Cordyceps sinensis (CS) is an Ascomycetes fungus. The name Cordyceps comes from the Latin words cord and ceps, meaning ‘club’ and ‘head’, respectively. This mushroom it has been a highly regarded cornerstone of Traditional Chinese Medicine for centuries; one that reportedly has a number of far-reaching therapeutic effects.
Cancer Treatment and Research Findings
Cordyceps, a Traditional Chinese Medicine is a mushroom that has been historically used for over 2,000 years throughout Asia and China as part of treatment for a variety of conditions including many cancers. In the 1970s, a study demonstrated that C. sinensis inhibited the production of DNA and RNA synthesis in cancer cells. In the 1980s other study demonstrated antitumor activity on lung, kidney, bladder and colon cancer. Scientists from the “University of Nottingham” have found that cordyceps is an effective therapy for cancer. Depending upon dosage levels, cordyceps directly impact the process of cell protein development, impeding the production of the mRNA molecules that create them. At high doses, cordyceps mushroom extracts inhibits protein development directly. Clinical studies with cancer patients have been performed in Japan and China, using a therapeutic dose of 6 g of Cordyceps per day.
Studies in vivo demonstrated C. sinensis had an inhibitory effect on Ehrlich ascites carcinoma and meth-A fibrosarcoma. The survival time of mice inoculated with murine B16 melanoma cells and treated with a combination of water extracts from Cordyceps sinensis and the standard agent, methotrexate, has been shown to be substantially longer than that of either the untreated control group or those treated with methotrexate alone, indicating that some water extracts of Cordyceps sinensis may be useful in the prevention of tumor metastasis. In a study, water-extract from dried Cordyceps sinensis increased the median survival time of the allogeneic mice inoculated with Ehrlich ascites carcinoma cells to 316% and syngeneic mice inoculated with Meth A fibrosarcoma to 312% of the control with no cytotoxic activity on either EAC or Meth A in vitro.
A severe adverse effect of the use of standard cancer chemotherapy and radiation treatment is the suppression of the patient’s immune system. The use of Cordyceps sinensis in combination with chemotherapy appears to have an immuno-stimulatory property, which enhances the effectiveness of chemotherapy by balancing its adverse effects. Scientists in Japan reported that Cordyceps sinensis enhances the general reactivity of the immune system in patients with cancer. To discover this, they subcutaneously injected mice with cancerous cells and then orally administered C sinensis. This led to a reduction of tumour size and prolonged life. A study in cancer patients with different types of tumors found Cordyceps sinensis mycelium (6 g/day 2 months) improved subjective symptoms in the majority of patients. White blood cell counts were maintained and tumor size was substantially reduced in approximately half of the patients. JSBC (Jinshuibao Capsule), produced by Jiangxi Jinshuibao pharmaceutical Company Limited, possesses the similar active principles and pharmacological activity with those of C. sinensis. The effect of Jinshuibao Capsule on the immunological function of 36 patients with advanced cancer demonstrated that it could restore cellular immunological function improve quality of life.
Several studies of Cordyceps have particularly focused on NK (natural killer) cells and Cordyceps’ effect on them as they relate to cancer formation. Research shows C. sinensis effect to significantly improve immune system functioning in cancer patients and destroy cancer cells. Chinese Integrated Traditional Western Med showed that Cordyceps enhanced the NK (natural killer) cell activity of normal patients by 74% and increased the NK activity of leukemia patients by 400% and similar improvements of NK cell activities was found in big melanoma cancer. In one study with 50 lung cancer patients administered Cordyceps sinensis mycelium in conjunction with chemotherapy, tumors reduced in size in 46% of patients.
Cordyceps sinensis increases the effectiveness of the spleen to help it filter out deleterious substances in the blood. Also, it increases the DNA, RNA and proteins in the spleen to promote faster healing. The medicinal mushroom in countries like China and Japan by cancer chemotherapy or radiation in addition to often used for adverse effects of standard therapies such as immunosuppression and the combat effectiveness of cancer treatment to increase. Chemotherapy and radiation usually lead to leukopenia. Scientists demonstrated in studies that Cordyceps provides for restoring the production of white blood cells after chemotherapy or radiation by restoring bone marrow function.