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Cordyceps sinensis - Yartsa Goenbub in Bhutan
Highly valued medicinal plant
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Chinese Cordyceps fungus (Cordyceps sinensis) - Yartsa Goenbub

The Cordyceps is a rare species of fungus (mushroom) widely used both in clinical medicine and as a household remedy. It is also considered potent at strengthening lung and kidneys, increasing energy and vitality, stopping hemorrhage, decreasing phlegm, and as an overall tonic.

The Cordyceps sinensis, a combination of insect and plant remains inactive in winter and comes out in summer. Of the two types, the black one is more expensive than the white.

In Bhutan Cordyceps (Cordyceps sinensis) locally called as "Yartsa Goenbub" which is an insect parasite fungus having high commercial demand as tonic/aphrodisiac.

In Nepal Cordyceps (Cordyceps sinensis) locally called as "Yarchagumba". Both names are derived from the Tibetan Yartsa gunbu, which means Summer grass winter-worm. Also the Chinese name dongchong xiacao is based on the original Tibetan name.

Cordyceps is found in subalpine pasture lands of Nepal including Jumla and Dolpa area belonging to Karnali zone. Yarchagumbais found on the high hills of Dolpo and this is collected during the spring and early summer when the snow melt and lichens sprout out on the hills.

Yartsa Goenbubis found at 14,000 feet (about 4,300m) and above. Wild Cordyceps sinensis is also found in Tibetan Highlands of China and in Bhutan.

Fabricius is not a species, but the name of the author of the genus Hepialus, but all High Asian Hepialus were transfered in 1968 or so to Thitarodes.
The taxonomic name of Ophiocordyceps sinensis was changed in 2008, it even got its own family Ophiocordycepitaceae.
Source: Daniel Winkler,


Medicine uses

Cordecypes sinensis is good for reinforcing the lung and kidneys, arresting bleeding and dispelling phlegm. It is taken for shortness of breath, asthma, impotency, emission, soreness of loins and knees, dizziness and tinnitus.

Actions: Adaptogen, tonic, immune stimulant, restorative.

Cordyceps sinensis
Common Use
Caterpillar fungus or Winter Worm - Summer Grass, those are the common names used for the highly prized Chinese tonic herb Cordyceps, which gained national publicity in mainstream publications a few years back because of its use by Chinese women athletes engaged in breaking world running records. In ancient China this fungus was used exclusively in the Emperor's Palace because of its scarcity. Approximately 5 grams were stuffed into the stomach of a duck and roasted until well cooked, then the Cordyceps was removed and the duck was slowly eaten, twice daily over a period of 8-10 days, this was thought to be as potent as 50 grams of Panax Ginseng.

The New York Journal of Medicine reported that Cordyceps has properties similar to Ginseng, being used to strengthen the body after exhaustion or long term illness. It has traditionally been used for impotence, backache, to increase sperm production and to increase blood production. In China, Cordyceps is used medically to regulate and support the gonads and as a lung and kidney tonic. It is used specifically for excess tiredness, chronic cough and asthma, impotence, debility, anemia, to build the bone marrow and reduce excess phlegm.

Cordyceps family
Folk medicine uses
It was either ground into a powder, or mixed with other tonics.
Today the most popular recipe for caterpillar fungus is to stuff a duck with the infected moth pupae, then boil it.
The soup broth is then administered to patients.
Caterpillar fungus being threatened by overharvesting
This is one of the few documented cases of a fungus being threatened by overharvesting, said Prof Gregory Mueller, Chair of the IUCN SSC Fungal Conservation Committee. Implementing a sustainable harvest program is needed both for the Chinese Caterpillar Fungus and for the long-term economic health of the communities that depend on it for income.
As the IUCN Red List surpasses 120,000 species, it becomes an even stronger Barometer of Life. The 4,260 animal, fungus and plant species assessments added to the Red List in the 2020 IUCN Red List update.
External links
IUCN, International Union for Conservation of Nature
IUCN Red List of endangered species


How Cordyceps sinensis or Yartsa Goenbub is growing
Cordyceps family
The fungus, Cordyceps sinensis, It infects larvae of the ghost moth (Thitarodes sp.)
Spores of Cordyceps sinensis grow inside the caterpillars filling the caterpillar with filaments (hyphae).
When the caterpillar dies the fungus produces a stalked fruiting body that produces spores.
The spores are spread in the wind to the next generation of caterpillars.


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