Cordyceps Sinensis vs Cordyceps Militaris: A Simple Comparison


Cordyceps Sinensis (ophiocordyceps sinensis) and Cordyceps Militaris are two species of fungus cordyceps that are usually found in the high mountain regions of China and grow in the shape of caterpillars. 

These fungi are known to improve the immune system.

What’s the difference between Cordyceps Militaris and Cordyceps Sinensis

The two species of cordyceps mushrooms differ in appearance, benefits, and cost.

Since natural, wild-grown cordyceps are not easy to find the cordyceps found in most supplements sold today are laboratory-grown. Wild cordyceps are said to be sold for up to $50,000 per kilogram. That’s almost $22,000 per pound! Cultivated Cordyceps Militaris, on the other hand, sell for around $16 per pound.

If Cordyceps Sinensis and Cordyceps Militaris both offer a lot of health benefits, what should you choose? 

In this guide, we will talk about the differences between both species to understand both types better and know what species fits your specific needs best.


Both species differ in appearance; that is why it’s easy to recognize which is which at first glance. Cordyceps Sinensis look like caterpillars that have been dried and are dark brown. 

Cordyceps Militaris, on the other hand, look like thin straws that are smooth on the lower part and pimply on the upper part and are usually pale orange to orange in color.

Cordyceps Sinensis grows on the larvae’ heads and usually grows up to 4 to 10 cm long while Cordyceps Militaris grows on dead larvae and pupae that have been buried and is normally 2 to 8 centimeters long.

Health Benefits

Both species are proven to offer a lot of health benefits, however, they differ in what they can give. For example, although both types contain the same bio-active compounds, Cordyceps Militaris is said to offer more than what Cordyceps Sinensis normally contains.

Aside from that, choosing what species of cordyceps to buy depends on your goal. To understand it better, we will break down all their specific health benefits.

Cordyceps Sinensis

Cordyceps Sinensis, which plays an essential role in traditional Chinese medicine, is said to be very good for endurance and stress. This is thought to be mainly a result of the active ingredient cordycepic acid.

To further explain it, this species is perfect for:

1. Physical Endurance

According to recent studies, Cordyceps Sinensis is proven to increase cardio endurance. A study conducted in older men proved that after taking the supplements for 3 months, there was an increase in lactate threshold (the sudden increase in blood lactate during intense exercise) and ventilatory threshold (the intensity of exercise wherein your breathing becomes labored and you feel like you can’t take as much air as you needed).

2. Fighting Stress

A lot of Cordyceps Sinensis users claimed that it eases their stress. Although there is no study on humans yet, Cordyceps Sinensis has proven to be effective against stress in the recent study conducted in rats. The supplements had shown to be effective in lessening the physical symptoms of stress in rats such as inflammation and adrenal and thyroid issues.

3. Boosting the Immune System

Cordyceps, in general, are known to boost the immune system. Aside from that, Cordyceps Sinensis is also said to help in proper organ function. It is known to improve liver and kidney functions in patients who have health issues with the said organs.

Two Types of Cordyceps Sinensis

There are 2 types of Cordyceps Sinensis, CS-2 and CS-4, and most of the Cordyceps Sinensis supplements sold in the market today are either of the two. 

The two strains were based on the difference in the levels of cordycepin and polysaccharides used in the respective variants. Although a lot of people are wondering which among the two strains are better, the truth is there is no definite answer on that yet as the research on both variants with humans is still in the early phase.

Cordyceps Militaris

If Cordyceps Sinensis is good for endurance and stress, Cordyceps Militaris is good for intense exercise and mood. For better understanding, this species is perfect for:

1. Intense Exercise Capability

A recent study on Cordyceps Militaris has shown it to be effective in prolonging the time to exhaustion during intensified exercise. 

It can also boost your breathing capability, based on almost 3 weeks of using Cordyceps Militaris supplements. It has been said that prolonged use of said supplements may give more benefits.

2. Mood Management and Happiness

Cordyceps Militaris is found to be a very good antidepressant in a recent study conducted in mice. The effect is even said to last for a few days after the mice were injected with Cordyceps Militaris solutions. Although there is no study on humans yet, cordyceps have always been known to be an effective mood booster throughout Asia.

What Type of Cordyceps Should You Buy?

Although both types are known to be beneficial to your health and are very effective in boosting your immune system, deciding which type to buy depends on your specific goals.

If you feel like you are so stressed with work and stuff recently, then you should try Cordyceps Sinensis first. If you’ve been feeling down a lot lately and you need to boost your mood, then it’s a good decision to go for Cordyceps Militaris. The choice is entirely yours with regards, of course, to your specific needs.

Both types offer different health benefits so you have to consider them when choosing what to try.

Supplement Buying Guide

Due to how expensive the cordyceps sinensis mushroom is, many people who want to get similar health benefits look to other supplements.

For example, there are three supplement options that are preferred for the benefits we’ve discussed in this guide.

So if you want to make an informed decision when it comes to ingesting the cordyceps variety of mushroom, this guide should tell you all you need to know

The three most popular cordyceps supplements are cordyceps CS-4, myceliated grain, and extract of cordyceps. We’ll cover each in detail so you can get a solid idea of which makes most sense for you.

The ideal is always to find a supplement that uses the medicinal mushroom fruiting bodies, since this way you will get the most out of the fungi.

Cordyceps CS-4

Cordyceps CS-4 is a very popular cordyceps mushroom supplement, which is notable mainly for its effect on exercise performance

Since cordyceps sinensis is such an expensive ingredient to source and use in an accessible supplement, many manufacturers instead turn to cordyceps anamorphs which are mycelium cultures.

These anamorphs are grown as a liquid through the process of liquid fermentation, and the good news is that the health benefits they can provide overlap heavily with those of cordyceps sinensis.

It isn’t uncommon to find a supplement claiming to be cordyceps sinensis that is actually cordyceps CS-4. One of the main ways you can tell whether or not this is the case is in the price, since as we’ve already mentioned cordyceps sinensis doesn’t come cheap.

Cordyceps Myceliated Grain

Cordyceps myceliated grain is another type of cordyceps supplement, which is most often seen in North America.


Well, simply because it doesn’t make sense to grow supplement-worthy mushrooms in North America due to the conditions, so instead US manufacturers use myceliated grain.

This type of cordyceps mushroom is typically cultivated with grain in a plastic bag, in a process known as solid-state fermentation, as opposed to the liquifying process of cordyceps CS-4.

Again, it’s not uncommon for supplement brands to refer to their product as cordyceps sinensis even when it’s the myceliated grain form. If it’s made in the US, there’s a strong probability that it’s myceliated grain.

Cordyceps mushroom extract 

Cordyceps mushroom extract supplements will typically use militaris cordyceps, which means you can actually get a taste of the real thing.

Whereas mycelium is a cheaper option it doesn’t compare to the benefits you can derive from the mushroom fruiting body.

As such, more often than not, a cordyceps mushroom extract supplement is your best bet if you want to get the most out of the mushroom. Yes, it will likely be more expensive than the mycelium versions, but you get what you pay for at the end of the day.

A Final Word on Cordyceps Mushrooms

Cordyceps are said to help boost immunity by having to stimulate cells and certain chemicals in the immune system. And aside from helping your organs to function well, cordyceps also contains properties that are known to help fight cancer cells. 

There are claims of cordyceps being effective in shrinking the size of lung and skin cancer tumors.

In short, cordyceps are not only good for strengthening your endurance, uplifting your mood, and easing your stress away. It will also help you fight against sickness and protect your health as a whole.

The fact that it has been used not just in traditional Chinese medicine but all over Asia for such a long time only proves that it is safe and effective at the same time. The whole cordyceps sinensis vs militaris discussion entirely depends on your current needs.

Article by:

Wellness Nova Team

Our detailed review has been contributed to by multiple members of the Wellness Nova Review Team to ensure the best research and highest standard of quality. Have a good or a bad experience with one of the products? Please let us know, we love the feedback!

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