Cordyceps is a genus of fungi that contains approximately 600 different species and has been used in traditional Chinese medicine for over 300 years. An increased search for natural remedies has led to cordyceps and other medicinal mushrooms being increasingly evaluated for their potential benefits.
Out of the 600 cordyceps species, Cordyceps sinensis and Cordyceps militaris (the latter mostly used in supplements) have been shown in animal and laboratory-based studies to have antitumor, anti-aging, and anti-inflammatory properties. However, keep in mind that a limited number of clinical studies have been conducted in humans to substantiate these claims.
In this article, we explore the best cordyceps supplements on the market and provide you with tips to help select high-quality supplements.
Quick look at the best-rated cordyceps supplements: shortlist
- Real Mushrooms capsules — overall best pure cordyceps supplement
- Real Mushrooms powder — best pure cordyceps powder
- Pure Essence Labs — best cordyceps supplement for athletes
- Arete Adaptogens — best cordyceps powder with additional mushroom extracts
- FOCL — best organic and non-GMO cordyceps gummies
How we chose the best cordyceps supplements?
Developing specific criteria to evaluate each supplement is essential to identifying products of the highest quality and safety. These key aspects will allow you to evaluate each product and choose the one right for you.
|Third-party testing||Verify that ingredients match the label|
|Price and value||Adequate dosages at good prices|
|Extraction method||Methods used to obtain extract from mushrooms|
|Clinical studies||Ingredients backed by scientific research|
- Third-party testing. Products that have undergone third-party testing using an independent laboratory ensure the quality of the product. This verifies the contents and purity of the supplement.
- Price and value. Verifying the supplement contains appropriate dosages of the ingredients at a comparable price is important to make sure you are getting good value for your money.
- Extraction method. Depending on the method the manufacturer uses to obtain the active ingredients it is important to ensure the sought-after ingredient is extracted and purified for use in the supplement.
- Clinical studies. Using ingredients that are backed by scientific research is important to ensure only high-quality ingredients are used in each supplement.
Best cordyceps supplements: product reviews
Cordyceps supplements are currently available in many different forms and varieties aimed at supporting one's health and well-being. These supplements are available as pure cordyceps and in combination with other mushroom species.
We will discuss the various extraction methods used by each supplement, third-party testing, and clinical studies supporting some of the additional ingredients. In addition, we ensure these picks provide good value for the money.
1. Real Mushrooms Cordyceps-M — overall best pure cordyceps capsules
Real Mushrooms Cordyceps-M supplements is the best cordyceps supplement among other choices reviewed. The company manufactures their Cordyceps-M supplement capsules in NSF-certified facilities located in the United States. They utilize organic mushrooms with this product guaranteed to be non-GMO, gluten-free, and vegan-friendly. In addition, this supplement is free of mycelium or grain/starch fillers.
Using hot water extraction, a Cordyceps militaris extract is obtained with a focus on isolating high-quality beta-glucans and Cordycepin. The beta-glucans and Cordycepin found in the cordyceps mushroom have been shown to have anti-inflammatory, antitumor, and immunostimulating properties when added to cells in the lab. Although no human studies have been conducted, these properties have garnered significant attention.
Cordyceps-M undergoes third-party testing to ensure each capsule contains 125 mg of beta-(1,3)(1,6)-glucans and is free of contaminants. With the manufacturer recommending a serving size of two capsules, a total of 250 mg of beta-glucans is provided per serving.
This supplement is available in two different-sized containers, 120 and 300 capsules. Thus, each bottle provides either 60 or 150 servings at a cost of $29.95 or $59.95, respectively.
2. Real Mushrooms Cordyceps-M powder — best overall pure cordyceps powder
Real Mushrooms manufactures the same high-quality product Cordyceps-M in a powder form. This product is also manufactured in NSF-certified facilities in the United States using organic and non-GMO mushrooms. This product is gluten-free, vegan-friendly, and free of any mycelium and grain fillers.
The powder is formed from extracts of Cordyceps militaris that are obtained using hot water extraction techniques. Beta-glucans and Cordycepin are the main active ingredients in the powder.
This product is third-party tested and is recommended by the manufacturer to be taken at a dosage of one gram (approximately a 1/2 teaspoon) per day. This contains 250 mg of beta-(1,3)(1,6)-glucans and is available in two package sizes containing enough powder for 60 or 150 dosages.
It is recommended to mix the powder with tea, coffee, or in a smoothie. It is important to make sure the bag is tightly closed after use and stored in a cool, dry place. The cost of 60 dosages will run you $29.95, while 150 dosages can be bought for $59.95.
3. Pure Essence Labs — best cordyceps supplement for athletes
Pure Essence Labs produce the My Pure Cordyceps capsules in facilities that are compliant with all current good manufacturing practices (cGMP) issued by the Food and Drug Administration. Its organic, non-GMO mushrooms are sourced from China and contain real fruiting bodies.
Using hot water extraction, My Pure Cordyceps capsules contain Cordycepin and at least 20% beta-(1,3)(1,6)-glucans to provide the antitumor, anti-inflammatory, and immunostimulating properties commonly associated with cordyceps extracts.
Pure Essence Labs use in-house testing rather than a third-party lab to determine the purity and accuracy of their products. Each product is triple-tested to ensure they are free of contaminants and contain accurate levels of the ingredients.
My Pure Cordyceps is available in both a 30 and 60-count bottle which translates to a 30 or 60-day supply as the recommended dosage is 1 capsule per day. It is recommended the dosage be taken earlier in the day to potentially help maintain energy levels.
A 30-day supply costs $25.36 whereas a 60-day supply costs $41.77. However, you can save more money on this product by enrolling in their subscribe and save program.
4. Arete Adaptogens — best cordyceps powder with other mushroom extracts
Arete Adaptogens manufactures Root Strength powder using a combination of ingredients including cordyceps, reishi, and lion's mane extracts. This product also contains vitamins D3, B6, and B12, folate, branched-chain amino acids, caffeine, beetroot, and rhodiola root to support exercise and muscle recovery.
Lion's mane with its properties to help protect nerves and stimulate nerve growth in cell studies is included for its possible cognitive support. Reishi has been shown to reduce oxidative stresses in mice and is contained in the proprietary mushroom blend of this product.
Beetroot has been shown to increase blood flow and improve exercise performance in a meta-analysis of small studies, however, additional studies are still needed to confirm these results. The addition of branched-chain amino acids, which are essential amino acids, can help stimulate protein synthesis needed for muscle building. However, the effects of branch-chain amino acids have been inconsistent in studies and require more research to clarify.
Arete Adaptogens suggests this product be used as a coffee substitute that can be enjoyed either hot or cold. The recommended serving size is 2 scoops with each bag containing 30 servings. Root Strength costs $49.99 for a 30-day supply with additional options to subscribe and save on your orders.
5. FOCL — best organic cordyceps gummies with lion's mane and reishi extracts
FOCL manufactures Functional Mushroom Gummies in cGMP-certified facilities using non-GMO, organic ingredients. The mushroom components utilize 100% fruiting bodies to obtain extracts and are free of mycelium and grain fillers.
In addition to cordyceps extract, each gummy contains lion's mane and reishi extracts to help support memory and reduce stress, respectively. Each gummy also contains 2 mg of vitamin B6 and 2.5 grams of added sugar.
Third-party testing is used to ensure the accurate content and purity of each gummy and FOCL provides the testing results on their website.
The recommended serving size is one gummy but can be taken 2–3 times during the day per the manufacturer's website. Thus, for a one-month supply, two 30-count bottles need to be ordered for a total cost of $106.20. In addition, FOCL provides free shipping on every order.
Comparing the best cordyceps mushroom supplements
|Supplement||Serving size||Cost per serving||Servings per bottle||Medicinal mushrooms|
|Real Mushrooms Cordyceps-M capsules||2 capsules||$0.50||60||Cordyceps militaris|
|Real Mushrooms Cordyceps-M powder||1 gram||$0.50||60||Cordyceps militaris|
|Pure Essence Labs My Pure Cordyceps||1 capsule||$0.84||30||Cordyceps militaris|
|Arete Adaptogens Root Strength||2 scoops (6 grams)||$1.67||30||Cordyceps, lion's mane, reishi, shiitake|
|FOCL Functional Mushroom Gummies||2 gummies||$3.93||15||Cordyceps, lion's mane, reishi|
What is cordyceps and how is it used?
Cordyceps is a classification of mushrooms/fungi that contains more than 600 species. The two species commonly used in medicine are Cordyceps sinensis and Cordyceps militaris.
However, due to the difficulty of obtaining C. sinensis, C. militaris is commonly used in many supplements as it can be cultivated at a commercial level, often cultivated in labs using rice. Regardless of the species, it is the fruiting bodies of the fungus that have the highest amount of beneficial compounds that provide the potential health benefits of mushrooms.
Non-clinical studies using animals and cell lines have shown Cordyceps militaris to have many different health-promoting features, but more research is needed to verify many of the claims. It has been found that cordyceps potentially possess anti-inflammatory, anti-cancer, anti-aging, and anti-fatigue properties that can be helpful in achieving overall wellness.
Cordyceps can be consumed in many different methods, and we discuss some of the common ways the fruiting bodies are consumed.
One method of consumption is to make tea using the fruiting bodies of Cordyceps militaris and Cordyceps sinensis by taking six to eight fruiting bodies and boiling for 15 minutes for C. militaris and 45 minutes for C. sinensis. Boiling releases water-soluble components into the tea, but the fruiting bodies should be eaten after drinking the tea to maximize benefits.
Using hot-water extraction, the water-soluble components and many of the health-promoting compounds can be extracted. This extract is then dried, powdered, and encapsulated into capsules for consumption. This method provides exact dosing and does not require any at-home measuring to prepare the serving.
Similar to capsules, hot-water extraction is used to extract many of the health-promoting compounds. This extract is then dried and made into powder, which could be added to coffees, teas, or smoothies, providing a helpful method of supplementation for people that can not swallow pills.
What are cordyceps good for?
Cordyceps contains many different properties that are beneficial in achieving overall wellness such as anti-inflammatory, anti-cancer, and anti-aging. These properties are attributed to many compounds found in cordyceps such as beta-glucans, cordycepin, and adenosine.
Cordyceps militaris differs from Cordyceps sinensis in that it contains a much higher amount of cordycepin which is associated with the benefits of immunity, inflammation, and cell growth regulation. However, it has a much lower content of adenosine than C. sinensis which promotes enhanced energy levels.
Next, we discuss various benefits that have been linked to cordyceps use.
Protective effects against inflammation
Several research studies have identified cordycepin, a compound in cordyceps mushrooms, to have various different anti-inflammatory actions. In various models, the use of cordycepin was shown to prevent the inflammatory injuries associated with asthma, acute lung injury, rheumatoid arthritis, and Parkinson's disease. In addition, these inflammatory benefits have shown some benefits in obesity as well.
Reduces blood sugar levels
In lab studies, cordycepin has been shown to improve insulin resistance which helps insulin be more effective at lowering blood sugar levels. However, it is important to remember that it remains to be established how the results of these lab studies translate to the blood sugar-lowering effects in humans. These effects are promising, but more research is needed.
Suppression of breast cancer cells
The anti-cancer properties of cordyceps species have been seen when used against breast cancer cell lines. Although these are positive findings, their use for cancer treatment should be discussed with your oncologist to ensure they will not cause unwanted side effects or interfere with your current treatment.
Do cordyceps supplements contain vitamins?
Yes. Many of the cordyceps supplements on the market have vitamins added to the supplement. Commonly, vitamins B6 and B12 are added to cordyceps supplements marketed for improved energy levels and reduced fatigue, as these are two of the best vitamins for energy. Additionally, vitamin D3 and folate are added to cordyceps supplements to improve bone health and promote healthy red blood cell development, respectively.
Reading the labels of each supplement is important to ensure the contents do not overlap or interact with other medications and supplements you are taking. It is always important to discuss taking a new supplement with your doctor or pharmacist before starting.
Are cordyceps supplement good for athletes?
Many cordyceps supplements claim that they can improve athletic performance but do studies actually show a benefit when using them? The evidence supporting this claim is not clear-cut. Cordyceps supplements may provide beneficial effects on athletic performance, but in competitive athletes, it is important to check with the sports governing body that these supplements are approved.
Studies in athletes have shown that a combination of mushroom supplements can enhance VO2 max and ATP production. It has also translated to increased muscle recovery and enhanced stamina. However, there are conflicting reports on the benefits of cordyceps supplements on athletic performance, and thus more research is needed to clarify their benefits.
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What form of cordyceps is best?
Cordyceps mushrooms can be consumed as tea, capsule, or powder. No single form is superior as long as it contains a verified amount of beneficial compounds in the supplement. Afterall, the best form of cordyceps supplement depends on your personal preference.
Do cordyceps capsules work?
Cordyceps capsules contain many of the beneficial compounds used in studies demonstrating the health benefits of cordyceps. The capsules contain a purified and consistent dosage of beta-glucans, cordycepin, and adenosine which have shown beneficial effects. Although more studies are needed to confirm these benefits.
Who should not eat cordyceps?
Although generally safe, cordyceps should not be used in patients with autoimmune disorders due to its immunostimulatory properties. Additionally, cancer and diabetic patients and patients on blood thinners should discuss this with their doctors before starting cordyceps. If you are pregnant or breastfeeding, it is best to avoid cordyceps supplementation.
How does cordyceps make you feel?
Cordyceps supplements are used to boost energy levels and fight off fatigue. Traditional Chinese medicine has also used cordyceps to boost libido and sex drive, though scientific evidence is limited. When used raw or when starting supplementation, side effects such as diarrhea and stomach upset can occur.
Can you take cordyceps at night?
Cordyceps helps to maintain and increase energy levels but is not a stimulant. Therefore, it can be taken at night, but it is often recommended to be taken in the morning to help increase and maintain energy levels throughout the day.
- PLoS ONE. Anti-Inflammatory Properties of the Medicinal Mushroom Cordyceps militaris Might Be Related to Its Linear (1→3)-β-D-Glucan.
- Carbohydrate Polymers. Physiochemical properties and antitumor activities of two α-glucans isolated from hot water and alkaline extracts of Cordyceps (Cs-HK1) fungal mycelia.
- 3 Biotech. Pharmacological and therapeutic potential of Cordyceps with special reference to Cordycepin.
- International Journal of Medicinal Mushrooms. Neurotrophic Properties of the Lion's Mane Medicinal Mushroom, Hericium erinaceus (Higher Basidiomycetes) from Malaysia.
- Journal of Medicinal Food. Hypolipidemic, Antioxidant, and Antiapoptotic Effects of Polysaccharides Extracted from Reishi Mushroom, Ganoderma lucidum (Leysser: Fr) Karst, in Mice Fed a High-Fat Diet.
Show all references
- Journal of the International Society of Sports Nutrition. Effects of beetroot juice supplementation on intermittent high-intensity exercise efforts.
- Journal of Animal Science and Biotechnology. Novel metabolic and physiological functions of branched chain amino acids: a review.
- Phytotherapy Research. Anti-inflammatory effects of cordycepin: A review.
- Oxidative Medicine and Cellular Longevity. Antioxidant and Hypoglycemic Effects of Acidic-Extractable Polysaccharides from Cordyceps militaris on Type 2 Diabetes Mice.
- Applied Microbiology and Biotechnology. Mushroom extracts and compounds with suppressive action on breast cancer: evidence from studies using cultured cancer cells, tumor-bearing animals, and clinical trials.
- Evidence-Based Complementary and Alternative Medicine. Cordyceps militaris Induces Immunogenic Cell Death and Enhances Antitumor Immunogenic Response in Breast Cancer.