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Cordyceps for Weight Loss

By Darla Ferrara ; Updated July 18, 2017

Cordyceps is a fungus that grows wildly in China, Nepal and Tibet. The medicinal benefits of this herbal supplement are controversial. According to website Chinese-Herbs.org, Cordyceps found their way to the Western world from the research of Dr. Georges Halpern, who wrote several books on the subject. The effect of Cordyceps on weight loss is unproven, but Halpern believed they would improve muscle growth. Increased muscle mass is beneficial to a healthy lifestyle.

The Basics

Cordyceps, or Chinese caterpillar fungus, grows on caterpillar larvae, according to the Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center, or MSKCC. An article from Aloha Medicinals says the specialized growth environment for this product has given the Cordyceps a reputation as being the most expensive raw material in Asian medicine. Technically, Cordyceps are mushrooms that cohabitate with insect larvae. The weight loss benefits of this product are unclear beyond possibly increasing strength and stamina. Cordyceps do have other medicinal uses, such as providing relief of fatigue from illness.

Weight Loss

As you ingest calories, your body will burn what it needs at the time and store the rest. This is how additional pounds build up. If you eat more than you burn in a day, the excess becomes fat. Obesity is the development of excess body fat. MayoClinic.com reports that increasing muscle mass is one way to increase calorie burn. The enhanced musculature burns the calories you eat more efficiently. Chinese-Herbs.org says taking Cordyceps as a supplement may help to build muscles. Therefore, it may promote weight loss by maximizing caloric burn, but studies have yet to prove this to be true.

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The use of Cordyceps medicinally varies, and as a weight loss supplement, the exact dosage is unclear. Drugs.com does give dosage information for this herb, in relation to treatment for chronic kidney failure, as 3 to 6 grams daily. The expense of this product makes it an unlikely candidate as an ingredient for low-cost herbal supplements that promise weight loss. Follow the dosage instructions provided with the product you purchase. No known side effects or overdose cases have been associated with Cordyceps.


Few studies have been done on this mushroom beyond its use as a treatment for some illnesses. Halpern did suggest that Cordyceps will improve muscle mass and build stamina for exercise. Sloan-Kettering suggests it may be more effective in the treatment of respiratory illnesses and may reduce symptoms such as fatigue, dizziness and amnesia. Patients undergoing cancer treatments were better able to tolerate chemotherapy while taking Cordyceps supplements.


Few studies support the use of Cordyceps for weight loss. Beyond Halpern’s initial hypothesis, it is unknown whether taking the mushroom as an herbal supplement will help increase calorie burn. Some data suggest it may improve strength. You should discuss with your doctor taking this or any other herbal supplement. Some dietary supplements interfere with the absorption and function of prescription medication.

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