Cordyceps Smugglers Arrested
What is so special about Cordyceps? A recent Indian news article says that smugglers attempting to bring Cordyceps sinensis samples into Kashmir have been arrested. USD 300,000 worth of the materia medica was found – about 90 kg.
Here is the article from bbcnews <http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/south_asia/8375276.stm>
Indian Police Arrest “Caterpillar Mushroom” Smugglers
Police in Indian-administered Kashmir have arrested four people trying to smuggle the rare medicinal herb, caterpillar fungus, to China.
The fungus – known as caterpillar mushroom – is used in Chinese medicine and is believed to be an aphrodisiac.
Police say about 90kg (200lb) of the fungus was seized in the Ladakh region near China. It is worth about $300,000 (£180,000) on the black market.
Caterpillar fungus is found about 5,000m (16,500ft) above sea level.
It must be harvested in freezing monsoon rains in the alpine pastures of the Himalayan mountains around Tibet.
The fungal parasite – Cordyceps sinensis – infects the larvae of a butterfly and grows inside the body of the insect.
The parasite eventually kills the insect when it becomes a caterpillar and then the fungus grows out of the head of the dead caterpillar.
The power of the fungus was discovered some 1,500 years ago and was used by Ming Dynasty rulers as an aphrodisiac and a cure for infertility.
Recent Chinese studies suggest it also has cancer-fighting and cholesterol-lowering properties.
So far so good – talking about the life cycle. However, I feel a bit more information is needed, especially to explain why this materia medica is so valuable. I mean, yeah, it’s hard to find in nature (although it’s not rare and endangered like the tiger)
According to http://tcm.health-info,org, Cordyceps is sweet in flavor and warm in nature. This means that it is nourishing in general and mildly stimulates the immune system.
strengthen kidneys, tonify yang – impotence, sore/weak back
-tonify kidney yang, nourish lung yin, transform phlegm
-cough, wheezing, bleeding, Xiao Ke
The “aphrodesiac” function stated by bbcnews isn’t right on the dot. Cordyceps is used to strenghten the kidneys. The Kidneys in Chinese medicine house Essence, and control reproduction. Deficient kidneys result in menstrual problems or sperm problems. I can see how it can be considered an “aphrodisiac” but to label Cordyceps as ONLY that is doing it an injustice.
“Xiao ke” is actually the Chinese term for diabetes, which at stages can be considered as problems of the Lung and Kidneys (and Spleen), which are collectively in charge of water metabolism.
Also Used For:
Orally, Dong Chong Xia Cao / Cordyceps is used for strengthening the immune system, for reducing the effects of aging, promoting longevity, treating lethargy, and improving liver function in people with hepatitis B. It is also used to treat coughs, chronic bronchitis, respiratory disorders, kidney disorders, frequent nocturia, male sexual dysfunction, anemia, heart arrhythmias, high cholesterol, liver disorders, dizziness, weakness, tinnitus, wasting, and opium addiction. It is also used as a stimulant, a tonic, and an adaptogen which is used to increase energy, enhance stamina, and reduce fatigue.
Cordyceps was actually mentioned in a 4th season episode of House, MD. Dr. House mentions that it can treat cancer “in monkeys”.
I consider cordyceps a wonderful herb – if you can get it wholesale. As I said, it’s relatively hard to find and is often smuggled. I had heard that people would increase its weight by inserting paper clips into the caterpillar, therefore increasing product weight and thus, selling price. Pretty darned sneaky.
However, there are other, long term, cheaper ways to tonify Spleen, Lung and Kidney. I personally recommend mixing shan yao (chinese yam) into congee. Bai he (lily bulb), almonds and lotus seeds are also a personal favorite.