Ophiocordyceps sinensis has a traditional history of use in the treatment of both male and female infertility and in vitro studies have shown it to stimulate production of sex hormones through activation of both the protein kinase A and protein kinase C signal transduction pathways1. As these pathways are activated by cAMP it is probable that the active component of O. sinensis in this regard is one or more of the nucleoside derivatives that it contains. As well as enhancing levels of 17β-estradiol (oestrogen) and thus the quality of maturing oocytes in women, animal studies have shown O. sinensis to increase sperm quantity and quality in mouse models and Cordyceps militaris to do so in subfertile boars2-4.
In cases where infertility is associated with elevated cytokine and NK cell levels Phellinus linteus mycelial biomass has been shown to be effective in restoring immune balance at a dose of 3g/day5.
Where infertility is associated with Polycystic Ovary Syndrome (PCOS) resoration of ovulation was seen in 20 of 26 women given Grifola frondosa polysaccharide extract, with all 3 women who wanted to become pregnant able to do so6.
Cordyceps mycelial biomass or, in immune-related cases, P. linteus mycelial biomass or, for PCOS-related cases, G. frondosa polysaccharide extract (all 3g/day).
1. Cordyceps sinensis mycelium activates PKA and PKC signal pathways to stimulate steroidogenesis in MA-10 mouse Leydig tumour cells. Chen YC, Huang YL, Huang BM. Int J Biochem Cell Biol. 2005;37(1):214–223.
2. Upregulation of steroidogenic enzymes and ovarian 17beta-estradiol in human granulosa-lutein cells by Cordyceps sinensis mycelium. Huang BM, Hsiao KY, Chuang PC, Wu MH, Pan HA, Tsai SJ. Biol Reprod. 2004;70(5):1358–1364.
3. In vivo stimulatory effect of Cordyceps sinensis mycelium and its fractions on reproductive functions in male mouse. Huang YL, Leu SF, Liu BC, Sheu CC, Huang BM. Life Sci. 2004;75(9):1051–1062.
4. Improvement of sperm production in subfertile boars by Cordyceps militaris supplement. Lin WH, Tsai MT, Chen YS, Hou RC, Hung HF, Li CH, Wang HK, Lai MN, Jeng KC. Am J Chin Med. 2007;35(4):631–641.
5. Immune-Related Female Infertility. Wing T. TCM Kongress Rothenburg, 2012.
6. Maitake mushroom (Grifola frondosa) extract induces ovulation in patients with polycystic ovary syndrome: a possible monotherapy and a combination therapy after failure with firstline clomiphene citrate. Chen JT, Tominaga K, Sato Y, Anzai H, Matsuoka R. J Altern Complement Med. 2010;16(12):1295–1299.