Kira Jari: The Fungal Viagra Making Bank in the Himalayas .

Forget the wonders of modern chemistry. You don’t need to talk to your doctor about Viagra or Cialis. All you need is a traditional fungus used both as an aphrodisiac and a performance-enhancing drug. The best part? You’ll be helping out developing economies that are thriving on a thirst for the fungus, known as kira jari.

The fungus is rare and used for another purpose: A natural pesticide. It works by mummifying caterpillars, then growing the fungus out the top of their heads. Creepy? Sure, but some of us are kind of into that sort of thing.

Over the last five years or so, Himalayan villagers have become wise to the commercial potential of kira jari. They harvest it, then sell it to local merchants. These merchants then feed the growing demand in Asia’s fast-growing urban centers, as well as that of the west. A single fungus sells for about five bucks. That might not sound like a lot, but it’s more than the average daily wage for a manual laborer in the region. Some villagers can scavenge as many as 40 of these per day, making it a new gold rush for the Himalayas.

Getting the fungus isn’t easy. According to a report on the BBC’s website, some climb as high as 5,000 meters to obtain the rare fungus. Much like gold, it is worth a lot but the work required to obtain kira jari isn’t for the meek. In addition to having to brave harsh climates to find kira jari, it’s rarity means that there are no guarantees that a hunter will find anything at all.

To obtain the fungus, men must crawl around on their hands and knees in the snow. Joint pain, trouble breathing and snow blindness are among the health risks associated with finding the fungus.

Unsurprisingly, the competition is fierce. Many men carry guns while searching to protect themselves from bandits on their way down the mountain. Entire villages battle one another for the right to collect kira jari in certain areas.

All in all, the whole thing is shaping up a bit like the Mexican drug trade. Especially considering that while it’s legal to collect the fungus, it is not legal to sell it. In fact, the village of Bemni was scammed a couple years ago when a trickster showed up and offered a good price for a large crop. He disappeared with the fungus, leaving the village with nothing. Police have confiscated crops as well, though it’s hard to imagine that at least some of them aren’t getting rich off the labor of others.

However, many men are abandoning the cities they once left home for and returning to the countryside to make their living finding the ultimate natural Viagra. One intrepid kira jari collector found 200 and was able to build an impressive two-story home with his earnings.

To collect kira jari one must risk health, wealth and even one’s life to obtain it. However, for many men in one of the poorest parts of the world, it’s a viable option that outweighs any risk.





‘Indian Viagra’: Caterpillar-Killing Fungus Kira Jari Harvested For Sex And Sports.

One man’s invasive fungus is another man’s sexy time medicine.

A rare fungus that kills caterpillars and then grows in their bodies is being used in some countries as a cash crop, a performance enhancing drug — and even an aphrodisiac, according to BBC.

Know in north India as “kira jari” — or Indian Viagra, to some — the fungus has gained popularity not only for its effects, but because it brings in the dough. Just one dead caterpillar bearing the stuff can yield up to $3, or an entire day’s pay for a manual laborer.

The fungus mummifies its victim that then grows out of its head, the Daily Bhaskar reported. It’s rare because it can only be found at high altitudes in the Indian Himalayas after the snow melts in May or June.

Indians have used Kira jari as a physical stimulant in sports, while many in China use it as a physical stimulant between the sheets.

But before you go out in search of these love bugs, remember that they’re legal to possess in India, but illegal to sell.

If you’re confused about the kira jari, watch the video below. The phenomenon was given the Taiwanese video treatment, so it’ll be even more confusing, but you’ll have a laugh.

Watch the video URL:

On youtube:



When Work Makes You a Worse Person?

Navin Mehrotra, a 32-year-old investment banker in Mumbai, thought so. In recent years, he found himself becoming more irritable, moody and short-tempered. “I became something I wasn’t,” says Mr. Mehrotra, who has been working for seven years.

He attributes the change in his personality to high workload, strenuous deadlines and long working hours. Over time, his changing behavior started affecting his relationships outside work, and took a toll on his health. Last year, he turned to a psychologist for help.

Mr. Mehrotra is not alone. Today’s fast-paced, high-pressure work environment is causing a visible change in the behavior of professionals, say psychologists and counselors who train executives.

In many cases, these changes can lead to more serious problems.

A study released earlier this year showed that 43% of U.S. executives surveyed had chronic illnesses due to work-related stress. These included depression, psychological disorders, impaired immunity functions, even suicidal tendencies, according to the study by the American Psychological Association.

In India, too, stress has become an increasing part of work life.

Deepali Kapoor, a senior counseling psychologist at New Delhi’s Indraprastha Apollo Hospital, finds that professionals often display erratic behavioral patterns like outbursts of anger, overreacting to situations or becoming reclusive at work.

In a study of 500 India-based professionals conducted last year, Ms. Kapoor found that 65% of people said that work was the sole cause of stress in their lives. Some of the professionals surveyed were as young as 25 years old.

Most of these people “weren’t even aware that work-related stress was altering their behavior for the worse,” says Ms. Kapoor.

The most common changes in people’s behavior are restlessness, mood swings, and frequent irritability. Some professionals turn to measures like excessive smoking, drinking, or drug abuse to relieve them of stress. This makes them increasingly prone to hypertension and chronic illnesses, including cardiac arrests and cardiovascular diseases.

Typically, professionals tend to ignore unexplained changes in their behavior. But experts say that a few minutes of introspection can help rein in long-term damage.

“Damage control should ideally begin the second you notice, or are made aware of, your changing outlook,” says Abha Singh, who heads the psychology department at Noida-based Amity University.

Start by making a list of what may be causing the stress. Is it unrealistic deadlines, long working hours, over-competitive employees, or a difficult boss? Once you’ve identified what’s making you fret, set some goals to rectify the situation.

For instance, if you are upset and stressed out because you’ve been passed over for a promotion then evaluate whether you want to continue in your current job. Or, if the work load is too much, inform your boss and ask for help, instead of quietly taking on more and more work. If your job profile isn’t living up to your expectations, ask for a transfer or consider looking for another job.

Consider talking about your situation with a trusted colleague or close friend who can give you a chance to vent and offer some practical advice. If that doesn’t help, consider approaching a psychologist or counselor for help.

Get rid of the notion that a psychiatrist or psychologists only deal with treating mental disorders. “Most Indian professionals, particularly top-level executives, still consider it a taboo,” says Kapil Kakar, who heads New Delhi-based IPSSR Pvt., which provides training to corporate professionals in stress management and leadership.

Ms. Singh of Amity notes that many companies in the West, such as BellSystems Inc. and Apple Inc., have set up dedicated teams of counselors, trainers and psychologists to constantly review and fast-track aspirations of employees.

Mr. Mehrotra, the investment banker, found it very helpful to go to a psychologist. Though his job is still stressful, he says he has better control over his mood swings and temper, thanks partly to anger-management sessions. He says he has “a much more positive outlook at work than two years ago.”

Source: MSN


The Hidden Skills in Your Most Reliable People.

When you need something done — and done right — you probably know who you can count on. Even at work, most people have someone they can call on at a moment’s notice.

If you gave your team a basic personality test, the reliable people would probably score high in conscientiousness, one of the five basic personality dimensions. It reflects how organized, disciplined, thorough, and careful someone tends to be. There are a few ways that we identify people as conscientious. Basic personality scales (often given by HR during hiring) will include a measure of conscientiousness. However, managers can usually determine someone’s conscientiousness by their tendency to complete tasks without much supervision. Starting in the 1990’s, organizational research has found that people displaying these traits tend to succeed in management roles.

It’s important to note that conscientiousness is independent of agreeableness, which I talked in a previous post. People (particularly men) who are highly agreeable tend to have problems as managers, because they are not willing to say things that might upset the people around them. A person’s level of conscientiousness does not predict their level of agreeableness, and vice versa.

Unsurprisingly, conscientious people do make good managers. They make sure that things get done. They keep teams on track. They pay attention to little details that can spell the difference between success and failure. So, there is a tendency to get these folks on a management track early.

Senior managers may hastily groom conscientious people for management, but these star performers often have many other skills — technical expertise, innovative thinking, good communication, etc. The key dilemma here is that it can take several years to determine that someone has these skills. For example, technical expertise often influences a company behind-the-scenes. But, the company will not benefit from these other abilities when employees are put quickly on the management track.

Here are three suggestions for keeping a closer eye on your conscientious employees, and helping develop their critical hidden skills:

Keep track of their assignments. Make sure that you are not loading them up with extra tasks just because you know that they will take care of them.

Reward them. If you have overloaded your conscientious folks, reward them with some time and space to work on projects dear to them. That autonomy and appreciation strengthens their bond to the company. It also provides you with more opportunities to observe where their greatest contributions to the organization may lie.

Get a broad picture of their skills. Before moving them to the management track, give your conscientious employees a chance to display all of their strengths. Consider characteristics that might make someone successful in other core areas, like research and innovation settings. For example, people with a wide base of knowledge who are highly open to new experiences (another core personality trait) are often successful as innovators. Those people will not have much opportunity to serve in innovation capacities if they are first brought into management.

Remember: Don’t rush anyone into management based on how conscientious they are, which is fairly easy to see. Some of the other abilities may be harder to observe. Give yourself a little more time to get to know what people can do well. This way, you’ll allow them to not only demonstrate how reliable they are, but all the ways they can contribute to your company.

Source: MSN



Removing the Age Restrictions for Rotavirus Vaccination: A Benefit-Risk Modeling Analysis.

To minimize potential risk of intussusception, the World Health Organization (WHO) recommended in 2009 that rotavirus immunization should be initiated by age 15 weeks and completed before 32 weeks. These restrictions could adversely impact vaccination coverage and thereby its health impact, particularly in developing countries where delays in vaccination often occur.

Methods and Findings

We conducted a modeling study to estimate the number of rotavirus deaths prevented and the number of intussusception deaths caused by vaccination when administered on the restricted schedule versus an unrestricted schedule whereby rotavirus vaccine would be administered with DTP vaccine up to age 3 years. Countries were grouped on the basis of child mortality rates, using WHO data. Inputs were estimates of WHO rotavirus mortality by week of age from a recent study, intussusception mortality based on a literature review, predicted vaccination rates by week of age from USAID Demographic and Health Surveys, the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) Multiple Indicator Cluster Surveys (MICS), and WHO-UNICEF 2010 country-specific coverage estimates, and published estimates of vaccine efficacy and vaccine-associated intussusception risk. On the basis of the error estimates and distributions for model inputs, we conducted 2,000 simulations to obtain median estimates of deaths averted and caused as well as the uncertainty ranges, defined as the 5th–95th percentile, to provide an indication of the uncertainty in the estimates.

We estimated that in low and low-middle income countries a restricted schedule would prevent 155,800 rotavirus deaths (5th–95th centiles, 83,300–217,700) while causing potentially 253 intussusception deaths (76–689). In contrast, vaccination without age restrictions would prevent 203,000 rotavirus deaths (102,000–281,500) while potentially causing 547 intussusception deaths (237–1,160). Thus, removing the age restrictions would avert an additional 47,200 rotavirus deaths (18,700–63,700) and cause an additional 294 (161–471) intussusception deaths, for an incremental benefit-risk ratio of 154 deaths averted for every death caused by vaccine. These extra deaths prevented under an unrestricted schedule reflect vaccination of an additional 21%–25% children, beyond the 63%–73% of the children who would be vaccinated under the restricted schedule. Importantly, these estimates err on the side of safety in that they assume high vaccine-associated risk of intussusception and do not account for potential herd immunity or non-fatal outcomes.


Our analysis suggests that in low- and middle-income countries the additional lives saved by removing age restrictions for rotavirus vaccination would far outnumber the potential excess vaccine-associated intussusception deaths.

Source: PLOS

Screening test for stuttering ‘closer’.

A screening test for children starting school that could accurately detect early signs of a persistent stutter is a step closer, experts say.

The Wellcome Trust team says a specific speech test accurately predicts whose stutter will persist into their teens.

About one in 20 develops a stutter before age five – but just one in 100 stutter as a teen and identifying these children has so far been difficult.

Campaigners said it was key for children to be diagnosed early.

Stuttering tends to start at about three years old. Four out of five will recover without intervention, often within a couple of years.

But for one in five, their stutter will persist and early therapy can be of significant benefit.

Fluency check

The researchers, based at University College London, used a test developed in the US called SSI-3 (stuttering severity instrument).

In earlier work, they followed eight-year-olds with a stutter into their teens.

They found that the SSI-3 test was a reliable indicator of who would still have a stutter and who would recover – while other indicators such as family history, which have been used, were less so.

It showed the test was highly sensitive and specific in classifying those with a stutter who would recover, those whose stammer would persist and those who were “fluent” – had no communication difficulties.

A fluency result is important because it shows the test can be used on unaffected children, which it would have to be if it was to be used to screen for problems.

This latest paper, published in the Journal of Fluency Disorders, looked at another 272 children with a stutter and 25 without, aged five to 19.

It showed that the test could reliably be used across the age range.

The researchers also found so-called “whole word repetition” was not a reliable indicator of persistent stutter.

‘Big difference’

Core symptoms were found to be prolonging parts of words, partial repetition of words or “blocking” on the first part of a word.

Prof Peter Howell, who led the research, said: “If we can identify children at risk of stuttering, then we can offer appropriate interventions to help them early on.

“Primary school is a key time in a child’s development and any help in tackling potential communication problems could make a big difference to the child’s life.”

He told the BBC: “We had already looked at children aged eight to teens. But we wanted to establish if we could extend those findings to younger children.

“What the paper is showing is that the prospect of being able to screen children looks like a real possibility, based on this data.”

Norbert Lieckfeldt, chief executive of the British Stammering Association, said: “The crucial thing about this research is that it seems to be able to be accurately predict which children will have a persistent stammer.

“That would be a huge step forward.”

Mr Lieckfeldt added: “At five, there is still a window of opportunity to help those with a stammer.

“If we intervene early enough, there is a really high success rate of normal, fluent speaking, whereas for six- to eight-year-olds, the recovery rate drops like a stone.”

Source: BBC


Ash tree import ban to halt disease.

A ban on the import of ash trees will come into force on Monday in an attempt to halt the spread of a deadly disease, the environment secretary has said.

Owen Paterson has denied ministers were slow to react to the outbreak.

The Chalara fraxinea fungus, which causes Chalara dieback, has already killed 90% of ash trees in Denmark and has been found in East Anglia.

Mr Paterson said 50,000 ash trees have already been destroyed to try to prevent the spread of the disease.

Until earlier this week, the disease had only been recorded in a few nursery specimens.

Mr Paterson said: “We will bring in a ban on Monday. I have already prepared the legislation and we’re ready to go. The evidence is clearly there.”

The disease was first spotted in February, at a nursery in Buckinghamshire – a case that was confirmed in March, said the environment secretary.

Since then, examinations had been carried out at more than 1,000 sites and tree experts had been consulted.

Mr Paterson said ash trees were not imported commercially during the summer, so the amount of time that had elapsed since the initial discovery had not increased the risk that more infected trees had been brought in.

More widespread

But Tim Briercliffe from the Horticultural Trades Association insisted the government’s response to the disease had been too slow.

He said: “As a trade we’re very frustrated about it, because in 2009 we saw it out in Denmark on trees and we said you should ban imports now.

“They didn’t do it – they suggested that it was already endemic across Europe and across the UK, and since then the disease has continued to come in, and we believe it could be more widespread than perhaps we realise at the moment.”

The Woodland Trust welcomed the ban but called on the government to set up an emergency summit to manage other diseases affecting trees in the UK.

Its chief executive, Sue Holden, said: “Ash dieback is only one of numerous tree pests and diseases present in the UK… it is crucial that the wider issue is tackled.”

Ash trees suffering with C. fraxinea have been found across mainland Europe, with Denmark reporting the disease has wiped out about 90% of its ash trees.

Experts say that if the disease becomes established, then it could have a similar impact on the landscape as Dutch elm disease had in the 1970s.

This outbreak resulted in the death of most mature English elm by the 1980s. Elms have recovered to some extent but in some cases only through careful husbandry.

The East Anglia outbreak has been confirmed by plant scientists from the Food and Environment Research Agency (Fera) at the Woodland Trust’s Pound Farm woodland in Suffolk, and Norfolk Wildlife Trust’s Lower Wood reserve, in Ashwellthorpe.

In a statement, the Woodland Trust said that the fungal infection had been found in “mature ancient woodland and woodland creation areas on our estate”.

The disease has the potential to devastate the UK’s ash tree population.

Visible symptoms include leaf loss and crown dieback in affected trees and it can lead to tree death.

In Europe, affected trees are not just in woodlands but are also being found in urban trees in parks and gardens and also nursery trees.

Chalara dieback of ash has been listed as a quarantine pathogen under national emergency measures and the Forestry Commission has produced guidance, including help on how people can identify possible signs of infection.

Experts are urging people to report suspected cases of dieback in order to prevent the spread of the disease to the wider environment becoming established.

Source: BBC