There was an interesting story in The Times of India this week. The headline read “Gold Rush in the Himalayas”. But it was not about gold – it was about a medicinal mushroom, Cordyceps, and about people in Himalaya who are collecting it and making millions a year.
Millions! Really? Yes, but not millions of dollars but millions of rupees, the Indian currency (one USD = 55.7 Indian rupees)! Could you make millions of dollars as well? Absolutely. Read on!
The article describes how a man called Govind Rawat takes a leave from his office and heads to the Himalayas to make a fortune. Govind teams up with other like-minded people to hike to high altitude areas of the mountains at elevations three times as high as Denver, Colorado or Banff, Alberta… 16,000 ft. above sea level.
What are they looking for? Gold? No, but something almost as valuable – Cordyceps medicinal mushrooms! One kilogram, equal to 2.2 lbs., is worth as much as 250,000 rupees or almost $4,500 USD – a fortune in local terms.
“Ever since herdsmen in Tibet discovered that their yaks became extremely energetic after eating this wild-growing mushroom, Cordyceps has been much sought after and has commanded astronomical prices,” stated Subrat Sharma of the G B Pant Institute of Himalayan Environment and Development in Almora.
If Govind finds any mushrooms, they are likely to be sold to China, one of the biggest consumers of medicinal mushrooms. Cordyceps is available as a dietary supplement in the United States and Canada, but the U.S. Food and Drug Administration makes it extremely difficult for American companies to resell products produced outside the U.S.
Cordyceps became famous about 10-15 years ago when two fairly unknown women runners won gold in the World Championship in Germany and then broke three world records at the National Games in Beijing. Instead of using illegal doping, their coach revealed that these female athletes had been consuming Cordyceps. According to the Times of India article, some Chinese have been buying fresh Cordyceps at much higher prices – paying as much as 2 million rupees per kg, or $16,300 USD per pound!
Some say that laboratory grown Cordyceps might be of lower quality and that experienced buyers are often looking for the wild-growing ones.
Are commercially available Cordyceps dietary supplements as powerful as fresh Cordyceps mushrooms? Probably not. Many dietary supplements include various non-active ingredients that are necessary for the manufacturing process. However, they can reduce absorption rates and efficacy. This is why some naturopathic doctors sometimes recommend that you consume much higher doses of medicinal mushrooms (or other supplements) than recommended on the Supplement Facts label.
Conclusion? If you are looking for extra income or fresh Cordyceps and do not mind hiking to high altitude mountains, head to the Himalayas! Collect 61 lbs. and you might become a millionaire… in US dollars!
To read the Times of India article, visit http://articles.timesofindia.indiatimes.com/2012-08-19/special-report/33272061_1_herb-fungus-gold-rush.
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