Myths and legends

Myths and legends >> Yarsagumba!

Yarsagumba! Sounds like some kind of spell or an ancient battle cry.

Yarsagumba harvest season and lychee season have begun in Nepal. What is lychee, I think, everyone knows, but about Yarsagumba, it is probably worth telling a little.

Yarsagumba can be found in some regions of Nepal, in Tibet and Bhutan in the mountains at an altitude of 3500 to 5000 meters above sea level. Literally translated, the word “yarsagumba” means “herb in summer, insect in winter”. 

Yarsagumba is produced when a local fungus infects a ghost moth larva. This ghost moth is a very common butterfly found all over the world. Species of moth survive winter in the form of a larva living in the ground (an insect in winter). The fungus-infected larva feels worse and worse during the winter. By the spring, she tries to get to the surface and dies, settling herself vertically in the ground with her head sticking out of the ground. From the mouth of the dead caterpillar a "shoot" of the fungus (a herb in summer) crawls out, from which spores scatter around the neighborhood. 

It is by these “herbs” that local residents find yarsagumba - this is the mummy of a ghost moth larva with a fungus grown from it.

In my opinion, it sounds somehow inedible. But sometime in antiquity, shepherds noticed that the yaks who ate yarsagumba become very active. Active in every sense, but also in their desire to reproduce. After watching the activity of yaks, people tried yarsagumba on themselves. They liked the effect. 

The first mentions of Yarsagumba are contained in treatises on Tibetan medicine of the 15th century. In these treatises, the "drug" is referred to as an aphrodisiac and energetic. That is, it is a kind of "Himalayan Viagra". Scientific research has confirmed the presence of many biologically active substances in Yarsagumba.

Yarsagumba is used as an energetics (it is said that some time ago Chinese athletes used Yarsagumba quite successfully during the Olympiads). They also say that this mushroom with a dead worm helps well with hypoxia and increases the body's resistance against hypothermia.

The combination of a worm and a mushroom is not cheap. A kilogram of dried yarsagumba on the market in China can cost about 32,000USD, which is even slightly more expensive than a kilogram of platinum. In the mountains of Nepal (for example, in the Dolpo region), a small worm (half a gram of dry weight) can be bought for a couple of dollars, a larger worm will cost up to ten dollars.


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