Yarsagumba, the rare caterpillar fungus, is also known as the Miracle Mushroom or Himalayan Viagra. It is a caterpillar-fungus fusion found only at the higher altitude above 3,500 meters. Did you know it is a half-plant and a half insect?
It is formed when a parasitic fungus (Ophiocordycipitaceae) infects and mummifies the caterpillar of a moth genus Thitarodes (Hepialus). In the Tibetan language, it means summer-grass winter-worm. 4 to 12 cm in length, it looks like a yellowish sun-dried plant with a brownish stick at one end. In this article, we will learn some interesting facts about yarsagumba.
1) Yarshagumba is the world’s most expensive herbal medicine, worth as much as $100 per gram.
2) It is used to cure cancer, heart problems, tumors, asthma, increase energy, boost libido, and especially impotence. It is also touted for its anti-aging benefits.
3) Nepal is the second largest supplier of Yarshagumba after Tibet. 300–400 kilograms of yarsagumba is harvested in Nepal each year.
4) It comprises of the dead caterpillar (lower part) and a fungus (upper part).
5) It is extremely rare that grows in the alpine meadows at an altitude between 3,000 and 5,000 m in Nepal, India, Bhutan, and Tibet.
6) It was first discovered long ago (about 1500 years ago) in Tibet. In 1993, Chinese athletes consumed Yarsagumba and broke the world record. And since then, its demand grew exponentially.
7) It has been used in Chinese medicine for 2000 years.
8) Yarsagumba is the major source of income in remote areas of Nepal. Schools are closed, and the villages are emptied as everyone, from kid to older people, head uplands searching for Yarshagumba.
9) It is not cultivated in Nepal. Reportedly, it is cultivated in America.
10) It was consumed as a potent tonic by kings and noblemen.
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Image Source: insidehimalayas.com, article: Yarsagumba — The “Miracle” Mushroom