With more people taking advantage of the health benefits of cordyceps, there have been many questions about the mushroom's side effects. When getting started with cordyceps supplements, most people want to know whether using the functional mushroom puts them at risk of dealing with uncomfortable symptoms later.
In this detailed article, our primary focus will be answering the question, "is cordyceps safe?" We will look at some of the side effects associated with the mushroom and show you the best ways to reduce the risk of cordyceps danger.
Caterpillar Fungus: What Is Cordyceps Mushroom and Its General Health Benefits?
Cordyceps, the Himalayan mushroom, is an entomopathogenic fungus. They grow as a parasite on other insects.
It is also known as caterpillar fungi and feeds off caterpillar larvae. Cordyceps reside in the higher altitudes of Tibetan plateaus and Asian countries like Nepal, India, Bhutan, Vietnam, Thailand, and Tibet.
The former is a natural herbal medicine, while the latter is a similar herb containing the active ingredient of Cordyceps but is cultivated extensively by fermentation technology.
Healers have used Cordyceps mushrooms in traditional Chinese medicine(2) for centuries. C. Sinensis is sweet in taste and neutral in nature. The fungus can replenish the kidney, stop bleeding, soothe the lungs, and eliminate phlegm.
Read More:See how cordyceps boosts kidney health.
Cordyceps can also help manage diabetes symptoms primarily brought about by high blood sugar levels. Information obtained from a research study published in 2009(3) showed that cordyceps could be used as a contemporary treatment for diabetes.
The study suggested that when cordyceps is combined with doctor-recommended medication, the mushroom can provide excellent results for patients and adults dealing with diabetes.
While the mushroom is generally safe and beneficial for most people, there are certain Cordyceps dangers that you should know. This detailed guide will show you the harm the mushroom can cause when taken at higher than recommended dosages.
Read More: Learn the best cordyceps dosage.
We will also show you how to use the mushroom extract to boost your exercise performance, treat melanoma, improve your kidneys' health, and avoid the risk of dealing with cordyceps 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. However, the side effects of cordyceps mushrooms and interactions with medications are infrequent.
Read More: See Lion's mane mushroom drug interactions.
Let's look at some of the cordyceps dangers and common side effects:
1. Common Adverse Reactions
In some people, 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.
Because of these side effects, we recommend talking to a doctor before taking cordyceps mushrooms. A healthcare professional will help you determine if you have allergies that the cordyceps mushrooms could trigger. They will also help you determine if you are taking drugs that can cause an interaction with your mushroom.
2. The Traditional Chinese Medicine May Increase The Risk Of Bleeding
Extracts of the fungus significantly inhibit platelets(6) and may slow blood clotting. This will increase the risk of bleeding in people with bleeding disorders or undergoing surgery.
If you are using blood thinners, you may need to seek advice from a doctor before taking the cordyceps mushrooms—thinning blood medication slows blood clotting. Adding cordyceps mushrooms into the mix further reduces clotting, increasing your risk of bleeding.
3. Cordyceps Supplements May Cause A Significant Decline In Blood Sugar Levels
The high polysaccharide content in Cordyceps mushrooms has exhibited 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 (hypoglycaemia).
One of the health benefits of cordyceps is acting as a type of natural insulin. Therefore, taking Cordyceps and artificial insulin could make you unconscious due to hypoglycemia. If hypoglycemia is not treated quickly, it may lead to a coma, which could put you at risk of death.
Remember that we are not telling you to avoid taking Cordyceps if you have diabetes. You can still take cordyceps mushrooms for their other benefits, including blood pressure and cancer treatment. However, always talk to your doctor before using the mushroom with your diabetes medications.
Read More: See how cordyceps treats cancer.
4. It May Increase Certain Cancer Precursors
Cordyceps is loved for its antitumor effects and the ability to enhance the efficacy of cancer treatments. However, Cordyceps is associated with the growth of some stem cells(8) that have the potential to multiply.
Experts believe the mushroom should be avoided in a type of blood cancer (known as myelogenous leukemia) due to this effect. 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.
5. May Worsen Autoimmune Diseases
Cordyceps mushroom contains different compounds that can strengthen the immune system's response. 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 cannot 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 significantly impact your health. Therefore, if you know you are at an elevated risk of these diseases, staying away from synthetic and natural cordyceps can help you avoid the adverse effects often associated with the medicinal mushroom.
Who Should Not Take Cordyceps?
People with diabetes medications may need to avoid cordyceps; combining cordyceps mushrooms and sugar-lowering drugs may cause hypoglycaemia. However, if you have diabetes and want to use cordyceps mushroom for its other benefits, talk to your doctor first.
Read More: What is the best time to use cordyceps?
People who take anticoagulants ("blood thinners") or anti-clotting drugs or those with bleeding disorders may also need to avoid cordyceps. Taking them together may increase the risk of bleeding.
For this reason, you should avoid Cordyceps if you have any surgery planned ahead of you. Stop the mushroom two weeks before the scheduled procedure to prevent excessive bleeding.
People with allergies (as mentioned before) should avoid the cordyceps mushroom. Suppose you are allergic to the ingredients in the fungus. In that case, 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 minimal research 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 suffering from myelogenous cancers or autoimmune diseases should also stay away from mushrooms.
Can You Take Cordyceps Long-Term?
One of the easiest ways to avoid cordyceps dangers is using the proper 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?
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 mushrooms are 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 rare and extreme examples. However, it is always a good idea to consult 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://www.hindawi.com/journals/ecam/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://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2887337/
- Pharmacological and therapeutic potential of Cordyceps with special reference to Cordycepin, (4)https://link.springer.com/article/10.1007/s13205-013-0121-9
- Immunotherapy of mold allergy: A review, (5)https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/full/10.1080/21645515.2017.1314404
- Antithrombotic and Antiplatelet Effects of Cordyceps militaris, (6)https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/full/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://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4519550/
- Cordyceps sinensis Health Supplement Enhances Recovery from Taxol-Induced Leukopenia, (8)https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2775070/
- Cordyceps spp.: A Review on Its Immune-Stimulatory and Other Biological Potentials, (9)https://www.frontiersin.org/articles/10.3389/fphar.2020.602364/full
- Cordyceps as an Herbal Drug, (10)https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK92758/