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Are Cordyceps Safe & What Are the Effects?

Cordyceps are among the most well-known and used medicinal fungi in the world—specifically, the two species of the cordyceps fungus: cordyceps sinensis and cordyceps militaris. Cordyceps sinensis is more widely used, but both are said to be equally effective and have been used in traditional Chinese medicine for thousands of years.

Either way, Cordyceps in general, has been used as a medicinal treatment for centuries due to the belief that it holds medicinal properties and a variety of health benefits. Since then, Cordyceps continues to be a go-to for many looking for alternative medicinal therapies.

While there is a strong belief that its properties improve health, treat ailments, cure disease, aid sleep, and improve wellbeing, there is a question as to whether it is safe to use. For some, using alternative therapies can be daunting if you have never tried them before.

To help you put your mind at ease, this post will give you all of the information you need to know on the safety of cordyceps.

Can I Take Cordyceps On An Empty Stomach?

Bundle of bright orange cordyceps

While it’s advised that you take Cordyceps on an empty stomach, this isn’t essential unless you are taking particular Cordyceps supplements that say otherwise. 

The best way to take cordyceps is relatively flexible. It is not necessary to take cordyceps with or without food but some people prefer to take it on an empty stomach, as it can help the body absorb more of its nutrients.

Others may find it easier to take cordyceps with meals. There is no evidence that taking cordyceps with food will make it any less effective than taking it by itself. 

You are, however, recommended to take them at roughly the same time every day and to take them regularly to ensure that you get the maximum results and benefits of cordyceps.

For centuries, Cordyceps has been used as a medicinal remedy. Traditionally, it would have been consumed in its raw, dried state and often made into tea.

Now, Cordyceps comes in a variety of forms. From capsules to supplements and powders, the increased options allow you to take it in the most convenient way for you.

There are many ways Cordyceps can be added to your diet. With more ingestible forms available, you can add Cordyceps power to your smoothies, coffee, or even soup. You can add Cordyceps extract to baked goods or energy bites. Or you can simply take it as a supplement.

Top Tip

If you are using Cordyceps extract or powder, double-check that the formula is made with the fruiting body and not the mycelium (the vegetable part of the fungi).

The fruiting body is the part of Cordyceps that is more concentrated with properties that offer health benefits.

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When Is The Best Time To Take Cordyceps?

The best time of the day to take Cordyceps is up to you. Generally, there is no set time that you should take Cordyceps - it just comes down to your preference. You can take Cordyceps up to three times a day. So if you prefer more regularity, you can take that with each of your meals.

It is believed that Cordyceps offers properties that help to increase energy and stamina and reduce fatigue. This makes it a popular component to use during exercise.

If you’re using Cordyceps to increase energy or for sporting reasons, it can be taken when you feel you need a boost of energy. One way of incorporating it into your day for increased energy is to use Cordyceps extract in a recipe for energy bites.

Does Cordyceps Interact With Any Other Medications?

Bright orange cordyceps on wooden spoons

On the whole, Cordyceps is considered a relatively safe natural product to use.

While, there is no conclusive evidence of which medical conditions Cordyceps may affect, there are a couple of circumstances where extra consideration should be given. And some circumstances where the ingestion of Cordyceps should be avoided.

You should take extra care or avoid using Cordyceps altogether if...

You Suffer From Blood Clots

Take extra with Cordyceps if you are currently using medication that helps to thin the blood or dissolve blood clots. Cordyceps may increase the risk of bleeding or bruising in this situation. Medications that should not be mixed with Cordyceps include alteplase (Activase), reteplase (Retevase), and Streptokinase.

You Suffer From A Blood Disorder

Again, if you are currently taking medication for thinning the blood, Cordyceps may increase the risk of bleeding or bruising. Medications to watch for include warfarin (Coumadin), heparin, or enoxaparin (Lovenox).

You Suffer From Swelling Or Inflammation

Cordyceps may reduce inflammation as it contains an active ingredient called cordycepin, which has been shown to regulate the body’s production of natural anti-inflammatory compounds. Hence, you should avoid Cordyceps if you are currently taking nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory medication. Medications that may have negative interactions include aspirin, ibuprofen (Advil), or naproxen (Naprosyn).

You Suffer From Clinical Depression

Cordyceps may not mix well with MAOI (Monoamine oxidase inhibitors) medication. Medications to be cautious with include isocarboxazid (Marplan), phenelzine (Nardil), and tranylcypromine (Parnate).

You Are At High Risk Of Infections

Avoid taking Cordyceps if you have recently had surgery, are currently going through chemotherapy, or suffer from an autoimmune disease.

Other

Avoid taking Cordyceps if you are diabetic as it may cause a drop in blood sugar levels. Also do not take Cordyceps if you are pregnant, breastfeeding, or are allergic to mould or fungi.

Please note that the medications listed are included but not limited to those that you need to look out for. It is advised that you consult with your medical professional before taking Cordyceps.

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What Are The Cordyceps Side Effects?

Like any medicinal substance, there is always the risk of experiencing side effects. While Cordyceps is considered relatively safe to use, there are a couple of side effects that may be experienced.

Mild symptoms include:

  • Stomach aches, pains, and cramps
  • Diarrhea
  • Dry mouth

These side effects often subside and resolve themselves after Cordyceps treatment has stopped.

Severe symptoms include:

  • Increased symptoms of autoimmune diseases
  • Wheezing, chest tightness, coughing
  • Fever
  • Itching
  • Bruising or swelling
  • A change in menstrual periods
  • Bleeding

If you experience any of the above, contact your healthcare professional or emergency services and immediately discontinue using Cordyceps.

Is Cordyceps Safe during Pregnancy?

Cordyceps is generally safe for most people to consume. However, there are a few precautions that pregnant women should keep in mind.

As stated above, other than the drug interactions, Cordyceps can result in nausea, dry mouth, and upset stomach in some people, so it may be best to stay on the safe side and avoid consuming them while pregnant.

Additionally, since further research is needed on their effects during pregnancy and no official recommendation exists, it's best to consult your physician before consuming them.

Conclusion

Cordyceps have been used to heal for centuries, however, they are not without risks. Cordyceps are believed to contain properties that help to improve health and wellbeing and if used correctly they may work to treat ailments and improve health.

On the whole, they are considered safe, however, like any medication, it’s important to take the precautions necessary to avoid a negative experience.

For more information on Cordyceps and how they can transform your life, check out our ultimate guide!

Darcy Ogdon-Nolan

Holding a Bachelor Of Science (Hons.) combined with close to a decade now in the health food and wellness industry, I believe I'm uniquely positioned to provide a depth of knowledge and first-hand experience on emerging health products, trends and ideas! From greens powders and medicinal mushrooms through to protein powders and workout nutrition - I'm particularly interested in what modern science can uncover about what human cultures have been using to treat ailments for millennia!

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