Many drugs used to treat kidney disorders, like mycophenolate (MMF) and cyclosporine, originated from mushrooms. Cordyceps is one such mushroom that boasts many positive benefits for the kidney. It is believed that the cordyceps Sinensis and Militaris help strengthen the kidneys.
Research has demonstrated that Cordyceps mushroom can replenish kidney health and improve chronic renal disease. This half caterpillar half mushroom can even protect the kidney from diabetes nephropathy.
So, let's explore Cordyceps and kidney disease and how the mushroom may help protect and strengthen the health of your kidneys.
Cordyceps For Chronic Kidney Disease
Cordyceps, also known as caterpillar fungus, is a herbal medicine commonly used in traditional medicine to treat various ailments, including chronic kidney disease (CKD).
Here's what we know about Cordyceps kidney disease benefits.
Cordyceps Sinensis Benefits
In a 2014 review published in the Cochrane database of systematic reviews(1), researchers evaluated the therapeutic effects of Cordyceps Sinensis for treating people with CKD or chronic renal failure.
The paper included 22 studies that involved 1746 participants. Among people with CKD who were not receiving dialysis, Cordyceps preparations significantly decreased serum creatinine, increased creatinine clearance, and reduced protein in the urine over 24 hours.
Researchers concluded that Cordyceps, when used as an adjuvant therapy to conventional medicine, showed potential promise to increase creatine clearance, decrease serum creatinine, reduce proteinuria and alleviate complications associated with CKD.
Likewise, in another study published in the Urologia Internationalis journal(2), scientists evaluated the effects of Cordyceps Sinensis on renal functions in patients who underwent renal transplants and were suffering from chronic allograft nephropathy (CAN).
A total of 231 CAN patients who underwent transplantation and experienced chronic graft dysfunction were divided into two groups randomly. Patients in group A were treated with 2 grams of Cordyceps and immunosuppressive agents, while patients in group B were treated with traditional immunosuppressive drugs only.
The researchers measured the blood urea nitrogen (BUN), serum creatinine, the amount of urinary protein in 24 hours, and the creatinine clearance rate of all patients before and after treatment.
Six months of treatment with Cordyceps Sinensis significantly improved serum creatinine and creatine clearance in group A. However, no significant improvement was observed for group B. Likewise, renal function improved in 72 patients and stabilized in 38 patients in the group receiving the mushroom.
Researchers concluded that Cordyceps Sinensis therapy is advantageous in improving the renal function of CAN patients by retarding the progression of the disease.
In a Chinese study(3), researchers investigated 61 patients with lupus nephritis unresponsive to treatment with cyclophosphamide and corticosterone. When given for three years, Cordyceps powder protected kidney function, as measured by creatinine clearance. The results were significantly better than another traditional Chinese regimen that used Baoshekang and Tripterygiitotorium tablets.
Diabetic kidney disease (DKD) is the primary reason for CKD and leads to high mortality worldwide. The treatment of DKD focuses mainly on controlling hyperglycemia, high blood pressure, and proteins in the urine. However, this is insufficient and ineffective in delaying the progression of DKD.
Increasing scientific evidence(4) has identified the bioactive ingredients in Cordyceps Sinensis, which can induce various effects on the treatment of DKD, such as anti-inflammatory, anti-hyperglycemia, and anti-oxidant activities.
The only drawback here is that Cordyceps Sinensis is considered a scarce and expensive herb that is difficult to produce on a large scale. For this reason, several nutraceutical companies have opted to use Cordyceps Militaris instead. The bioactive ingredients and effects of Cordyceps Militaris and Cordyceps Sinensis are similar, and the former is a cheaper alternative.
Cordyceps Militaris Benefits
Cordycepin in C. Militaris has shown good promise in protecting against CKD. For example, in a 2019 study(5), Cordycepin reduced urine protein, creatinine, and BUN levels after 3-month treatment. Similarly, another study published in 2016(6) found that Cordyceps militaris treatment preserves renal function in type 2 diabetic nephropathy in mice.
Cordyceps Fights Conditions That Increase the Risk of Kidney Disease
In most circumstances, introducing chronic kidney disease is often a result of other underlying conditions. These diseases slowly lower kidney function when ignored, resulting in kidney damage. Luckily, the health benefits of Cordyceps are effective in fighting the various conditions that often act as precursors for CKD.
Below, we will look at the most common diseases that cause acute renal failure or acute kidney injury and how cordyceps fights the conditions.
Cordyceps Fights Diabetes
The National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases estimates more than 34.2 million people with diabetes in the United States(7)—approximately 10.5% of the US population.
According to the CDC(8), chronic kidney disease affects 1 in 3 adults with diabetes. That is, over 33% of the 34.2 million diabetic people in the US could have CKD.
CKD, however, is often a result of unmanaged blood sugar levels. When people with diabetes manage their blood sugar levels, they reduce the risk of developing kidney disease. Luckily, research shows that cordyceps is very effective in diabetes management.
Read More: See how Lion's mane fights diabetes.
In a 2014 research study(9), scientists analyzed the effectiveness of cordyceps in diabetes management. The researchers induced type 2 diabetes in rats by injecting them with streptozotocin and feeding them a high-fat diet. The researchers orally administered Cordyceps at dosages of 0.5 g/kg and 2 g/kg body weight for two weeks.
Read More:Learn more about the ideal cordyceps dosage for different conditions.
The research study's data showed that cordyceps significantly reduced blood sugar levels by promoting glucose metabolism. Moreover, cordyceps also suppressed total triglyceride and cholesterol concentration in the bloodstream. The researchers also noted that the components of the fungus boosted liver and kidney functionality.
A more recent research study tested the effectiveness of cordyceps in treating diabetes. The 2022 research study(10) concluded that the mushroom was highly effective in boosting the body's sensitivity to insulin, thereby reducing insulin resistance. Insulin is the hormone that helps the body process carbs; therefore, better insulin sensitivity results in improved blood sugar levels.
Because Cordyceps helps with diabetes management, allowing diabetic patients to maintain ideal blood sugar levels, the mushroom reduces the risk of suffering from renal failure or kidney disease. In diabetic people with kidney disease, cordyceps mushroom supplements aid treatment and significantly reduce disease symptoms.
Read More:See how Chaga fights diabetes.
Cordyceps Fights High Blood Pressure
According to the CDC(11), nearly half (47 percent) of adults in the United States have high blood pressure. This indicates that about 116 million people in the United States have one of the precursors for Chronic Kidney Disease.
According to the(12) National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases, hypertension constricts and narrows the blood vessels. Eventually, high blood pressure weakens and damages the blood vessels throughout the body, including your kidneys.
The blood vessel narrowing reduces blood flow. When this happens, the kidneys cannot remove waste and extra fluid from your bloodstream, which, in turn, raises your blood pressure even more, creating a dangerous cycle that continuously damages your kidneys further.
Read More:See how Chaga fights high blood pressure.
Luckily for people with high blood pressure, Cordyceps can help. Various research studies have confirmed the cordyceps high blood pressure benefits. One such research study was conducted in 2016.
In the 2016 study(13), the researchers investigated the antihypertensive effect of a polysaccharide fraction of cordyceps on hypertensive rats. The results from the study suggested that the compounds in cordyceps may possess high potential in treating hypertension.
By aiding in treating high blood pressure, cordyceps can reduce the risk of kidney disease. In people who are already suffering from kidney disease due to high blood pressure, cordyceps can keep the disease from progressing and worsening.
Cordyceps Fights Obesity
According to the CDC(14), obesity in the United States had a prevalence of 41.9% in 2017. This means that nearly half of the US population is overweight.
A research study conducted in 2017(15) concluded that obesity—or a high body mass index—is a strong risk factor for new-onset chronic kidney disease. The study notes that in obese people, compensatory hyperfiltration occurs to meet the increased metabolic needs of the additional body weight.
Increased intraglomerular pressure can cause kidney damage and increase the risk of developing CKD in the long run. Obesity-related glomerulopathy has increased tenfold in recent years. Obesity has also been linked to nephrolithiasis and several cancers, including kidney cancer.
Read More: See how cordyceps fights cancer.
Another research study conducted in 2021(16) supported the fact that obesity increases the risk of suffering from kidney damage. Yet another research study conducted in 2021(17) further supports that obesity is a significant risk factor for developing chronic kidney disease.
For obese people, losing weight can make treating chronic kidney disease easier. For obese people without CKD, losing weight can reduce the risk of developing the condition.
Read More: See how Chaga facilitates weight loss.
Apart from Chaga, another mushroom that facilitates weight loss is Cordyceps. Several research studies have confirmed the effectiveness of cordyceps in weight loss.
A research study conducted in 2018(18) analyzed the weight loss mechanisms of cordyceps mushrooms. The researchers determined that Cordycepin—an extract derived from cordyceps mushroom—alters the relative abundance of intestinal bacteria in obese rats fed a high-fat diet.
Cordycepin treatment significantly reduced the relative abundance of two dominant bacterial phyla (Bacteroidetes and Firmicutes) in high-fat diet-induced obese rats, resulting in an abundance comparable to the chow diet group. The mushroom, therefore, reduced the gut bacteria that increased the risk of obesity and enhanced the gut bacteria that facilitated weight loss.
In 2014, researchers used another study(19) to analyze the effectiveness of cordyceps Militaris in fighting obesity. In the research study, high-fat-diet-induced body weight gain was reduced by administration of Cordyceps militaris extract (CE) at 100mg/kg and 300mg/kg.
Treatment with an extract of cordyceps Militaris also reduced the amount of epididymal fat and the size of adipocytes. Furthermore, in the cordyceps extract-treated group, liver weight and fat deposition in the liver were significantly reduced. Cordyceps treatment was also found to improve plasma parameters related to lipid profiles.
By fighting obesity and facilitating weight loss, cordyceps mushrooms can reduce the risk of developing chronic kidney disease.
Cordyceps Fights Inflammation
Various kidney diseases often result from inflammation. Luckily, however, cordyceps can improve the immune cells, promote the immune system and reduce inflammation.
A research study conducted in 2015(20) concluded that low-grade and persistent inflammation is an essential component of CKD, playing a unique role in its pathophysiology and contributing to the development of protein-energy wasting as well as cardiovascular and all-cause mortality. A different research study conducted in 2018(21) arrived at the same conclusion.
Research shows that when human body cells are exposed to Cordyceps mushrooms, unique proteins that increase the risk of inflammation become suppressed. One research study(22) analyzing the impact of cordyceps on inflammation concluded that the mushroom is exceptionally effective in keeping this problem to a bare minimum, fighting compounds that trigger inflammation.
By fighting inflammation, cordyceps makes treating CKD easier in people who already have the condition. In people who do not have chronic kidney disease, cordyceps reduces the risk of developing the disease.
Is Cordyceps Good For Kidney?
Both Cordyceps sinensis and militaris have been shown to preserve renal function and protect against chronic kidney disease in human and animal-based studies. However, it is worth noting that not all mushrooms are always good for your kidneys.
Therefore, while taking an aqueous extract of cordyceps may improve kidney function, Chaga may not be a good mushroom for you if you suffer from kidney problems. Chaga contains oxalates and may cause kidney stones.
Who Should Not Take Cordyceps?
Those with bleeding disorders should avoid Cordyceps. Additionally, people taking anti-diabetic medications and blood thinners should not take the drugs with mushrooms.
Can I Take Cordyceps Every Day?
Yes, Cordyceps mushrooms are usually safe and well-tolerated by most people. However, speaking with a healthcare provider before using the mushroom daily is always good. Referencing clinical studies, the doctor should help you ensure you are using the mushroom at the proper dosage—this will help you reduce the risk of side effects.
Read More: Does cordyceps have any dangers or adverse effects?
Several studies have explored the Cordyceps for kidneys benefits. The results show that the active components in the Chinese caterpillar fungus may be an effective alternative medicine for CKD.
The Himalayan mushroom can protect kidney function and lower protein levels in the urine. The mushroom's active constituents also help lower serum creatinine. If you suffer from kidney disease, talk to a health expert to start using this incredible mushroom.
Have you used Cordyceps before? What did you use it for? Did you get the results you had anticipated? Let us know in the comments section.
- Cordyceps sinensis (a traditional Chinese medicine) for treating chronic kidney disease, (1)https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/25519252/
- Effect of Cordyceps sinensis on Renal Function of Patients with Chronic Allograft Nephropathy, (2)https://www.karger.com/Article/Abstract/323655
- Study on effect of Cordyceps sinensis and artemisinin in preventing recurrence of lupus nephritis, (3)https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/12585097/
- Mechanism of Cordyceps sinensis and its Extracts in the Treatment of Diabetic Kidney Disease: A Review, (4)https://www.frontiersin.org/articles/10.3389/fphar.2022.881835/full
- Cordyceps militaris Improves Chronic Kidney Disease by Affecting TLR4/NF-κB Redox Signaling Pathway, (5)https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6462325/
- Cordyceps militaris Treatment Preserves Renal Function in Type 2 Diabetic Nephropathy Mice, (6)https://journals.plos.org/plosone/article?id=10.1371/journal.pone.0166342
- Diabetes Facts and Statistics, (7)https://www.niddk.nih.gov/health-information/health-statistics/diabetes-statistics
- Diabetes and Chronic Kidney Disease, (8)https://www.cdc.gov/diabetes/managing/diabetes-kidney-disease.html
- Studies on the Antidiabetic Activities of Cordyceps militaris Extract in Diet-Streptozotocin-Induced Diabetic Sprague-Dawley Rats, (9)https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3967809/
- Cordyceps inhibits ceramide biosynthesis and improves insulin resistance and hepatic steatosis, (10)https://www.nature.com/articles/s41598-022-11219-3
- Facts About Hypertension, (11)https://www.cdc.gov/bloodpressure/facts.htm
- High Blood Pressure & Kidney Disease, (12)https://www.niddk.nih.gov/health-information/kidney-disease/high-blood-pressure
- Therapeutic efficacy of a polysaccharide isolated from Cordyceps sinensis on hypertensive rats, (13)https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/26432374/
- Obesity is a common, serious, and costly disease, (14)https://www.cdc.gov/obesity/data/adult.html
- Obesity and Kidney Disease, (15)https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5433675/
- A Nephrologist Perspective on Obesity: From Kidney Injury to Clinical Management, (16)https://www.frontiersin.org/articles/10.3389/fmed.2021.655871/full
- The role of obesity on chronic kidney disease development, progression, and cardiovascular complications, (17)https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S2543106420300028
- Cordycepin reduces weight through regulating gut microbiota in high-fat diet-induced obese rats, (18)https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/30522511/
- Effect of Cordyceps militaris extract and active constituents on metabolic parameters of obesity induced by high-fat diet in C58BL/6J mice, (19)https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/24231073/
- Update on inflammation in chronic kidney disease, (20)https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/25662331/
- Inflammation-Related Mechanisms in Chronic Kidney Disease Prediction, Progression, and Outcome, (21)https://www.hindawi.com/journals/jir/2018/2180373/
- Anti-Inflammatory Properties of the Medicinal Mushroom Cordyceps militaris Might Be Related to Its Linear (1→3)-β-D-Glucan, (22)https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4201515/
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