Cordyceps (Dong Chong Xia Cao)
Latin: Cordyceps militaris
Parts Used: Hmmm. How to put this. A fungus gets inside a host caterpillar and then slowly digests the insect and then will eventually erupt out of the head. So cordyceps is the medicine found from fungi that have exploded out of a caterpillar head. Yum!
Taste/Energetics: Sweet, slightly warm
Properties: Anxiolytic, immunomodulatory, adaptogen, anti-tumoral,
Actions: Coming to us primarily due its use by traditional Chinese and Tibetan cultures, cordyceps has long been used for its tonic rejuvenating properties and its ability to strengthen bronchial, kidney and reproductive function. In Chinese medicine it is said to strengthen our very essence, or storehouse of energy (jing) and is useful for those who are worn out, tired and might be experiencing impotence, general weakness, debility spontaneous sweating and a feeling of getting old early. It will help improve energy levels, immunity, stamina, sleeping patterns and endurance. It is also useful for those with bronchial complaints such as asthma, and chronic coughing.
Dosage: Like many tonic herbs I think this is best taken as a decoction or to be added to stews/soups. 5-10 grams (1-2 tbsp) daily. Like a number of medicinal mushrooms, it does well being prepared as a “double extraction.” See here for details. It is a pretty strong tasting herb so it is generally taken in formulas with other herbs and that is how I like to work with cordyceps. It is less effective as a powder or in capsules.
Contraindications: No adverse side effects reported.