Yarsagumba or Yarchagumbu is an exceptional and incredible herb that grows in the pastures above 3,300 meters upto 4000 meters in the Himalayan regions of Nepal, Bhutan, India and Tibet.

Yarsagumba is also known as the “Himalayan Power” or “Himalayan Gold” for its high medicinal and commercial value. It is mainly used as a treatment for impotency in many countries.

The CATERPILLAR FUNGUS is mostly used as a tonic. According to Liu (1994), its main applications are for treating exhaustion, respiratory and pulmonary diseases (e.g., tuberculosis, asthma), renal, liver, and cardiovascular diseases, back pain, and sexual problems (e.g., lack of sex drive, premature ejaculation). Its use as an aphrodisiac seems to be the driving force with male consumers in China, or at least that is the perception of Tibetan harvesters, who often make a point of saying that they, by contrast, have no need to take it for this purpose (!).

In a recent treatise on Tibetan medicine, CORDYCEPS (referred to as yartsa gunbu) is placed in the category of tsi men, the “medicinal essences”, which includes several tonics. It is recommended as a general tonic, for boosting the immune system and virility, and is prescribed, usually in conjunction with other medicines, for kidney, lung, and heart problems, as well as for Hepatitis B; nowadays it is also frequently mentioned as improving eyesight.

Modern research on CORDYCEPS SINENSIS, now consider it anti-tumor, anti-cancer, and anti-viral activity, immuno-modulating, cholesterol-reducing and anti-oxidant effects, and potential to increase stamina and libido.

Source of energy.
Increasing stamina.
Strengthen kidneys (yang tonic), and lungs (yin tonic).
Strong afrodisiac, increasing libido of both men and women.
Against excessive tiredness and fatigue.
Strengthening of health and prevention of maladies.
Rejuvenating effects.
It is popular among a sports men, because is increasing energy levels, endurance, size of muscles and strength of the body – removes prana diseases.
Does not raise the phlegm.
Increase semen.
Decreases stress and evokes feelings of calmness and sense of balance.

Cordyceps sinensis is one of the most valuable medicinal herbs in Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM). In TCM, this herb has an extensive history of use in the treatment of mental and physical exhaustion and is often used as a rejuvenative for increased energy while recovering from serious illness. It is also known to be used regularly in treatment of patients with leukemia, heart, liver and kidney problems. Additionally, it is known to strengthen the immune system and is used as treatment against respiratory ailments such as asthma, bronchitis, cough and lung infections. It is believed to be highly effective against impotence and is extensively used in China as an aphrodisiac. It is also known to relieve pain and be effective in the treatment of arthritis, spasms and cramps. It is believed that the herb is known to help reduce cholesterol levels in the body and assists in digestion and to improve appetite.

Anti-bacterial (resistant to tuberculosis, pneumococcus, staphylococcus, streptococcus, streptococcus pnumoniae, and subtilis bacilli), Anti-asthmatic, Anti-cancer (inhibits growth of human naso-pharyngeal tumor cells), Anti-fungal, Anti-hypertensive, Anti-spasmodic, Adaptogenic, Adreno-tonic, Immunomodulatory, Hematopoietic, Soporific, Anti-aging.

Scientific analysis conducted in laboratory settings have shown Cordyceps sinensis to contain the following major constituents:
Proteins, peptides, all essential amino acids, and polyamines. In addition to all the essential and non-essential amino acids such as phenylalanine, proline, histidine, valine, oxyvaline, arginine, glutamic acid, Cordyceps contains uncommon cyclic dipeptides including cyclo-(Gly-Pro), cyclo-(Leu-Pro), cyclo-(Val-Pro), cyclo-(Ala-Leu), cyclo-(Ala-Val), and cyclo-(Thr-Leu). Small amounts of polyamines, including 1,3-diamino propane, cadaverine, spermidine, spermine, and putrescine, have been identified.

Polysaccharides and sugar derivatives were identified and their pharmacological activity has been reported. A group of oligosaccharides and polysaccharides isolated from natural Cordyceps stimulate macrophage function, and promote lymphocyte transformation. A bioactive 23-kd-protein-bound polysaccharide was shown to consist mainly of mannose and galactose in a ratio of 3 to 5, and protein.

Sterols, including ergosterol, Delta-3 ergosterol, ergosterol peroxide, 3-sitosterol, daucosterol, and campasterol. Eleven nucleoside compounds have been found in natural Cordyceps. The major nucleosides in Cordyceps sinensis include adenine, uracil, uridine, guanosine, thymidine, and deoxyuridine.

Cordycepic acid, cordycepin, fatty, acids and other organic acids. Twenty-eight saturated and unsaturated fatty acids and their derivatives have been isolated from Cordyceps sinensis. Polar compounds of natural Cordyceps extracts include many compounds of hydrocarbons, alcohol, and aldehyde.

Vitamins, including vitamins Bi, B2, B12, E, and K. Inorganics, including K, Na, Ca, Mg, Fe, Cu, Mn, Zn, Pi, Se, Al, Si, Ni, Sr, Ti, Cr, Ga, V, and Zr.

Cordyceps sinensis is a also a herb of nutritional value as it contains all of the essential amino acids, vitamin B 1 , B 2 , B 12 , E and K besides a wide range of sugars, including mono-die- and oligosaccharides and may different polysaccharides, protein, sterols, and wide range of micronutrients.

Another mind blowing research from Nepal

Bikash Baral* and Jyoti Maharjan*
Nepal Academy of Science and Technology (NAST).

Abstract: An array of Ophiocordyceps sinensis and its associated endophytic fungi residing in the high Nepalese meadows were isolated and studied for their association and symbiotic effectiveness with the host plant. Fungi are noted to be quite common in nature and some of them have been shown to have adverse effects against insects, nematodes and plant pathogens. Out of the few isolates, different types of associated fungi with Ophiocordyceps sinensis were screened viz. Acremonium strictum, Altenaria solani, Aspergillus flavus, Trichoderma virens, Colletotrichum gloeosporiode, Curvularia lunata, Thielaviopsis sp. and Verticillium sp. The growth rate of the Ophiocordyceps sinensis was found to be very slow as compared to other associated fungi with the diameter of only 1 cm in 2 weeks interval. Fast growing endophytic fungi was found to be Acremonium strictum followed by Altenaria solani. However, the maintenance of the pure culture of the Ophiocordyceps fungi is rather difficult and was soon covered up with other associated fungi. Besides, it was rather difficult to sporulate the O. sinensis in the laboratory conditions despite using specific medias.

Keywords: Caterpillar mushroom; Endophytic fungi; Insect-fungi combination; In-vitro culture; Sporulation.