Food and Festivals

Yarsagumba in Nepal: Cost, Benefits of Caterpillar Fungus

Yarsagumba in Nepal is one of the lesser-known herbs found in the lap of the Himalayas. It is a traditional Ayurvedic ingredient used for medicinal purposes in different countries.
Yarsagumba is a high-altitude herb with several therapeutic benefits. This valuable herb can be found only above 3000m altitude so it is quite difficult to harvest.

Yarsagumba harvesting is ordinary in the Himalayan region of Nepal. Moreover, Nepal is prevalent in producing and exporting Yarsagumba to various countries.

In this blog, we will understand its different benefits and challenges. First of all, let’s learn what Yarsagumba is.

What is Yarsagumba?

Yarsagumba is called ‘Yarchagumba’ by the locals in the Sherpa language. Its English name is Chinese caterpillar fungus. It can be found only in a few countries such as Nepal, India, Bhutan, and Tibet.

It is a unique medical herb because it grows underground and overground. Yarsagumba is also called caterpillar fungus. It has a centipede-like structure and is yellowish-brownish in color.

The fungus parasitizes the larva of the ghost moth that forms a dead caterpillar. The fungus then grows from the head of the caterpillar. Since the caterpillar fungus forms below the ground, it takes an experienced eye to recognize Yarsagumba.

In Asian land, mainly in Chinese communities, Yarsagumba carries greater medicinal importance while it is only known as natural Viagra in the West.

Yarsagumba in Nepal

Top 5 benefits of Yarsagumba

Yarsagumba has multiple benefits which are not that known to people across the world. In fact, most people haven’t even heard of Yarsagumba.

If you haven’t heard of the medicinal Yarsagumba, here are some benefits of this valuable herb.

  1. Natural Viagra: Yarsagumba is mostly known as a natural Viagra in Western countries. Alternatively known as Himalayan Viagra, it is believed to enhance sexual performance.
  2. Energy booster: Yarsagumba is believed to increase energy levels and stamina. It acts as a natural booster that rejuvenates the body after a tiring day. It combats fatigue and improves physical stamina. It can be particularly beneficial for those who engage in physically demanding activities daily.
  3. Improves immune system: Yarsagumba is believed to help regulate the immune system. It helps to improve the body’s natural defense mechanisms and promote a healthy immune response.
  4. Antioxidant properties: The bioactive compounds of Yarsagumba possesses antioxidant properties that protect the body cells from harmful free radicals. The antioxidants protect the body from various diseases and delay the aging process.
  5. Expectorant properties: The expectorant properties of Yarsagumba are believed to supplement our respiratory health. It helps in managing respiratory conditions such as coughs, colds, and asthma.

Where is Yarsagumba found?

Yarsagumba is usually found in Nepal, India, Bhutan, and Tibet at an altitude of 3000 to 5000m altitude. But, trading of Yarsagumba in Nepal and Bhutan is perhaps illegal.
The Himalayan region of Nepal is treasured with Yarsagumba. Some indigenous groups of the Himalayan region like Sherpas are involved in harvesting Yarsagumba.

How much does Yarsagumba cost?

The locals of the Himalayan region collect Yarsagumba and sell it to some middlemen for transportation of Yarsagumba from their village to cities and overseas.

Yarsagumba has a big market in China, Beijing, and Singapore in Southeast Asia. Since Yarsagumba is a rare herb, it holds a significant value in the market. Due to its health benefits, the demand for Yarsagumba has increased exponentially in a few decades.

Yarsagumba can sell for a whooping USD 4,000 to USD 5,000 per kg in the international market. Needless to say, if Nepal were to export a significant quantity of Yarsagumba to the international market, it would undoubtedly contribute to the improvement of Nepal’s economic status.

What are the challenges of acquiring Yarsagumba?

Finding and collecting Yarsagumba is not a piece of cake. People spend long hours each day searching for it in forests and grassland.

Since Yarsagumba is small in size and half part of it is underground, they are not visible instantly. Similarly, no advanced technologies are used to harvest Yarsagumba.

Harvesters have to manually search and collect Yarsagumba. Thus, eyesight has to be sharp to recognize Yarsagumba. So, rather than aged people, children or young people are encouraged to find and collect Yarsagumba from the locals.

The villagers have to contact the middlemen for transportation of Yarsagumba due to prohibition policies. That’s why, most of the income is engulfed by middlemen. So, it is difficult for the villagers to earn a fair amount from selling Yarsagumba.

Another challenge is that Yarsagumba is exported only to limited countries. The awareness and usage of Yarsagumba are yet to reach diverse territories.

Additionally, Yarsagumba harvesting is not possible all time of the year. The best season for harvesting is only during May and June. It limits the quantity of Yarsagumba for trading.


Not only is Yarsagumba beneficial to health conditions, but it is also beneficial in improving the country’s economic condition. The income from selling the Yarsagumba in an international market has elevated the living standard of the people in the Himalayan region.

The government of Nepal should recognize the importance of harvesting Yarsagumba and implement necessary laws and policies instead of making it illegal. It can transform the lives of many people in remote areas.

Suraj Katwal

Suraj is a travel enthusiast who believes in finding solace in the heart of nature. He enjoys exploring new destinations, different culture, and encouraging people to travel.

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