Journal List > J Nutr Health > v.52(3) > 1128185

J Nutr Health. 2019 Jun;52(3):258-267. Korean.
Published online Jun 24, 2019.
© 2019 The Korean Nutrition Society
Effects of Cordyceps militaris supplementation on the immune response and upper respiratory infection in healthy adults: a randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled study
Su Jin Jung,1,2 Ji Hyun Hwang,1 Mi Ra Oh,1 and Soo Wan Chae1,2,3
1Clinical Trial Center for Functional Foods, Chonbuk National University Hospital, Jeonju, Jeonbuk 54907, Korea.
2Biomedical Research Institute of Chonbuk National University Hospital, Jeonju, Jeonbuk 54907, Korea.
3Department of Pharmacology, Chonbuk National University, Medical School, Jeonju, Jeonbuk 54896, Korea.

To whom correspondence should be addressed. tel: +82-259-3040, Email:
Received Jan 25, 2019; Revised Apr 11, 2019; Accepted Apr 15, 2019.

This is an Open Access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution Non-Commercial License ( which permits unrestricted non-commercial use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.



Upper respiratory tract infections are major causes of the common cold throughout the world. Cordyceps militaris (C. militaris) is a well-known functional food for its anti-fatigue and immunomodulating activities. On the other hand, there are no reports on the protective effect against upper respiratory tract infections (URI). This study was a 12 week randomized, double-blind, and placebo-controlled trial in healthy volunteers.


A total of 100 subjects 20 ~ 70 years of age with a history of at least two colds in the year were enrolled in the study. The participants were required to record any adverse events and rate any cold-related incidents in a diary during the investigation period. The efficacy end point was the symptoms and incidence of URI, and changes in cytokines, IgA and natural killer (NK) cell activity.


The Cordyceps militaris group over 12 weeks showed no significant impact on the incidence and symptomatology of URI compared to the placebo group. On the other hand, the experimental group showed significantly higher NK cell activity (p = 0.047) and IgA level (p = 0.035) compared to the placebo group. The NK-cell activity and IgA level were increased significantly by Cordyceps militaris over 12 weeks.


The results suggest the possible beneficial immunomodulating effects, but the protective effects on URI could not be demonstrated under these conditions. Additional research will be needed to determine the efficacy and mechanisms of Cordyceps militaris function.

Keywords: Cordyceps militaris; immune; upper respiratory tract infection; NK-cell; IgA


Fig. 1
CONSORT diagram showing the study flow
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Table 1
General characteristics of subjects
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Table 2
URI incidence rate of the study participants during the 12 weeks intervention period
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Table 3
Parameters of each group at baseline (0 week) and after 12 weeks intervention
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Table 4
Safety outcome measures between Experimental group and placebo group at baseline and after 12weeks intervention
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Table 5
Dietary intake of the study participants during the 12 weeks intervention period
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This work was carried out with the support of ‘Cooperative Research Program for Agriculture Science and Technology Development (Project No. PJ009502)’ Rural Development Administration, Republic of Korea.

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