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Traditional uses and medicinal potential of Cordyceps sinensis of Sikkim

  • Central Council for Research in Ayurveda sciences

Abstract and Figures

Cordyceps sinensis has been described as a medicine in old Chinese medical books and Tibetan medicine. It is a rare combination of a caterpillar and a fungus and found at altitudes above 4500m in Sikkim. Traditional healers and local people of North Sikkim recommend the mushroom, i.e., Yarsa gumba, Keera jhar (C. sinensis) for all diseases either as a single drug or combined with other herbs. The present study was undertaken to collect information regarding the traditional uses of cordyceps in Sikkim. It was found that most local folk healers/traditional healers use cordyceps for the treatment of 21 ailments. A modern literature search was carried out to assess whether the curative effects are valid or just blind faith of local people. Chemical constituents of cordyceps are given and pharmacological and biological studies reviewed. More mechanism-based and disease-oriented clinical studies are recommended.
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Journal of Ayurveda & Integrative Medicine | Jan-Mar 2011 | Vol 2 | Issue 1 9
Address for correspondence:
Dr. Ashok Kumar Panda,
Ayurveda Regional Research Institute, Tadong, Gangtok, Sikkim -
737 102, India. E-mail: akpanda_06@
Received: 20-July-2010
Revised: 14-Sept-2010
Accepted: 21-Sept-2010
Traditional uses and medicinal potential of
Cordyceps sinensis of Sikkim
Ashok Kumar Panda, Kailash Chandra Swain1
Ayurveda Regional Research Institute, 1Department of Pharmacology, Sikkim Manipal Institutes of Medical Sciences, Gangtok, Sikkim, India
Cordyceps sinensis has been described as a medicine in old Chinese medical books and Tibetan medicine. It is a rare
combination of a caterpillar and a fungus and found at altitudes above 4500m in Sikkim. Traditional healers and local
people of North Sikkim recommend the mushroom, i.e., Yarsa gumba, Keera jhar (C. sinensis) for all diseases either as a
single drug or combined with other herbs. The present study was undertaken to collect information regarding the traditional
uses of cordyceps in Sikkim. It was found that most local folk healers/traditional healers use cordyceps for the treatment
of 21 ailments. A modern literature search was carried out to assess whether the curative effects are valid or just blind
faith of local people. Chemical constituents of cordyceps are given and pharmacological and biological studies reviewed.
More mechanism-based and disease-oriented clinical studies are recommended.
Key words: Cordyceps, disease, folk healers, fungus, mushroom, North Sikkim
Mushrooms have been used as food, medicine, poison,
and in spiritual mushroom practices in religious rituals
across the world since at least 5000 BC.[1] Gordon Wasson
(father of modern Ethno mycology) believed that the
Soma plant used in religious ceremonies, over 4000 years
ago, before the beginning of the Christian era, by the
people who called themselves “Aryans” was a mushroom.
The Vedic juice called “soma rasa” is said to bestow
divine qualities on the soul of the consumer, even
immortality.[2] Ayurveda classifies mushrooms under
tamasika ahara, and as a medicine for enhancing vigor and
vitality.[3] The fungus Cordyceps sinensis has been described in
old Chinese medical books from ancient times, and is also
found in Tibetan medicine.[4] The fungus Penicillium from
which the antibiotic penicillin is derived is the most famous
medicine of the age, and the most potent hallucinogen
agent Lysergic acid diethylamide (LCD), has also been derived
from the plant – parasite ergot fungus Claviceps purpurea.[5,6]
Traditional healers in Sikkim recommend the fungus/
mushroom Cordyceps sinensis for “all illnesses” as a tonic,
because they claim that it improves energy, appetite,
stamina, libido, endurance, and sleeping patterns. It is a rare
combination of a caterpillar and fungus found in Sikkim at
altitudes above 3,800 m. The mushroom is most popular
in the Lachung and Lachen area of North Sikkim and has
the reputation of being a precious longevity-promoting
herb. The present study was undertaken to collect as much
information as possible regarding traditional claims for its
uses in different diseases. Attempts to evaluate such claims
through studies of available modern literature were also
North Sikkim is a vast reservoir of high-altitude medicinal
and aromatic plants. Its people possess a treasury of
knowledge related to their management and uses. There
are a number of reputed classes of practitioner like the
Amchi (Tibetan folk practitioner) and Vaidyas (herbalist/
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10 Journal of Ayurveda & Integrative Medicine | Jan-Mar 2011 | Vol 2 | Issue 1
Panda and Swain: Uses and medicinal potential of C. sinensis in Sikkim
folk healers). Relevant information was gathered from
local people, local practitioners, folk healers, and by direct
contact with herb collectors of Lachung and Lachen,
during repeated field visits between June 2008 and
September 2009.
Information was collected through an open-ended
questionnaire from a large number of individual
respondents, as well as through semi-structured interviews.
They were asked for herbs' local names, traditional and
commercial uses, parts used, and mode of administration.
Information obtained in each locality was cross-checked
at different places with other respondents. To substantiate
the usefulness of CS, scientific information for the
chemical constituents, curative effect, biological studies,
and pharmacological studies was collated from journals.
C. Sinensis is an annual Ascomycetes fungus closely related
to the mushroom. Although not actually a mushroom
taxonomically, it has been described as an exotic medicinal
mushroom in traditional Chinese and Tibetan medicine.
The name cordyceps comes from Latin words meaning
club and head. The mycological features, related species
and vernacular names are given in Table 1 . The normal
harvesting period stretches from April to August. It grows
only in high-altitude regions of about 3800 m above sea
level, in cold, grassy, alpine meadows of the Himalayan
mountains. The fungus is parasitic in nature. The base of
the mushroom rst originates from an insect larval host
(Hepialis armoricanus family Hepialidac) and ends at the
club-like cap, including the stipe and stroma. The fruit body
is dark brown to black, and the root of organism, the larval
body pervaded by the mycelium, is yellowish to brown
color.[7] The immature larvae (host) on which cordyceps
grows usually lies about 6 inches below the surface
of the ground. As the fungus approaches maturity, it
consumes more than 90% of the infected insect effectively
mummifying its host. As the stroma matures, it swells up
and develops perihelia. The average weight of cordyceps is
about 300–500 mg.
The people of North Sikkim call the fungus/mushroom/
herb yarsa gumba; its Tibetan name [winter (yarsa) and
summer (gumba)]. In the literature, “gunba” or “gonba”
have also been used instead of “gumba.” It is called Keera
Jhar (insect herb) by the local Nepalese. It is also known
as the Himalayan Viagra. It costs approximately 6.77 U.S.
dollar per piece in the international market and is locally
available at Rs.100/- per piece.
Initially local herders observed that yak, goat, sheep, etc.
consuming C. Sinensis during their grazing in the forest
became very strong and stout. This observation paved the
way for the discovery of its medicinal value. Thereafter,
local people and herders used the fungus powder with
jaggery to increase milk production, and improve
reproductive capacity and vitality of their cattle. Then its
relevant medicinal properties were explored, collecting only
the aerial part (fruiting body/stroma), which they dried
in sunlight as primary processing. Then they themselves
consumed it and became convinced of its medicinal effects
in enhancing vigor and vitality. They further claimed that
it has aphrodisiac effects, and hence they used to give it as
a gift to relatives and friends from Gangtok and adjoining
At present, local folk practitioners use the product alone or
in combination with other medicinal herbs to treat various
diseases, administering different doses for different ailments
according to their experience, based on an empirical trial-
and-error method. People of both sexes usually take one
piece of C. sinensis with a cup of milk to enhance their
sexual potency and desire. The Bhutia community put one
piece of C. sinensis in a cup of local-made alcohol (chang),
leave it for 1 hour, and drink it morning and evening as a
tonic. Some use hot water instead of alcohol. Some folk
healers use C. sinensis for diabetes and other wasting diseases.
It is used for cancer mixed with texus leaf and Ginseng
root decoction. Similar reports are also available from
Nepal.[9-11] An attempt was made to evaluate the strength
of the folk claims by counting the number of users for
particular illnesses. Prolonged, continuous use by local
folk healers/traditional healers for the treatment of 21
ailments, including cancer, bronchial asthma, bronchitis,
TB, diabetes, cough and cold, erectile dysfunction, BHP,
Table 1: Mycological features and vernacular
names of
Cordyceps sinensis
English name – Caterpillar fungus, Cordyceps mushroom
Latin name – Cordyceps sinensis
Phylum – Ascomycota
Class – Ascomycetes
Order – Hypocreales
Family – Clavicipataceae
Related species – Cordyceps mililaris, Cordyceps barnesii, Cordyceps
ophioglossoides, Cordyceps hyphae, etc.
Vernacular names
Local Name – Yarsa gumba, Yarcha gumba
Nepali Name – Keera jhar, Jeevan buti, Keeda ghass, Chyou kira,
Sanjeevani bhooti[8]
Chinise Name – Dong chong xi cao
Japanase – Tocheikasa
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Panda and Swain: Uses and medicinal potential of C. sinensis in Sikkim
jaundice, alcoholic hepatitis, etc., were noted [Table 2].
Most traditional healers and elderly people use it to increase
longevity and cure erectile dysfunction.[12]
Evidence and studies
Various pharmacological and biological studies establishing
the curative effect of corydeps involving various
experimental models (in vitro and in vivo) and some clinical
trials in volunteer athletes.[13,14] C. sinensis exhibits very broad
biological and pharmacological actions in hepatic, renal,
and cardiovascular diseases. It has effects on immunological
disorders including cancer. Pharmacological actions of
cordyceps are primarily due to bioactive polysaccharides,
modied nucleosides, and cyclosporine like metabolites.
Also, the fermentable strain of the mycelia causes normal
fat mobilization and beta-oxidation, thereby maintaining
blood glucose level during prolonged exercise in athletes.
A Chinese study conducted on mice, a double-blind,
placebo-controlled trial, investigated whether oral
administration of cordyceps results in enhanced endurance
and resistance to fatigue. After 3 weeks of administration,
the groups given CS-4 were able to swim signicantly
longer than the control groups. The results of the study
were dose-dependent with results of one group on a
Table 3: Major pharmacological functions of Cordyceps sinensis[16]
Hepatic function
Stimulation of energy metabolism
Renal function
Reduction in aminoglycoside antibiotic induced nephrotoxicity
Endocrine and steroid system
Cardiovascular function
Reduction in aconitine, BaCl2, 
Anticancer activities
Sterols and their glucosides
Erythropoiesis and hemopoiesis
in vivo and in vitro
Platelet hemopoiesis
Table 2: Traditional uses of Cordyceps
sinensis (Yercha gumpa) in North Sikkim
Illness Strength of the claims
Increase longevity ++++
Erectile dysfunction ++++
Female aphrodisiac +++
Infertility ++
General weakness +++
Tuberculosis ++
Bronchitis ++
Malignant Tumor +++
Cough and cold ++
Rheumatism +
Arthritis ++
Jaundice ++
Prostate enlargement ++
Liver diseases +++
Kidney diseases +++
Coronary heart disease +
Chronic pain ++
Sciatica and backache ++
Low BP and dizziness +++
Diabetics ++
Alcoholic hepatitis +
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12 Journal of Ayurveda & Integrative Medicine | Jan-Mar 2011 | Vol 2 | Issue 1
Panda and Swain: Uses and medicinal potential of C. sinensis in Sikkim
higher dose showing a 30% increase in endurance and the
second group showing a 73% increase in endurance. The
study concluded that the cardiotonic action, inhibition
of tracheal constrictions, and relaxation of contracted
vascular smooth muscle (which CS-4 evokes) increase the
ability and endurance of exercise. Another double-blind,
placebo-controlled study was conducted to test the effects
on physical performance in 1998 led by S. Morrissey of
Beijing Medical University Sports Research Institute.
They found that the group given the most of the product
containing cordyceps experienced improved lactate
clearance. Researchers concluded that lactate clearance
improved due to improved lactate energy metabolism
within the cell. Hence the authors concluded that using this
CS formulation would enhance lactate clearance and allow
athletes greater anaerobic physical performance[15] [Table 3].
Scientic proof of the effects of the Cordyceps mushroom
seem to be quite promising and coincide with folk
practices of Sikkim and other parts of India, China, Nepal
and Bhutan. The Cordyceps mushroom also has potent
antioxidant properties.[17]
Natural product chemistry of Cordyceps
Many natural products have been identied from the
fruiting bodies and cultured mycelium of cordyceps
and related species. The major chemical constituent is
cordycepic acid with other amino acids, vitamins and
minerals [Table 4].
The folk healers of Sikkim use C. sinensis to cure 21 ailments
including cancer, asthma, TB, diabetics, cough and cold,
erectile dysfunction in males and female BHP, hepatitis,
etc. Many studies in vitro and in vivo support C. sinensis
having diverse biological activities and pharmacological
potential [Table 3]. Its effects on renal and hepatic function
and immunomodulatory-related antitumor activities are
most promising and deserve further attention. Although
the origin and preparation of cordyceps have not always
been clearly addressed, most studies use water-soluble,
polysaccharide-rich fractions or alcohol extracts.
Now all possible measures have to be undertaken to ensure
that a healthy environment is sustained so that substantial
harvesting can be carried out for the medicinal fungi and
plants, which will be able to provide the basic income for
folk healers and other rural people. Fermented mycelia can
be constantly produced on a large scale, and are a better
source of the medicine. Available evidence regarding C.
sinensis’s medicinal value look very promising, but there is
a lack of study performed specically on humans. More
mechanism-based and disease-oriented pharmacological
studies are required. The need of the hour is now to
undertake detailed pharmacological studies of C. sinensis for
its pharmacokinetics, pharmacodynamics, and toxicities in
humans. In the Ayurvedic pharmacopoeia, the mushroom/
fungus, C. sinensis, can be considered to fall in the Rasayana
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Table 4: Chemical constituents of natural cordyceps[18-21]
and deoxyuridine and cordycepia); 28 saturated and unsaturated fatty acids, their derivatives and other organic acids (oleic, linoleic, palmitic and
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Journal of Ayurveda & Integrative Medicine | Jan-Mar 2011 | Vol 2 | Issue 1 13
Panda and Swain: Uses and medicinal potential of C. sinensis in Sikkim
Source of Support: Nil, Conict of Interest: None declared.
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... Cordyceps species are traditionally called 'winter worm summer grass' in east Asian countries because they are parasitic on living insects in winter and grow out of dead underground pupae in summer. Traditionally, Cordyceps has been regarded as a tonic that improves energy, stamina, and libido, exhibiting a potential relationship to sex hormones and energy metabolism [24]. Among Cordyceps species, Cordyceps militaris was reported to dramatically decrease liver weight and fat deposition and improve lipid levels, suggesting that Cordyceps militaris can have a favorable role in regulating obesity [25]. ...
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Background Cordyceps species have been used as tonics to enhance energy, stamina, and libido in traditional Asian medicine for more than 1600 years, indicating their potential for improving reproductive hormone disorders and energy metabolic diseases. Among Cordyceps, Cordyceps militaris has been reported to prevent metabolic syndromes including obesity and benefit the reproductive hormone system, suggesting that Cordyceps militaris can also regulate obesity induced by the menopause. We investigated the effectiveness of Cordyceps militaris extraction (CME) on menopausal obesity and its mechanisms. Methods We applied an approach combining in vivo, in vitro, and in silico methods. Ovariectomized rats were administrated CME, and their body weight, area of adipocytes, liver and uterus weight, and lipid levels were measured. Next, after the exposure of MCF-7 human breast cancer cells to CME, cell proliferation and the phosphorylation of estrogen receptor and mitogen-activated protein kinases (MAPK) were measured. Finally, network pharmacological methods were applied to predict the anti-obesity mechanisms of CME. Results CME prevented overweight, fat accumulation, liver hypertrophy, and lowered triglyceride levels, some of which were improved in a dose-dependent manner. In MCF-7 cell lines, CME showed not only estrogen receptor agonistic activity through an increase in cell proliferation and the phosphorylation of estrogen receptors, but also phosphorylation of extracellular-signal-regulated kinase and p38. In the network pharmacological analysis, bioactive compounds of CME such as cordycepin, adenine, and guanosine were predicted to interact with non-overlapping genes. The targeted genes were related to the insulin signaling pathway, insulin resistance, the MARK signaling pathway, the PI3K–Akt signaling pathway, and the estrogen signaling pathway. Conclusions These results suggest that CME has anti-obesity effects in menopause and estrogenic agonistic activity. Compounds in CME have the potential to regulate obesity-related and menopause-related pathways. This study will contribute to developing the understanding of anti-obesity effects and mechanisms of Cordyceps militaris.
... Despite having potent efficacy in rodents, purified myriocin is not an approved drug for human consumption. However, extracts from Isaria sinclairii and Cordyceps sinesis have been an essential component of traditional Chinese medication that has been consumed for thousands of years for the treatment of numerous indications, including diabetes [30][31][32][33][34][35] . Cordyceps gained worldwide prominence after 1993 following admittance from world record breaking Chinese long-distance runners that they consumed Cordyceps tonic during their training periods 30,32,33,36 . ...
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Ectopic ceramide accumulation in insulin-responsive tissues contributes to the development of obesity and impairs insulin sensitivity. Moreover, pharmacological inhibition of serine palmitoyl transferase (SPT), the first enzyme essential for ceramide biosynthesis using myriocin in rodents reduces body weight and improves insulin sensitivity and associated metabolic indices. Myriocin was originally extracted from fruiting bodies of the fungus Isaria sinclairii and has been found abundant in a number of closely related fungal species such as the Cordyceps . Myriocin is not approved for human use but extracts from Cordyceps are routinely consumed as part of traditional Chinese medication for the treatment of numerous diseases including diabetes. Herein, we screened commercially available extracts of Cordyceps currently being consumed by humans, to identify Cordyceps containing myriocin and test the efficacy of Cordyceps extract containing myriocin in obese mice to improve energy and glucose homeostasis. We demonstrate that commercially available Cordyceps contain variable amounts of myriocin and treatment of mice with a human equivalent dose of Cordyceps extract containing myriocin, reduces ceramide accrual, increases energy expenditure, prevents diet-induced obesity, improves glucose homeostasis and resolves hepatic steatosis. Mechanistically, these beneficial effects were due to increased adipose tissue browning/beiging, improved brown adipose tissue function and hepatic insulin sensitivity as well as alterations in the abundance of gut microbes such as Clostridium and Bilophila . Collectively, our data provide proof-of-principle that myriocin containing Cordyceps extract inhibit ceramide biosynthesis and attenuate metabolic impairments associated with obesity. Moreover, these studies identify commercially available Cordyceps as a readily available supplement to treat obesity and associated metabolic diseases.
... The collection and trade of O. sinensis in Lachung and Lachen valley of North Sikkim is a common practice for livelihood management [Pradhan, B. K. et al. (2020)]. Traditional use of O. sinensis as aphrodisiac, treating fatigue, anti-inflammation, immune booster and treatment of respiratory ailments is a practice of choice by the traditional healers in Himalayan region [Panda, A. K., & Swain, K. C. (2011)]. A detailed scientific characterization and authentication of the collected sample of O.sinensis shall facilitate differentiation between other counterfeit species and establish the collected Cordyceps spp. ...
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The zombie fungi are a group of entomo-parasitic fungi comprising of 400 diverse species having tremendous pharmaceutical virtues. They have their use in traditional practice among Himalayan highlanders and inhabitants across the globe living in high altitude areas. Ophiocordyceps sinensis is one such representative of the entomo-parasitic group. The current study aimed to identify Ophiocordyceps sinensis from Sikkim, India, following classical, molecular taxonomic approaches, and culture. The classical approach involved a microscopic study of asci, stroma, and mycelia and the macroscopic characters of the stroma and larva. The molecular approach involved the amplification of internal transcribed spacer (ITS) region from the stroma, cytochrome oxidase subunit-I (COI), and cytochrome b (Cytb) from host larva for phylogenetic studies. The pure culture was established on potato dextrose agar (PDA). The sequences were edited with Bioedit version 7.2.5 and subjected to multiple alignments using fast fourier transform (MAFFT) database. Model testing was performed using MegaX version 10.2.5, and the best model was utilized to construct the maximum likelihood tree. To confirm the results of the maximum likelihood tree, a Bayesian tree was also constructed using MrBayes 3.2.7. Subsequently, the study confirmed that the collected specimen is O. sinensis. The main bioactive compounds of O. sinensis are cordycepin and adenosine which has been explored for different therapeutic applications including treatment of cancer, diabetes, anemia, inflammation etc. Thus, such study provides the platform for their exploration for extensive pharmaceutical and nutraceutical future studies.
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miRNA-like RNAs (milRNAs) have been recognized as sequence-specific regulators of posttranscriptional regulation of gene expression in eukaryotes. However, the functions of hundreds of fungal milRNAs in the biosynthesis of metabolic components are obscure. Sanghuangporus produces diverse bioactive compounds and is widely used in Asian countries. Here, genes encoding two Dicers, four Argonautes, and four RdRPs were identified and characterized in Sanghuangporus vanini. Due to the lack of an efficient gene manipulation system, the efficacy of spray-induced gene silencing (SIGS) was determined in S. vanini, which showed efficient double-stranded RNA (dsRNA) uptake and gene silencing efficiency. SIGS-mediated gene knockdown showed that SVRDRP-3, SVRDRP-4, SVDICER-1, and SVDICER-2 were critical for mycelial biomass, flavonoid, triterpenoid, and polysaccharide production. Illumina deep sequencing was performed to characterize the milRNAs from S. vanini mycelium and fruiting body. A total of 31 milRNAs were identified, out of which, SvmilR10, SvmilR17, and SvmilR33 were Svrdrp-4- and Svdicer-1-dependent milRNAs. Importantly, SIGS-mediated overexpression of SvmilR10 and SvmilR33 resulted in significant changes in the yields of flavonoids, triterpenoids, and polysaccharides. Further analysis showed that these milRNA target genes encoding the retrotransposon-derived protein PEG1 and histone-lysine N-methyltransferase were potentially downregulated in the milRNA overexpressing strain. Our results revealed that S. vanini has high external dsRNA and small RNA uptake efficiency and that milRNAs may play crucial regulatory roles in the biosynthesis of bioactive compounds. IMPORTANCE Fungi can take up environmental RNA that can silence fungal genes with RNA interference, which prompts the development of SIGS. Efficient dsRNA and milRNA uptake in S. vanini, successful dsRNA-targeted gene block, and the increase in intracellular miRNA abundance showed that SIGS technology is an effective and powerful tool for the functional dissection of fungal genes and millRNAs. We found that the RdRP, Dicer, and Argonaute genes are critical for mycelial biomass and bioactive compound production. Our study also demonstrated that overexpressed SVRDRP-4- and SVDICER-1-dependent milRNAs (SvmilR10 and SvmilR33) led to significant changes in the yields of the three active compounds. This study not only provides the first report on SIGS-based gene and milRNA function exploration, but also provides a theoretical platform for exploration of the functions of milRNAs involved in biosynthesis of metabolic compounds in fungi.
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The search for new natural sources of biologically active substances is of interest to many scientific institutions. Edible mushrooms have extensive biosynthetic capabilities, which involve the production of bioactive compounds. One mushroom species with great medicinal value is the Chinese mace (Cordyceps sinensis, syn Ophiocordyceps sinensis), which belongs to the Ascomycota cluster. For millennia it has been prized in Asia and used in traditional Chinese medicine to treat asthma, bronchitis, tuberculosis, diabetes, cough, jaundice, erectile dysfunction. Cordyceps sinensis is a fungus that parasitizes butterfly larvae, germinates in a living host, kills and mummifies the larva, and then grows from the host's body. People living in Tibet call this fungus Yarsa gumba, (winter-yarsa, summer-gumba). It grows at an altitude of 3500-5000 meters in the grasslands of the Tibetan Plateau. Under these extreme conditions, it produces biologically active metabolites in order to survive. The aim of this study was to present the most important active components of Chinese mace and their pharmacological effects. Some of these compounds such as adenosine, cordycepin, polysaccharides, cordimine peptide activate the immune system, show antioxidant and anti-inflammatory effects. Biologically active compounds of passionflower have immunomodulatory effects and in vitro and in vivo studies have shown their anticancer activity. Cordycepin, structurally similar to adenosine, exhibits antiviral and antimicrobial activity. The natural resources of the fungus are decreasing significantly. The Washington Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora CITES has classified Cordyceps sinensis as an endangered species. Due to the high demand for biologically active substances obtained from the mushroom, anamorphic cultivation of mycelium has become necessary. The quality of the obtained mycelium is checked by performing tests for levels of adenosine, 3'-deoxyadenosine, N-6 (2-hydroxyethyl)-adenosine. The mushroom belongs to nutraceuticals and is listed in the Directory of Novel Foods. In the Chinese Pharmacopoeia, Cordyceps sinensis has been listed as a medicine since 1964.
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Cordyceps sinensis (Berk) sacc is a well known fungus, and traditionally used as an aphrodisiac and tonic in North Sikkim. Aphrodisiac is an agent that increases and arouses sexual desire that makes sex more attainable and/or pleasurable. The Sikkim Hima– laya is a well known treasure trove and biological hotspot and the people of North Sikkim have been relying on this plant for centuries as an aphordisiac in the harsh high altitude environment. There is a long history of its use as aphrodisiac supported by scientific evidences. A study was conducted in between June 2008 and September 2009 to know the medicinal uses of this fungus by local people and folk healers. The claim that it can combat sexual dysfunction and will be the alternative natural product to challenge Viagra could be established only after clinical validation in well designed research protocol. Key words:
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This paper highlights the knowledge on the uses of various wild mushrooms by the different ethnic castes and community inhabiting in the vicinities of Lumle (Kaski, western Nepal) and Kathmandu valley (central Nepal). The research carried out revealed that among 24 species 18 mushrooms are used as culinary, 8 for medicinal value and 3 for other purposes.
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Cordyceps sinensis (Berk.) Sacc., a well-known and valued traditional medicine, is also called winter worm summer grass. The product deserves high potential to generate income opportunities, enhance rural income and raise the national revenue. The study of C. sinensis was carried out in Dolpa district, Western Nepal to document ethnomycological uses and local practices. Data were collected using open ended questionnaires administered to collectors/users (n = 74), traders (n = 25) and local healers or amchis (n = 3). Indigenous peoples are utilizing this Himalayan treasure for the treatment of different diseases like diarrhea, headache, cough, rheumatism, liver disease, and also as an aphrodisiac and tonic. Internationally it is regarded as Himalayan Viagra. The present study therefore aims at highlighting the ethnomycological uses of C. sinensis resource of the Trans-Himalayan region in their niche.
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This review presents Cordyceps sinensis (Berk.) Sacc., a fungus highly valued in China as a tonic food and herbal medicine. The extant records show the continued use of C. sinensis is now centuries old. The major chemical, pharmacological, and toxicological studies on C. sinensis and the various derived, cultured, fermented mycelial products currently in use are reviewed from the English and Chinese literature. Preclinical in vitro and in vivo studies and clinical blinded or open-label trials in to date over 2000 patients are reviewed. These studies show the main activities of the fungus in oxygen-free radical scavenging, antisenescence, endocrine, hypolipidemic, antiatherosclerotic, and sexual function-restorative activities. The safety of the fungus, its effects on the nervous system, glucose metabolism, the respiratory, hepatic, cardiovascular, and immune systems, immunologic disease, inflammatory conditions, cancer, and diseases of the kidney will be reviewed in the second part of this article to be published in the winter issue of this journal.
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Cordyceps sinensis (Berk.) Sacc. is a time-honored tonic food and herbal medicine in China, where recent research has shown that many of its traditional uses may be viewed from the basis of pharmacological activities. The ongoing exploration of C. sinensis in its wild form and cultured, fermented mycelial products derived from it, are reviewed from English and Chinese literature. Part II concludes the series with a review of C. sinensis in preclinical in vitro and in vivo studies, and open-label and double-blinded clinical trials on the respiratory, renal, hepatic, cardiovascular, immunologic, and nervous systems, and its effects on cancer, glucose metabolism, inflammatory conditions, and toxicological studies. In Part I, which appeared in the Fall 1998 issue of this journal (4(3):289-303), we discussed the effects of C. sinensis on antisenescence, endocrine and sexual functions, atherosclerosis, hyperlipidemia, and free radicals.
Cordyceps sinensis, an entomogenous fungus used in traditional Chinese medicine, exhibits very broad biological and pharmacologi-cal actions in hepatic, renal, cardiovascular, and immunologic systems as well as anticancer activity. Pharmacological functions of Cordyceps are primarily due to the bioactive polysaccharides, modified nucleosides, and cyclosporin-like metabolites produced by this fungus and related species. The beneficial effects on renal and hepatic function and immunomodulation-related antitumor activities are most promising and deserve great attention. Many previous studies used fruiting bodies, but recently an increasing number of studies have used cultured mycelia in investigations. It is difficult to determine if the same bioactive ingredients exist in fruiting bodies and cultured mycelia and contribute to the pharmacological actions reported in the literature. More mechanism-based, disease-oriented pharmacologi-cal studies are required to ensure clinical efficacy for particular diseases. Adjuvant therapy using C. sinensis for immune function distur-bances, cancer, and renal failure is possible if double-blind, randomized placebo-control clinical studies show the efficacy of this herb.
Cordyceps is one of the target genera for modern mycological studies. Among themCordyceps sinensis is the most famous but poorly defined species because the fungus is endemic in districted regions of east Eurasia. We have explored the various growing regions and habitats where the fungus grows in the wild. We also examined authentic cultures for the species. We analyzed the sequences of ITS1, 2 and 5.8 S rDNA regions ofC. sinensis materials collected from 11 localities of southwestern China. Phylogenetic analyses were performed with these sequences and with additional sequences obtained from GenBank. All sequences formed a single cluster, which comprised two subgroups. Our results strongly suggested that intraspecific variation was rather small and that some species that are morphologically similar toC. sinensis but with different names might be synonymous withC. sinensis. The difference in the pharmaceutical activity among these collectedC. sinensis from different regions will be studied in the future.