Introduction of Dong Chong Xia Cao:Chinese Caterpillar Fungus or Cordyceps.

TCM Herbalism:Medicinals and Classifications. ✵The article gives records of the herb Chinese Caterpillar Fungus, its English name, Latin name, property and flavor, its source one fungus species, ①.Cordyceps sinensis (Berk.) Sacc., with a detailed introduction to the features of this fungus species, the growth characteristics, and ecological environment of this fungus species, the features of the herb Chinese Caterpillar Fungus, its pharmacological actions, medicinal efficacy, and administration guide.

Cordyceps(Chinese Caterpillar Fungus).

Cordyceps:herb photo Pin Yin Name: Dōnɡ Chónɡ Xià Cǎo.
 English Name: Chinese Caterpillar Fungus.
 Latin Name: Cordyceps.
 Property and flavor: neutral or warm in nature, tastes sweet.

 Brief introduction: The herb Cordyceps is the dried body of stroma of the fungus, Cordyceps sinensis (Berk.) Sacc.(family Hypocreaceae) grows on the larvae of certain insects (family Hepialidae) and the dead caterpillars, used to reinforce kidney Yang and tonify the lung for the treatment of impotence, nocturnal emission, night sweats, chronic cough with hemoptysis in cases of phthisis. The herb is commonly known as Cordyceps, Chinese Caterpillar Fungus, Dōnɡ Chónɡ Xià Cǎo.

 Cordyceps sinensis Berk Sacc:growing fungus 01 Botanical source: The herbal classic book defined the herb Cordyceps (Chinese Caterpillar Fungus) as the dried body of stroma of the fungus, Cordyceps sinensis (Berk.) Sacc.(family Hypocreaceae) growing on the larvae of certain insects (family Hepialidae) and the dead caterpillars.

(1).Cordyceps sinensis (Berk.) Sacc.


 Botanical description: Cordyceps sinensis is a highly valued medicinal mushroom in both Classical Chinese Medicine and modern clinical practice. In China, it is known as "winter worm, summer grass", and the "caterpillar mushroom".

 Cordyceps sinensis Berk Sacc:growing fungus 02 Cordyceps sinensis (Berk.) Sacc is also known as Sphaeria sinensis Berk., a fungus that infects the larva of some species of insects (Family Hepialidae), such as Hepiaua larva (also known as ghostmoth). Cordyceps is defined as a complex of the stroma of Cordyceps sinensis (Berk.) Sacc. and its host larval of Hepiaua larva, an insect of the Hepialidae family.

 Stroma is single, rarely 2-3, sprouts out from the front end of the host, overall length is 4-11 cm, long rod-shaped or cylindrical, the base is 1.5-4 mm in diameter, attenuate upward. The head part is subcylindrical (nearly cylindrical), and brown, at the initial stage the inside is farctate, later it turns hollow, 1-4.5 cm long, 2.5-6 mm in diameter, and the pointed tip has an infertile tip with 1.5-5.5 mm length. Sporangium are many, thin and long, generated in the shell of perithecium. Each sporangium has an ascospore inside, usually 1–3 ascospores, a few have 4 or more ascospores, long linear, have many transeptae, not break into small segments, its size is (160-470) μm x (5-6.5) μm. It grows on the larva of Hepialus armoricanus Oberthur, etc.

 Cordyceps sinensis Berk Sacc:growing fungus 05 Ecological Environment: The fungus grows on the larva of Hepialus armoricanus Oberthur, and is often seen on high mountains at altitudes over 4000 meters above sea level, especially visible in arctic-alpine pelouses with snow retention and good drainage. Geographical distribution: It is mainly distributed in west and southwest areas, Gansu, Qinghai, Xinjiang, Tibet, Yunnan, and the upper and middle reaches of the Yangtze River, including Sichuan, Hubei, and other areas of China. Cordyceps is also found in Nepal.

 Growth characteristics: The fungus is a facultative saprophyte, its host is the larva of Hepiaua larva, an insect of the Lepidoptera, Hepialidae family. The larva which is contaminated hides in the soil in winter, after the larva dies a sclerotium is formed on the larval body, in the second spring and warm moist environments, the head of the larva grows out a clavate brown encarpium (fruiting body) with a prosthecae.

 Chinese Caterpillar Fungus:herb photo Characters of herbs: The herb is composed of a larval body and a stroma growing from the larval head. The larva is similar to a silkworm, 3~5 cm long, and 3~8 mm in diameter. The surface is dark brown to yellowish-brown, with 20~30 ring patterns, and the ring patterns near the head are thin; the head is reddish-brown, 8 pairs of feet, and 4 pairs of feet on the middle parts are more distinct; The texture of the herb is crisp, easily broken, the fracture surface is slightly flat, yellowish white. The stroma is solitary, thin and long, and cylindrical, 4~7 cm long, and about 3 mm in diameter; the surface is dark brown to tan (chocolate brown), has fine vertical wrinkles, the upper part is slightly enlarged, and no obvious difference between the head and the prosthecae; The texture of the herb is soft and flexible, the fracture surface is off-white. The herb has a slightly fishy smell, it tastes mild or slightly bitter. The herb of a better grade has a bright yellow surface, plump and hypertrophic, the fracture surface is yellowish-white, the stroma is short and small.

 Pharmacological actions: ①.significant expansion of bronchial smooth muscle function for the respiratory system, eliminating phlegm and anti-asthmatic effect; ②.inhibition effect on the intestinal canal, uterus and heart; ③.significantly promote hematopoietic function and platelet aggregation; ④.bacteriostasic activity (has inhibition on the tubercle bacillus, staphylococcus, streptococcus, Bacillus mallei, Bacillus anthracis, Bacillus bipolaris septicus, Epidermophyton floccosum, Trichoderma gessoformis, Trichoderma woolens, etc.); ⑤.Enhance the role of the immune system; ⑥.anti-tumor effect; ⑦.effects on the central nervous system; ⑧.androgen-like action; ⑨.anti-aging effect.

 Cordyceps sinensis Berk Sacc:growing fungus 06 Medicinal efficacy: Tonifying the kidney and nourish the lung, nourish essence and Qi, protect Lung Qi, strengthen the striae and interstitial space (the grain of skin and the texture of the subcutaneous flesh), supplement deficiency and insufficiency, hemostasis (stanch bleeding) and reduce phlegm, relieve cough. It is indicated for kidney deficiency and lose of essence, kidney insufficiency and asynodia (impotentia), impotentia and spermatorrhea (sexual impotence, seminal emission), spontaneous perspiration (spontaneous sweating), night sweating (perspire during sleep), soreness and aching of waist and knees, lung deficiency and cough with dyspnea, over-strained cough and hemoptysis (over-strained cough and spit blood), bloody phlegm, phlegm and retained fluid, asthma cough, dyspnea of deficiency type (dyspnea due to deficiency), prolonged deficiency and not recover after disease, etc.

 Cordyceps is a unique black mushroom that extracts nutrients from and grows on a caterpillar found in the high altitude area of China. Even though it is difficult to find and harvest, cordyceps is one of the most valued medicinal agents in the Chinese medical tradition. Those ancient books of China, such as Ben Cao Gang Mu (Compendium of Materia Medica), Ben Cao Cong Xin (New Compilation of Materia Medica), Si Bu Yi Dian (Medical Canon in Four Sections), etc., all record that the herb "benefit lung and replenish the kidney, treatment all kinds of weakness, supplement Qi and professional benefit the life gate.", strongly boost the immune system of the body, and extend lifespan and anti-aging.

 Cordyceps sinensis Berk Sacc:growing fungus 04 Cordyceps is a Chinese mushroom used in Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) for lung protection and reproductive invigoration, as well as to balance the Qi, the fundamental energy of life. Cordyceps is also known as the Chinese caterpillar fungus because it is a parasitic organism that grows on a rare caterpillar until the caterpillar dies and the mushroom sprouts from the caterpillar's head. Luckily, the source of cordyceps used in most modern supplements is not pulverized caterpillar heads, but a strain grown on soybeans or other less disgusting nutrient sources.

 Cordyceps Mushroom is also known as Deer fungus and Caterpillar fungus. In its native country China, it is known as Dong Chong Xia Chao, which means "winter-worm, summer grass". The fruiting body of the Cordyceps Mushroom is grass-like in appearance. Tibetan herdsmen first discovered Cordyceps over a thousand years ago in the high plateaus of that region, thinking it was a type of grass. They noticed that when their sheep and yaks grazed on Cordyceps they became stronger and healthier. Later, Chinese herbalists began to use Cordyceps for a host of human ailments. The mushroom was used as a cure-all but was especially thought to be an aphrodisiac and a supplement for healthy male sexual function. Recently, Cordyceps has been shown to stimulate the immune system and contain antibacterial and anti-viral properties. It has also been demonstrated that Cordyceps enhances blood circulation and can lower LDL cholesterol (low-density lipoproteins cholesterol) while raising beneficial HDL cholesterol (high-density lipoprotein cholesterol). Cordyceps is still used in China as a support product for sexual function and as an energy booster. Athletes use Cordyceps as a safe alternative remedy for performance-enhancing. Along with Reishi and Shiitake, Cordyceps is among the most beneficial of mushrooms.

 Administration of Cordyceps (Dōnɡ Chónɡ Xià Cǎo): 
 
Reference: Administration Guide of Cordyceps (Dōnɡ Chónɡ Xià Cǎo)
TCM Books: ①.Internally: 3~9 grams; ②.Internally:water decoction, 1.5~3 qian (about 4.5~9 grams);or prepare to pill, powder; ③.Internally:water decoction, 5~10 grams;or prepared to pill, powder;or stew with chicken or duck.
 Contraindications,Precautions and Adverse Reactions:The herb Cordyceps should be used cautiously if need to take a long period.

 

 
  

 

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References:
  • 1.Introduction of Dong Chong Xia Cao:Chinese Caterpillar Fungus or Cordyceps.

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