Can Cordyceps Mushrooms Fight Cancer? - HONE
  • Login
Shop Hone

Can Cordyceps Mushrooms Fight Cancer?

  • 24 min read

Can Cordyceps Mushrooms Fight Cancer? - HONE

Cancer affects millions of people worldwide. Cordyceps mushrooms seem to show some promise in the fight against cancer. 

In the lab, cordyceps has inhibited the growth of lung, colon, skin, and liver cancer cells. According to one study, “treatment with the [cordyceps] extract decreased cellular proliferation, induced cell cycle arrest at G0/G1 and increased apoptosis.”

Another study found that “the growth of RKO cells-derived tumor was significantly delayed by the treatment of Cordyceps militaris.” 

Article jumplinks:

Benefits of cordyceps Militaris?

Bioactive compounds in cordyceps

Does cordyceps ease chemo symptoms?

What is Cordyceps militaris?

Who should avoid Cordyceps?

How to consume cordyceps?

Cordyceps has long been used in traditional Chinese medicine as a supplementary therapy for cancer treatment and many other health conditions. There’s evidence that Cordyceps militaris can treat cancer by boosting immunity, inhibiting tumor growth, and even causing cancer cell apoptosis (self-destruction). For example,a 2015 study showed that a cordyceps extract “significantly increased early apoptosis” in cancer cells.

Let’s explore the benefits of cordyceps mushrooms, especially for treating cancer.

Benefits of Cordyceps Militaris for Cancer

Cordyceps mushrooms are among the healthiest fungi you can find. While it is not a cure-all for cancer, adding cordyceps to your diet can help you fight many types of cancer head on. 

There are over 20 bioactive compounds in cordyceps mushrooms with antitumor and immune regulation properties. Let’s look a little deeper into the benefits of Cordyceps militaris in fighting cancer. 

Cordyceps Enhances Antitumor Immune Response

One of the ways Cordyceps militaris fights cancer is by enhancing the antitumor immune response. A 2020 study found that cordyceps can “enhance the antitumor immunogenic response in breast cancer.” Researchers in the study tested an ethanol extract of Cordyceps militaris (CM-EE) on mouse and human breast cancer cells to see whether the mushrooms could cause immunogenic cell death. They have found some conclusive evidence that cordyceps mushrooms may be able to treat breast cancer

The expression of PD-L1 mRNA and protein level was increased in dose-dependent manners. In addition, CM-EE also potentiated the cytotoxic activity of tumor-specific T cells. CM-EE can induce immunogenic and apoptotic cell death in breast cancer cells, and it is a good candidate for cancer immunotherapy and may improve the efficacy of immune checkpoint inhibitors.

Chinese researchers confirmed these powerful anticancer effects of cordyceps mushrooms and demonstrated that their antitumor activity could stem from their ability to boost the antitumor immune response. 

Chinese Cordyceps as an immunomodulator has suppressive effects on the immune system. Cordycepin has been demonstrated to inhibit the differentiation of T cells into regulatory T cells (Treg, a suppressive phenotype of T cells) and delay tumor growth in tumor-bearing mice.

This research concludes that “Chinese Cordyceps can inhibit the growth and metastasis of tumor cells by death (including apoptosis and autophagy) induction, cell-cycle arrest, and angiogenesis inhibition."

Benefits of Cordyceps Militaris for Cancer

Mechanism of Chinese Cordyceps regulating immune cells in TIM. Abbreviations: Arg-1, arginase-1; CD38, CD11b+ and F4/80+, M1 macrophage markers; IFN-γ, interferon-gamma; IL, interleukin; iNOS, inducible nitric oxide synthase; TGF-β, transforming growth factor-beta; TIM, tumor immune microenvironment; TNF-α, tumor necrosis factor-alpha. Source:

Cordyceps Could Slow Cancer Cell Proliferation

Proliferation is the process by which cells divide and replicate in a controlled and regulated way. However, cancer cells tend to divide and replicate in a rapid and uncontrolled manner, which often leads to the formation of tumors. Cancer cell proliferation is one of the defining features of the disease and a primary target for cancer therapy. 

The aqueous extract of Cordyceps militaris could inhibit the growth of leukemia cells and cause cell death. 

In the present study, we investigated the biochemical mechanisms of anti-proliferative effects by aqueous extract of C. militaris (AECM) in human leukemia U937 cells. It was found that AECM could inhibit cell growth of U937 cells in a dose-dependent manner, which was associated with morphological change and apoptotic cell death such as formation of apoptotic bodies and DNA fragmentation. (Park,

study published inSage Journals elaborated on the anti-proliferative mechanisms of cordyceps mushrooms. The study examined the effect of C. militaris on the proliferation and death of non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC). Cordyceps seemed to lower viability and produce morphological disruption in NSCLC cells. The conclusion was that cordyceps mushrooms could reduce cell proliferation and induce apoptosis in lung cancer cells.

By inhibiting cell proliferation and preventing cancer cells from spreading and infecting healthy cells and tissues, cordyceps may be able to slow down or stop tumor growth, potentially lowering the chance of cancer metastasis. 

Cordyceps Inhibits Tumor Angiogenesis

In addition to inducing apoptosis and boosting the immune response, cordyceps employs other important techniques for battling tumor cells. Did you know cordyceps could also prevent angiogenesis in tumors?

Angiogenesis is the formation of new blood vessels. While it’s an essential process for healthy cells and tissues, angiogenesis in cancer supports tumor growth and spread by supplying oxygen and nutrients to the growing tumor. By suppressing the creation of new blood vessels in cancer cells, cordyceps mushrooms can prevent oxygenation and tumor growth. 

In 2014, Ruma et. al. explained the effects of cordyceps mushroom extract on angiogenesis. 

In this study, we aimed to elucidate the biological role of Cordyceps militaris extract in tumor cells, especially in regulating angiogenesis and tumor growth of a human malignant melanoma cell line. We demonstrated that Cordyceps militaris extract remarkably suppressed tumor growth via induction of apoptotic cell death in culture that links to the abrogation of VEGF production in melanoma cells... The results suggest that suppression of tumor growth by Cordyceps militaris extract is, at least, mediated by its anti-angiogenicity and apoptosis induction capacities. Cordyceps militaris extract may be a potent antitumor herbal drug for solid tumors.

Remember the study on RKO cancer cells? In the study, human colorectal cancer cells were treated with a Cordyceps militaris ethanol extract. The cordyceps mushroom ethanol extract had cytotoxic effects on colon cancer: it caused cell cycle arrest and accelerated apoptosis in tumor cells. 

Ethanol extract of Cordyceps militaris was highly cytotoxic to human colorectal carcinoma RKO cells and inhibited the growth of tumor in xenograft model. The anti-tumor effect of Cordyceps militaris was associated with an induction of cell cycle arrest and mitochondrial-mediated apoptosis.

C. Militaris May Induce Cancer Cell Death

Apoptosis is programmed cell death, a natural process in which cells in the body are systematically removed. This mechanism is critical for maintaining healthy tissue and preventing the formation of abnormal cells, like cancer cells. Cancer cell apoptosis is a vital technique for cancer treatment. 

Several bioactive compounds found in Cordyceps militaris show powerful antitumor activity, according to Liu, et. al., cordycepin, adenosine, and various polysaccharides seem to help induce apoptosis. 

The study explains two separate metabolic pathways that cordyceps can induce apoptosis in cancer cells:

Inducing apoptosis involves two major pathways: the intrinsic pathway (particularly mitochondrial stress) and extrinsic signal pathway… These studies indicate that Chinese Cordyceps induces apoptosis via both the mitochondrion-mediated intrinsic pathway and extrinsic Fas/FasL and ARs pathways.

Cordyceps has been shown to increase the expression of pro-apoptotic proteins (members of the Bcl-2 family), which leads to mitochondrial membrane depolarization and cytochrome c release. This causes the activation of caspase-9, an enzyme critical to the apoptotic pathway in our tissues. By activating the caspase-9 enzyme, cordyceps may be able to induce tumor cell apoptosis.

In a study on human leukemia cells, a hot water extract of cordyceps fruiting bodies caused cancer cells to self-destruct.

These results indicate that the hot water extract of Cordyceps militaris fruiting bodies inhibited cancer cell proliferation by inducing cell apoptosis through the activation of caspase-3, and that the Cordyceps militaris extract may therefore have therapeutic potential against human leukemia.

Studies on ovarian cancer confirm the pro-apoptotic benefits of cordyceps mushrooms. The researchers found that “C. militaris inhibited ovarian cancer cell proliferation, survival, and migration, possibly through the coordination between TNF-α/TNFR1 signaling and NF-κB activation.”

TNF- (tumor necrosis factor alpha) is a signaling protein important for inflammation and cell death. It attaches to a receptor on the cell surface known as TNFR1, triggering a pathway of signals inside the cell that can result in cell survival, proliferation, or death. The protein NF-B regulates the immunological response, inflammation, and cell survival. It can be activated and translocated to the nucleus in response to numerous signals, including TNF-. By disrupting the signaling pathway involving TNF- and its receptor, TNFR1, cordyceps mushrooms suppressed the activation of NF-B and induced cell apoptosis. 

Induction of apoptosis in cancer cells is a promising strategy for cancer treatment. Let’s look at some of the bioactive compounds found in Cordyceps militaris that seem to help kill cancer cells, prevent them from growing, and deploy our immune system against them. 

Bioactive Compounds in Cordyceps

There are over 20 bioactive compounds found in Cordyceps militaris with extraordinary medicinal and therapeutic properties, many of which can be used to fight cancer. Keep reading to discover the most important antitumor ingredients in cordyceps mushrooms. 




Antitumor activity

Attenuation of chronic heart failure
Immunomodulatory activity




Seizure prevention
Immunomodulatory activity


Antitumor activity
Antioxidant activity
Anti-fibroblast activity
Cholesterol lowering effect

Cordycepic acid

Anti-fibrosis and anti-inflammation
Diuretic effect
Attenuating postreperfusion syndrome


Antitumor activity
Antioxidant activity
Antiviral activity

Protective effects on kidney
Hypoglycemic effect


Analgesic effect
Hypoglycemic effects

Cordycedipeptide A

Antitumor activity


Sedative hypnotic effect

Fibrinolytic enzymes

Treatment for thrombosis


Anti-fibroblast activity
Antiviral activity



5α,8α-epidioxy-22E-ergosta-6,22-dien-3β-ol (ergosterol peroxide)








Cordysinin A


Cordysinin B


Cordysinin C


Cordysinin D


Cordysinin E


The Anti-Metastatic Adenosine

Adenosine is a type of nucleoside (a molecule used to make DNA and RNA) that our bodies naturally produce. As a signaling molecule, adenosine is responsible for a wide range of physiological activities, such as sleep, blood pressure, and inflammation. Adenosine has also been shown to have anti-cancer properties by causing cancer cell apoptosis (cell death). 

One study discovered that adenosine can cause liver cancer cell apoptosis by harming their energy-producing mitochondria. 

Those [apoptotic] pathways are involved in the alteration of [mitochondrial membrane potential]...the release of Cytochrome C into the cytosol, and the activation of Caspase-9. They also induce the disruption of mitochondrial membrane permeabilization and the alteration in mitochondrial membrane transition pores... Adenosine also leads to mitochondrial membrane dysfunction... These data clearly indicated that adenosine induces the apoptosis of 7404 liver cancer cells through mitochondrial membrane dysfunction via Caspase8/Bak/MMP/Caspase-9/-3 signaling. 

Adenosine also seems to damage mitochondrial function by generating reactive oxygen species (ROS). ROS are a type of free radical that causes harm to cancer cells. 

We found here adenosine also increases the ROS level in the liver cancer cells... These data clearly indicated that adenosine increases the ROS level in the tumor cells to trigger the apoptosis via mitochondrial membrane dysfunction, also the key role of ROS-mediated mitochondrial dysfunction in adenosineinduced apoptosis of the cells.

There seem to be more methods which adenosine uses to cause cancer cell death. The results of a 2010 study “suggest that adenosine induces HepG2 cell apoptosis by activating those [caspase-3, -8, and -9] as a result from tuning apoptosis-mediator gene transcription.”

A different study showed that TNFR1 and RIPK1 can suppress cell growth and induce apoptosis in human colonic cancer cells by increasing their expression.

Knockdown of TNFR1 or RIPK1 impairs the activation of p38, blocks the cleavage of PARP, and provides partially, yet significantly protection from cell death, including reducing the ROS generation in the colon cancer cells. These results indicate that a TNFR1/RIPK1/P38 axis is present in adenosine-induced apoptosis of colonic cancer cells. This axis triggers apoptosis and plays crucial roles in relay of the death signaling. (Yu, et. al.)

It’s a good thing, then, that cordyceps mushrooms are a rich source of this cancer-fighting molecule. In fact, the amount of adenosine found in cordyceps is much higher than what our bodies can produce. 

Anticancer Properties of Cordycepin

Cancer research continues to reveal more antitumor effects of cordyceps, much of it through the miracle compound cordycepin.

Cordycepin (3-deoxyadenosine) is a naturally occurring molecule found in Cordyceps militaris. It has been heavily investigated for its anti-cancer properties, particularly its ability to induce apoptosis and prevent the spread of tumor cells. Additionally, when cancer cells grow uncontrollably, they can evade the body's natural defenses. Cordycepin has been shown to selectively inhibit tumor growth and cause its decay while leaving healthy cells unharmed. 

Cordycepin seems to interfere with all the important processes on which cancer depends: angiogenesis, cell proliferation, immunomodulation of tumor activity, and tumor growth. A 2019 study investigated the anticancer roles of cordycepin: 

Cordycepin inhibited the proliferation, wound healing, transwell migration, and tube formation of endothelial cells. Confocal microscopy revealed that cordycepin significantly reduced focal adhesion kinase (FAK) expression and decreased focal adhesion number of the endothelial cells (ECs). Focal adhesion kinase plays an important role in the regulation of ethothelial cell adhesion, migration, proliferation, and survival... Finally, we demonstrated that cordycepin suppressed angiogenesis in an in vivo angiogenesis assay and reduced HCC tumor growth in a xenograft nude mice model. Our study indicated that cordycepin could attenuate cell proliferation and migration and may result in the impairment of the angiogenesis process and tumor growth via downregulation of FAK and induction of p53 and p21 in ECs. 

We have a lot more to say about the effects of cordycepin on various types of carcinoma cells, so listen up. 

Anti-Metastatic Properties of Cordycepin

Metastasis is the breakout of cancer cells from the primary tumor and their migration to other parts of the body via the bloodstream or lymphatic system. Once cancer cells have spread to other organs, they can grow new tumors, making therapy much more difficult. 

Luckily, cordyceps mushrooms have just the thing for stubborn cancer vagabonds: cordycepin has the ability to suppress cancer spread.  

Cordycepin has been shown in cancer research to prevent cancer cells from spreading in several types of cancer, including breast, lung, liver, and colon cancer. Clinical cancer research seems to suggest that cordycepin treatment may also fight prostate cancer by reducing the production of proteins involved in the migration and invasion of human prostate carcinoma cells.  

…cordycepin time-dependently inhibited cell motility and invasiveness of LNCaP cells. The inhibitory effects of cordycepin on cell invasiveness were associated with tightening of tight junctions (TJs), which was demonstrated by an increase in transepithelial electrical resistance (TER). Immunoblotting indicated that cordycepin decreases levels of claudin proteins, which are major components of TJs that play a key role in control and selectivity of paracellular transport.

Cordycepin also inhibited cell migration and metastasis in human liver cancer cells, as reported by a team of Chinese researchers. They concluded that “cordycepin notably inhibited migration and invasion, and decreased the expression of C-X-C chemokine receptor type 4 (CXCR4) in a dose-dependent manner.” 

Their in vitro studies showed that silencing of CXCR4 in tumor cells inhibited their migration to healthy cells. By downregulating the expression of CXCR4, cordycepin and cordyceps mushrooms were able to prevent the metastasis of liver cancer cells

Cordyceps also prevents metastasis in bladder cancer. Cordycepin seems to prevent bladder cancer cells from migrating to healthy cells and causing metastasis:

The present study reveals novel molecular mechanisms for the anti-tumor effects of cordycepin in two different bladder cancer cell lines, 5637 and T-24 cells. Cordycepin treatment, at a dose of 200 microM (IC(50)) during cell-cycle progression resulted in significant and dose-dependent growth inhibition… These results suggest that cordycepin could be an effective treatment for bladder cancer. (Jin, et. al.)

Pro-Apoptotic Effect of Cordycepin 

Remember how cordyceps can activate certain apoptotic enzymes that induce cell apoptosis? Other clinical studies indicate that cordycepin can induce apoptosis in breast cancer cells. Researchers were able to confirm the pro-apoptotic effect of cordycepin by using western blot analysis. Western blot analysis is a popular laboratory technique used for detecting and identifying individual proteins in a complex mixture. 

The C.militaris concentrate and cordycepin exhibited the ability to induce apoptotic cell death by increasing the cleavage of caspase-7 -8, and -9, increasing the Bax/Bcl-2 protein expression ratio, and decreasing the protein expression of XIAP in MCF-7 cells. 

Anticancer Properties of Polysaccharides

Polysaccharides are a group of bioactive components found in cordyceps mushrooms with extraordinary immunomodulatory, antioxidant, and antitumor properties. 

Polysaccharides show antitumor activity by turning tumor-associated macrophages (TAMs) from promoting tumors to killing tumors. TAMs transform from an M2 to an M1 phenotype, which can destroy tumor cells. 

[In vitro and/or in vivo] experiments confirmed that the polysaccharides exerted antitumor activity through growth inhibition and induction of apoptosis of tumor cells. Inhibition of carcinogenesis involved inhibition of cyclin-dependent kinase and arrest of the tumor cell cycle in the G0/G1 and G2/M phases. (Jędrejko, et. al.)

Polysaccharides are also found in Cordyceps sinensis, another major species in the Cordyceps family. C. militaris and C. sinensis are near-identical when it comes to their chemical composition, with both species containing high levels of polysaccharides like beta-glucans, mannans, and heteropolysaccharides. 

study on Cordyceps sinensis discovered antitumor activities similar to those of Cordyceps militaris. The findings “suggested that polysaccharides inhibited the proliferation of HCT116 cells by inducing apoptosis and autophagy flux blockage, which might be achieved through PI3K-AKT-mTOR and AMPK-mTOR-ULK1 signaling.” Researchers argue that “polysaccharides may be a potential therapeutic agent for colon cancer.”

Whether extracted from C. militaris or C. sinensis, polysaccharides are an anticancer force to be reckoned with. A study on polysaccharides from cordyceps mushrooms revealed: 

Polysaccharides from mycelia (CMPS-II) seem to have a better effect than that obtained from the fruiting body (CBPS-II). CMPS-II and CBPS-II can up-regulate the expression of apoptosis factors including Caspase-3, Caspase-9, and p53, and down-regulating proliferating cell nuclear antigen.

Researchers continue to explain the mechanisms of the antitumor effect of polysaccharides. 

A previous study also demonstrated that water-extracted C. militaris polysaccharide, largely composed of →4)-α-D-Glcp (1→, →6)-β-D-Glcp (1→, and →4)-β-D-Glcp (1→ glycosyls, inhibits the proliferation of several tumor cell lines in vitro. Additionally, a recent study demonstrated that the alkaline-extracted polysaccharides mostly composed of →6)-α-D-Glcp (1→ and →3)-α-D-Glcp (1→ glycosyls shows anti-tumor effects though the modulation of tumor-associated macrophages, which inhibit the killing effect of T lymphocytes on tumor cells through the programmed death lignd-1/programmed death-1 axis.

A whole lot of science, but only one conclusion to be drawn: polysaccharides can inhibit the growth and spread of cancer cells. 

Cancer-Fighting Sterols from Cordyceps Mushrooms

Ergosterols are steroid molecules found in fungal cell membranes. They show anti-inflammatory, antioxidant, and anticancer properties. Antitumor ergosterols discovered in Cordyceps militaris include 5,8-epidioxy-22E-ergosta-6,22-dien-3-ol, 5,8-epidioxy-22E-ergosta-6,9(11),22-trien-3-ol, and 5,6-epoxy-5-ergosta-7,22-dien-3-ol. 

These types of sterols have been shown to inhibit cancer cell growth by inducing apoptosis and preventing angiogenesis in cancer cells.

The ethyl acetate (EtOAc) extract contained carbohydrates, adenosine, ergosterol and trace amount of cordycepin, of which ergosterol and related compounds were identified as a major class of active constituents contributing to the in vitro cytotoxicity. In an animal test, the EtOAc extract showed significant inhibiting effect on B16-induced melanoma in C57BL/6 mice, causing about 60% decrease of tumor size over 27 days. 

Potential Antitumor Properties of Cordycedipeptide A

Meet another bioactive, cancer-kicking molecule from cordyceps mushrooms. In 2005, researchers found that cordycedipeptide A had powerful cytoxic activity—the ability to kill cancer cells and suppress the growth of cancer cell lines such as liver, lung, breast, and colon cancer. 

Cordycedipeptide A (CPa) is one of the smallest cyclic peptides with antitumor and immunomodulatory functions discovered in cordyceps. 

A new cyclodipeptide named as cordycedipeptide A, a new natural compound and two known compound were isolated from the culture liquid of Cordyceps sinensis (BERK.) SACC… The cytotoxic assay showed compound 1 had the cytotoxic activities to L-929, A375, and Hela. (Jia, et. al.)

Cordycedipeptide A is an immunomodulator, aiding in the regulation of the immune system. This is significant in cancer treatment because a strong immune system can aid in the elimination of cancer cells.

Can Cordyceps Aid in Cancer Treatment?

Cordyceps militaris has also been shown to improve the efficacy of chemotherapy and decrease the negative effects of chemotherapy drugs. 

2018 study found that cordyceps supplementation could increase the susceptibility of glioblastoma multiforme (GBM) cells to temozolomide (TMZ). TMZ is a medication used to treat brain tumors such as glioblastoma and anaplastic astrocytoma. The combination of cordycepin and TMZ reduced tumor volume and increased the median survival time of xenograft models in vivo. The study demonstrated that combining cordycepin with TMZ therapy may provide a novel approach for GBM treatment.

In vivo, the combination therapy also obviously reduced the tumor volume as well as prolonged the median survival time of xenograft models. In brief, our results suggested that cordycepin augments TMZ sensitivity in human glioma cells at least partially through activation of AMPK [AMP-activated protein kinase] and suppression of the AKT signaling pathway. 

AKT is a key factor in cell survival: it directly stops pro-apoptotic proteins and transcription factors from sending pro-apoptotic signals. By inhibiting the AKT signaling pathway, cordyceps mushrooms can enhance chemosensitivity of human glioma cells to TMZ. 

Cordyceps mushrooms can aid chemotherapy and other treatments for cancer by increasing the disease’s susceptibility to treatment. But it can also alleviate cancer symptoms and suppress the nasty side effects of chemotherapy. 

C. Militaris Can Help With Chemo Side Effects

Cordyceps mushrooms are an excellent source of energy. These Chinese medicinal mushrooms can increase energy levels and reduce feelings of fatigue, which is what many patients undergoing chemotherapy experience. 

Cordyceps militaris extract and sorafenib could help reduce cancer-related fatigue. Sorafenib (sold under the brand name Nexavar) is a type of kinase inhibitor drug approved for the treatment of kidney cancer, advanced liver cancer, and advanced thyroid carcinoma. Cordyceps also improved the efficacy of sorafenib, and together, they prevented tumor growth and decreased fatigue caused by it. 

As a result of biochemical analysis with serum, the combination of ethyl acetate extract of C militaris with sorafenib showed the adjuvant effects both improving hepatic function and relieving cancer-related fatigue…Therefore, the combination strategy such as ethyl acetate extraction of C militaris with sorafenib constitutes a promising therapeutic strategy in hepatocellular carcinoma, via the inhibition of cancer growth, the enhancement of liver function, as well as the alleviation of cancer-related fatigue. (Oh et. al.)

Cordyceps mushrooms may also reverse the side effects associated with chemo and other types of cancer therapy.

Cordyceps Against Leukopenia

Leukopenia is a condition in which the number of white blood cells (leukocytes) drops, lowering the body’s defenses and increasing the risk of infection. Chemotherapy is known to damage the body's dividing cells, particularly the bone marrow, where white blood cells are produced. Interestingly, cordyceps mushrooms seem to reverse leukopenia. 

According to research, Cordyceps militaris can boost the production of white blood cells, such as monocytes and lymphocytes, and increase immunological function. 

Extracts from fruiting body of C. militaris exhibited an immunomodulatory and antioxidative activity... Total white blood cell count was increased in extract-treated mice in a dose-dependent manner. In the white blood cell population, lymphocytes and monocytes were increased, neutrophils were decreased, and eosinophils and basophils seemed to display no overt changes. 

Cordyceps militaris' capacity to activate the immune system, decrease cancer cell growth, and improve chemotherapy efficacy implies that it has significant potential as an adjuvant medicine in cancer treatment.

What is Cordyceps Militaris?

Cordyceps militaris is a fungus in the genus Cordyceps. Although cordyceps can be found in the wild, parasitizing a variety of larvae, the majority of cordyceps on the market today are lab-grown. Cordyceps has a long history of use in traditional Chinese medicine due to its possible health advantages.

Cordyceps is an adaptogenic medicinal mushroom: it can help your body adapt to stress and improve your overall health. 

There are over 600 species of cordyceps. Cordyceps militaris and Cordyceps sinensis are the best-known and most investigated cordyceps types. 

Benefits of Cordyceps

The rich chemical composition of cordyceps allows for a variety of health benefits and applications. Bioactive compounds like the mighty and anticancer cordycepin, adenosine, and polysaccharides have strong antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties. 

Here are some health benefits of Cordyceps militaris:

  1. Boost energy and improve athletic performance and endurance
  2. Improve cognitive function
  3. Lower anxiety and depression
  4. Fight inflammation and chronic inflammatory conditions
  5. Improve gut health, regulate the gut flora, and reduce gastrointestinal inflammation
  6. Improve sexual function in men and women by increasing libido
  7. Boost testosterone levels which helps maintain healthy reproductive system in men (read more about the benefits of cordyceps on fertility)
  8. Promote respiratory health

Cordyceps supports respiratory health

Who Should Avoid Cordyceps?

Although cordyceps is safe to consume, there are a few things to keep in mind. If you are allergic to mold, yeast, or fungi, you may also be allergic to cordyceps.

Don’t take cordyceps supplements in the weeks preceding surgeries. The fungus may have an anti-clotting effect and increase your chances of bleeding or bruising. If you're pregnant or planning to get pregnant, talk to your doctor before taking cordyceps supplements.

How to Consume Cordyceps Mushrooms for Cancer

Cordyceps mushrooms can be consumed in various forms. One option is to take them as a dietary supplement in the form of capsules or tablets. That’s an easy way, but we’ll let you in on a secret: cordyceps capsules and tablets taste a bit yucky and, well, capsuley. 

We always go for the healthiest option: tea time is the best time, especially when it comes to keeping things natural and organic. There’s no better way to reap the rewards of cordyceps mushrooms and kick cancer’s butt than with our cordyceps and matcha tea

Mushroom Matcha - 30 Serving Jar

Our tea contains only the best of the best: premium matcha sourced from Japan and the highest quality cordyceps mushrooms from China. An explosion of tradition and health in every cup. 

Some patients choose complementary and alternative medicines—like cordyceps—to complement their current treatment plan. While our phenomenal tea will surely excite your taste buds, cordyceps should not be taken in place of standard cancer treatments but rather as a supplemental therapy. Before adding them to your regular cancer treatment, make sure to check with a healthcare practitioner. 

Cordyceps and Cancer FAQ

How long does it take for cordyceps to kick in?

Some people may feel energized after taking it within an hour or so, while others may not notice any effects for several days or weeks. Don’t forget that the effects of cordyceps mushrooms differ from person to person. 

Cordyceps use can produce results in as little as one week. Regular use of a daily dose provides even greater benefits.

Are adaptogens good for cancer patients?

Some adaptogens may have potential benefits for cancer patients

According to medical news, adaptogens are vital while cancer is active because they help the body adapt to conventional cancer therapies like surgery, chemotherapy, and radiation, allowing the person to cope with many of the severe side effects of such treatments.

study on adaptogens reveals that: 

Adaptogens are nonspecific, nontoxic and normalizing. This means the effect they produce varies according to the physiopathologic state. For instance, ginseng is an angiogenic in wound healing, versus cancer, and it is also antiangiogenic. This apparent paradox is typical of normalizing properties of adaptogens, which also have multiple anticancer effects as well as beneficial interactions with conventional chemotherapy and radiation. 

The main role of adaptogens is to help our bodies adapt to stress and maintain homeostasis. Some of the most popular adaptogens include ashwagandha, rhodiola, lion’s mane, ginseng, holy basil, reishi mushrooms, eleuthero, and cordyceps mushrooms.

Some adaptogens may interact with chemotherapy treatments and other medications. Before adding any adaptogen to your daily health regime, consult with a healthcare physician if you’re undergoing cancer therapy. 

Is insect-grown cordyceps better than rice-grown cordyceps?

Cordyceps militaris is generally grown on brown rice in laboratories, but new research suggests that insect-grown cordyceps might contain more health benefits than rice-grown mushrooms. And some insects generate more cordycepin than others.

Researchers at Chungbuk National University in South Korea have discovered that cordyceps fed on Japanese rhinoceros beetles produced 34 times higher levels of cordycepin than cordyceps fed on other edible insects such as silkworm pupae, mealworms, grasshoppers, and crickets). 

Researchers also found that the lipid content of insects influenced cordycepin production. Growing cordyceps on insects with a high fat content seems to drive higher levels of cordycepin. There seems to be a direct link between oleic acid concentration and cordycepin concentration. Oleic acid is an omega-9 fatty acid good for preventing heart disease and reducing cholesterol. Added to the substrate, oleic acid boosted the production of cordycepin in mushrooms grown on Japanese rhinoceros beetles. 

The research provides promise for new treatments for cancer, COVID-19, and other diseases.

The more cordycepin, the more power to fight cancer. 

Does cordyceps boost exercise performance?

Cordyceps can boost exercise performance in a natural way. 

Scientific evidence shows that cordyceps mushrooms can increase oxygen absorption, which is an essential measure of endurance and aerobic capacity. Cordyceps also boosts ATP (adenosine triphosphate), our body’s energy source. Cordyceps may also help reduce fatigue and enhance recovery time after exercise. 

Be sure to gulp down a cup of our mushroom matcha tea before hitting the gym. You can even take your cordyceps matcha tea packets with you and enjoy a boost in energy wherever you go.

Does cordyceps affect the brain?

Cordyceps mushrooms have been shown to affect our neurological and cognitive functions. Cordyceps militaris has been used in Chinese medicine for centuries to increase mental clarity, focus, and memory. 

Studies show that cordyceps mushrooms can promote learning and memory by protecting the nervous system and boosting oxygen flow to the brain. One of the most crucial aspects of keeping your brain's functions working smoothly is adequate oxygen delivery to the brain. Cordyceps increases cognitive ability by feeding your brain cells oxygen and nourishment. 

What happens when you take cordyceps?

Cordyceps may have a variety of effects on your body. When you start taking cordyceps mushrooms regularly, here’s what you might expect:

  • Cordyceps will increase your energy levels and make you feel less tired and more energized. This may also enhance your stamina and physical endurance.
  • Your immune system will receive a boost. Cordyceps contains bioactive compounds that may boost the immune system, resulting in improved overall health and protection against infections.
  • Reduced inflammation: cordyceps has anti-inflammatory qualities, which may aid in the treatment of inflammatory disorders such as asthma or arthritis. Less inflammation means better skin quality, too. 
  • If you’re diabetic and struggle to maintain normal blood sugar levels, cordyceps mushrooms can help with that. Cordyceps militaris can treat diabetes by helping your body use insulin more efficiently. 

There are many reasons why you should include cordyceps mushrooms in your diet right now. Whether you're an athlete trying to improve your performance, a busy professional looking for a mid-day boost, or simply someone interested in the potential benefits of natural supplementation, our 30 serving jar of mushroom matcha is a great place to start.

Can I take cordyceps every day?

Cordyceps is safe enough to take daily. The longer you take cordyceps mushrooms, the greater the impact they have on your health. If you plan to take cordyceps on a regular basis, it's best to stick to the recommended dosage of 1–3 grams of cordyceps powder.

Is cordyceps a natural Viagra?

People of the Far East call cordyceps the natural Himalayan Viagra because of its astonishing properties for improving sexual function. 

Consuming Cordyceps militaris has been linked to improved sexual function in men by raising testosterone levels. Testosterone is a hormone that regulates male sexual health, such as libido, sperm production, and erectile function. Higher testosterone is correlated with higher bone density and muscle strength, healthy sexual and reproductive function, and an overall sense of well-being.

According to research, Cordyceps militaris can increase sexual desire and activity and boost physical performance, which can contribute to greater libido in men and women.


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 - PubMed. (2015, July 31). PubMed.

Anti-cancer effect of Cordyceps militaris in human colorectal carcinoma RKO cells via cell cycle arrest and mitochondrial apoptosis - PubMed. (2015, July 4). PubMed.

Anti-tumor effect of Cordyceps militaris in HCV-infected human hepatocarcinoma 7.5 cells - PubMed. (2015, July 1). PubMed.

Cordyceps militaris Induces Immunogenic Cell Death and Enhances Antitumor Immunogenic Response in Breast Cancer - PubMed. (2020, September 3). PubMed.

Liu, Y., Guo, Z. J., & Zhou, X. W. (2022, October 4).Chinese Cordyceps: Bioactive Components, Antitumor Effects and Underlying Mechanism—A Review. MDPI.

Park, C., Hong, S. H., Lee, J. Y., Kim, G. Y., Choi, B. T., Lee, Y. T., Park, D. I., Park, Y. M., Jeong, Y. K., & Choi, Y. H. (2005, June 1).Growth inhibition of U937 leukemia cells by aqueous extract of Cordyceps militaris through induction of apoptosis.

Jo, E., Jang, H. J., Shen, L., Yang, K. E., Jang, M. S., Huh, Y. H., Yoo, H. S., Park, J., Jang, I. S., & Park, S. J. (2020, January). Cordyceps militaris Exerts Anticancer Effect on Non–Small Cell Lung Cancer by Inhibiting Hedgehog Signaling via Suppression of TCTN3.Integrative Cancer Therapies,19, 153473542092375.

Winarsa Ruma, I. M., Putranto, E. W., Kondo, E., Watanabe, R., Saito, K., Inoue, Y., Yamamoto, K. I., Nakata, S., Kaihata, M., Murata, H., & Sakaguchi, M. (2014, April 24).Extract of Cordyceps militaris inhibits angiogenesis and suppresses tumor growth of human malignant melanoma cells.

Induction of apoptosis by Cordyceps militaris through activation of caspase-3 in leukemia HL-60 cells - PubMed. (2006, April 1). PubMed.

Jo, E., Jang, H. J., Yang, K. E., Jang, M. S., Huh, Y. H., Yoo, H. S., Park, J. S., Jang, I. S., & Park, S. J. (2020, January 13).Cordyceps militaris induces apoptosis in ovarian cancer cells through TNF-α/TNFR1-mediated inhibition of NF-κB phosphorylation - BMC Complementary Medicine and Therapies. SpringerLink.

Adenosine induces apoptosis in human liver cancer cells through ROS production and mitochondrial dysfunction. (2014, April 13). ScienceDirect.

Tuning of apoptosis-mediator gene transcription in HepG2 human hepatoma cells through an adenosine signal. (2009, November 8). ScienceDirect.

Adenosine induces apoptosis through TNFR1/RIPK1/P38 axis in colon cancer cells. (2015, March 27). Adenosine Induces Apoptosis Through TNFR1/RIPK1/P38 Axis in Colon Cancer Cells - ScienceDirect.

Lin, Y. T., Liang, S. M., Wu, Y. J., Wu, Y. J., Lu, Y. J., Jan, Y. J., Ko, B. S., Chuang, Y. J., Shyue, S. K., Kuo, C. C., & Liou, J. Y. (2019, February 1).Cordycepin Suppresses Endothelial Cell Proliferation, Migration, Angiogenesis, and Tumor Growth by Regulating Focal Adhesion Kinase and p53. PubMed Central (PMC).

Jeong, J. W., Jin, C. Y., Park, C., Han, M. H., Kim, G. Y., Moon, S. K., Kim, C. G., Jeong, Y. K., Kim, W. J., Lee, J. D., & Choi, Y. H. (2012, January 13).Inhibition of migration and invasion of LNCaP human prostate carcinoma cells by cordycepin through inactivation of Akt.

Guo, Z., Chen, W., Dai, G., & Huang, Y. (2019, October 31).Cordycepin suppresses the migration and invasion of human liver cancer cells by downregulating the expression of CXCR4. PubMed Central (PMC).

Jin, Y., Meng, X., Qiu, Z., Su, Y., Yu, P., & Qu, P. (2018, May 14).Anti-tumor and anti-metastatic roles of cordycepin, one bioactive compound of Cordyceps militaris. PubMed Central (PMC).

The Inhibitory Effect of Cordycepin on the Proliferation of MCF-7 Breast Cancer Cells, and its Mechanism: An Investigation Using Network Pharmacology-Based Analysis - PubMed. (2019, August 23). PubMed.

Jędrejko, K. J., Lazur, J., & Muszyńska, B. (2021, October 30).Cordyceps militaris: An Overview of Its Chemical Constituents in Relation to Biological Activity. PubMed Central (PMC).

Cordyceps sinensis polysaccharide inhibits colon cancer cells growth by inducing apoptosis and autophagy flux blockage via mTOR signaling. (2020, March 4). ScienceDirect.

Miao, M., Yu, W. Q., Li, Y., Sun, Y. L., & Guo, S. D. (2022, May 2).Structural Elucidation and Activities of Cordyceps militaris-Derived Polysaccharides: A Review. Frontiers.

Inhibitory effects of ethyl acetate extract of Cordyceps sinensis mycelium on various cancer cells in culture and B16 melanoma in C57BL/6 mice. (2006, January 19). ScienceDirect.

Cordycedipeptide A, a new cyclodipeptide from the culture liquid of Cordyceps sinensis (Berk.) Sacc - PubMed. (2005, May 1). PubMed.

Cordycepin Augments the Chemosensitivity of Human Glioma Cells to Temozolomide by Activating AMPK and Inhibiting the AKT Signaling Pathway - PubMed. (2018, November 5). PubMed.

Oh, J., Choi, E., Kim, J., Kim, H., Lee, S., & Sung, G. H. (2020, June 22).Efficacy of Ethyl Acetate Fraction of Cordyceps militaris for Cancer-Related Fatigue in Blood Biochemical and 1H-Nuclear Magnetic Resonance Metabolomic Analyses. PubMed Central (PMC).

Lee, C. T., Huang, K. S., Shaw, J. F., Chen, J. R., Kuo, W. S., Shen, G., Grumezescu, A. M., Holban, A. M., Wang, Y. T., Wang, J. S., Hsiang, Y. P., Lin, Y. M., Hsu, H. H., & Yang, C. H. (2020, October 14).Trends in the Immunomodulatory Effects of Cordyceps militaris: Total Extracts, Polysaccharides and Cordycepin. Frontiers.

Tavakoli, J., Miar, S., Zadehzare, M. M., & Akbari, H. (n.d.).Evaluation of Effectiveness of Herbal Medication in Cancer Care: A Review Study. PubMed Central (PMC).

Turk, A., A. Abdelhamid, M. A., Yeon, S. W., Ryu, S. H., Lee, S., Ko, S. M., Kim, B. S., Pack, S. P., Hwang, B. Y., & Lee, M. K. (2022, September 27).Cordyceps mushroom with increased cordycepin content by the cultivation on edible insects. Frontiers.

Hirsch, K. R., Smith-Ryan, A. E., Roelofs, E. J., Trexler, E. T., & Mock, M. G. (2016, July 13).Cordyceps militaris improves tolerance to high intensity exercise after acute and chronic supplementation. PubMed Central (PMC).

Kim, Y. O., Kim, H. J., Abu-Taweel, G. M., Oh, J., & Sung, G. H. (2018, August 17).Neuroprotective and therapeutic effect of Cordyceps militaris on ischemia-induced neuronal death and cognitive impairments. PubMed Central (PMC).

Nguyen, T. V., Chumnanpuen, P., Parunyakul, K., Srisuksai, K., & Fungfuang, W. (2021, February 27).A study of the aphrodisiac properties of Cordyceps militaris inNguyen TV,Chumnanpuen P, Parunyakul K, Srisuksai K, Fungfuang W.A study of the aphrodisiac properties of Cordyceps militaris in streptozotocin-induced diabetic male rats. Vet World. 2021 Feb;14(2):537-544. doi: 10.14202/vetworld.2021.537-544. Epub 2021 Feb 27. 

Hone FDA & Legal Disclaimer

Our products are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease. They are not a replacement for prescription medications and have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA).

The information provided on this website does not, and is not intended to, constitute legal advice or medical advice. Any information, content, and materials available on this site are for general informational purposes only, and are not intended to be relied upon for any purpose.

Readers of this website should contact their attorney to obtain advice with respect to any particular legal matter including decisions on what products are, or are not, legal to sell, possess, or consume. No reader, user, or browser of this site should act or refrain from acting on the basis of information on this site without first seeking advice from their healthcare provider.