Caterpillar Fungus: The Viagra of the Himalayas

Forget designer bags, luxury goods or a whole cauldron of Shark Fin Soup. A rare Asian fungus, trading at a higher rate than gold, is all the rage among China’s elite. Averaging $50,000 per pound, yartsa gunbu, which literally means “summer grass, winter worm,” is known in English as (wait for it)… caterpillar fungus.

Often referred to as the “Viagra of the Himalayans,” the earliest mention of yartsa gunbu dates back to a 15th century Tibetan medicinal text titled, An Ocean of Aphrodisiacal Qualities. Today, the Chinese believe the fungus (which invades the larva of the ghost moth, slowly digesting it from within, and then, weeks later, erupts out of the caterpillar’s head) is good for just about everything: the liver, kidneys, eyesight, and most notably, for sex.

According to NPR, the demand for the fungus in the US hasn’t really caught on possibly due to the expense or the lack of scientific studies to prove its magical powers. Alternatively, the demand for yartsa gunbu hasn’t caught on because the idea of a fungus that grows inside of a caterpillar’s body and then erupts out of its head sounds repulsive. But hey, that’s just me.

Posted by Emily

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