Cordyceps sinensis vs cordyceps militaris

Cordyceps sinensis vs cordyceps militaris

Cordyceps sinensis vs cordyceps militaris

Cordyceps. A fascinating and mysterious fungi with a story so wild you’ll think we made it up.

Despite being found across six continents on earth (excluding Antarctica) cordyceps has very specific growth requirements — it thrives in extreme altitudes where it naturally grows out of the carcasses of insect larvae. Yes, you read that right. 

Cordyceps been used across Asia for centuries, historically renowned for its treatment of asthma, erectile dysfunction, and aphrodisiac superpowers. Yes, you also read that right.

But given its rarity (brainwashed insect carcasses in Tibetan highlands aren’t exactly easy to get to) it was traditionally reserved for the wealthy few.

But luckily for us, scientists have uncovered ways to commercially cultivate cordyceps, increasing its availability around the world (and minus the whole insect thing — much to the delight of vegetarians and vegans). 

The two species of cordyceps that are readily available (and we’ll be comparing in this article) are cordyceps sinensis vs cordyceps militaris.

So how do they compare?

What's the difference?

And why should you care?


A wooden bowl overflowing with cordyceps mushroom


What is cordyceps?   

Cordyceps (also known as caterpillar fungi) is a rare, resilient and respected fungi that’s been used in Chinese medicine for centuries. There are over 680 species of cordyceps, with cordyceps sinensis and cordyceps militaris being the two most common (more on these in a minute).

It’s commonly considered a parasitic fungus, attacking the insect which it grows out of. Yikes. There’s even incredible evidence of cordyceps “brainwashing” an ant before bursting out of its head. Wild, hey?

However, there’s growing research to suggest it may actually be a mutually beneficial relationship (where cordyceps also helps the insect thrive in extreme environments) [3]

But hey, brainwashing insects aside, cordyceps has sparked curiosity for its potential to benefit energy, asthma, fertility, sexual performance, immunity and more.  


An ant in the wild with cordyceps mushroom bursting out of its head


So, what are the benefits of cordyceps?   

Chinese medicine has noted the benefits of cordyceps for centuries.

In the west, we’re a little late to the party. But with increasing popularity and modern scientific studies taking place, we’re certainly making up for lost time.

There’s still a long way to go with the research, but early studies suggest both cordyceps militaris and cordyceps sinensis can…

  • Boost energy and metabolism
  • Increase aerobic capacity
  • Improve endurance
  • Support asthmatics
  • Enhance immune response
  • Boost libido
  • Assist erectile dysfunction and fertility
  • Support the kidneys and liver


Cordyceps sinensis vs cordyceps militaris   

Let’s start by answering what is cordyceps sinensis?

Cordyceps sinensis has been predominantly used throughout history, growing in high-altitude regions in China, Nepal, Tibet and India. Although this location — combined with over-harvesting — made things difficult when cordyceps surged in popularity.

Enter, good ol' cordyceps militaris.

Cordyceps militaris began as a substitute for cordyceps sinensis because it can be easily cultivated in indoor labs (without insects) making it readily available and affordable.


Cordyceps growing in glass jar in a laboratory

Today, both cordyceps sinensis and cordyceps militaris are available through human cultivation (but for various reasons, cordyceps sinensis still remains a little more tricky to produce).

Therefore, a lot of suppliers may choose to stock cordyceps militaris purely because of its convenience, ease and cost-efficiency.

But at the same time, it’s not a “shadow sibling.” In fact, both cordyceps militaris and cordyceps sinensis have similar nutrition, bioactive substances and benefits. It’s even been noted cordyceps militaris may have higher concentrations of medicinal compounds. Winning.

Both cordyceps sinensis and cordyceps militaris contain…

  • Essential amino acids
  • Fatty acids
  • B vitamins
  • Beta glucans and polysaccharides
  • Adenosine
  • Cordycepin

… which are basically scientific terms for good stuff.

While research is limited, it’s been suggested the key differences between the two is that cordyceps sinensis is higher in adenosine (good for the heart and energy), while cordyceps militaris is higher in cordycepin (good for disease, immunity, inflammation and regulating cell growth).

It's not to say they both don’t have these bioactive compounds and benefits — just in different ratios.


A woman running outdoors, she's wearing black with pink runners. The grass is green and lush with trees around.


So, which is better for you, cordyceps sinensis or cordyceps militaris?   

If you’re asking us, it’s a choice between two damn good options because they’re both rich in bioactive compounds.

Yep, both sinensis and militaris can support immunity, energy, metabolic health, endurance, recovery, sleep, respiratory health, libido, fertility, kidneys, and liver health. It’s one mighty fungi.

What’s more, both species have a growing list of research behind them. Only cordyceps sinensis has a longer history of use and anecdotal evidence, whereas cordyceps militaris features more frequently in modern scientific studies based on its increased use.

At Natura Mushrooms, we source cordyceps militaris from mushroom growers in the USA, which we love for its benefits and availability. When it arrives at our farm in Gippsland, Victoria, we extract it to draw out the nutrients and active compounds.

Long story short: you don’t need to climb to 3,800m of the Tibetan highlands to find brainwashed insects or be in the prestigious few to enjoy the benefits of cordyceps anymore. We do it all for you.

Our cordyceps militaris is available in…



  1. Medicinal Mushrooms: The Essential Guide by Martin Powell