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Seven Men Dead: Turf War Erupts Over Himalayan Viagra Investigated by U.S. Drug Companies as a Cure for Cancer

Himalayan Viagra - Men Picking YarsagumbaYou may never have heard of Yarsagumba, the naturally occurring medicine with supreme healing and aphrodisiac powers, found high in the Himalayas. Yet it sells for as much as 10,000 U.S. dollars per kilo, and many men have already lost their lives while trying to obtain Yarsagumba in the mountain range that straddles the border between Nepal and Tibet.

Buddhists have lived in this beautiful part of the world for centuries in barely self-sustainable farm communities that provided little wealth. But, about six years ago, local villagers (and unwanted outsiders) began to search for and pick Yarsagumba at elevations above 12,000 feet. This has sparked jealousy, crime and murder.

In fact, three dozen men were arrested in June of 2009, and thrown into a make-shift prison for killing seven outsiders who invaded the region to hunt for Yarsagumba. The outsiders were reportedly beaten with sticks and stabbed to death before being thrown down deep ravines.

Himalayan Viagra Yarsagumba, a mummified caterpillar and fungus, it heals and is an aphrodisiacAuthorities in the area reported that only two of the seven bodies were found, and police needed to lift them out of dangerous areas with ropes. Seventeen of the men who are accused of murder were released on bail, but the remaining men will be held until a verdict is reached – perhaps sometime in February.

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Yarsagumba is yellow and brown, as thin as a cigarette, and about two inches long. The yellow part is the mummified body of the Himalayan bat moth caterpillar, and the brown part is a fungus that grows out of it. Yarsagumba is typically picked in March, so more civil unrest and violence could be on the horizon in some parts of the Himalayas.

Ancient beliefs in the Buddhist culture say that Yarsagumba should not be collected or used in trade, and that anyone who abuses it will surely suffer – instead of benefiting from its medicinal qualities. But now, the younger generations of Buddhists in the region are not as religious, and unlike their elders, they do not believe it is a sin to harvest Yarsagumba. This has led to the widespread capitalistic approach to Yarsagumba over the last six years.

Himalayan Viagra - Boy With YarsagumbaThe BBC quoted a Nepal anthropologist as saying, “The medical properties of Yarsagumba are numerous and many. Yarsagumba is known as an immune booster. It’s also known as a great aphrodisiac. It works in a way similar to Viagra. It’s considered to be helpful for impotence in men and it’s considered to be a great stimulant.”

It may not be often that men kill each other over fungus. But Yarsagumba is certainly one of the most valuable funguses in the world. In fact, the BBC reports that U.S. drug companies are testing the drug as a potential cure for cancer.

If you plan to make a trek to the Himalayas to pick some Yarsagumba, proceed with caution and be sure to check with the district government to pay for and obtain your license.

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