Caterpillar Fungus Shows Promise to Treat Osteoarthritis (OA)


A study published March 18, 2019 in Scientific Reports showed that a fungus that infects caterpillars called codycepin shows promise to be a unique kind of treatment for osteoarthritis (OA). The study was carried out by researchers from the University of Nottingham in the UK, led by Dr. Cornelia De Moor and supported by Versus Arthritis. According to Dr. De Moor, caterpillar fungus is popular in folk medicine in the Far East.

Codycepin Compound from Caterpillar Fungus Stopped Progression of Osteoarthritis (OA)

Codycepin is a compound found in the caterpillar fungus Cordyceps militaris. The study showed that codycepin is a new less toxic class of painkilling medicine. It was shown to reduce pain, block inflammation associated with osteoarthritis and stop the progression of the disease. Codycepin reduces inflammation in a new a process called polyadenylation. This is unique, as no other anti-inflammatory pain medicines work in this way. This offers hope for people whose treatments for blocking pain and inflammation in osteoarthritis have failed.

Study was Carried out in Vitro and on Rats and Mice

The study was carried out both in vitro in the lab and on rats and mice.

However, more research is needed, especially human trials, to determine if this caterpillar fungus can also be successful in humans with osteoarthritis.

Current Treatments for Osteoarthritis

Current treatments for osteoarthritis are mainly by non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), and opioids that are not very effective and have dangerous side effects. Heart failure, liver failure, kidney failure and bleeding ulcers in the gastrointestinal tract and bleeding in the brain are dangerous side effects associated with NSAIDs, especially when used over a long period of time. Opioids can lead to addiction, hormonal dysfunction and suppression of the immune system.

Osteoarthritis (OA)

Osteoarthritis is one of the leading causes of disability in seniors. In fact, the older one gets, the greater is the chance to get osteoarthritis. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), more than 30 million Americans have osteoarthritis. To date, no cure has been found or a way to stop it in its destructive path.

Osteoarthritis is an incurable disease that causes destruction of cartilage that acts as a cushion between the joints. In osteoarthritis, the cartilage becomes flaky and rough. Small bits of this flaky cartilage can break off to form loose bodies in the fluid that lubricates the joint called synovial fluid. This leads to irritation and inflammation of the synovial membrane. The loss of cartilage also leaves the bones unprotected and susceptible to damage. This breakdown in the cartilage, can lead to the complete destruction of the cartilage cushion in the joints with bone rubbing against bone, causing chronic pain, disability and a poor quality of life. In many cases this kind of cartilage destruction leads to the need for total knee replacement surgery (TKR) or total hip replacement surgery. To read more about total knee replacement surgery see our blog post from February 20, 2018. See our blog post from June 1, 2018 about rehabilitation from a total hip replacement operation.

Risk Factors for Osteoarthritis

According to the CDC, the following are risk factors for developing osteoarthritis.

  • Injury or overuse of joints, such as knee bending and repetitive stress on a joint, can damage a joint and increase the risk of OA in that joint.
  • The risk of developing OA increases with age.
  • Women are more likely to develop OA than men, especially after age 50.
  • Extra weight and obesity puts more stress on joints, particularly weight-bearing joints like the hips and knees. This stress on the weight-bearing joints increases the risk of OA in that joint. Obesity may also have metabolic effects that increase the risk of OA.
  • People who have family members with OA are more likely to develop OA. People who have OA in  their hands are more likely to develop knee OA.
  • Some Asian populations have a lower risk for OA.

Rehabilitation for Total Knee or Hip Replacement Surgery at Royal Suites Healthcare and Rehabilitation in Galloway Township, New Jersey

The Royal Suites Healthcare and Rehabilitation in Galloway Township, New Jersey offers outstanding rehabilitation for both total knee replacement (TKR) and total hip replacement surgery. Royal Suites also has a state-of-the-art gym. Situated in scenic Galloway Township, Royal Suites is a 5-star rehab surrounded by eight acres of woods and landscaped gardens.


Hopefully, this caterpillar fungus will prove to be a breakthrough in the treatment of osteoarthritis, a disease that is a leading cause of disability and poor quality of life in seniors.


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