The Cordyceps Syndrome

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This makes a zombie outbreak highly unlikely-ignoring the disease defense and diagnosis we have, of course, which would end any zombie outbreak immediately. No true pathogenic fungus lands on human skin and eats its way in-therefore already Cordyceps falls at the first hurdle. Besides, a fungal pathogen would be likely to only infect the blood and lungs-not the saliva. And upon comparison to other fungal infections, generally true pathogens spread via inhalation of spores-not through biting.

If Cordyceps was to infect a human, then it using a method unlike true pathogenic fungus seems highly unlikely. Another roadblock is in how the immune systems of humans and insects are different. Insects have innate immune responses-which basically means a non-specific system of attacking pathogens.

We have an innate immune response as well-however we also have adaptive immunity which is a beast of a defense system with several steps. Most true fungal pathogens, and fungal pathogens in general, tend to not infect those with healthy immune systems-hence why for the longest time anti-fungal were somewhat limited and rare. Additionally our blood circulates differently than insects, with a closed system instead of the insects open circulatory system.

Also, we have a wide swath of anti-fungal drugs at our disposal now so a new infectious organism is unlikely to find an easy battle into infecting the human population. Additionally in the game, if I understand correctly, Ellie has a temperate form of the fungus in her brain. A proper immune response would be a far more likely event-wherein due to genetics she managed to get an immune reaction that killed the Cordyceps and prevents susceptibility. A temperate strain of the fungal pathogen makes less sense, especially given its location.

Evolution is a powerful tool, allowing infectious agents to spread and adapt to their hosts-sometimes they can even spread among species. But in order for the Cordyceps fungus to spread to humans it would have to undergo a ridiculous amount of changes in its genome.

In The Last of Us, a virus inserts itself into the fungal genome and causes it to jump to humans. Viruses are tiny, and I doubt any genetic re-assortment could make it a perfect human pathogen in one go. With every roadblock-method of entry, more advanced immune system, different type of covering, and the advanced operation of the human brain the Cordyceps would need to adapt to all of these in order to infect humans.

Cordyceps sinensis (a traditional Chinese medicine) for treating chronic kidney disease

Without humans living in constant contact with Cordyceps, and given the specialization of the fungus I see little evolutionary imperative for the fungus to infect human beings. And even then, it would take hundreds if not thousands of years to get to the point where it could cause the kind of damage that the fungus does in The Last of us.

And there are my thoughts on Cordyceps featured in The Last of Us-a visually novel, but completely unrealistic pathogen. You are logged out. Login Sign up. Join us! Cordyceps is used to treat coughs, chronic bronchitis , respiratory disorders, kidney disorders, nighttime urination, male sexual problems, anemia , irregular heartbeat, high cholesterol , liver disorders, dizziness , weakness, ringing in the ears , unwanted weight loss , and opium addiction.

It is also used for strengthening the immune system , improving athletic performance, reducing the effects of aging , promoting longer life, and improving liver function in people with hepatitis B. Athletic performance. Several studies have shown that taking cordyceps CordyMax Cs-4 or a combination of cordyceps and roseroot Optygen does not improve endurance in trained male cyclists. Kidney damage caused by the drug amikracin. Early research shows that using cordyceps with the drug amikracin might reduce kidney damage caused by the drug in older people.

Additional information

Early research suggests that taking cordyceps alone can reduce asthma symptoms in adults. However, other early research suggests that taking cordyceps along with other herbs for 6 months does not reduce the need for medication or improve asthma symptoms in children. Early evidence shows that taking cordyceps by mouth during or after chemotherapy might improve quality of life and improve tolerance to the treatments.

Kidney damage caused by the drug cyclosporine. There is early evidence that taking cordyceps with cyclosporine can reduce kidney damage caused by cyclosporine in people with kidney transplants.

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Hepatitis B. Early evidence shows that taking cordyceps by mouth might improve liver function in people with hepatitis B. However, cordyceps seems to be less effective than astragalus and polygonum fo-ti.

Sexual desire. Early research suggests that taking a specific cordyceps product CordyMax Cs-4 daily for 40 days can improve sex drive in people with low sex drive. Kidney transplant. Early research suggests that taking cordyceps Bailing capsules daily for up to 2 years together with conventional treatments does not improve survival in people who received a kidney transplant. However, taking cordyceps might reduce the need for some conventional treatments and the number of infections and other complications.

Also, early research suggests that taking cordyceps Bailing capsules twice daily for 9 months together with the blood pressure -lowering drug enalapril improves kidney function and slow the progression of the disease in patients with declining kidney function after a transplant. Promoting longevity. Decreasing fatigue. Breathing disorders. Male sexual dysfunction.

Herbal Medicine: Biomolecular and Clinical Aspects. 2nd edition.

Heart arrhythmias. High cholesterol. Liver disorders. Ringing in the ears. Other conditions. More evidence is needed to rate the effectiveness of cordyceps for these uses.

Why The Last of Us fungus is improbable

Cordyceps might improve immunity by stimulating cells and specific chemicals in the immune system. It may also have activity against cancer cells and may shrink tumor size, particularly with lung or skin cancers. Stay on the safe side and avoid use. This could increase the symptoms of auto-immune diseases. If you have one of these conditions, it's best to avoid using cordyceps. Bleeding disorders : Cordyceps might slow blood clotting.

Taking cordyceps might increase the risk of bleeding in people with bleeding disorders. Surgery : Using cordyceps might increase the risk of bleeding during surgery.

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Stop taking cordyceps 2 weeks before surgery. Cyclophosphamide Cytoxan , Neosar is used to decrease the immune system. Cordyceps seems to increase the immune system. Taking cordyceps along with cyclophosphamide Cytoxan, Neosar might decrease the effectiveness of cyclophosphamide Cytoxan, Neosar. Cordyceps might increase the immune system. By increasing the immune system, cordyceps might decrease the effectiveness of medications that decrease the immune system. Cordyceps might slow blood clotting. Taking cordyceps along with medications that also slow clotting might increase the chances of bruising and bleeding.

However, it is not clear if this potential interaction is a big concern.

Some medications that slow blood clotting include aspirin , clopidogrel Plavix , dalteparin Fragmin , enoxaparin Lovenox , heparin , ticlopidine Ticlid , warfarin Coumadin , and others. Prednisolone is sometimes used to decrease the immune system. Taking cordyceps might make prednisolone less effective for decreasing the immune system. Cordyceps might increase testosterone levels. However, it is not clear if this is a big concern. People taking testosterone should avoid cordyceps or take it cautiously until more is known about this potential interaction. The appropriate dose of cordyceps depends on several factors such as the user's age, health, and several other conditions.

At this time there is not enough scientific information to determine an appropriate range of doses for cordyceps. Keep in mind that natural products are not always necessarily safe and dosages can be important. Be sure to follow relevant directions on product labels and consult your pharmacist or physician or other healthcare professional before using. Natural Medicines Comprehensive Database rates effectiveness based on scientific evidence according to the following scale: Effective, Likely Effective, Possibly Effective, Possibly Ineffective, Likely Ineffective, and Insufficient Evidence to Rate detailed description of each of the ratings.

You are encouraged to report negative side effects of prescription drugs to the FDA. Ahn, Y. Cordycepin: selective growth inhibitor derived from liquid culture of Cordyceps militaris against Clostridium spp.

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Food Chem. View abstract. Balon, T.

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