Cordyceps sinensis Medicinal Fungus

The fungus cordyceps (Cordyceps sinensis, Ophiocordycipitaceae) has been known as an effective tonic and aphrodisiac in Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) and is increasingly used in China as a popular dietary supplement and/or medicine. Owing to the upsurge in consumer demand for this ingredient in the past few decades, Tibetan peoples have been gathering increased amounts of cordyceps over the high-altitude expanses of Tibetan regions, and this activity has become one of their most important sources of income in certain parts of the country. Prices rose significantly from the early 1980s until 2008,1,2 at which point they dropped due to the global economic crisis.*

Cordyceps is also renowned within other international markets, and it is available in several countries around the world, where it is sold in different forms. Although not as highly prized in the Tibetan traditional system of medicine as in Chinese medicine, the fungal ingredient is included in the materia medica of Tibetan medicine. Its first citation in Tibetan medical treatises actually pre-dates its reference in Chinese texts by a few centuries.

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