Friday, July 11, 2008

Arrests in Sikkim for Smuggling ‘Himalayan Viagra’, a Medicinal Fungus

by Santosh Kumar Agarwal for Alarm Bells

Four residents of Sikkim, an Indian Province on the Himalayan Mountain, have been arrested for smuggling a hill fungus, known as ‘Yarsagumba’ in local terminology, which is known to have immense medicinal value particularly in respect of treatment of impotence in men.

The arrested persons are, Narayan, Deepak, Arjun and Darsang Bhutia, all being residents of Sikkim. The arrests are part of wider crackdown on the smuggling chain for medicinal plants in the hills, which also resulted in the 'controversial' arrests of Czechs entomologist and his aide Emil Kusera on 22nd June’08.

As per S.T.Lachunga, Chief Conservator of Forests, the arrested persons named one Ganesh Thapa, on interrogations, as to be the king-pin of the chain. Thapa was picked up from Singtam on 3rd July’08 and about 15kg of Yarsagumba was recovered from him hidden inside several pillows in his room. The price of dried Yarsagumba is about $8000 in the international markets. The value of ceased goods are therefore about Rs.5000000/- in Indian Currency.

The Scientifically named ‘Cordyceps sinensis’, the fungus is used as an aphrodisiac and has immense medicinal value in traditional Chinese medicines. In pharmaceuticals, it is used to manufacture potent antibiotics, immune system stimulants, anti tumor agents etc.