Caterpillar Fungus Has Anti-Inflammatory Properties
Tibetan spore could lead to new drugs for cancer, asthma, and diabetes.
Sounds like something out of science fiction, right? But for ailing Chinese consumers and nomadic Tibetan harvesters, the parasite called cordyceps means hope—and big money. Chinese markets sell the "golden worm," or "Tibetan mushroom"—thought to cure everything from cancer to asthma to erectile dysfunction—for up to $50,000 per pound. Patients, following traditional medicinal practices, brew the fungal-infected caterpillar in tea or chew it raw.
Now the folk medicine is getting scientific backing. A new study published in the journal RNA finds that cordycepin, a chemical derived from the caterpillar fungus, has anti-inflammatory properties.
"Inflammation is normally a beneficial response to a wound or infection, but in diseases like asthma it happens too fast and to too high of an