Cordyceps is a genus of parasitic fungi that grows on the larvae of insects. When these fungi attack their host, they replace its tissue and sprout long, slender stems that grow outside the host's body.
Cordycepin has multiple effects, including:

In order to explore the anti-inflammatory principles of the mycelia of Cordyceps sinensis, the crude extract and partially purified fractions were examined for their inhibition of superoxide anion generation and elastase release. Further chemical investigation of the bioactive fractions has resulted in the identification of 50 compounds, including five constituents, cordysinins A-E (1-5), reported from a natural source for the first time. In addition, compounds were examined for their anti-inflammatory activity. 1-(5-Hydroxymethyl-2-furyl)-β-carboline displayed the most significant inhibition of superoxide anion generation and elastase release with IC50 values of 0.45±0.15 and 1.68±0.32 μM, respectively.
Cordyceps sinensis is one of the most valued herbs in traditional Chinese medicine. We investigated the antioxidant activities of the cultured fruiting bodies of Cordyceps sinesis. The water and ethanol extracts of Cordyceps sinensis were found to possess a potent antioxidant activity. The scavenging effects of the extracts on superoxide were very weak, but the extracts moderately inhibited malondialdehyde formation via hydroxyl radical induced by SIN-1, a peroxynitrite generator. Of the extracts examined, the hot water extract (70 degrees C for 5 min) showed the greatest oxygen free radical scavenging activity. Also, when low-density lipoprotein (LDL) was incubated with macrophages in the presence of CuCl2 (1 microM), the hot water extract showed a strong inhibitory effect against lipid peroxidation in the medium and consequent accumulation of cholesteryl ester in macrophages. Their activities were comparable to that of authentic Cu/Zn SOD. These results suggest that the extracts of cultured Cordyceps sinensis possess potent antioxidant and anti-lipid peroxidation activities and inhibit accumulation of cholesteryl ester in macrophages via suppression of LDL oxidation.
This study evaluated the phytochemical and antimicrobial activities and also quantified bioactive nucleoside using high performance thin layer chromatography (HPTLC) of five extracts of Indian Himalayan Cordyceps sinensis prepared with different solvents employing accelerated solvent extraction (ASE) technique. The phytochemical potential of these extracts was quantified in terms of total phenolic and total flavonoid content while antioxidant activities were determined by 1,1-diphenyl-2-pycryl-hydrazyl (DPPH) and 2,2 -azino-bis(3-ethylbenzothiazoline-6-sulphonic acid) (ABTS) and ferric-reducing antioxidant power (FRAP) assays. Total reducing power (TRP) was determined by converting iron (III) into iron (II) reduction assay. CS(50%Alc) (15.1 ± 0.67mg/g of dry extract) and CS(100%Alc) (19.3 ± 0.33 mg/g of dry extract) showed highest phenolic and flavonoid content, respectively while CS(Aq) extract showed maximum antioxidant activity and the highest concentration of the three nucleosides (adenine 12.8 ± 0.49 mg/g, adenosine 0.36 ± 0.28 mg/g and uracil 0.14 ± 0.36 mg/g of dry extract) determined by HPTLC. The evaluation of extracts for antimicrobial activity against gram-negative and gram-positive bacterial strains showed CS(25%Alc), CS(75%Alc) and CS(100%Alc) extract to be more effective against E. coli, P. aerugenosa and B. subtilis giving 9, 7 and 6.5 mm of zone of inhibition (ZOI) in 93.75, 93.75 and 45 μg concentration, respectively, whereas CS(Aq) extract showed minimal inhibition against these.
Cordyceps is a genus of ascomycete fungi that has been used for traditional herbal remedies. It contains various bioactive ingredients including cordycepin. Cordycepin, also known as 3-deoxyadenosine, is a major compound and has been suggested to have anticancer potential. The treatment of various cancer cells with cordycepin in effectively induces cell death and retards their cancerous properties. However, the underlying mechanism is not fully understood. Recent evidence has shed light on the molecular pathways involving cysteine-aspartic proteases (caspases), mitogen-activated protein kinases (MAPKs), and glycogen synthase kinase 3 beta (GSK-3β). Furthermore, the pathways are mediated by putative receptors, such as adenosine receptors (ADORAs), death receptors (DRs), and the epidermal growth factor receptor (EGFR). This review provides the molecular mechanisms by which cordycepin functions as a singular or combinational anticancer therapeutic agent.
Due to substantial morbidity and high complications, diabetes mellitus is considered as the third "killer" in the world. A search for alternative antidiabetic drugs from herbs or fungi is highly demanded. Our present study aims to investigate the antidiabetic activities of Cordyceps militaris on diet-streptozotocin-induced type 2 diabetes mellitus in rats. Diabetic rats were orally administered with water extract or alcohol extract at 0.05 g/kg and 2 g/kg for 3 weeks, and then, the factors levels related to blood glucose, lipid, free radicals, and even nephropathy were determined. Pathological alterations on liver and kidney were examined. Data showed that, similar to metformin, Cordyceps militaris extracts displayed a significant reduction in blood glucose levels by promoting glucose metabolism and strongly suppressed total cholesterol and triglycerides concentration in serum. Cordyceps militaris extracts exhibit antioxidative effects indicated by normalized superoxide dismutase and glutathione peroxidase levels. The inhibitory effects on blood urea nitrogen, creatinine, uric acid, and protein revealed the protection of Cordyceps militaris extracts against diabetic nephropathy, which was confirmed by pathological morphology reversion. Collectively, Cordyceps militaris extract, a safe pharmaceutical agent, presents excellent antidiabetic and antinephropathic activities and thus has great potential as a new source for diabetes treatment.
How it is made
Active Components
The two most important active components found in both C. sinensis and C. militaris (and a few other Cordyceps species) are cordycepin (3’-deoxyadenosine) and D-mannitol (also known as cordycepic acid).

Cordycepin is very similar to the molecule adenosine, which plays a role in helping you fall asleep and increasing blood flow. Adenosine is also part of ATP, the body’s main energy currency.

Other active components found in C. sinensis and C. militaris include:

Polysaccharides

Nucleosides

Sterols

Vitamins: B1, B2, and K

Minerals, including potassium, calcium, magnesium, iron, zinc, and selenium

Others: peptides, amino acids, sugars, fatty acids, and enzymes