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Cordyceps sinensis is one of the most popular and widely respected herbs in the world. It has been revered for thousands of years in the Orient, but has historically been very rare. As a result of modern growing techniques, it is now available to everyone at a fraction of its traditional cost. It is a truly extraordinary tonic herb.

Recent Research
Cordyceps is restorative after excessive exertion.
Cordyceps may improve physical endurance.
Cordyceps helps restore cellular energy levels after adapting to stress.
Cordyceps helps boost functions associated with the adrenal cortex that aid in the adaptation to stress.
Cordyceps increases respiratory capacity and efficiency.
Cordyceps is an immune modulating and immune-potentiating agent.

Traditional Uses
Cordyceps tonifies Qi.
Cordyceps replenishes Yin and Yang Jing.
Cordyceps is used to strengthen the body and mind.
Cordyceps is believed in the Orient to have rejuvenation functions.
Based on the belief that Cordyceps replenishes Yin and Yang Jing, Cordyceps is believed in the Orient to have anti-aging functions.
Cordyceps is also a Lung* tonic.
Cordyceps is used for the purposes of strengthening the primal Kidney* functions, which include sexual functions, brain power, structural integrity and healing ability, according to traditional Chinese health theory.
Cordyceps can have a benefit in the vascular system.
Cordyceps improves the function of the micro-circulation and improves efficiency at the capillary level.

*When the organ name refers to the traditional Chinese concept of that organ-function, the organ-function name is capitalized. When a name refers to the conventional western definition of an organ, it is not capitalized.

Other Common Names
Chinese Caterpillar Fungus and Winterworm

Page Number In Radiant Health

Pharmaceutical Latin

Dong Chong Xia Cao

Yin and Yang Jing and Qi.

Treasure Rating

Atmospheric Energy
Yin and Yang Jing and Qi.

Organ Meridian Systems
Kidney and Lungs

Part Used and Form
Natural, wild Cordyceps includes the complete fungus (mushroom) which is attached to the forehead of the carcass of a caterpillar. Occasionally, insects form the growth substrate instead of the more common caterpillar. Modern fermentation type of growth includes just the fungus, and does not include the caterpillar. The "caterpillar" has actually been totally transformed into fungal mycelial mass by the time the herb is collected. There is no animal matter left and therefor the herb is vegetarian.

Primary Combinations
Can be used by itself, but almost always combined with other tonic herbs. Combine with:

1. Ginseng Root to build qi, yin and yang
2. Dang Gui to build blood and yin
3. Gecko and Morinda to tonify Kidney yang and yin
Lycium, Polygonum and Rehmannia (steamed) to tonify blood and Kidney and Liver yin
5. Glehnia, Donkey skin glue and Fritillary bulb for chronic cough and asthma due to lung deficiency

Varieties and Grading
Cordyceps is one of the most rare and expensive herbs in Chinese tonic herbalism. It is primarily collected wild in the high mountainous regions of Tibet, and on the high peaks of Yunnan, Sichuan, and Gansu Provinces of China. It can also be grown in a semi-wild manner, but this Cordyceps will be of lower quality (it is still very good). A rule of thumb---low cost Cordyceps is not wild. The wild Cordyceps will always be the most expensive. Generally, the larger the whole Cordyceps (caterpillar and mushroom), the more expensive---but not always. There are occasional species of caterpillar which are larger but not of high quality. In buying Cordyceps you have to trust your herbalist. Fortunately, all Cordyceps is good---it's just that some is better than others. High grade Cordyceps is light brown in color and neat. The caterpillar should have eight pairs of legs, the four middle ones being predominant. The mushroom, or stroma, should be slightly longer than the larva's body and will be slightly twisted. In good quality Cordyceps, most of these stroma will be intact. Cordyceps possesses a rich and not unpleasant flavor.

Cordyceps grows in Tibet, and in Yunnan and Sichuan Provinces of China. Tibetan Cordyceps is considered to be the best. It is highly sought after and is more expensive than that from other sources. Wild Cordyceps from Tibet is the best Cordyceps in the world. The very best Cordyceps, the kind the emperor would want, is called "King Cordyceps." It is graded according to size, the larger the better. Large ones command a hefty price, in the same league with premium Ginseng and Deer Antler.

However, the difference between Tibetan Cordyceps and wild Yunnan or Sichuan Cordyceps is actually not that significant so you should worry about it. However, there is a big difference between wild and cultivated Cordyceps. They look alike, but studies have shown that wild Cordyceps is richer in certain components and that the proportions of components is different, which probably makes a difference in the activity. However, cultivated Cordyceps is still a premium tonic herb, and if this is what you can find, its still great (
����). The Cordyceps most commonly found in Chinese herb stores is cultivated. It comes in neat packages. But wild Cordyceps from Sichuan and Yunnan are readily available if you ask for it. Tibetan, however, is rare and precious.

In the last several years, it has become possible to grow a number of fungi by "fermentation" technology. The fungus is literally grown in large tanks, and in just a matter of days a large quantity can be produced. The technology has now become highly advanced and is making previously rare herbs like Cordyceps and Ganoderma much more accessible. Many studies indicate that the chemical nature of this biotechnology Cordyceps is almost identical to that of the wild variety and pharmacological and clinical studies seems to farther confirm this. The Cordyceps contained in most commercial products is produced by this technology.

Personally, I am a firm believer that there is something special in the wild variety that may not be testable in a laboratory. The same holds true for wild Ginseng, wild Ganoderma, wild Astragalus, or the antler of wild deer, etc., when compared to their cultivated cousins. It may be the stress the wild plant or fungus or animal had to endure which creates some of the micro-chemistry that ultimately has subtle but profound effects on the body and mind of the one who consumes the final herbal substance. Though each batch may be slightly different, this is the way nature meant herbalism to be. The advantage of the wild variety lies precisely in this attribute---its slight variability and subtle wildness. This subtle advantage is important to the true tonic herbalist, who expects variation both in life and in his or her herbs.

However, the new biotechnological approach to growing Cordyceps possesses two truly great advantages. The greatest advantage of the new technology is that the herbal substance, in this case Cordyceps, can be highly controlled by scientific means during its growth and "standardized" so that every batch is virtually identical---and in a sense, "perfect." This is very important in pharmaceutical terms because without standardization, it is difficult or impossible to develop drug-type standards for substances like Cordyceps. Once an herb can be standardized, all kinds of studies can be conducted that will be accepted by the scientific community, including our FDA. However, standardization itself does not make a product effective, or great or anything else. What makes a product great are its benefits and safety, and both wild Cordyceps and cultured Cordyceps alike possess both these qualities.

The second benefit of growing Cordyceps by fermentation technology is that it is far less expensive to grow a ton of Cordyceps in a tank in just a matter of days than it is to collect of ton of wild Cordyceps off the dangerous cliffs of a Tibetan and Sichuan peak. Collecting wild Cordyceps is dangerous work, resulting in deaths every year as collectors fall off cliffs trying to collect this valuable treasure. True, high quality wild Cordyceps now sells for well over a thousand dollars a pound in cities like Hong Kong, Tokyo, New York or London. The culture-grown Cordyceps is available at a third of the cost, with approximately the same benefits. Fermentation technology makes this substance available to anybody who wants it, and this is great news for the world. Until now, few people have even heard of Cordyceps because of its rarity. In the next decade, as a result of the new fermentation technology, Cordyceps will become known throughout the world.

There is one more advantage, at least by some people's standard, to the new fermentation Cordyceps. There's no worm! Wild Cordyceps, by weight, is mostly caterpillar. Americans generally don't eat caterpillars. Certainly, even if wild Cordyceps was readily available, most Americans would be turned off by the sight of what is obviously a caterpillar (most people call it a "worm") or even just the thought of it. Frankly, it doesn't matter at all. The caterpillar is clean and healthful (it's full of protein and special nutrients). But for vegetarians and those who simply don't want to consume caterpillars, the new technology provides the solution. The fermentation technology does not include the caterpillar in the growing process. The fungus is grown without the use of animal nutrients and the result is a 100% pure "vegetarian" health product.

Not to be used when experiencing a fever.


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