Book Review

Cordyceps: Tonic Food of Ancient China
by Kenneth Jones

Cover: Cordyceps: Tonic Food of Ancient China

Kenneth Jones, who did most of the research for Terry Willard's book Reishi Mushroom - Herb of Spiritual Potency and Medical Wonder, has authored several books on his own. His latest is this little 52-page paperback entitled Cordyceps - Tonic Food of Ancient China.

As usual, Jones brings together all the research he can find and interprets it for the layman. This book, for example, is based upon 120 citations from journals as diverse as Shengwu Huaxue Zazhi, Journal of Neuroscience Research, Science, the Bulletin of Hunan Medical College, Arthritis and Rheumatism and the CFIDS Chronicle.

This research leads him to suggest that Cordyceps sinensis (the caterpillar mushroom) has medicinal uses for sedation, muscle relaxation, asthma, liver dysfunction, arrhythmia, cholesterol reduction, kidney dysfunction, immune system problems and impotency. With these attributes, this medicinal clearly has room for further commercialization.

In nature the fungus is found in the alpine zones of southwestern China and in Tibet. According to sources used by Jones, the fungus forms a sclerotium in winter which grows out to attack a variety of caterpillar larva which hibernate under the leaf cover on treed slopes. The mushroom fruits in the summer after it has consumed most of the caterpillar. The fungus is spotted as a brown leaf-like object protruding from the ground cover. It is harvested along with the remains of the caterpillar, and used in a variety of forms.

From the cultivation perspective, the most interesting point Jones uncovers is that the pure mycelia of the fungus is more active, medicinally, than the fruiting body. This opens the door to production using fermentation technology without the need to ever produce the fruiting body. The book cites three sources for cultivation information:

We recommend Jones' book as excellent background material for your marketing efforts. You will have to do some additional research to uncover details of the cultivation techniques.