Himalayan Viagra, More Expensive Than Gold, Going Extinct Due to Climate Change
Himalayan Viagra (Photo Credits: Wikimedia Commons)

Ophiocordyceps sinensis a herbal aphrodisiac, known colloquially as caterpillar fungus or Himalayan Viagra, is probably facing extinction, according to climate scientists. The “drug” has been used in folk medicine to cure impotence and has become more elusive than before. As the name suggests, the herb is found in the Himalayan regions and is the most prized fungus in the world, considered more expensive than gold. It’s also known as the caterpillar fungus or by its local Nepali name yartsa gunbu.

The Himalayan Viagra is a name for a parasitic fungus that infects the larvae of ghost moth and grows out of its head. It has been long been used in ancient Chinese and Tibetan medicine. In recent years, the much sought-after herb has gained a lot of popularity in the recent years for its purported aphrodisiac qualities. Medicines Can Lower Sperm Count: Research Suggests That Common Allergy Drugs Causes Infertility in Men.

According to a scientific review of the mysterious fungus, it has over 30 properties that help in modulating the immune system, killing tumours, preventing inflammation, etc. It is also a powerful antioxidant. It can help treat diabetes, cholesterol, fatigue, irregular heartbeats, cardiovascular problems, and lung, kidney and liver diseases. Folk medicine recommends using the "herb" in a tea or a soup form for treating everything from diabetes to cancer.

But one of its best-known uses is for the treatment of hyposexuality or impotence. Research shows that the herb helped in increasing androgen production and other sex hormone precursors. A study found that 64 percent of those who used the herb reported boosted libido. Olive Oil Better Than Viagra For Sex! Study Says It Can Improve Sex Drive and Reduce Risk of Impotence.

But it seems that the caterpillar fungus may now be facing extinction. A report by researchers from Stanford University, published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, calls it “one of the world’s most valuable biological commodity.” After interviewing 800 people in the Himalayan regions of Nepal, Bhutan, India and China and analysing the data from two decades, the researchers concluded that there was indeed a scarcity of the expensive fungus.

The caterpillar fungus is found in cooler climes at a height of 11,500 feet. In order to grow, the fungus needs a specific climate that is below zero degree Celsius. But the soil shouldn’t be in a permanently frozen condition for the fungus to thrive.

Global warming has made winters warmer than before, which has been creating an inhospitable atmosphere for the Himalayan Viagra to grow. Especially in Bhutan, the average winter temperature has increased by 3.6-4 C across the fungus’ predicted habitat. Researchers also added that unlike the vegetation on the Tibetan plateau that shifted upwards to cooler temperatures in response to global warming, the fungus will not be able to do the same. This could be bad news for people whose livelihoods depend on harvesting and selling the fungus.