Can Cordyceps Help Depressed Diabetics?

The mushroom cordyceps have long been used as a medicinal treatment in China. Found in abundance in humid climates and tropical forests, there has been support that cordyceps can be used as a treatment for cancer and as an anti-depressant. 

The medicinal mushroom may also be beneficial for protecting the liver and for people who are resistant to insulin. In a theory by a collaboration of Beijing universities, researchers looked at the potential effects of cordyceps on treating both diabetes and depression.

The frequency of depression is higher in individuals with diabetes than in the general population — about 20 per cent higher, according to researchers Jian-You Guo, Chun-Chao Han and Yong-Mei Liu. They report that depression can lead to reduced metabolic control, which in turn aggravates diabetes.

They believe this negative cycle can be improved by vanadium-enriched Cordyceps sinensis. Found in very low concentrations in plant and animal cells, vanadium can imitate the activity of insulin, which is favourable for diabetic patients. Guo, Han and Liu suggest that by having an insulin imitation in the body, the individual would feel more satisfied about treatment and well-being, and their mood would elevate, thus improving the symptoms of depression.

The medicinal mushroom Cordyceps as potential diabetic therapy

The scientists believe that vanadium-enriched Cordyceps sinensis can be an efficient source of treatment for diabetic individuals who are also living with depression. They suggest this theory can be tested first through hyperglycemic rats by inducing them with streptozotocin, a compound that when administered to animals, produces a model for diabetes.

The researchers think that the validity of their theory could be tested by assessing the rats’ blood glucose levels, and evaluating their swimming and climbing behaviour for signs of depression. Since mushrooms are generally a low-calorie, low-sugar food with no starch, the researchers believe cordyceps mushrooms are perfect for diabetic treatment.


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Celia Leung

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