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The Tibetan name of the caterpillar fungus “Jartsa Gunbu” literally means “winter worm - summer grass”.

The Chinese caterpillar mushroom - also known as Cordyceps - originally comes from the highlands of the Himalayas and grows there in caterpillars of the genus ‘Thitarodes’ at an altitude of 3000-5000 m. Its spores get on the skin of the caterpillars of this special moth species and are activated in autumn by chemical signals from the caterpillar. The mycelium then grows into the caterpillar until the mushroom causes the caterpillar to burrow its head a few centimetres underground in the spring of the following year. The finger-like, 8-15 cm long, brown fruiting body then grows out of the caterpillar’s head. The Cordyceps can be found in the mountain regions of China, Nepal, India and Bhutan. The rare mushroom was so popular in ancient China that it was reserved for the emperor’s court and was weighed in gold. Even today, wild caterpillar mushrooms are very expensive. In parts of the Tibetan highlands, the caterpillar fungus is the most important source of income. To meet the high demand, the mushroom mycelium is now grown on a large scale on nutrient solution.


The Tibetan name of the caterpillar fungus “Jartsa Gunbu” literally means “winter worm - summer grass”. It has been collected and used for at least 1000 years and enjoys a very high reputation in traditional Tibetan and Chinese medicine. As a tonic, Cordyceps has a similar status as the Reishi and is used primarily in China to treat a variety of ailments and to maintain both vitality and libido.

The Cordyceps also increases endurance and performance. The success of Chinese athletes at the 1992 Summer Olympics is said to be due to the empowering benefits from the caterpillar fungus. Cordyceps is now on the list of prohibited doping agents. Cordycep powders and extracts from mycelial liquid cultures are in great demand in the western world today, and they generally have a much higher cordycepin content than that of the wild mushroom. Cordyceps preparations are considered to be popular as an anti-aging agent and for mood enhancement. No side effects of Cordyceps are known to date.


In addition to vitamins, minerals and essential amino acids, Cordyceps contains a variety of other pharmacologically active substances. Its most interesting ingredient is probably cordycepin, which is structurally very similar to adenosine, a building block of DNA. As a result, the cordycepin is able to “repair” the body’s own cells and has a positive influence on many biochemical processes in the human organism.

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