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Cordyceps sinensis works like hCG

Extracts of the fungus Cordyceps sinensis [see below] may raise testosterone levels. Researchers at the Cheng Kung University in Taiwan discovered that cordyceps imitates the effect of hormones like LH and hCG. At least, it does so in test tubes.

Cordyceps sinensis works like hCG

Cordyceps sinensis

The Taiwanese did tests on cells from the testes of young mice. They exposed the cells to cordyceps extracts, and they also gave the same extracts to live animals.

The researchers used four different preparations: one of dried cordyceps and three different extracts. These they made by soaking the cordyceps for three days in water at 37 degrees.

One extract, F1, consisted of water-soluble sugar chains. One hundred grams of cordyceps produced just under 2 g F1.

The second extract, F2, consisted of soluble proteins. One hundred grams of cordyceps produced 13 g F2.

The third extract, F3, consisted of less soluble proteins and sugar chains. 100g cordyceps produced 85 g F3.

The figure below shows what happened to testosterone production when the Taiwanese exposed Leydig cells to the extracts. They used 3 and 10 mg/ml concentrations. The measurements were taken after the cells had been exposed for three hours. CS = Cordyceps sinensis.

Cordyceps sinensis works like hCG

Because F1 had no effect, the researchers did no more tests with this. The other extracts had an optimal effect in a 3-mg/ml dose.

The researchers discovered that it took 3 hours for the F2 extract to reach its optimal effect.

Cordyceps sinensis works like hCG

This gives an indication of how cordyceps works: both hCG and LH also take 3 hours to reach their optimal effect. What's more, the LH molecule is a protein-sugar chain – a glycoprotein – and it's the sugar part that attaches to the LH receptor. It seems that cordyceps contains sugars or glycoproteins that resemble LH and imitate the way it works.

The researchers then did experiments on live mice. The animals were given cordyceps, F2 or F3 for a week, administered orally through a tube. The cordyceps dose that had the most effect was 20 mg per kg bodyweight.

Cordyceps sinensis works like hCG

So the substances that boost testosterone do make it through the digestive canal, and the intact cordyceps works better than the extracts.

The researchers are positive about cordyceps. They think the fungus may be a natural way of boosting men’s testosterone levels.

Life Sci. 2003 Sep 5;73(16):2127-36.

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