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Yarsagumba or Caterpillar Fungus

Search for the Himalayan Viagra in Nepal

ONE OF THE TOP UNIQUE / FUN / UNUSUAL THINGS TO DO IN NEPAL [ONE OF THE TOP UNIQUE EXPERIENCES TO HAVE IN NEPAL]

Doesn’t it sound interesting? Searching for the Himalayan Viagra in Nepal! Let’s learn about it to know if it’s worth your time and money. Or, who knows, maybe; it could be fun, unusual and unique as all other unique things to do in Nepal.


Scientific name: Ophiocordyceps sinensis
English name: Caterpillar fungus
Tibetan name: Yartsa Gunbu [means ‘Summer Grass, Winter Worm’]
Nepali name: Yarsagumba or Yarchagumba
Indian name: Keeda Jadi


What is Himalayan Viagra?

Himalayan Viagra is the calling name given by the Western world to the caterpillar fungus, which is found in the Himalayan regions of Nepal [also in Bhutan, Tibet and India]. It grows only in the meadows and grasslands above 3500 meters (11,483 feet), while the fungus is more abundant in places with long and cold winters.


What is this thing?

It’s a caterpillar-like-looking tiny plant that grows in harsh cold zones and is picked between the Spring and Summer months.

According to Britt Bunyard, a professor at the University of Wisconsin and editor of Fungi Magazine, “This fungus makes its living by getting inside a host insect and ultimately killing and consuming it. In this case, the insect that's invaded is the caterpillar of the ghost moth. This caterpillar will bury itself a couple of inches into the soil. Meanwhile it doesn't know it, but this fungus is digesting it from within. In the spring, its tissue erupts out of the head."

“But this rare hybrid, the caterpillar fungus, isn't just totally fascinating, it's also expensive. Sometimes selling for more than 3 times its weight in gold”, according to Business Insider in 2019.


How expensive is Himalayan Viagra?

For many centuries, the caterpillar fungus has been used in Chinese and Tibetan traditional herbal medicines but has gained more popularity in recent decades. After a few incidents in the 1990s in China, it started to become more popular. Up until a few years back in 2016/2017, the price of high-quality pieces could be as much as USD 140,000 per kg. But today, the prices seem to fluctuate all the time due to the black market, but the value remains the same.

But recently, the harvesting has dramatically declined thanks to overexploitation and the climatic changes due to global warming.

How is it used?

The fungus is either mixed with other tonics or is grounded into a powder. The most common way these days is to add the powder to the chicken or duck and drink the hot soup. You will enjoy reading this article which talks about a $700 soup.

In the old days, it was used as a general tonic for strengthening the immune system or rejuvenating after a long serious injury. These days, they are also used as the Himalayan Viagra and given as a gift or bribe to the high class.

It can indeed be an aphrodisiac, and to make it more valuable, it has become a ‘Status Symbol.’ As a result, better-looking pieces are more expensive compared to normal-looking pieces.


What are its medicinal uses?

People believe that the caterpillar fungus reduces stress and cures many illnesses, including tuberculosis, anemia, coughing, back and knee pains, etc. Even in modern-day medicines, they are being used and tested to combat different types of cancers.

Where can I buy Himalayan Viagra in Nepal?

Selling and buying Yarsagumba is not openly done in Nepal since it is a rare and highly prized item. However, unless you go pick them up yourself in the high Himalayas, you need to find the connections to grab them. As you might have guessed already, Thamel in Kathmandu is the central place where some of the deals happen. Looking for such a valuable item in Nepal could be a unique thing to do while you are here.
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