The Nootropic Benefits of Cordyceps

The Nootropic Benefits of Cordyceps

Over the past few years, several different types of mushrooms have become popular in the nootropics community. Cordyceps is one of the most-popular mushrooms being used and is said to have a number of nootropic benefits.

It’s been used for centuries in traditional medicine and has a long track record of safe, effective use. In this post, we’re going to look at what cordyceps’ benefits are, the optimal dosage, potential side effects, and the best places to buy. But first, let’s take a look at what cordyceps is.

What Is Cordyceps?

Cordyceps is a type of mushroom that has been used in traditional medicine for centuries. It has been used to treat a variety of specific ailments and as a general healing agent. While science is still catching up with tradition, some of the studies that have been done on cordyceps have been promising.

This fascinating fungus grows abundantly in warm, humid climates and there are more than 400 different species of cordyceps. It is known by many names, including:

  • Cordyceps Sinensis
  • Cordyceps Militaris
  • Caterpillar Fungus
  • Cetepiller Mushroom
  • Summer Grass Winter Worm
  • Totsu Kasa
  • Yarchakunbu
  • Aweto

The most commonly-used and well-researched types of cordyceps is Cordyceps Militaris. It is sold as an extract in supplement form and has been shown to have several nootropic properties. Cordyceps Militaris contains cordycepin (aka 3′-deoxyadenosine), a substance that has interested researchers for its ability to reduce the symptoms of depression, improve sleep and memory, and for several other potential benefits.

One study found that cordycepin was able to reverse depressive behaviors in mice who had been exposed to chronic unpredictable mild stress. Another study using mice found cordycepin to have a rapid antidepressant effect. This study found that cordycepin had an antidepressant effect that was stronger and came on faster than the prototypical tricyclic antidepressant, imipramine.

In addition to its ability to reduce the symptoms of depression, cordyceps can also improve sleep and memory. A 2013 study done on rats showed that cordycepin increased non-rapid-eye-movement (nREM) sleep and reduced sleep-wake cycles. Another study done on rats showed that Cordyceps Militaris was able to reverse chemically-induced memory impairment.

As you can see, there have been a number of studies that support the idea that cordyceps has nootropic properties. Unfortunately, just about all of them have been done on mice and rats. While using animal models can be great for learning about different substances, the conclusions drawn from animal research don’t always translate to humans.

That being said, the studies done on animals certainly support what has been reported by cordyceps users for decades. Let’s take a look at some of the nootropic benefits people are reporting from taking supplemental cordyceps.

Cordyceps Nootropic Benefits

One of the benefits of cordyceps that makes it so popular as a nootropic is its ability to improve mood. Just as the animal studies mentioned above suggest, users report a strong and rapid antidepressant effect from taking cordyceps. Many users say that it does more for their mood than prescription antidepressants.

Another reason why nootropic users love cordyceps is for its ability to improve sleep. Reddit and other message boards around the internet are filled with case reports of people having the best sleep of their lives after taking cordyceps. Users report falling asleep faster, staying asleep longer, and waking up feeling refreshed.

A non-nootropic benefit of cordyceps that some people have noticed is an increase in physical endurance. Some users report that they can run and do other types of cardio for longer periods of time than usual. Unlike most of cordyceps’ nootropic effects, this benefit has been studied in both animals and humans.

A 2017 study showed that cordyceps increased the amount of time that mice were able to swim. Another study done on humans a year earlier also showed promising results. Twenty-eight participants were randomly assigned to either receive cordyceps or a placebo. After one week, none of the participants showed improvement in any of the researchers’ measurements. However, after three weeks, the participants in the cordyceps groups showed improvement in several areas related to endurance.

The list of potential cordyceps benefits is long and may even include the ability to fight cancer. A 2012 paper exploring the anti-cancer effects of several types of mushrooms cited multiple animal studies about cordyceps affecting cancer in various (good) ways.

As you can see, just like another nootropic mushroom, Lion’s Mane, cordyceps seems to have a wide variety of potential benefits. A 2014 paper reviewing the literature on cordyceps’ benefits show it to have anti-tumor, anti-fatigue, anti-inflammatory, immunomodulatory, anti-diabetic, and anti-aging effects – to name a few.

Potential Cordyceps Benefits:

  • Improved mood
  • Reduced stress and anxiety
  • Increased energy
  • Better sleep
  • Reduced inflammation
  • Anti-cancer
  • Improved immune system

Cordyceps Dosage

Human trials have used cordyceps dosages ranging from 1,000 milligrams (mg) to 3,000 mg. It is usually taken either once a day in the morning or twice a day, once in the morning and once at night. Some users report that they have trouble falling asleep when taking cordyceps at night.

The full benefits of cordyceps may take several weeks to notice. It’s probably a good idea to start with a dosage at the low end of the range above (1,000 mg/day). If after a couple weeks you don’t notice anything, consider increasing the dosage.

Cordyceps can be taken with or without food. Taking it on an empty stomach may increase absorption but may also cause mild nausea.

Cordyceps Side Effects

Most people seem to tolerate cordyceps quite well with few, if any side effects. When they do occur, they are usually mild and go away after you stop taking cordyceps. Side effects may include nausea, trouble sleeping, anxiety, and tiredness.

These side effects seem to be uncommon but can occur. Some of them can be mitigated by changing the way you take cordyceps. If you experience nausea while taking it on an empty stomach, try taking it with a small snack. If you experience trouble sleeping, try only taking cordyceps in the morning.

Where To Buy Cordyceps

Cordyceps is usually sold as an extract of Cordyceps Militaris. That’s what you want. It’s the type of cordyceps that is commonly used and has been studied the most. There are several places where you can buy cordyceps online.


Talk about magic mushrooms! As you now know, cordyceps have a wide array of potential benefits. Like Lion’s Mane and other adaptogenic mushroom, cordyceps have become quite popular in the nootropics community.

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