The part of the ground is a small, uncovered funnel, just a brown stem, thin like a matchstick, extending a 2 inch out of the muddy soil.
Eleven hours a day, from the beginning of June to the end of the day, Silan Yang Pi and his wife and a large group of relatives and friends crawled along the steep hillside, comb through a dizzying pile of grass, branches, wild flowers, and Sasha for elusive stems.
When Silang found one, he shouted happily.
Yang jinnanmo, his wife, rushed over.
He carved around the stem with a tro knife and carefully removed a wedge of soil.
He brushed off the excess dirt.
In the palm of his hand, there is a bright yellow caterpillar. Dead.
The shape of the Unicorn is attached to its head and is a slender brown fungus.
Silang took out a red plastic bag from his pocket, which once contained dehydrated ramen.
He put his findings and other things unearthed by his wife in it and carefully rolled the bag up.
Silang is 25 years old; his wife is 21.
They have a new daughter.
Cordyceps accounts for a large proportion of their annual income.
Across the Tibetan plateau, these creatures have changed the rural economy.
They triggered a modern-day gold rush.
In fact, when the contents of the silang package arrive at the glittering shops in Beijing, their prices are easily more than double the weight of gold.
The fungus is called yartsa gunbu.
Translated from Tibetan, this means that cordyceps, Cordyceps, although technically neither grass nor bug.
The habitat larvae of a ghost moth, infected by spores of a parasitic fungus called cordyceps.
The fungus devours the caterpillar\'s body, leaving only the complete outer skeleton, and then, spring comes, blooming in the form of a brown stem, called the matrix, which emerges from the Caterpillar\'s head.
This process only happens in the fertile, high
Alpine Meadows of the Tibetan Plateau and the Himalayas.
All attempts to breed this fungus have failed.
For centuries, yartsa gunbu has been considered to have magical medicinal and sexual desires.
The yak that grazes on it is said to have ten times the power.
One of the earliest known descriptions of Yartsa came from the 15 th.
The century Tibetan text, titled The Sea of the quality of the spring medicine, is full of praise for the Perfect Treasure, which gives incredible advantages to those who consume it.
Just cook a few in a cup of tea, or stew a few in the soup, or bake a few in the duck, and you will heal.
This worm is known to be prescribed by herbalists to relieve back pain, impotence, jaundice and fatigue.
It can also reduce cholesterol, increase endurance and improve eyesight.
Treatment of tuberculosisAnd asthma.
There are hepatitis, anemia and swelling.
They are promoted as anti-cancer, anti-viral antioxidants.
Treatment of HIV/AIDS.
Sesame cardboard hook displayfor those recovering from surgery.
They can even help with hair loss.
With the rapid development of China\'s economy, the demand for yartsa has strengthened, it has become a symbol of identity at the dinner party, and it is also a preferred gift to flattering government officials.
The price of worms per pound is $1970 or $2.
It was less than a hundred dollars in the early 90 s.
A pound of tops now.
The retail price of Yartsa is $50,000.
Such a large demand has raised concerns that with the over-harvesting of yarasita, the annual total harvest of about 0. 4 billion specimens may now be reduced.
Ecologist Daniel Winkler said that in order to harvest worms sustainably, the picker needs to leave some straw in the soil to mature and infect the larvae of the next season.
Instead, most villagers harvest every root they find and move to a higher hunting ground.
Thousands of former poor Tibetan yak herders own motorcycles, iPhones and tablets as a result of the annual AGESA windfall. screen TVs.
About the battle of worms
Picking lawns most areas allow only licensed residents to pick, leading to violent clashes, including seven murders in northern Nepal, where a small number of people in the world are picked.
In Chengdu, Sichuan province, thieves dug tunnels in prison.
Break the style and enter a store that sells yartsa to make a profit for more than $1.
Product value 5 million.
Chinese police have set up several roadside checkpoints to prevent poachers from sneaking into the slopes reserved for local villages.
There are places now, such as the town of sersu Nguyen in Silang and his wife, when the ground is warm and the grass sprouts, everything else in life is abandoned the pursuit of yartsa
Children with sharp eyes and low eyesto-the-
It is usually the best picker.
Some school systems, unable to do anything under the temptation of worms, shut down one-
Holiday month Yartsa.
At the end of the long picking day, Silan and Yangjin brought their bugs to the local market.
During the peak season, sersu CUCs market spread along the short fat sidewalks on both sides of the town\'s main streets.
It is customary in this frontier.
Feel the place, dressed as a market in the treeless hills dotted with herdsmen\'s tents and prayer flags.
Many people wear traditional Tibetan coats with long sleeves and no gloves. Men sport wide-
Cowboy hat and boots.
Waist had a knife tied to him.
The golden teeth flashed with a smile.
Women held their heads high in a necklace hung with golf-sized amber beads.
Some people almost swept the sidewalk with braids.
There are even several monks in scarlet robes.
Religious restrictions prohibit them from picking or eating yartsa, but buying and selling is OK.
Yartsa dealers carry miniature brass
Color scale and solar
The sides of their hands are often blurred by hasty calculations.
Worms pile up in cartons and wicker baskets, or spread over cloth pieces.
When someone like silang knees muddy approached a dealer, his knees were muddy and a bag of fresh yartsa from the wild, the worms were carefully checked.
Their value depends on many factors: size, color, hardness.
Dealers handle each piece and usually scrape away the lumps of dirt with a special yartsa cleaning tool that looks like a big toothbrush.
The crowd gathered.
When preparing for a purchase, it is also common practice for Yatra dealers to maintain a stable pattern of gentle insults.
I have never bought such bad bugs.
This color is not good. Not suitable for eating. Too dark.
These things will lose money.
Finally, when it was time to do business, the dealer stretched out his arm and the sleeves of his Tibetan coat swayed.
The seller reached in.
Then, with the finger signal, the two Hagel in the sleeve of the coat avoided the curious eyes of the crowd.
It looks like a thumb.
The wrestling match is in progress and the fabric stretch and twist of coat fabric is quickly crafted and fought back.
When the finger is settled and the price is agreed, the money is passed through the sleeve.
Silang and Yangjin are close to the dealers they have worked with before, a 33-year-old Silang Yixi named Silang, who has been in business for eight years.
He keeps pictures of precious worms on his mobile phone.
Two Silangs performed the ceremony: The worm check, one time the dealer put the worm back in the ramen bag, pretending that he was no longer interested and eventually bargained.
Finally, for their 30 little bugs, most of them were too small to get the highest price, and they paid 580 yuan, about $90.
Zhaxicaiji from her driver-
The Toyota Sequoia, her Prada handbag with high heels, slipped into the flagship store of her yartsa gunbu empire.
She is one of the most famous yartsa brands in China, the founder and president of Sanjiangyuan pharmaceutical company.
Manage 500 employees and 20 stores;
Annual sales can reach $60 million.
In her growing up, Zhao Xicai, who is now in her 40 s, is like Si Lan and Yang Jin.
She climbed up the mountain and picked up bugs.
Her family raised yak and sheep and lived in yak. hair tent.
In 1998, she started the company with $120 in her own money and successfully managed yatella.
She plans to expand international and export yartsa to Japan, South Korea and Malaysia.
She said her bugs will be sold in the United States in ten years.
She occupies a full block of shops in the central Chinese city of Lanzhou;
A huge video screen was installed at the entrance to advertise her worm.
There are gorgeous chandeliers, fountain, uniformed security guards and fresh vases inside. cut flowers.
Her yartsa is on display in dozens of museums.
Style glass case with precise control of temperature and humidity.
Before the worm gets here, it may change hands for half a dozen or more times.
Dealers in cutting-edge markets sell to mid-sized markets that typically travel to China\'s largest yatula market, which has been in operation for a year --
As a stock exchange, it is surrounded by a complete area of Xining, the city is on the west side of the headquarters in khatgi, zashi.
Many of the largest, most robust and ideal gold worms are selected by buyers from zashi Kaiji.
All before the show was x-
It becomes common to hide some leads in worms to increase weight.
A black Mercedes parked in the middle of her shop and four.
Elderly men in polo shirts and bulky watches sit in front of a glass box.
A group of young women wearing dark skirts and white buttons quickly served them
Shirts and cotton gloves.
Men drink yartsa while eating walnuts and raisins --
When they made the choice, they injected water.
The worm is then neatly packed in a chestnut-colored wooden box with felt and brass snap rings, which changes a surprisingly unattractive product
It smells weird.
The colored caterpillar grew from its head to something almost luxurious, a strange growth.
The boxes are stacked in cloth shopping bags.
Within 10 minutes, these people spent $30,000.
On the fifth floor of a modern high rise
A high-rise apartment building on the east side of Beijing, located on her sofa, on both sides of her bichons frisquan Spring (Little Circle)and Dian Dian (Little Dot)
Yu Jian sipped a freshly brewed yartsa gunbu tea.
Mr. Yu is 40 years old;
She was wearing a gorgeous flower.
Patterned shirts and leopardsprint slippers.
Until recently, she was an executive at a health food company.
But in October 2010, she was diagnosed with uterine cancer.
She received modern treatment including a large course of chemotherapy.
But she also decided to visit a traditional Chinese herbal doctor.
He asked for yartsa.
She has been using it for about six months.
Every night, she puts two bugs in a glass of water and lets it sit all night.
In the morning, she cooked the water with some dried dates.
She drank tea and then ate the softened bugs.
Yu only purchased the highest quality yartsa from the Tongrentang chain of the pharmaceutical factory, one of the few brands that is more famous and expensive than zhaxicaiji.
A bag of 24 medium-sized worms was enough to last for a few weeks and she spent more than $550.
I think it is worth it, she said, though she is aware of doubts about its effectiveness.
So far, the power of yartsa gunbu has not been proven.
Some studies conducted mainly in China have shown that it does contain a type called beta-
An antiviral drug called cordyceps.
Some clinical trials have shown that it can help alleviate many of the diseases that have been taken for a long time, including bronchitis, asthma, diabetes, hepatitis, high cholesterol and sexual dysfunction.
But critics say the research is small and questionable.
Until someone did a large-scale clinical trial using a high dose
High quality products, the science we have to rely on so far does not suggest significant results, said Brent Ball, director of the supplementary and integrated medicine program at the Mayo Clinic in Minnesota, who has studied herbs extensively.
Mycologist Paul Stamets said that more importantly, wild yartsa may be contaminated with any amount of unknown fungal mold, some of which may be harmful.
People may be poisoned, says Stamets, who wrote six books on mushroom cultivation and sold his own mushroom products.
For inexperienced people, this is a form of Russian roulette.
Whether the worm is an effective potion or an expensive myth, the yartsa gold rush will soon end.
The evidence may be uncertain, but this belief is widespread.
Yu Jian claimed that she could feel the worm both physically and mentally.
She said it raised her spirit and revitalized her life energy known as qi in Chinapronounced chi).
However, her actual energy is variable.
Although she is very thin, Yu does have a soft, ruddy color and obvious vitality.
It\'s easy to give bugs credit on better days.
Other times, she reminded that all treatments, both ancient and modern, have limitations.
However, she recalled that at her most recent visit, her doctor was shocked by her rapid improvement.
She said he didn\'t even remember me as a cancer patient.
Since the report of this article was completed, Yu Jian\'s cancer has become fatal and has finally taken her life away.
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