Two thieves who raided a Chinese medicine store in Richmond, B.C., made away with nearly $40,000 in herbs and fungus on Monday.

Police say two men entered the Tung Yun Tang Herbal Company on the 4600-block of No. 3 Road at 4:30 p.m. and sprayed an employee with bear spray. They then stole three jars of a Chinese fungus with the scientific name Cordyceps valued at $38,000 and two jars of bird's nests valued at $8,000.

Traditional Chinese medical practitioner Beverly Osachoff told that both products are powerful tonics.

In particular, bird's nests -- made from saliva by cave swifts -- are used to treat people with serious lung problems or to help someone recover from significant blood loss. The most common way to consume the nests is to boil and eat as bird's nest soup.

"It's the saliva from the bird that's the active ingredient in the nest, and so that's what we are after when we extract it," Osachoff said.

She said that Cordyceps is a fungus used to treat people suffering from life-threatening illnesses such as severe forms of asthma, HIV and AIDS. Chemotherapy patients also take the product to counteract the ill effects of drugs and to help prevent the body from producing damaged cells.

Osachoff believes the men who stole the Chinese medicines must have targeted them specifically.

"They're rare, they're expensive. Somebody around has to know where they go. I mean I can see that the demand on the black market for stuff like this is probably huge," she said.

"I would think that any savvy thief who knows what the heck is in a Chinese medicine store would go after the expensive products, so I would think it's somebody with a bit of knowledge, otherwise who would even go into a store like that?"

The men escaped in a blue or green Honda Odyssey with a black bug deflector that had a piece broken off on the passenger side.

Both suspects are believed to be Caucasian men in the mid-30s, who are 5-11 tall and weigh 150 pounds. They were wearing blue clothing and baseball caps and carrying black duffel bags.