Cordyceps is a popular mushroom supplement that’s been used in traditional Chinese medicine for centuries. The cultivated form, cordyceps militaris, is what you’ll find in supplements today.
While they have become very popular to talk about for podcast hosts sponsored by the latest “miracle mushroom coffee,” the evidence for these claims isn’t very strong. If you’re looking for a miracle, I’ll be completely honest and tell you that you won’t find it in a mushroom supplement.
That said, there are still many quality companies out there with pure, delicious, and third-party-tested cordyceps supplements that may have some potential benefits.
If you do want to get anything out of a cordyceps supplement, make you’re buying one of the highest quality products.
Here are some of the main potential benefits of cordyceps mushrooms.
There have been some human studies like this study, which showed an increase in cardiovascular performance in older people.
Another study repeated the benefits, showing a 7% increase in Vo2 max.
This may be because cordyceps can increase blood flow. In fact, cordyceps is often called “The Viagra of the Himalayas” because of its blood flow benefits.
If you’re an athlete, particularly an endurance athlete, you may see some athletic performance benefits.
As to claims that it boosts heart health, there isn’t much research to substantiate this.
Perhaps related to its athletic performance increases, there’s some research that suggests cordyceps may improve our ability to produce energy. The mechanism for this is because it may improve our ability to produce ATP (adenosine triphosphate, if you paid attention in high school biology.) This is what we convert calories from food into to give us usable fuel.
This would explain the cardio performance improvements, and why some people like to use cordyceps in their pre-workout stack.
Animal studies have appeared to help maintain LDL cholesterol levels in a healthy range. However, this has not been replicated in human studies.
We’ll need much more research, and if there is an effect, it’s likely modest.
Anecdotally, one of the biggest claims about cordyceps is the improvements in cognition. One mice study, for example, showed that it had a neuroprotective and anti-inflammatory effect on the brain of mice. Again, though, it hasn’t been replicated in humans.
The reason for this may be because of this mushroom’s antioxidant properties.
If you’re a fan, here are the best cordyceps supplements on the market. Every single product on our list is cGMP (current good manufacturing practices) certified. That means they all undergo a standard third-party verification of their products.
Other products go beyond this, and where they have we have noted it.
*Note: We do have affiliate links throughout this article, which means we receive a commission if you purchase from any of our links. This supports our mission to bring complicated health and fitness info in an entertaining package. And it keeps us from putting up annoying things like banner ads. Those suck.
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RealMushrooms are the leading experts on mushroom supplementation. They’ve been family owned and operated for over 40 years, and specialize in making the highest quality mushroom products.
They’re one of the only companies that third-party test their mushrooms for beta-glucan content, which is what gives mushroom supplements like Cordyceps their effectiveness. With RealMushrooms, you know you’re getting tested, science-backed products.
The reason their beta-glucan content is so high is because, unlike many products, which ground up the whole mushroom, RealMushrooms gets it from the fruiting body. This is the part of the mushrooms that contains more of the active compounds that are responsible for its benefits.
They also use
This Cordyceps supplement by RealMushrooms is a great bulk and powder-based option. The supplement is extracted from 100% cordyceps mushrooms. The powder can be added to your coffee, smoothie, or any recipe.
RealMushrooms is a reputable, practitioner-approved brand, and its products are quality tested at accredited third-party labs. The powder contains no added starch, mycelium, or grains. It is also USDA Certified Organic, Certified Kosher, gluten-free, non-GMO, and vegan.
Lastly, this product contains 60 grams of abstract mushroom powder, which can provide 30 to 60 servings, making it also one of the best values on the market.
For all of these reasons, RealMushroom Organic Cordyceps powder is our #1 pick.
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RealMushrooms also has a capsule version. It’s third-party tested for beta-glucan content, pure mushroom extract, and free of any grain fillers making it the highest quality mushroom brand on the market.
The powder contains no added starch, mycelium, or grains. It is also USDA Certified Organic, Certified Kosher, gluten-free, non-GMO, and vegan.
Every capsule has 500mg of Cordyceps. You can purchase 120 capsules for $29.95 (before our discount), or 300 capsules for $59.95.
This is competitively priced with other products, but the only one at this price to ensure you’re getting the highest quality.
Double Wood Supplements provide a simple cordyceps product. With 210, 500mg capsules for under $20 it’s tough to beat that value.
However, they don’t go as far as the previous products for ensuring you’re actually getting the useful part of the cordyceps mushroom.
Fresh Cap is another great company producing high-quality mushroom supplements. Their product is also certified organic, and they also focus on making sure you’re getting the beta-glucan substances, aka, the part of the mushroom that actually does anything.
Even the price is very comparable. The only difference is that they don’t go through the strict, third-party testing on the amount of beta-glucan.
Still, it’s a great product.
Om Mushrooms Cordyceps is another solid powder option. It’s vegan, keto, and paleo and contains no added sugars. And its organic mushrooms are grown in the United States.
The downside is that they use myelinated oats, which are not as high quality and not tested for beta-glucan content.
Om also has a capsule option. It’s also vegan, organic, and paleo.
Every capsule of MRM’s product contains 750mg of cordyceps, while most products have 500mg. It’s also a lower starting price point, if you want to try cordyceps for the lowest cost.
The bottle is much smaller, with only 60 capsules.
This Doctor’s Best cordyceps also has 750mg per capsule. The difference between other products is that it has ginkgo biloba and artichoke extracts, which are added to support energy and stamina.
However, it’s hard to say whether these additions have any substantial benefit.
Here are the major considerations we took to make this list.
Generally, quality is an obvious measurement to look at. For mushrooms supplements like cordyceps specifically, the beta-glucan content tells you whether you’re actually getting the beneficial substances. Companies that test and disclose this, like RealMushrooms and Fresh Cap, appear highest on our list.
Cordyceps supplements come in capsules and powders alike. It’s a personal preference which you prefer, but I’m a big fan of the powder/coffee method, but capsules work too.
We also looked at the overall cost, as well as the dose of cordyceps (and beta-glucans) to assess the overall value.
Here are some of the most common questions about cordyceps supplements.
There are a few different types of cordyceps mushrooms. However, when looking at the best cordyceps mushroom supplements, all of them use the cultivated form cordyceps militaris.
If you’re a mushroom nerd, you may think of cordyceps as the mushrooms that grows by feasting on live arthropods high up in the Himalayan mountains. That’s cordycpes sinensis. In contrast, cordyceps miltaris is grown without harming arthropods.
This cultivated version is also, simply, better. It contains more of the beneficial compounds, like cordycepin. In fact, one study on edible mushrooms showed it had 90% more.
You may also see cordyceps mycelium listed on products. This isn’t a different species, but rather, refers to the part of the mushroom where its extracted. This part of the mushroom does not have the powerful compounds, so if you see “myelinated” or “mycelium” then you’re not getting the good stuff.
Generally, the side effects are mild. The most common side effects are related to indigestion. This include:
To limit this, start with a small dose of just a few grams. Second, don’t ever exceed the recommended dose. Third, make sure you grab a high-quality supplement that’s free of fillers.
Also, since it may interplay with our immune system, do not take cordyceps supplements if you have an autoimmune disorder without talking to your healthcare provider.
beta-glucans are a type of polysaccharide (carbohydrate-type substance). They’re the substance in mushrooms that may support your immune health, gut health, and more.
This is true across nearly all of the “medicinal mushrooms” like lion’s mane, reishi, and more. If you don’t see beta-glucans, it’s probably not as effective.
The best time, generally, is to take cordyceps in the morning. This is for a few reasons:
First, it’s commonly used to support your productivity, so it makes sense to take it at the start of your workday. It may also improve your energy levels, which may support your day and also makes it an interesting option to include in your pre-workout stack.
Practically speaking, many people take cordyceps with their morning coffee.
If it’s your first time, start with 1-2 grams. That’s because it can cause some indigestion if your stomach isn’t used to it. After you’ve gotten used to it, companies generally recommend a dose of 3-6 grams.
Mushrooms are pesky creatures that can often grow in an array of environments. Cordyceps, in particular, is most abundant in Asia, particularly China.
Mushroom supplements have a ton of clever marketing that doesn’t actually tell us anything about the product. One such term is “superfood.” What is a superfood? Who decides it? Is there a committee? Can I sign-up for it?
I don’t know the answers to any of these, but I personally wouldn’t categorize this as a superfood. I’d keep that reserved for products like high-quality greens powders.
“Full-spectrum” is also a confusing term you may see listed on some products. I think this refers to the full spectrum of beta-glucans, but most of the messaging on products isn’t clear. Just know that this term doesn’t mean much at all in this context.
Finally, “hot water extraction” is a tricky one. As the RealMushrooms team covers in this article on extraction, a combination of water and alcohol extraction (called dual extraction) may be necessary for some compounds. For cordyceps specifically, hot water extraction seems to be the most effective.
In traditional Chinese medicine (TCM) and most of the research, they use hot water extraction for cordyceps. Remember, though, this depends on the mushroom species.
For more guides on mushroom supplements, check out our articles on the best lion’s mane supplements, the best turkey tail supplements, and the best reishi mushroom supplements.
Just a disclaimer: Look, this isn’t your first time on the internet. You know this, but we’re going to tell you anyway. Do not take dietary supplements without talking to your healthcare provider. DO NOT just trust strangers on the internet. Also, supplements are not regulated by the FDA (Food and Drug Administration), and they’re NOT designed or approved to treat any diseases. These are not magic, nor are they particularly well-researched.