Cordyceps Sinensis, the super mushrooms of Bhutan


Cordyceps Sinensis has many health benefits, which includes being an aphrodisiac.

If you ever struggle to find a souvenir from Bhutan, consider the Cordyceps Sinensis, one of Bhutan’s best exports. 

Cordyceps Sinensis, or known to the Tibetan people as yartsa gunbu or yartsa goenbub in Bhutan which translates to “summer-grass winter-worm”, is a super mushroom with medicinal value that grows in the mountains of Bhutan. They are found at a high elevation of 14,500 feet 17,000 feet, just slightly below the snow line, where snow remains throughout the year. To arrive there, one has to travel at least seven days by horse, on foot, and by yak. At this altitude, the air is so thin and the elements so harsh that an unseasoned individual would suffer tremendously.

Before the rainy season, the foragers seek out these parasitical super mushrooms from the heads of caterpillars. The fungus is absorbed into the body of the caterpillars. When it is too much, it drains the insect of its life. In the end, the caterpillar dies.

A hotspot for Cordyceps-foraging is Gasa, the northernmost district of Bhutan with a population of 3,000. The people’s main source of income is yak products, including yak hair textiles, yak cheese, yak butter, and yak meat. On top of that, the people are well-versed in medicinal herbs; they harvest and sell Cordyceps for side income. 

The uses of Cordyceps

Cordyceps Sinensis are insanely versatile in terms of medicinal value. Other than Tibetan medicine, it has been used in Chinese medicine for more than 2000 years by doctors of Traditional Chinese Medicine. 

Studies show that Cordyceps Sinensis can effectively prevent hyperglycemia (diabetes type 1 or 2) and improve insulin sensitivity. The mushroom promotes a gradual absorption of glucose from the gastrointestinal tract by improving the insulin secretion by the pancreas. 

Furthermore, Cordyceps Sinensis can reduce the risk of dementia. Consuming the mushroom leads to a significant increase in antioxidant enzyme activity, which decreases the ageing process. The hippocampus, the brain area where degenerative changes occur, is strengthened when supplemented with Cordyceps, thus keeping the structure and function of the brain healthy with age.

On top of that, Cordyceps Sinensis also has an antidepressant effect. Researchers found that the mushroom influences the adrenergic and dopaminergic systems, which play a significant role in the development of depression.

On a more wholesome front, the Cordyceps Sinensis supports the immune system. It strengthens the immune system when it is weakened or requires support (infectious diseases, cancer), and regulates the immune system when it is overactive (stress, allergies, autoimmune diseases).

Cordyceps can increase vitality by improving glucose metabolism. Studies show that upon receiving Cordyceps, a group of older people had significantly less symptoms of fatigue, dizziness, tinnitus, and memory problems. Similarly, another study showed that taking Cordyceps increased the participants’ endurance while cycling on a stationary bike.

Other benefits of Cordyceps include improved sexuality and fertility. On top of all the health advantages, the super mushrooms increase libido in both men and women by enhancing the biosynthesis of steroid hormones. These same hormones decrease with age, leading to decrease in libido. Thus Cordyceps is a natural aphrodisiac — interesting information to keep in your back pocket.

Last but not least, Cordyceps is good for the heart. It promotes regular heart rhythm, lowers cholesterol, has anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties, improves blood flow, and inhibits the clotting of platelets. Animal studies even suggest that Cordyceps has the ability to heal hypertension. 

Where to buy Cordyceps from Bhutan

You may visit Bhutan Natural, located in Paro town near Chhoeten Lhakhang or purchase from the Bhutan Natural online store.

May you reap the myriad of benefits from this super mushroom!

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