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That wonderful little worm
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The fungus only grows above 5,000 meters. It is usually picked in summer and autumn and sun-dried to be used as herbs, says He Liqing, staff of Leiyunshang Pharmacy on Nanjing Road W.

Aweto is famous worldwide and was exported to Japan and southeast Asia as early as the Ming Dynasty (1368-1644). Demand is greater today.

It is sometimes sold in capsules, but it is difficult to guarantee the quality in this form and there are many fakes. It's best to buy your own and grind it to powder.

In TCM, aweto is "neutral" in energy and reinforces both yin and yang energy at the same time °?- yin energy in the lungs and yang energy in the kidneys (especially the reproductive system).

It is considered a powerful aid to the immune system. It reinforces essence and bone marrow, helps stop bleeding, resolve phlegm and relieve coughing. Its benefits were recorded in "Bencao Congxin" ("Materia Medica") by Wu Yiluo of the Qing Dynasty (1644-1911) in 1757. The book describes 720 kinds of medicine.

Aweto travels through the lung and kidney meridians to take effect. It is used to treat, among other things, sore back and knees, impotence, night sweats, coughing, asthma and general weakness from long illness and old age. It helps women recover from childbirth.

Modern research confirms its benefits, notably its immune-boosting functions. It helps decrease blood fat, sooth nerves and is anti-bacterial.

Aweto can be used alone or with other herbs. It can be made into soup, tea or wine.

If you suffer from a sore back, impotence, ringing in the ears or poor memory, try cooking aweto soup with du zhong () (eucommia bark from the hardy rubber or gutta-percha tree).

If you are weak, easily catch colds and suffer from night sweats, cook aweto soup with chicken, duck, beef, pork or mutton.

It is not necessary to eat a lot at one time since the body cannot absorb it all, says pharmacy lady He. Usually, 3-5 grams a day is enough, but for immune benefits should be taken consistently for up to two months.

The best aweto is said to come from Yushu City, Qinghai Province.

(Shanghai Daily September 8, 2009)

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