All right, is there nothing so disgusting that someone somewhere won’t eat it in the belief that it will make their penis hard? Nepal is suffering from goldrush-style violence over the harvesting of yarsagumba, a purported ‘natural viagra’. This is yarsagumba:
Yarsagumba is the result of a bizarre parasitic relationship between fungus and insect. Spores of the Cordyceps mushroom invade and consume the larvae of the Himalayan bat moth, which live underground at altitudes of 10,000 to 16,000 feet for as long as five years, feeding on roots before they commence their metamorphosis into moths.
After the fungal spores have killed and mummified the larvae, they send up a spindly brown stem, a tiny knob-headed mushroom – and then they are very likely to be picked.
Sound familiar? It’s Cordyceps, the parasitic fungus that alters the behavior of its insect hosts. The Nepalese are carefully gleaning high-altitude fields, looking for shriveled dead insects with fungal stalks sprouting from them, and selling them at high prices on the global market.
What was the first person to pick up one of these and chew on it thinking? “I’m desperately starving and about to die”?
Anyway, the article claims that it’s actually effective.
The fungus’s reputation is powered by the anecdotal reports of consumers as much as by ancient tradition: In other words, it appears to work. And medical research has backed up claims for its efficacy. A study at Stanford University’s medical school found an increase of 17-ketosteroids in the urine of men taking daily doses of yarsagumba, which indicates an increased production of androgen and other sex hormones in the adrenal gland and testicles.
Controlled animal tests offer credible evidence that regular yarsagumba use decreases recovery time between orgasms and increases the volume of semen production. In another blind trial on human subjects, 65 percent of Cordyceps eaters reported an enhanced sex drive.
I don’t know if I quite believe it. I looked for some of these articles, and not much turns up on PubMed. There are a few articles in places like The Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine (not very credible), and a few studies in tissue culture that show an effect on steroid synthesis in tumor cells. Nothing incredibly definitive, although I suppose it’s possible it has some effect…but nothing that justifies going all gangster over it.
Well, other than that gullible people will go crazy over imaginary magical herbs.