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"Himalayan Viagra" threatened by climate change: researchers



A valued caterpillar fungus, which is more valuable than gold and is called "Himalayan Viagra" in Asia, where it is considered a miracle drug, is becoming increasingly difficult to find due to climate change, researchers said on Monday

People in China and Nepal has been killed over the years in clashes with the elusive fungus Yarchagumba, formally known as Ophiocordyceps sinensis.

Although there are no scientifically proven benefits, people who cook Yarchagumba in water to make tea or add soups and stews believe it cures everything from impotence to cancer.

It is "one of the most valuable biological goods in the world, which provides an important source of income for hundreds of thousands of collectors," reads the Proceedings of the National (19659005). In recent decades, popularity has increased enormously, and prices are shot up – they can, as researchers say, triple gold price in Beijing [19659006] Although many had the suspicion of over-exploitation as the cause of his shortage, the researchers wanted to learn more.

So they interviewed about four dozen harvesters, collectors and dealers of the precious mushroom.

They also searched already published scientific literature, including interviews with more than 800 people in Nepal, Bhutan, India, and China to understand their apparent decline.

Weather patterns, geographical factors and environmental conditions were also analyzed to produce a map of Yarchagumba production in the region] "Using data covering nearly two decades and four countries, we (c) have shown that caterpillar fungus production across much of their area, "the report says.

"While collectors are increasingly attributing the decline of caterpillar fungus to overfishing, habitat, and production modeling suggest that climate change is also likely to play a role."

– Specific Temperatures –

The cone-shaped fungus will only grow over one Altitude of 3,500 meters and forms when the parasitic fungus hides in a caterpillar and slowly kills it.

In order to grow, it needs a specific climate that is cold – with winter temperatures below 0 Celsius (32 Fahrenheit) – but where the soil is not permanently frozen.

"Such conditions are typically present at the edge of permafrost areas," states the PNAS report led by researchers from Stanford University.

Given that winter temperatures between 1979 and 2013 have significantly warmed in much of the country and especially in Bhutan, its populations are likely to be negatively affected. "

The warming trend has particularly affected Bhutan by 3.5 to 4 C over most of its predicted living space (+1.1 C per decade on average)," the study added.

The researchers also found that the vegetation on the Tibetan plateau did not shift up in response to global warming from 2000 to 2014, "suggesting that the caterpillar fungus will not be able to turn the mountain into colder Moving habitats when the climate gets warmer.

This is causing trouble for harvesters selling the mushroom to survive, "emphasizing the need for alternative livelihood options in the communities that depend on this niche," the researchers warned.

The fungus known in Asia as "Himalayan Viagra" – has no scientifically proven benefits here, but people believe that it cures all impotence against cancer

The coveted caterpillar fungus is a hot commodity in Asia – here he will be sold in the Chinese city of Gannan in Gansu Province in June 2013


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