If an award were given to the strangest medicinal substance in the world, the winner would, no doubt, be Cordyceps sinensis (otherwise known as dong chong xia cao, winter worm, or summer grass). After all, a fungus that grows out of the head of a subterranean caterpillar sounds like a science fiction story!
First written about in the Tang Dynasty, but likely used for a much longer period of time, this mushroom occupies a significant position in Chinese herbal medicine and Chinese cuisine—so much so that wild-harvested Cordyceps is, gram-for-gram, worth much more than gold!
Entire communities in Nepal, Tibet, and parts of China depend on the income from the sale of wild-harvested Cordyceps.
As one can imagine with that much money at stake, overharvesting in remote regions is a tremendous problem and threatens the long-term survival of the fungus in the wild.
The Development of CS-4
In 1972, Chinese scientists successfully isolated and were able to grow out four strains of Cordyceps. They were not “true” Cordyceps, but rather anamorphs—a related species. The fourth of these strains, called CS-4, proved commercially viable.
Over a period of years, the Chinese government sponsored many clinical trials with this fungus, and finally in 1988, it was approved as an official medicine. They called it Jin Shui Bao.
Many of the Chinese studies conducted in this period and afterwards can be found in a book by an Australian MD, Georges M. Halpern, Cordyceps, China’s Healing Mushroom.
Cordyceps for athletes
Cordyceps burst onto the sports scene in August 1993, when the Chinese women’s track team broke world records in the 10,000, 3,000, and 1,500-meter races in Germany. Drugs were suspected, but no evidence of doping could be found. Instead, the Chinese coach insisted that the explanation, beyond the obvious talent of the runners, lay in the Cordyceps they consumed regularly.
Overnight serious and “arm-chair” athletes around the globe wanted to add Cordyceps to their training regimens. The price for this fragile and precious substance exploded and the gold rush was on.
Cordyceps for asthma
Traditionally Cordyceps has a number of important uses that make it invaluable in the modern world.
According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) 7.4% of American adults and 8.6% of American children suffer from asthma, totaling 24 million people. This debilitating condition is a virtual epidemic.
Each day ten Americans die from asthma. Since the early 1980s, the incidents of asthma in the U.S. African American population are at a much higher rate than any other group.
As it turns out, if we follow traditional indications, Cordyceps is one of the best substances these asthmatics can include in their diet.
Cordyceps as a recovery tonic
Cordyceps is also well regarded traditionally as a recovery tonic. In China, it is often used to help people recover from long-term or significant illnesses. In these cases, typically a soup would be used. (People’s Herbs Empowered Cordyceps capsules can be simply opened up and added to soup. The Cordyceps taste is bland, so that it goes unnoticed as an ingredient.)
Cordyceps for sexual vitality
Sexual debility is an ever-increasing issue in modern life, as sex drive is frequently central to one’s sense of well-being.
In the U.S. it is estimated that 5% of 40 year-old men and 15-25% of 65 year old men have erectile dysfunction. This is another area, where demand is driving the overharvesting of Cordyceps.
Chinese studies indicate that there is some hope for help with Cordyceps in remedying the loss of sexual vitality, even when consumed in a modest dose.
The CS-4 used in People’s Herbs Empowered Cordyceps is the same CS-4 strain researched so thoroughly in China, but we use material organically grown in the U.S. in a state-of-the-art facility.
Cordyceps for kidneys and lungs
Finally, Cordyceps is thought to have a particularly strengthening effect on kidney and lung function and Chinese research has substantiated these traditional indications.
Since we are dealing in many instances with children, it is important to note how safe Cordyceps is to consume. It is best thought of as a food; in fact, fine Chinese restaurants often have various Cordyceps soups on their menu.
Lab and clinical studies utilizing enormous doses for extended periods yield no adverse effects. And its long history of traditional use also supports its safety profile.
Growers are now able to grow a hybrid Cordyceps sinensis that is superior to the wild-harvested Cordyceps when measured on multiple parameters.
People’s Herbs Empowered Cordyceps includes a hybrid Cordyceps sinensis strain grown organically in the U.S. In fact, this unique hybrid strain is patented! It must be stressed that this is normal hybridization, NOT genetic modification.
People’s Herbs Formula Offers Maximum Benefit
We are often asked the question as to why we put more than one Cordyceps strain in our capsules. The CS-4 strain was first identified and successfully grown in 1972 and the science of Cordyceps cultivation has advanced enormously since then.
The differences between CS-4 and this hybrid strain are enormous. Of course, we know from published Chinese research that the CS-4 alone is a helpful product in itself, but it is already widely available from dozens of companies worldwide.
And the hybrid strain has been shown to have significant health benefits. They are both tried and true performers, so we sought to combine these two in our one product, in order to offer maximum benefit to our customers.
The result is truly the best of East and West—the best hybrid Cordyceps sinensis developed here in the U.S. and the well-researched CS-4 strain developed in China, but now grown in the U.S. with superior certified organic methods.
There is simply no better, no wider spectrum of Cordyceps product on the market, and all the ingredients are certified organic!