Botanical Name : Ophiocordyceps sinensis
Species: O. sinensis
Synonyms: Cordyceps sinensis
Common Names: Yarsagomba,caterpillar fungus, Yartsa Gunbu, yarshagumba, The transliteration in Bhutan is Yartsa Guenboob. It is known as keera jhar, keeda jadi, keeda ghas or ‘ghaas fafoond in Nepali. Its name in Chinese D?ng chóng xià cao means “winter worm, summer grass”
Similar to other Cordyceps species, Ophiocordyceps sinensis consists of two parts, a fungal endosclerotium (caterpillar) and stroma. The stroma is the upper fungal part and is dark brown or black, but can be a yellow color when fresh and, longer than the caterpillar itself, usually 4–10 cm. It grows singly from the larval head, and is clavate, sublanceolate or fusiform and distinct from the stipe. The stipe is slender, glabrous, and longitudinally furrowed or ridged. The fertile part of the stroma is the head. The head is granular due to the ostioles of the embedded perithecia. The perithecia are ordinally arranged and ovoid The asci are cylindrical or slightly tapering at both ends, and may be straight or curved, with a capitate and hemispheroid apex and may be two to four spored. Similarly, ascospores are hyaline, filiform, multiseptate at a length of 5-12 um and subattenuated on both sides. Perithecial, ascus and ascospore characters in the fruiting bodies are the key identification characteristics of O. sinensis. Ophiocordyceps (Petch) Kobayasi species produce whole ascospores and do not separate into part spores which is different from other Cordyceps species, which produce either immersed or superficial perithecia perpendicular to stromal surface and the ascospores at maturity are disarticulated into part spores. Generally Cordyceps species possess brightly colored and fleshy stromata, but O. sinensis had dark pigments and tough to pliant stromata, a typical characteristic feature of most of the Ophiocordyceps species.
The chemical constituents of natural Cordyceps include cordycepic acid, glutamic acid, amino acids, polyamines, cyclic dipeptides, saccharides and sugar derivatives, sterols, nucleotides and nucleosides, 28 saturated and unsaturated fatty acids, fatty acid derivatives and other organic acids, vitamins, and inorganic elements. Palmitic acid, linoleic acid, oleic acid, stearic acid, and ergosterol are the main components of natural and cultured Cordyceps, these fatty acids, as well as 14 investigated compounds, can be used to discriminate the hierarchical cluster, as the palmitic acid and oleic acid contents in natural Cordyceps are significantly higher than those in the cultured Cordyceps.
Yarsagumba is used as a reputed curative to many diseases, anti- aging, hypoglycemic, aphrodisiac and also treatment against cancer. Ophiocordyceps sinensis serves against kidney and lung problems and stimulates the immune system; it is used for treatment of fatigue, night sweating, respiratory disease, hyperglycemia, hyperlipidemia, asthenia after severe illness, arrhythmias and other heart diseases and liver disease.
Yarsagumba is also known as the “Himalayan Viagra” or “Himalayan Gold” for its high medicinal value. It is mainly used as a treatment for impotency in many countries. Numerous scientific studies and research reveals that it has properties of antibiotic in it. Cordycep sinensis is used for lung and respiratory infection, pain, sciatica and backache. It also provides vitality and increases physical stamina of the body. Yarsa gumba is used by the Chinese to cure chronic hepatitis B and immune function such as dysfunctioning of liver.
More research is being carried out worldwide to ascertain its various medical effects.
Disclaimer : The information presented herein is intended for educational purposes only. Individual results may vary, and before using any supplement, it is always advisable to consult with your own health care provider.