-019-2780-5
- Cordycepin induces apoptosis in human bladder cancer cells via activation of A3 adenosine receptors (10) https://doi.org/10.1177/1010428317706915
- Inflammation and Cancer, (11)https://doi.org/10.4103/aam.aam_56_18