The Medicinal Properties of the Golden Thread Cordyceps (Tolypocladium Ophioglossoides)

The Golden Thread Cordyceps a.k.a. Black Cordyceps latin name Tolypocladium Ophioglossoides previously Elaphocordyceps Ophioglossoides, and before that Corydceps Ophioglossoides. Cordyceps from the Greek kordyle meaning “club” and ceps for “head.” Ophioglossoides is from ophi meaning  “snake” and gloss meaning “tongue.”

Background Story

During a hike to a local spring in the Michaux State Forest in Pennsylvania I first encountered the Golden Thread Cordyceps! In the moss I saw a tiny black figure that didn’t look like a plant or insect, upon further examination it looked like a Black Cordyceps Militaris. I dug into the moss looking for the insect host only to find it parasitizing a false truffle (Elaphomyces Granulatus). Enthralled with my find I cautiously transported the Cordyceps back home. My first instinct was to culture it immediately and research later! Of course this would be the time I run out of petri plates. A quick drive to the grocery store, a pretty penny for some half pint ball jars and a coconut water to mix with agar and I was in business! I mixed together Packdees recipe for Coconut water Agar 20 grams of Agar Agar to 1 liter of Coconut water. I poured the Agar into the jars, waited over night, cultured the cordyceps the next morning, then headed off to the Mother Earth News Fair. At the Fair I attended Tradd Cotters presentation on Medicinal Mushrooms, during this presentation he briefly spoke of the nerve tonic properties of the Golden Thread Corydceps (synchronicity!) . A wonderful weekend in 7 springs and I returned home with a plethora of knowledge as well as more mushrooms to clone! Upon return I checked the lab to the, and was excited to see the Golden Thread Cordyceps spreading out a bright white radial mycelium! Now that I had the culture and some Idea of the medicinal properties I sought out more information.

Medicinal Properties

Like many other Cordyceps the Ophioglossoides shares certain activity such as Anti-Inflammatory, Antioxidant, Anti-tumour, anti-proliferative,  anti-metastatic, Immunomodulatory, Steroidogenic, Hypoglycemic, Hypolipidemic, Anti-thrombotic, Hepatic effects, Renal effects,  Anti lupus, Insecticidal, Antimalarial, Antibacterial, Antifungal,

Cordyceps ophioglossoides mycelium may be valuable for the protection from Alzheimer’s dementia.

Extracts of Cordyceps ophioglossoides mycelia prevent amyloid beta induced cell death in SK-N-SH neuronal cells and memory deficits in rats (Jin et al 2004).

Cordyceps ophioglossoides contains an antifungal antibiotic called Ophiocordin. It shows antifungal properties against fungi of various genus, yet lacks antibacterial inhibition.(Kneifel et al 1997)

Yamada et al (1984) reported that a water-insoluble extracellular glucan isolated from a culture filtrate of Cordyceeps ophioglossoides potently suppresses the growth of sarcoma 180 solid-type tumour. Lin (1984) described the suppressive action of Cordyceps on carcinogenesis in the murine (mouse) forestomach. Ohmori et al (1986) isolated a proteinbound polysaccharide fraction (SN-C) from Cordyceps ophioglossoides, which lengthened the life span of mice bearing Ehrlich carcinoma and mice bearing a syngeneic tumour. Ohmori et al (1989a, b) isolated from SN-C a galactosaminoglycan (CO-N) that inhibits the proliferation of sarcoma 180 cells and the growth of a syngeneic solid tumor (MM46 mammary carcinoma) in-vivo and exhibits cytotoxicity against IMC and P388D1 cells in-vitro.

Cordyceps ophioglossoides galactosaminoglycan reacts with sera from patients with some collagen diseases and its use as an index of serological activity is thus of diagnostic value (Ikeda et al 1993)

How you can find and use it!

Cordyceps Ophioglossoides spans a large territory, but can more easily be found in Eastern North America. Look in mossy areas with pine trees, the false truffle (Elaphomyces Granulatus) that the cordyceps parasitzes is mycorrhizal with various pines. Look for little black figures sticking up from the moss. Make sure to dig up the the false truffle, for the golden thread may be long! Detach the golden thread from the false truffle, (The false truffle is eaten by small mammals but many say is not edible, it is debatable if a parasistized truffle holds the medicinal properties of the cordyceps)

*Mushrooms are made of chitin the same material as shrimp shells and if eaten raw they will be indigestible*

Use the fruitbody  and the golden thread. 1 gram per cup of water will make a strong tea (hot water extract). Simmer for 30-40 mins on a low heat. Mix in your favorite tea leaves and some local honey! Eat the cordceps after you brew the tea for full medicinal benefits!


William Padilla-Brown