Advances in studies on chemical constituents and pharmacological actions of cordyceps sinensis
LIU Gao-qiang, WANG Xiao-ling, YANG Qing, WEI Mei-cai (College of Life Science and Technology, Central South University of Forestry & Technology, Changsha 410004)
Cordyceps sinensis (Berk.), one of the most valued functional foods or traditional Chinese medicines, consists of the dried fungus C. sinesis growing on the larva of caterpillar of Hepialus armoricanus. Pharmaceutically active compounds from C. sinensis include nucleotides (especially cordycepin and adenosine), steroids (especially ergostetrine and its derives), polysaccharides, mannitol, and amino acids. Recent studies have demonstrated its multiple pharmacological actions such as immunomodulatory effects, anti-cancer effects, incretion modulation, antimicrobial effects, enhancement of hematopoiesis, virus resistance, protection of liver, sedation and anticonvulsant. C. sinensis also can be used to prevent or treat the diseases of kidney, cardiovascular and respiratiory system. Wild C. sinesis, mycelia as well as active metabolites are major source of functional food.