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Cordyceps Sinensis vs Militaris: How Do They Differ?
Jan 17, 22
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Author: Sony Sherpa

Cordyceps Sinensis vs Militaris: How Do They Differ?

  • by Sony Sherpa
  • |
  • 14 min read

Cordyceps Sinensis and cordyceps Militaris have been used in traditional Chinese medicine for centuries. But how do they differ, and which one is better for you? Does cordyceps Sinensis have more benefits than cordyceps Militaris? 

These are some of the questions asked by new cordyceps users. This blog post will take a closer look at these two fungi, answering these questions and more. 

We will help you compare the Cordyceps Sinensis benefits against the Cordyceps Militaris benefits. By the time you reach the end of this guide, you will know which cordyceps is best

Cordyceps Medicinal Mushrooms: Two Major Cordyceps Species On Sale

The rising popularity of cordyceps results from its everyday use in traditional Chinese medicine, which is now being supported by scientific evidence. 

Read More: Learn about cordyceps use in traditional Chinese medicine

While traditional Chinese traditional medicine used what can be considered general cordyceps, modern science has revealed that more than one species of cordyceps exists. Cordyceps Sinensis and Militaris, however, are the most studied species. 

While there is a difference between cordyceps Sinensis and Militaris, the two mushroom sub-species feature similar functions and benefits. 

Read More: See the health benefits of cordyceps

Many cordyceps enthusiasts, however, are eager to understand who wins in the battle of Cordyceps Sinensis vs Militaris. In this article, we expand further on the Cordyceps Militaris vs Sinensis topic to help you understand each sub-species better. 

Types Of Cordyceps: Over 600 Known Species

Cordyceps mushrooms are native to Himalayan plateaus. They naturally exist in Asian countries such as Vietnam, Nepal, India, Bhutan, Tibet, and Thailand. Research shows more than 600 species(1) of cordyceps mushrooms exist. 

Most of these species are entomopathogenic fungi, meaning they grow as parasites on other insects and anthropods. The Cordyceps species grow in humid temperatures and on the head of other insects, hence, the name cordyceps. Ceps comes from the Greek wordcephali, meaning head. 

The genus cordyceps has two subgenera, namely, Cordyceps subgen cordyceps, and Cordyceps subgen Cordylia. Two species amongst the 600 species of the cordyceps fungus stand out and are most commonly associated with the many benefits of the parasitic fungus. 

These two species are wild Cordyceps Sinensis and Cordyceps Militaris. Wild cordyceps sinensis and Militaris have received much more attention than the other cordyceps species—this is why the two are the most commonly used. 

Read More: Learn about the best time to use cordyceps

Since DNA sampling was performed in 2007, Cordyceps Sinensis fungus is not considered a part of the Cordyceps genus. This is because the nuclear DNA of this species was highly variable than other species, resulting in a change in the genus of this specific species. Cordyceps Sinensis has since become Ophiocordiceps Sinensis and belongs to the Ophiocordycipitaceae family. 

Cordyceps Sinensis and cordyceps Militaris are called Himalayan gold because of their high price.The high price makes using actual cordyceps Sinensis or Militaris mushrooms in the supplements unfeasible. Moreover, these mushrooms grow as parasites on the head of moth caterpillars and insect larvae, making them unsuitable for vegans. 

In the following section, we will look deeper at how cordyceps Sinensis vs Militaris differ. 

Cordyceps Militaris Vs Cordyceps Sinensis

Ophiocordiceps Sinensis (Prev. Cordyceps Sinensis)

Cordyceps Sinensis has become Ophiocordiceps Sinensis and contains two parts; a stroma and a fungal endosclerotium. The latter sits inside the caterpillar while the stroma sits outside. 

More commonly known as the caterpillar fungus, for apparent reasons, Ophiocordiceps Sinensis is an essential part of Chinese herbal medicine. The health benefits associated with Ophiocordyceps Sinensis are due to the presence of cordycepin in the fungus. 

Read More: See if taking cordyceps before bed is beneficial. 

Wild cordyceps Sinensis relies on caterpillars to grow and mature. Often considered the best cordyceps supplement, the Ophiocordiceps Sinensis takes over the ghost caterpillars and mummifies the host while deriving all nutrients from the host body. 

Once the caterpillar is dead and mummified, a thin stalk grows from the host, known as a fruiting body. The growth of Ophiocordiceps Sinensis requires infection of the ghost caterpillar with the spores of the species. The spores are activated by the chemicals on the caterpillar, resulting in the growth of mycelium in the caterpillar. 

However, increased demand and cost for Ophiocordiceps Sinensis have had researchers looking for a synthetic version of the species. Today, most cordyceps Sinensis supplements are usually produced in a laboratory. 

While it is easy to assume the wild species have more beta-glucans or more essential amino acids, surprisingly, the health benefits in both the wild cordyceps Sinensis and the lab-grown version are similar. 

Read More: Learn about the lab-grown cordyceps cancer benefits

Cordyceps Militaris

Cordyceps Militaris

Cordyceps Militaris is a vital ingredient in Tibetan traditional medicine. The cordyceps Militaris mushroom is a cheaper alternative to Ophiocordiceps Sinensis as they both have similar benefits. 

Each of them has its specific benefits as well. However, both species share most of the benefits. The shared benefits are because both contain cordycepin, an adenosine derivative.

Cordyceps Militaris(2) also contains CMP-18, so the mushroom cannot be eaten raw. This protein is highly toxic. As the protein is denatured by heat, cooking and eating the fungus does not result in fatality. 

Read More: Learn about the cordyceps dangers

The Cordyceps Militaris cultivation involves using silkworm pupae. The orangish-red fruiting body of Cordyceps Militaris grows from the silkworm pupae that the mushroom has parasitized. The pupae are usually underground, giving the illusion that these mushrooms are growing from the ground.

Much like Ophiocordiceps Sinensis, the host of Militaris is surrounded by hyphae or mycelium. More commonly known as Earth tongue, the Militaris extract is widely used for its benefits in supplements and traditional medicine  

Shared Benefits Of Cordyceps Militaris and Sinensis

Both cordyceps Militaris and Sinensis share numerous benefits. The benefits of Cordyceps Militaris and Sinensis result from cordycepin, an adenosine derivate. 

1. Energy Benefits

Adenosine is produced naturally in the human body and acts as an inhibitory neurotransmitter in the brain. Moreover, it is also helpful in the production of ATP, the natural energy currency in the body. 

Adenosine increases the energy levels in the body. Since cordycepin is an adenosine derivative; cordyceps Militaris and ophiocordyceps Sinensis boost energy levels. 

Read More: See how cordyceps improves your energy levels

More often than not, people who are involved in athletics often use cordyceps mushrooms. Cordyceps—both Militaris and Sinensis—are known to improve athletic performance. 

A recent study in 2020 has credited cordycepin with a lot—almost all—benefits of cordyceps mushroom. According to the researchers, the anti-viral, immuno-modulatory, anti-aging, energy-enhancing, and testosterone benefits of cordyceps are due to the adenosine-like effect of the cordycepin compound. Ophiocordiceps Sinensis and Cordyceps Militaris are rich in cordycepin, explaining why they have similar benefits. 

2. Diabetes Treatment Benefits

Cordyceps helps with diabetes. The mushroom cordyceps improves blood sugar levels in diabetic people. 

A research study dating back to 2004(3) showed that cordyceps mushrooms could treat high blood sugar levels in diabetic rats. Moreover, another research study(4) showed that the mushroom could treat chronic kidney disease—one of the leading complications of diabetes—in over 1,700 people involved in the study. 

3. Blood Pressure Benefits

Irrespective of whether you are taking Cordyceps Sinensis or Militaris, you will enjoy blood pressure benefits. The mushroom cordyceps helps lower high blood pressure in people suffering from hypertension. In people who do not have hypertension, the mushroom prevents a spike in blood pressure. 

4. Cancer Treatment Benefits

Cordyceps treats different types of cancer. Studies in test tubes have demonstrated that cordyceps can stop the growth of various human cancer cells, including those that cause liver, skin, lung, and colon cancers. Additionally, studies on mice have demonstrated that cordyceps have anti-tumor effects on lung cancer, melanoma, and lymphoma. The cancer benefits are common in both cordyceps Militaris and Sinensis. 

Read More: See how Chaga fights cancer.

5. Anti-Aging Benefits

Both cordyceps Militaris and Sinensis boast anti-aging effects. History shows that one reason cordyceps was so popular in traditional Chinese medicine is its ability to slow down aging in older adults.

A powerful antioxidant, the cordyceps fights free radicals, reducing oxidative damage, which often contributes to aging. Moreover, cordyceps slow down memory decline in older adults. Cordyceps is also known to keep the skin youthful. 

One research study showed that(5) mice that took cordyceps lived several months longer than mice that took a placebo. Another research study(6) showed that cordyceps extended the lifespan of fruit flies, further supporting that the mushroom has anti-aging benefits. 

Synthetic cordyceps have the same benefits as naturally grown cordyceps mushrooms without spending thousands of dollars. Synthetic cordyceps are also vegan, meaning that everyone can enjoy the benefits. 

How Do Cordyceps Sinensis and Militaris Differ?

O. Sinensis and C. Militaris have some differences. We will look at these differences below:

Cordyceps Sinensis

Cordyceps Sinensis

Cordyceps Sinensis, or Ophiocordiceps Sinensis, has been found to affect male reproduction profoundly. According to a functional study(7), O. Sinensis has a stimulatory effect on Leydig cells in the male reproductive system. These cells are responsible for the spermatogenesis process, increasing the number of sperm and improving fertility. 

In traditional medicine, especially of Chinese origins, Ophiocordiceps Sinensis has been frequently used as a treatment for kidney disease. This has led researchers to study parasitic fungus's effect on people with chronic kidney disease(8)

A significant number of participants who had chronic kidney disease, and were not on dialysis, showed a marked reduction in their serum creatinine level after consuming the best cordyceps Sinensis supplement. 

Cordyceps Militaris

Cordyceps Militaris is also rich in cordycepin and has several benefits that have made it popular in folk medicine. However, the immunomodulatory effects of the fungus make it stand out in the pharmacological field. 

A study(9) was performed to understand the immunomodulatory effects of the fungus further and determine which aspect of the mushroom was responsible for these effects. The researchers focused on three extracts: a total extract, a polysaccharide extract, and an extract containing cordycepin.

According to this study, the total extracts combined with around 70 percent ethanol and cordycepin extracts had immunomodulatory effects on type 2 immunity in the body. Similarly, total extracts combined with either water or 50 percent ethanol and polysaccharides were beneficial against tumors, allergies, and viral infections as they increased the functioning of type 1 immune system. 

This study proved that bioactive compounds of Cordyceps Militaris have different effects on the immune system and will drive the immune response towards different immune system types. However, the main point to remember is that this research backs the immunomodulatory effects of cordyceps Militaris, for which it was used frequently by Tibetans.

Cordyceps Militaris promotes relaxing sleep. A study conducted in 2021(10) revealed that the mushroom reduced depressive symptoms for the study subjects using Cordyceps Militaris. The research study also determined that insomnia symptoms reduced over time due to cordyceps Militaris use. 

FAQs

What is the Best Dosage Of Cordyceps Mushrooms?

Cordyceps mushrooms are all-natural compounds with zero toxicities or reported adverse effects. They are considered safe for human consumption, although it highly depends on the part of the mushroom you consume.

Start cordyceps consumption begins at anaverage Cordyceps dosage of 2000mg or 2 grams daily. You can increase the dose to 3 grams after the body is used to 2 grams.

Is Cordyceps Sinensis Good?

Cordyceps Sinensis has several health benefits that make it stand out amongst all species of parasitic fungi. When taken at a safe dosage, cordyceps Sinensis is good and won’t cause any side effects.

What Are The Different Cordyceps Types?

Cordyceps mushrooms have over 600 species of different mushrooms. These mushrooms are all parasitic, but the organism they choose as a host may vary.

Two important species of cordyceps, although one of them no longer belongs to this genus, are Cordyceps Militaris and Ophicordiceps Sinensis.

Final Thoughts

In the battle of cordyceps Sinensis vs Militaris, the result appears to be a draw as both cordyceps Militaris and Sinensis have their benefits. As most of these benefits are shared by both the two species, it can be said that neither one is better than the other.

Economically speaking, cordyceps Militaris is cheaper and easier to manufacture on a large scale. So, for those seeking to reap the benefits of cordyceps in a cost-efficient way, cordyceps Militaris may be the way to go.

Have you tried cordyceps mushrooms?Let us know in the comments!

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References

  1. The genus Cordyceps: An extensive review of its traditional uses, phytochemistry and pharmacology, (1)https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/29775778/  
  2. Medicinal uses of the mushroom Cordyceps Militaris: Current state and prospects, (2)https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/abs/pii/S0367326X10001863  
  3. The anti-hyperglycemic activity of the fruiting body of Cordyceps in diabetic rats induced by nicotinamide and streptozotocin, (3)https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/15050427/ 
  4. Cordyceps sinensis (a traditional Chinese medicine) for treating chronic kidney disease (4)https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/25519252/  
  5. The lifespan-extending effect of Cordyceps sinensis Cs-4 in normal mice and its molecular mechanisms, (5)https://faseb.onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/abs/10.1096/fasebj.25.1_supplement.599.1 
  6. Cordyceps sinensis oral liquid prolongs the lifespan of the fruit fly, Drosophila melanogaster, by inhibiting oxidative stress, (6)https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4564082/  
  7. Functional study of Cordyceps sinensis and cordycepin in male reproduction: A review, (7)https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/28911537/  
  8. Cordyceps sinensis (a traditional Chinese medicine) for treating chronic kidney disease, (8)https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/25519252/  
  9. Trends in the Immunomodulatory Effects of Cordyceps Militaris: Total Extracts, Polysaccharides and Cordycepin, (9)https://www.frontiersin.org/articles/10.3389/fphar.2020.575704/full#h5  
  10. Efficacy and Safety of Cordyceps Militaris as an Adjuvant to Duloxetine in the Treatment of Insomnia in Patients With Depression: A 6-Week Double- Blind, Randomized, Placebo-Controlled Trial, (10)https://www.frontiersin.org/articles/10.3389/fpsyt.2021.754921/full
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