With more and more people taking advantage of the health benefits of cordyceps, there have been a lot of questions about the mushroom's side effects. Most people, when getting started with cordyceps supplements, want to know whether using the functional mushroom puts them at the risk of dealing with uncomfortable symptoms later on.
In this detailed article, our main focus will be on answering the question, "is cordyceps safe?" We will help you figure out whether you can expect cordycep mushrooms side effects.
We will also show you the best ways to reduce the risk of cordyceps danger. Stay with us on this detailed guide and you will know how to take advantage of this impressive functional mushroom without having to worry about cordyceps dangers.
Caterpillar Fungus: What is Cordyceps Mushroom and What Are Its General Health Benefits?
Cordyceps, the Himalayan mushroom, is an entomopathogenic fungus. This means they grow as a parasite on other insects.
It is also known as caterpillar fungi, as it feeds off caterpillar larvae. Cordyceps can be found in the higher altitudes of Tibetan plateaus and Asian countries like Nepal, India, Bhutan, Vietnam, Thailand, and Tibet.
Research studies have revealed that there are more than 600 species of the cordyceps mushroom, but there are two species(1) with the most widely-researched benefits: Cordyceps sinensis (or Ophiocordyceps sinensis), and Cordyceps militaris.
The former is a natural herbal medicine and its ingredients, vitamins, and minerals are used for the treatment of different issues. The latter is a similar herb containing the active ingredient of Cordyceps but is cultivated extensively by fermentation technology.
Most Cordyceps are generally found growing on the head of other insects. That is why it gets its name from the Greek word cephali, which means head.
Cordyceps mushroom has been used by healers in traditional Chinese medicine(2) for centuries. It is thought that C. sinensis is sweet in taste and neutral in nature. The fungus can replenish the kidney, stop bleeding, soothe the lungs, and eliminate phlegm.
Even in the modern world of medicinal mushrooms, the cordyceps mushroom is prized for its many health benefits. Cordyceps is used for libido while people who like an active lifestyle often use cordyceps pre-workout for its benefits on fatigue and performance during high intensity exercise.
The mushroom is known to play nice when used with another mushroom product. For example, Lion's mane mushroom is also used pre-workout. When Lion's mane and cordyceps are combined—and an ideal Lion's mane dosage is used—the users get more pronounced benefits.
From having an anti-tumor activity to immunomodulating effects, cordyceps mushroom seems to benefit every organ in the body. Additionally, it has also been known to have antioxidant, anti-fatigue, and kidney-protective effects. It also has the potential to enhance sexual and reproductive functions, and lower blood sugar.
Research has shown that much like Chaga helps with diabetes, cordyceps can also help with the management of diabetes symptoms which are largely brought about by high blood sugar levels. Information obtained from a research study published in 2009(3) showed that cordyceps can be used as a contemporary treatment for diabetes.
The study suggested that when cordyceps is combined with doctor recommended medication, the mushroom can provide great results for patients and adults dealing with diabetes.
Cordyceps does not just help with diabetes—it also helps with blood pressure too. Just like Chaga helps lower high blood pressure, cordyceps also restores normal blood pressure in the human body.
The good thing about using Cordyceps sinensis or militaris is that the mushroom does not just help with cancer prevention. Similar to how Chaga helps with cancer, when cordyceps is used for cancer, it goes beyond fighting cancer cells to fighting the negative side effects of modern cancer treatment methods, including radiation and chemotherapy.
Cordyceps mushroom does not just help with infection in adults and children—people have been using Cordyceps for dogs too, with numerous benefits. The mushroom raises the immunity in dogs, preventing disease and fighting bacteria and virus in your furry friend's body.
But there are some concerns: Is cordyceps dangerous to humans? is the mushroom deadly to your dog? Are cordyceps safe? Can the use of Cordyceps capsules poison men and women? Are there cordyceps side effects you need to be worried about?
While the mushroom is generally safe for most people, there are certain Cordyceps dangers that you should be aware of. This detailed guide will show you the harm that the mushroom can cause when taken at higher than recommended dosages.
We will also show you how you can use the mushroom extract to boost your exercise performance, treat melanoma, improve the health of your kidneys, and also avoid the risk of dealing with cordycep mushrooms side effects.
Keep reading below to know what cordyceps dangers are available and who should avoid taking the mushroom.
The 5 Dangers Of Cordyceps Sinensis and Militaris
Cordyceps mushrooms are usually safe for healthy people, but there are reports of side effects. The fungus may also interact with certain illnesses and medications. The side effects of cordyceps mushrooms and interactions with medications are, however, extremely rare.
Let's look at some of the cordyceps dangers and common side effects:
1. Common Adverse Reactions
In some people, traditional Chinese medicine cordyceps may cause mild side effects(4) like dry mouth, upset stomach, diarrhea, or nausea. These symptoms usually disappear once you stop using the cordyceps supplements.
There is also anecdotal evidence that some Cordyceps products may cause a lingering metallic taste, which may take longer to resolve.
The mushroom may also cause an allergic reaction in sensitive people. Those with a known allergy to yeast or molds(5) may be likely to react to Cordyceps.
If you are planning to use cordyceps militaris for its benefits on chronic kidney disease or you want to use cordyceps extract for its ability to lower cholesterol, we would recommend talking to a doctor before taking the cordyceps mushrooms.
Whether your goal is to use cordyceps mushrooms for lung cancer or any other condition, talking to a doctor before taking cordyceps supplements will help you ensure you are using the mushroom at an ideal dose.
It will also help you ensure you do not have medicines in your cabinet that can interact with the caterpillar fungus and cause a reaction that could cause significant side effects. Healthcare professionals will also help you determine if you have allergies that could be triggered by the cordyceps mushrooms.
2. The Traditional Chinese Medicine May Increase The Risk Of Bleeding
Extracts of the fungus are known to have a significant inhibitory action on platelets(6) and may slow blood clotting. This will increase the risk of bleeding in people with bleeding disorders or if you are undergoing any type of surgery.
This is an important cordyceps danger to keep in mind, especially for people with cancer who are about to undergo surgeries to remove the cancer cell, or women who are almost at the end of their pregnancy period.
Remember that if you are using blood thinners, you may need to seek advice from a doctor before taking the cordyceps mushrooms. Blood thinning medication slow blood clotting. Adding cordyceps mushrooms into the mix further reduces clotting—this further increases your risk of bleeding.
3. Cordyceps Supplements May Cause A Significant Decline In Blood Sugar Levels
The high polysaccharide content in Cordyceps mushroom has been shown to exhibit blood sugar-lowering effects(7). While this may be beneficial for some people as they can use the mushroom to treat diabetes, it may cause problems when you combine it with other substances with similar effects, leading to a severe drop in blood sugar (hypoglycemia).
One of the health benefits of cordyceps is acting as a type of natural insulin. Therefore, taking Cordyceps and artificial insulin could force you to become unconscious as a result of reduced blood glucose levels. If the unconsciousness is not treated quickly, it may lead to a comma, which could put you at risk of death.
Keep in mind that we are not telling you to avoid taking Cordyceps if you are diabetic. You can still take cordyceps mushrooms for their benefits on blood pressure, cancer, ability to increase your white blood cells, and anti aging benefits. However, always talk to your doctor before using the mushroom together with your diabetes medications.
4. May Increase Certain Cancer Precursors
The mushroom has been regarded highly due to its anti-tumor effects and the ability to enhance the efficacy of cancer treatments. The mushroom has been praised for its ability to fight cancer cells in the human body. However, Cordyceps has been associated with the growth of some stem cells(8) that have the potential to multiply.
Experts believe that due to this effect, the mushroom should be avoided in a specific type of blood cancer (known as myelogenous leukemia).
You see, this cancer begins in the bone marrow, which is the birthplace of stem cells. Using Cordyceps in such tumors would increase its effect and progression.
Therefore, even if your goal is to take advantage of the mushroom's healing powers after renal transplantation, to fight inflammation, help with unbalanced blood sugar levels, boost your athletic performance, benefit from the antitumor activity, or its impacts on weight loss, you may want to be extra careful with the traditional Chinese medicine and your daily dose to avoid putting yourself at a high risk of blood cancer.
5. May Worsen Autoimmune Diseases
Cordyceps mushroom contains different compounds that can strengthen the response of the immune system. While this immune-boosting ability(9) provides a substantial benefit in most cases for healthy individuals, it may worsen autoimmune diseases.
In autoimmune diseases like rheumatoid arthritis and lupus, the body attacks healthy cells because it is unable to differentiate them from diseased cells. Cordyceps can further worsen this process by activating the immune cells.
If you are among renal transplant patients, autoimmune diseases may have a significant impact on your health. Therefore, if you know you are at an elevated risk of these diseases, staying away from both synthetic and natural cordyceps Sinensis can help you avoid adverse effects often associated with the medicinal mushroom. If you have to take advantage of the amino acids in the mushroom, seek advice from a health care professional first to avoid health problems.
Who Should Not Take Cordyceps?
People with diabetes medications may need to avoid cordyceps as the combination of the mushrooms and sugar-lowering drug may cause hypoglycemia. However, if you are diabetic and have to use cordyceps mushroom for its benefits on kidney disease, talk to your doctor first.
People who take anticoagulants ("blood thinners") or anti-clotting drugs or those with bleeding disorders may need to avoid cordyceps as well. Taking them together may increase the risk of bleeding.
For this very reason, you should avoid Cordyceps if you have any surgery planned ahead of you. It is recommended that you stop the mushroom 2 weeks before the scheduled procedure to prevent excessive bleeding.
People with allergies (as mentioned before) should avoid the cordyceps mushroom. If you are allergic to the ingredients in the fungus, your risks for the side effects of cordyceps are much higher irrespective of whether you are using the fermentation product or other CS-4 products.
Pregnant and breastfeeding women should not take Cordyceps as there is very limited research done that says it is safe for use. Although cordyceps has been used in traditional Chinese for a long time, the risk of possible side effects might be higher for women carrying a baby in their womb.
Those who suffer from myelogenous cancers or autoimmune diseases should also stay away from the mushroom. While you may assume the mushroom is ideal for you because it will help you with testosterone production, the possibility of increasing your risk of autoimmune diseases could make you stay away from supplementation with the mushroom. However, you can always replace the cordyceps mushrooms with Lion's mane mushroom testosterone benefits.
Can You Take Cordyceps Long-Term?
One of the easiest ways to avoid cordyceps dangers is using the right cordyceps dosage. Research shows that Cordyceps (fruiting bodies, dried extracts, or tinctures) are possibly safe for most people when taken in doses of 3-6 grams daily for up to 1 year. However, you should always seek professional medical advice before using the mushroom in the short or long run.
Is Cordyceps Poisonous?
To date, there is no evidence that Cordyceps mushroom is harmful or toxic to humans. Because of its safety profile and beneficial effects(10), the Chinese National Medical Products Administration has approved two dietary supplements and 50 medications derived from the mushroom. Also, the food and drug administration has approved the mushroom for use by human beings.
Cordyceps mushroom is usually considered safe and well-tolerated by most people. Some of the Cordyceps dangers discussed above may have instilled fear in you, but these are some of the rare and extreme examples. However, it is always a good idea to consult with your healthcare provider before starting a mushroom supplement.
Have you tried cordyceps before? How was your experience with the functional mushroom? Let us know in the comment section.
Herbal Medicine Cordyceps sinensis Improves Health-Related Quality of Life in Moderate-to-Severe Asthma (1) https://doi.org/10.1155/2016/6134593
Cordyceps as an Herbal Drug (2) https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK92758/
A Contemporary Treatment Approach to Both Diabetes and Depression by Cordyceps sinensis, Rich in Vanadium (3) https://doi.org/10.1093/ecam/nep201
Pharmacological and therapeutic potential of Cordyceps with special reference to Cordycepin, (4) https://doi.org/10.1007/s13205-013-0121-9
- Immunotherapy of mold allergy: A review (5) https://doi.org/10.1080/21645515.2017.1314404
Antithrombotic and Antiplatelet Effects of Cordyceps militaris (6) https://doi.org/10.1080/12298093.2020.1763115
Hypoglycemic Activity through a Novel Combination of Fruiting Body and Mycelia of Cordyceps militaris in High-Fat Diet-Induced Type 2 Diabetes Mellitus Mice, (7) https://doi.org/10.1155/2015/723190
Cordyceps sinensis Health Supplement Enhances Recovery from Taxol-Induced Leukopenia, (8) https://doi.org/10.3181/0708-RM-230
Cordyceps spp.: A Review on Its Immune-Stimulatory and Other Biological Potentials, (9) https://doi.org/10.3389/fphar.2020.602364
- Cordyceps as an Herbal Drug, (10) https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK92758/