A superstitious man, Wang Chaoxu, of Qixian village, Yunnan, allegedly murdered Li Xuetang, whose dead body has been found buried in a grain field in a neighboring hamlet.
The victim's head was peeled back and part of his brain was removed.
Chaoxu was arrested after a villager Zhang Huansheng found him kneeling over the corpse.
Chaoxu told police he believed eating the brain with earthworms and ants would cure his illness.
He was apparently married to a nurse, who left him because of his illness.
Xuetang's mourning mother Yu Chaohu said that her son had disappeared late at night.
"It was getting dark, but I couldn't find my son anywhere in the village," the Sun quoted her as saying.
"I even asked the village head to broadcast on the radio to ask my son to come back home for dinner," she said.
Chaohu was stopped from looking at her son's body, as it was too disfigured.
"I can't bear to think about what happened to him. I have nightmares thinking about it," she said.
Police are investigating that Chaoxu might have also killed a three-year-old girl, who went missing the same day and was later found dead in a public toilet with her head split.