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Replacing Animal-Based Remedies with Plants

In addition to depleting animal populations and causing animal suffering, use of animal-derived remedies has questionable medicinal value. Unlike pharmaceuticals and many medicinal herbs, very few studies have been conducted on the safety and effectiveness of animal-based therapies. Many of these therapies may actually be harmful to consumers, as illness can be spread from animals to humans. Bear bile, in particular, poses dangers, as it is often contaminated with urine, pus, or feces.

In light of such concerns, many animal protection groups, researchers, and traditional practitioners have recommended potential alternatives to medicinally-used endangered or threatened animals. In Elizabeth Callís 2006 book Mending the Web of Life, various botanical substitutes are suggested for several threatened animals used in TCM, based on the results of a survey of Chinese herbologists. A report released in 2006, meanwhile, which investigated plants with TCM properties and functions similar to specific animal ingredients, identified 15 botanical alternatives to tiger bone, 9 botanical alternatives to rhino horn, and 7 botanical alternatives to bear bile. Ongoing research indicates that the plant Coptis may be particularly effective as a replacement for bear bile.

There are some challenges associated with replacing animal-based medicines with plants. In particular, some practitioners are not adequately informed of the need for alternatives, and some may not view botanical therapies as suitable substitutes for animal parts. But a recent symposium on endangered species and TCM, held in Beijing, indicates that greater effort is being made to recognize and address such concerns. Promoting botanical substitutes is one of many strategies that can be used to help end the medicinal use of threatened animal species, and it may be increasingly needed as additional animal populations are stressed in the future.

(Full article available here.)

Related Links:
Saving Rhinos, One at a Time
10 Most Threatened Animal Species
Everyday Natural Medicine Kit

Read more: Alternative Therapies, Health, Pets, , , ,

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3:20AM PDT on Apr 18, 2012

Thanks for the article.

5:30AM PST on Feb 27, 2012

I have started a fact/arguement/solution sheet so that when proper petitions come on to the sites about practices, such as bear bile harvesting, I can quote these as a comment or helpful alternative solution, along with my signiture, to the target of the petition. Good idea?

1:16PM PDT on Jul 2, 2011

Thank you

7:52AM PST on Mar 2, 2011

thanks for posting the article

1:06AM PST on Dec 3, 2010

Thanks for the info.

2:57AM PDT on Oct 5, 2010


4:36PM PDT on Aug 10, 2010

Chinese men must be awfully impotent to feel that they need to murder Rhinos for their horns! It's 2010! Come into the 21st century and try Viagra or Cialis! No one has to die and you can get your apparently un-manly little peckers up!

BTW - There's a group of international veterinarians studying ways to poison Rhino horns w/o hurting the Rhino itself. I hope they find a way SOON so as to end this gruesome and superstitious assault on innocent creatures!

10:07PM PDT on Jul 10, 2010

that was about time, so now were are going to extinct all plants stupid idiots.

9:18PM PDT on Jul 5, 2010


7:40AM PDT on Jun 17, 2010

Humans are the most cruel creatures...

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