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Cordyceps (Dong chong xia cao)

Pharmaceutical Name:

Cordyceps

Botanical Name:

Cordyceps sinensis (Berk.) Sacc

Common Name:

Cordyceps
Chinese Caterpillar Fungus

Source of Earliest Record:

Bencao Congxin

Part Used & Method for Pharmaceutical Preparations:

The fungus and the carcass of the larvae of various insects are collected in the period of the Summer Solstice (tenth solar term). They are cleaned and dried in the sun or baked.

Properties and Taste:

Sweet and warm

Meridians:

Kidney and lung

Functions:

To tonify lungs and kidneys
To stop bleeding
To resolve phlegm

Chinese Therapeutic Actions::

1.Tonifies Kidney Yang and Augments Jing (Essence)

Kidney yang and jing deficiencies: This condition is characterized by generalized soreness, lower back and knee weakness and pain, spermatorrhea, frequent urination, nocturnal emissions, impotence, premature ejaculation, tinnitus, forgetfulness, and poor memory. Corydceps is also ideal for convalescing patients or those who are extemely weak, with spontaneous sweating.

~Bone and joint disorders: Combine Cordyceps with Du Zhong (Cortex Eucommiae) and Xu Duan (Radix Dipsaci). 

~Impotence: Combine with Lu Rong (Cornu Cervi Pantotrichum) and Yin Yang Huo (Herba Epimedii).

~Tinnitus: Combine with Gou Qi Zi (Fructus Lycii) and Shan Zhu Yu (Fructus Corni). 

~Spontaneous sweating during recovery from chronic illness: Use it with Huang Qi (Radix Astragali) to tonify the wei (defensive) qi. The herbs are cooked as soup with beef, lamb or duck.


2. Tonifies the Lung, Stops Bleeding and Dissovles Phlegm

Chronic respiratory disorders, cough: Cordyceps treats chronic respiratory disorders with Lung and Kidney deficiencies manifesting in consumptive cough with blood-streaked sputum. It helps to arrest cough, dispel sputum and stop bleeding. Because it is moderate in its nourishing effect, it is suitable for chronic cough caused by yin or qi deficiency.

~Chronic cough due to Kidney and Lung yin deficiencies manifesting in scanty, blood-streaked sputum: combine it with Mai Men Dong (Radix Ophiopogonis), E Jiao (Colla Corii Asini), Bai He (Bulbus Lilii), and Chuan Bei Mu (Bulbus Fritillariae Cirrhosae).

~Chronic cough due to Kidney and Lung qi deficiencies resulting in manifesting of feeble cough and weakness: add it to Ge Jie (Gecko), Ren Shen (Radix Ginseng), and Wu Wei Zi (Fructus Schisandrae Chinensis).

Pharmacalogical Effects: 
  • Adrenocortical: Cordyceps has been shown to stimulate the secretion of adrenal gland hormones.

  • Immunostimulant: Has been shown to enhance the phagocytic activities of macrophages.

  • Male reproductive: Decoction of cordyceps has been shown to increase sperm count and sperm mobility.

  • Sedative and hypnotic: Decoction of cordyceps taken daily increases the duration and improves the quality of sleep.

  • Cardiovascular: Administration of cordyceps is associated with decrease in heart rate and blood pressure for over one hour. Furthermore, it decreases the oxygen requirement of he cardiac muscles. 

  • Antiarrhythmic: Administration of Cordyceps decreases the length and severity of aconite-induced cardiac arrhythmia. 

  • Antihyperlipidemic: Administration of cordyceps lowers TG, TC, LDL, and VLDL while increasing HDL.

  • Antibiotic: Cordyceps has been shown to have antibiotic effect against Staphylococcal spp., Streptococcal spp., Bacillus anthracis, and some dermatophytes. 

  • Antineoplastic: Cordyceps has demonstrated preliminary effectiveness against cancer cell activity.

  • Respiratory: Cordyceps dilates and relaxes the bronchial muscles to relieve asthma. It does not, however, have any antitussive or expectorant effects. 

  • Others: Studies have demonstrated that cordyceps increases colony-forming units (CFU) and platelets. 

Dosage:

5-10 g in decoction, pill or powder form.

Cautions:

Use with caution in exterior conditions. This herb is contraindicated in cases with deficiency of yin with excessive fire, seminal emissions, frequent urination and uterine bleeding caused by heat.