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From: B. Harris)
Subject: Re: Is CordyMax Cs-4 safe? (Cordyceps sinensis)
Date: 8 Aug 1998 19:59:45 GMT

In <>
(RachThird) writes:
>I've saw a bottle of St. John's Wort which contained 750mg of CordyMax Cs-4
>(cordyceps sinensis). The company claims it is a energy enhancer.  Can anyone
>tell me about this product?  Is it safe?

   Nobody knows, but it's been a Chinese medicinal food item for years.
 In the days before the cultivated cordyceps (which has a Chinese name
dong chong xia cao that means Summer-insect, Winter-grass), peasants
would go out and try to find these odd grass-like stalks, and dig up
the "root."  Which turns out to be a dead caterpillar.  Cordyceps is a
fungus which infects moth caterpillars when they bury themselves to
pupate.  It feeds on the body like a mushroom, and then puts up a
fruiting body stalk, which scatters spoors.  The real stuff you buy
from Chinese stores consists of these little caterpillars, turned into
woody mummies, with the dried fruiting body of the fungus growing out
of each caterpillar's head.  They taste like unsalted sunflower seeds,
and are used in cooking (soups, etc) as a flavoring agent.  Cost is
about $70 an ounce.  I'm not sure I'd trust the powders, because you
never know what goes into them, and it's really tempting to cheat.

   Whether this stuff produces energy or not-- who knows.  No good
controlled studies.  If you want to try the stuff, I recommend you
contact a good Chinese source, like the Wing Hong Ning Trading company
on Jackson St. in San Francisco.

                                             Steve Harris, M.D.

From: B. Harris)
Subject: Re: Cordyceps
Date: 31 Jan 1999 05:47:33 GMT

In <79022q$> "Tbird" <>

>Just received sales literature for Cordyceps. It sounds too good to be true.
>Anyone out there have any knowledge on this?

   This consists of pupating caterpillars which after burying
themselves to pupate, have been taken over by a fungus (cordyceps) and
turned into a sort of dried mushroom mummy.  In the wild, the fruiting
body of the fungus rises above the ground and spreads spoors which
infect more caterpillars. The Chinese name translates roughly as
"Summer catepillar: Winter grass."  No doubt the transformative
properties of the fungus impressed the early medicine men.

   The commercial product is not gathered in the wild any more, but
made by spraying catepillars with spoors in cultivation farms, rather
like silkworm farms.  It looks like exactly what it is: little brown
dry caterpillars, as though turned to soft wood, with mushroom stocks
coming out of their heads.  You can buy them in better Chinese herb
shops, in bulk, for $50 an ounce, roughly.  They taste vaguely like
unsalted sesame seeds, and are used in Chinese soups as a flavoring
agent.  I've eaten them off and on for years, and every now and then
offer a few to my patients who regard me as a stuffy Westernized
orthodox type.  You can tell a lot about a person by whether or not
they are willing to try Cordyceps when offered one, along with
explanation of what it is.  I think it pretty much defines one axis of
the spectrum from conservative to novelty-seeking and exploratory
behavior in temperment.

   You can also buy a lot of commercial preparations of powders and so
on, but without actually being able to see the structure of the dried
product, you really don't know what you're getting.  Beware ripoffs.
They really do taste a lot like seasame, so get the real thing.

   A few years ago the Chinese olympic team was claiming the stuff was
behind some of their more spectacular and unexpected women's team wins.
But illegal steroids were involved as well, so there is some question
as to whether or not Cordyceps is the all-powerful energy induced it's
reputed to be.  I put it in roughtly the same category as dried tiger
penis (which I have yet to try).  It's much better as an impromptu
psychological test of whether or not a person has an exploratory
personality, than it is as a metabolic enhancer of any scientific

                                        Steve Harris, M.D.

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