Worm/fungus potion and fleet runners

Robert Brambl brambl at graz.cbs.umn.edu
Thu Sep 30 10:13:39 EST 1993

Matthew Sachs mentioned a September 28 New York Times article about the  
use of the worm/fungus combination to enhance athletic performance.
There was an earlier article in the Times (September 18) about this speed  
worm--in the Sports Pages, no less. (This paper is becoming the journal of  
record on this matter.) A reporter, William C. Rhoden, did some field  
research in a local (New York) Chinese herb store, where he purchased a  
package of about 20 of these dong chong xia cao worms.  He wrote that  
"each worm was about an inch and a half long, and a thick growth that  
resembled a stem protruded from the top of each carcass added a half inch.   
It was this protrusion [the proprietor said] that gave the worm its  
energy-giving properties." That half-inch protrusion apparently is the  
fungal mycelium that is the magic ingredient. Continuing, this sports  
columnist wrote this worm/fungus is the principal ingredient in a potion  
that the coach makes his runners consume in training.  

"The worm lives in the summer; before it dies in the winter the worm  
produces a thick fungus that herbalists say is high in minerals.  Peasants  
harvest the worms and sell them to herbal medicine markets." The coach  
combines this product with other herbs to give an especially potent  
mixture, according to him.  He will not divulge the formula, however,  
since he plans to market it. Pondering the response of Western athletes to  
this challenge at the 1996 Olympic Games, Rhoden suggested that eventually  
they "may find that it's better to eat worms than dust."

Just thought inquiring minds would want to know more. Best wishes.



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