Cordyceps For Diabetes: A Natural Method For Blood Sugar Control

Last Updated on January 12, 2024

Diabetes is gradually becoming a global pandemic. Approximately 422 million individuals worldwide have diabetes, with the majority residing in low- and middle-income nations. The disease is directly responsible for 1.5 million deaths annually. Over the past few decades, there has been a steady rise in both the number of cases and the prevalence of diabetes.

This is a condition where various factors contribute and that, if untreated, can result in several complications. As a result, multiple factors may play a role in its treatment. Exercise and dietary modifications are crucial, but there may be additional benefits from certain natural remedies.

Cordyceps is a vital part of traditional Chinese medicine and has been used for centuries to treat a wide range of illnesses. It appears that Cordyceps stabilizes blood glucose levels during fasting and inhibits insulin spikes following sugar intake. Cordycepin and polysaccharides found in the mushroom have beneficial blood sugar-lowering properties.

This post examines the efficacy of Cordyceps as a natural treatment for blood glucose regulation as well as the supporting data from research.

cordyceps for diabetes

What Does The Science Say About Cordyceps For Diabetes Control?

Research on the anti-diabetic properties of Cordyceps mushrooms in animals has produced encouraging findings. These studies’ findings imply that cordyceps has anti-diabetic qualities and shields internal organs from harm caused by diabetes. The mushroom may also alter the gut bacteria, prevent the accumulation of diabetes-inducing compounds, work similar to anti-diabetic medications, improve insulin sensitivity, and improve mental health concerns linked to diabetes.

The results of this study highlight the potential of Cordyceps as an adjuvant treatment for diabetes, showing the various health advantages of this medicinal mushroom in reducing blood sugar levels.

Cordyceps may modulate the gut microbiota

There has been a growing interest in the connection between gut microbiota and type 2 diabetes. A 2023 study from China explored how Cordyceps militaris extracts and cordycepin help to alleviate type 2 diabetes mellitus by modifying the gut microbiota and metabolites.

In this study, the effects of the mushroom extracts and cordycepin on diabetic mice were analyzed by metabolomics, method and evaluation of gut microbiome. The findings support using Cordyceps militaris as a dietary supplement to treat type 2 diabetes, opening up the possibility of developing new functional foods in this area.

Similar results were seen in a different study conducted in 2023, which discovered that Cordyceps militaris polysaccharide reduces the symptoms of diabetes by controlling the gut microbiota. In this work, streptozotocin (STZ)-induced diabetic mice were used to test the hypoglycemic activity and underlying mechanisms of a single purified fraction derived from Cordyceps militaris polysaccharides.

The findings showed that the fraction reshaped the gut microbiota and increased the expression of intestinal barrier proteins, which improved the metabolism of blood lipids and glucose as well as hormone secretion and complications.

Cordyceps prevents ceramide accumulation

Diabetes is a result of impaired insulin sensitivity brought on by ectopic ceramide accumulation in insulin-responsive tissues, which also plays a role in the development of obesity. Additionally, using myriocin to pharmacologically inhibit serine palmitoyl transferase (SPT), the first enzyme required for ceramide biosynthesis in rodents, lowers body weight, increases insulin sensitivity, and improves related metabolic indices. Originally isolated from the fruiting bodies of the fungus Isaria sinclairii, myriocin has been discovered in large quantities in Cordyceps.

The objective of this 2022 study was to identify Cordyceps that contain myriocin and evaluate the effectiveness of Cordyceps extract containing myriocin in enhancing energy and glucose homeostasis in obese mice. Findings show that myriocin content varies in commercially available Cordyceps and that treating mice with a human-equivalent dosage of myriocin-containing Cordyceps extract lowers ceramide accrual, boosts energy expenditure, averts diet-induced obesity, enhances glucose homeostasis, and cures hepatic fat accumulation or steatosis.

Mechanistically, these advantageous effects resulted from changes in the abundance of gut microbes like Clostridium and Bilophila, as well as enhanced hepatic insulin sensitivity and brown adipose tissue function. These findings demonstrate the basic idea that myriocin-containing Cordyceps extract inhibits the synthesis of ceramides and decreases the metabolic deficits linked to obesity. These studies also show that commercially available Cordyceps is a readily available supplement that can be used to treat metabolic diseases related to obesity.

Cordyceps may help treat kidney disease in diabetes

Diabetic kidney disease is a major cause of end-stage renal failure (ESRF) caused by chronic kidney disease (CKD). According to a review published in 2022, researchers state that extracts of Cordyceps sinensis have nephroprotective effects. Traditional Chinese medicine holds that Cordyceps sinensis can tonify the kidney. Many Chinese patent medications from Cordyceps sinensis are frequently used and have shown significant efficacy in treating diabetic kidney disease.

Cordyceps may prevent testicular damage in diabetes

Male dysfunction brought on by diabetes is regarded as a global issue, with testicular damage—primarily from oxidative stress—being its most prevalent symptom. A 2022 study from China looked into cordycepin’s molecular mechanisms and protective effects against testicular damage caused by diabetes.

Male mice were given a high-fat diet for four weeks and injections of streptozotocin for five days in a row to induce type 2 diabetes. After that, the mice received an 8-week course of therapy with cordycepin. Biochemical markers, testicular tissue microstructure, sperm morphology, and other parameters were assessed at the end of the experiment.

In this study, cordycepin reduced testicular damage, reestablished blood testis barrier disruption, and enhanced spermatogenic activity through its anti-oxidant properties. These results suggested that cordycepin could mitigate testicular damage caused by hyperglycemia by controlling the activity of anti-oxidant enzymes.

Cordyceps may improve blood sugar levels

According to a 2022 study, oral administration of Cordyceps militaris mycelium improves lipid levels and blood glucose in people with type II diabetes. The recombinant Cordyceps militaris significantly promoted glucose uptake in a dose-dependent manner in fat cells. It also reduced the levels of insulin, glucose, triglycerides, liver enzymes and inflammatory proteins in the fatty liver. 

Cordyceps polysaccharides have hypoglycemic effects

The hypoglycemic effect of polysaccharides from Cordyceps militaris on diabetes in mice was evaluated in a 2020 study. The crude polysaccharide was extracted from the mushroom.

Triglycerides, total cholesterol, urea nitrogen (BUN), and creatinine (CRE) were all analyzed as part of the clinical chemistry of the blood samples.

The findings showed that a specific dosage of polysaccharides can help the body return to normal levels while easing the symptoms of metabolic disorders associated with diabetes. The metabolic pathway of diabetes and associated biomarkers were discovered using the metabolic profiling approach. Furthermore, the findings demonstrated that 100 mg/kg of Cordyceps polysaccharides can successfully lower the blood glucose level of diabetic mice, controlling their energy, amino acid, and intestinal microbial metabolism.

In another 2018 study, researchers evaluated the hypoglycemic effects of acidic polysaccharides from the fruit bodies of Cordyceps militaris on mice with type 2 diabetes. The polysaccharide improved insulin and glucose resistance, reduced fat and glucose levels, increased anti-oxidant enzyme activity, and decreased liver damage in diabetic mice.

Cordyceps alleviates anxiety and depression linked to diabetes

Hormonal and neurochemical alterations brought on by diabetes mellitus have been linked to anxiety and depression. Depression and diabetes have a negative relationship in which depression impairs metabolic control, and hyperglycemia exacerbates depression. Studies have looked into the potential benefits of vanadium-enriched Cordyceps sinensis for glycemic control over the long term and for preventing depression in people with diabetes. The mushroom reduces the increase in blood glucose levels brought on by diabetes and exhibits antidepressant-like properties.

Cordycepin prevents hyperglycemia

Researchers have discovered that in mice with diabetes brought on by alloxan, cordycepin from Cordyceps militaris prevents hyperglycemia. They think cordycepin can improve diabetes indicators and return blood sugar levels to normal.

Thus, a 2015 study looked into the potential effects of cordycepin from Cordyceps militaris on diabetes mice. For 21 days, various dosages of cordycepin were given daily to diabetic mice. Acute toxicity was tested in normal mice by daily administration of the maximum tolerated dose of cordycepin.

Following the administration of the effective dose of cordycepin, there was a notable improvement in oral glucose tolerance, a 47% decrease in blood glucose levels, and a 214% increase in hepatic glycogen content. Polyphagia and polydipsia were partially alleviated, which are the classic symptoms of diabetes.

Additionally, cordycepin protects against kidney and spleen damage associated with diabetes. The findings demonstrated that in diabetic mice, cordycepin produced hypoglycemic activity that aided in controlling the liver’s glucose metabolism. Because cordycepin regulates glucose absorption in vivo, it can alleviate some of the symptoms associated with metabolic syndrome in patients with diabetes.  Cordycepin is one potential therapeutic agent for the management of diabetes and its associated complications.

Cordyceps protects the kidney from diabetic complications

Patients with diabetes mellitus are susceptible to developing diabetic nephropathy, a chronic kidney disease. Patients with type 2 diabetes experience diabetic nephropathy as a result of the long-term effects of high blood glucose on kidney function. Several herbal remedies and antidiabetic medications have not been able to stop episodes of diabetic nephropathy.

 Researchers found that cordycepin improves diabetic nephropathy in a 2023 study. Cordycepin was found to have protective effects on diabetic nephropathy-affected mice, as demonstrated by renal biopsy and the analysis of elevated biochemical markers. The protective effect of the mushroom compound was confirmed by mechanistic investigations on in vitro models. The cordycepin reduced Oxidative stress and inflammation, suggesting that the compound is essential for shielding the kidney from diabetic complications.

In 2016, researchers found that Cordyceps militaris treatment preserves renal function in type 2 diabetic nephropathy mice. The study aimed to understand the potential of a novel combination of powdered fruiting bodies and Cordyceps militaris mycelia to reduce renal injury.

The diabetic nephropathy mouse model showed increased blood glucose and renal dysfunction markers, such as serum creatinine and kidney-to-body weight ratio, after receiving streptozotocin-nicotinamide and a high-fat diet. These elevated markers were significantly reduced after 8 weeks of treatment with the novel compound. The pathological changes in renal tissue brought on by chronic hyperglycemia also decreased. 

Cordyceps works like Metformin

In 2014, a study examined the potential antidiabetic effects of Cordyceps militaris on rats with type 2 diabetes mellitus induced by streptozotocin. For three weeks, the mushroom’s water or alcohol extract was given orally to diabetic rats. Following this, the levels of variables related to blood glucose, lipids, free radicals, and even kidney damage were measured. Pathological changes to the kidney and liver were investigated.

Research revealed that Cordyceps militaris extracts significantly reduced blood glucose levels by promoting glucose metabolism and strongly suppressed the concentration of triglycerides and total cholesterol in the blood, much like the well-known antidiabetic drug metformin. Extracts from Cordyceps militaris also showed antioxidative properties.

The protection of Cordyceps militaris extracts against diabetic nephropathy was demonstrated by their inhibitory effects on blood urea nitrogen, creatinine, uric acid, and protein. This was further supported by pathological morphology reversion. Extract from Cordyceps militaris is a safe pharmaceutical with strong antidiabetic and anti-nephropathic properties, offering considerable promise as a novel diabetes treatment.

Cordyceps increase insulin sensitivity

In a 2015 study, mice with type 2 diabetes induced by a high-fat diet were given a novel combination of Cordyceps militaris fruiting body and mycelia powder to assess any potential hypoglycemic effects. Measurements included body weight, blood biochemistry indices, oral glucose tolerance test, and fasting blood glucose.

The mushroom was found to increase insulin sensitivity, reducing blood glucose levels. It was also observed that the protein expression in skeletal muscle and adipose tissue increased, suggesting that insulin signaling had been restored. The findings imply that the novel combination is a more cost-effective alternative for treating diabetes mellitus and has potent hypoglycemic, antihypertriglyceridemic, and anticholesterolemic effects.

Cordyceps protects the blood vessels in diabetes

Type 2 diabetes mellitus is a significant risk factor for cardiovascular illnesses. It has been suggested that the decrease in the mitochondrial protein sirtuin protein 3 (SIRT3) may play a role in the development of type 2 diabetes.

A 2022 study assessed the protective effect of cordycepin against endothelial function impairment in type 2 diabetes mellitus.  This study investigated the protective properties and mechanism of cordycepin against vascular impairment caused by type 2 diabetes. Rats with diabetes were used in this study. Cordycepin can reverse the endothelium-dependent relaxation of the thoracic aorta ring, which was reduced in diabetic rats.

Next, it was discovered that human umbilical vein endothelial cells had mitochondrial impairment. Research conducted in vitro has demonstrated the protective effects of cordycepin against mitochondrial impairment. The cordycepin molecular docking analysis also indicates that cordycepin can bind to SIRT3. SIRT3 activation and expression were both enhanced by cordycepin in a dose-dependent way.

The protective effect of cordycepin on mitochondria in human umbilical vein endothelial cells was inhibited by SIRT3 disruption. It is proven that cordycepin protects vascular function that is compromised by type 2 diabetes.

Benefits Of Cordyceps Mushroom

The following are some uses and health benefits associated with Cordyceps mushrooms:

Energy and exercise. Cordyceps can enhance athletic performance by increasing ATP (adenosine triphosphate) levels in the cells. The body uses ATP molecules to store energy, which is then gradually released for use. People with altitude sickness have been prescribed Cordyceps because it is a remedy for weakness and fatigue.

Application in Chinese Traditional Medicine. TCM practitioners have been using cordyceps for hundreds of years to treat a variety of ailments, such as respiratory disorders, cancer or tumor disorders, liver or renal issues, and hyperglycemia. It was formally recognized as a drug in Chinese Pharmacopoeia in 1964.

Anti-cancer activity. Cordycepin, the bioactive ingredient in cordyceps, gives the plant its capacity to prevent tumor cells from metastasizing, which may make it a valuable co-therapeutic treatment for certain types of cancer.

Increases libido. Traditional Chinese medicine has long used Cordyceps to treat both male and female sexual dysfunction, including pain disorders and lack of desire, arousal, or orgasm. According to current research, taking supplements containing Cordyceps may help increase serum testosterone levels as well as the proportion of motile (moving) sperm cells and total sperm count.

Reduces inflammation. Taking Cordyceps may help reduce inflammation because they contain anti-oxidants and anti-inflammatory compounds. People experiencing inflammation might benefit from trying an anti-inflammatory diet.

Heart and immune system health. Supplements containing Cordyceps are also believed to boost immunity and enhance heart health.

Although cordyceps mushrooms have been used for centuries to treat various ailments due to their therapeutic and medicinal properties, it has only been in the last ten years that these mushrooms have gained recognition for their potential therapeutic benefits. Supplements containing mushroom extract with Cordyceps extract have been appearing in every aisle of stores due to their growing demand.

Therefore, it’s more crucial than ever to understand what makes a good Cordyceps supplement and how to choose the right one, given the growing number of mushroom supplements available on the market. Here’s how to pick the best one so you can enjoy all of their fantastic health benefits.

 1. Look for products containing fruiting bodies of mushrooms.

The fruiting body of a mushroom is the gills, stem, and caps, while the mycelium contains the roots of the mushroom. Studies have indicated that most of the beneficial and active compounds present in functional mushrooms are concentrated in the fruiting body of the mushroom.

The method used to grow the mushroom is another crucial factor. Mycelium supplements are usually grown in a laboratory on grain-based substrates, like rice. Its potency is diminished because a large portion of that substrate is used as filler in the finished mycelium product. Fruiting body mushrooms require a longer growing season, but they are frequently grown on wood to mimic the natural habitat of wild mushrooms. Using this growing technique, the mushroom can yield a diverse range of active compounds and phytochemicals essential for supporting human health.

2. Research the extraction method of the supplement.

All of the mushroom’s therapeutic qualities are released through extraction. This crucial stage releases the chitin and indigestible fiber from the cell walls, producing a potent and bioavailable end product. Concentrated amounts of easily absorbed beta-glucans and fungal polysaccharides can be obtained through careful extraction.

The most popular kind of extraction technique is hot water extraction. The mushrooms are heated in large vats of hot water and simmered for an extended time to create a “decoction.” This extraction method is required to release beta-glucans and other water-soluble polysaccharides from the mushrooms. The mushroom supplement loses potency and bioavailability if it is not extracted correctly.

3. Pick a form that works for your lifestyle.

Supplements containing Cordyceps mushrooms are available in several forms, such as gummies, tinctures, powders, and capsules. If you regularly consume protein shakes or smoothies, a mushroom powder or tincture could be an easy and quick way to get your recommended daily intake of supplements.

4. Choose an organically sourced mushroom product.

Looking for certified organic fruiting body mushrooms is equally essential for all the reasons mentioned above. This certification guarantees no chemicals, pesticides, or herbicides in your Cordyceps mushroom supplement that could harm your health. Additionally, mushrooms grown organically are likely to have a wider variety of health-promoting beta-glucans and polysaccharides.

FAQs About Cordyceps For Diabetes

When Is The Best Time To Take Cordyceps For Blood Sugar Control?

While taking this medicinal mushroom at any time of day will still yield benefits, experts advise taking it in the morning or early afternoon. If you take Cordyceps later in the day, you run the risk of becoming restless and unable to fall asleep because this fungus can have a stimulating effect on both your body and mind.

What Are The Precautions To Be Taken While Using Cordyceps For Diabetes?

Although Cordyceps is generally a well-tolerated supplement with few adverse effects, using it requires some caution. Cordyceps should be taken orally and should be avoided by women who are nursing or pregnant. Likewise, taking Cordyceps may stimulate the immune system in those who suffer from autoimmune diseases such as lupus, multiple sclerosis, or rheumatoid arthritis.

How To Take Cordyceps?

The easiest way to benefit from the health-boosting properties of Cordyceps mushroom is to consume the extract as a powder or capsule. The cell wall of Cordyceps mushrooms is made up of chitin. Extraction will break down the tough chitin, releasing the active ingredients that make it easy for the body to absorb.

What Kind Of Diabetes Is Cordyceps Most Effective Against?

Cordyceps is most effective against type 2 diabetes, but people with type 1 diabetes may benefit too. It mimics the effects of insulin to keep blood sugar levels within a healthy range. Additionally, it protects against diabetic kidney disease, a common diabetic complication.

How Long Does Cordyceps Take To Work For Diabetes?

It might take at least two weeks before the effects of Cordyceps dosage regimen become apparent. To get the most out of Cordyceps, you should take it every day at roughly the same time every day. 


Numerous bioactive substances found in Cordyceps have been demonstrated to help regulate blood sugar and improve lipid metabolism. The mushroom helps maintain healthy blood glucose levels and affects insulin sensitivity. Cordyceps can help reduce oxidative stress, a significant factor in the development and progression of diabetes and its complications. The potential benefits of Cordyceps for individuals with diabetes are immense.


1. WHO. Diabetes.

2. Frontiers in pharmacology. Cordyceps militaris extracts and cordycepin ameliorate type 2 diabetes mellitus by modulating the gut microbiota and metabolites.

3. International journal of biological macromolecules. Cordyceps militaris polysaccharide alleviates diabetic symptoms by regulating gut microbiota against TLR4/NF-κB pathway.

4. Scientific reports. Cordyceps inhibits ceramide biosynthesis and improves insulin resistance and hepatic steatosis.

5. Frontiers in pharmacology. Mechanism of Cordyceps sinensis and its Extracts in the Treatment of Diabetic Kidney Disease: A Review.

6. Andrologia. Cordycepin, a major bioactive component of Cordyceps militaris, ameliorates diabetes-induced testicular damage through the Sirt1/Foxo3a pathway.

7. Cellular and molecular biology (Noisy-le-Grand, France. Oral administration of human FGF21 expressed by mycelium of Cordyceps militaris improves blood glucose and lipid in type II diabetes mellitus.

8. Natural product research. 1H NMR-based metabonomics of the hypoglycemic effect of polysaccharides from Cordyceps militaris on streptozotocin-induced diabetes in mice.

9. Oxidative medicine and cellular longevity. Antioxidant and Hypoglycemic Effects of Acidic-Extractable Polysaccharides from Cordyceps militaris on Type 2 Diabetes Mice.

10.  Evidence-based complementary and alternative medicine : eCAM. A Contemporary Treatment Approach to Both Diabetes and Depression by Cordyceps sinensis, Rich in Vanadium.

11.  Nutrition research (New York, N.Y.). Cordycepin from Cordyceps militaris prevents hyperglycemia in alloxan-induced diabetic mice.

12.  Chinese medicine. Cordycepin from Cordyceps militaris ameliorates diabetic nephropathy via the miR-193b-5p/MCL-1 axis.

13.  PloS one. Cordyceps militaris Treatment Preserves Renal Function in Type 2 Diabetic Nephropathy Mice.

14.  BioMed research international. Studies on the antidiabetic activities of Cordyceps militaris extract in diet-streptozotocin-induced diabetic Sprague-Dawley rats.

15.  Journal of diabetes research. Hypoglycemic Activity through a Novel Combination of Fruiting Body and Mycelia of Cordyceps militaris in High-Fat Diet-Induced Type 2 Diabetes Mellitus Mice.

16.  International journal of medicinal mushrooms. Protective Effect of Cordycepin on Impairment of Endothelial Function in Type 2 Diabetes Mellitus.


  • Dr. Sony Sherpa has a Bachelor of Medicine, Bachelor of Surgery (MBBS) from the Guangzhou Medical University and has been studying medicinal mushrooms for more than 7 years. Her knowledge of medicinal mushrooms is backed by a master's degree in Holistic Medicine and contributes to many health articles around the health benefits of medicinal mushrooms.

World Mushroom Society is a collective of fungi enthusiasts and health advocates, sharing information, research, studies, and identifying top producers of high quality medicinal mushroom supplements.


The information on this website is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease. All information found here is not meant as a substitute for, or alternative to, information from your doctor for ongoing medical treatment you currently receive. If unsure, please consult with your doctor before using medicinal mushrooms. Any content related to cancer should not be considered as prescriptive medical advice and should not be a substitute for any cancer treatment, unless advised by your doctor first. The efficacy of these products has not been confirmed by TGA and FDA-approved research. If you are pregnant or on prescription drugs that thin the blood, consult with your medical professional before using medicinal mushrooms.
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