Cordyceps, one of the most valued traditional Chinese medicines, consists of the dried fungus C. sinensis growing on the larva of the caterpillar. Animal and clinical studies suggest that it has multiple pharmacological activities, including immunomodulation, antitumor activity, protection of kidney, liver, and cardiovascular function, and hypoglycemic activity. Although many so-called active constituents have been identified, the exact roles of these chemicals in the functions of Cordyceps are not known. Because of the decreasing supply of natural Cordyceps, isolation of the mycelial strain of Cordyceps is being studied by many scientists in China to achieve large-scale production of Cordyceps by fermentation. Indeed, the current health food market is full of fermented products of Cordyceps; however, many of them are adulterants. Thus, the authentication of these products has to be defined, and chemical markers are needed for quality control. At present, multiple markers such as ergosterol, nucleoside, polysaccharide, and mannitol are being used for quality control of Cordyceps in both natural and cultured products. Unfortunately, these markers are far from optimization, and extensive work is needed to define the pharmacological efficiency of these markers.

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