Bear Bile Hazardous to Humans

A survey of 152 traditional medicine practitioners in Vietnam resulted in their acknowledgment of the dangers of using bear bile. Practitioners who took the survey admitted they knew of four cases of bear bile poisoning which resulted in death, and three others who were also injured by bear bile, but did not die.

Doctor Nguyen Xuan Huong, who is chairman of the Traditional Medicine Association of Vietnam has worked with 10 patients suffering from bear bile poisoning, “In each of these 10 cases, all had damage to the liver and in most cases, the liver was almost gone – the part that was left was swollen, necrotic and hard.” (Source: Animals Asia) He also said bear bile causes kidney damage, and blood in the urine.

Bear bile is extracted in a manner which requires bears to be kept in small cages year round, and drained of their bile in a very painful manner, much like torturing them. There are about 4,000 bears in Vietnam used for bile collection, according to Animals Asia. In China there may be 9,000 according to the World League for the Protection of Animals.

Also, some bears are hunted and killed for only the gall bladder. The irrational beliefs surrounding bear bile have raised prices to absurd levels, “In 1970 one kilo of bear gall bladder cost around US $200, but by 1990 the price had risen to between US $3,000 and US $5,000 per kilo. Recent market price with legal certification has risen to between US $30,000 and US $50,000 per kilo (our experience in legal market of Hong Kong) (15).” (Source:

So bears are dying and undergoing great suffering for a substance which actually can harm people, and even cause death. The founder of Animals Asia, Jill Robinson said, “Korean tourists are lining up to visit bear farms in Vietnam on organised bus tours, many leaving with vials of fresh bear bile as a hangover cure – and bear bile is sold on the black market in Chinatowns around the world. The longer it takes the authorities to act, the more people will fall ill and possibly die.” (Source: Animals Asia)

To people outside of Asia, this news may seem a little disconnected from their everyday reality, but the demand for bear bile is strong enough to have caused poaching of bears in Oregon. “We estimate that if just 1 percent of China’s population could afford to buy a bear gallbladder, it would wipe out the entire U.S. (bear) population,” said Ed Espinoza, who works in a wildlife crime lab fighting illegal animal trafficking. (Source: High Country News)

So what can you do? Don’t ever purchase any products containing bear bile. Share this information with your community. You can also donate to Animals Asia, or start your own blog or charity. Inform yourself about the dangers of using products from traditional medicine, especially those products containing animal parts.

Image Credit: smartneddy

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Briony Coote
Briony C4 years ago

It is not surprising that bear bile is dangerous when it is extracted in unsanitary and dangerous conditions from sick and tortured bears. And Chinese and Vietnamese can do just as well with herbal substitutes, so why don't they?

Hopefully more awareness about the bear bile dangers is will be one factor that puts an end to the vile bile bear industry as I call it. If the Chinese government is not doing anything, how about a petition to put pressure on Oregon to stop the poaching of its bears for the vile bile industry?

Nils Anders Lunde
PlsNoMessage se4 years ago


Past Member 6 years ago

I do not feel sorry for those people whatsoever......I like to think of it as,the bears getting their own back.............if you harm animals expect Karma!

Marie Eve Losier
Eve L6 years ago

I hope they all die from using it.... I think it's time they wake up.

Susan Griffiths
Susan Griffiths6 years ago

I also care way more about the suffering of the bears than I do about the people however, the danger to humans is what can be SOLD to the public as the primary reason to stop the practice and the trade. Sad but true.

Therese Kutscheid

I do not understand why is China government not prohibiting that trade.
Michele W. I completely agree with you. I care more about those bears and that they get their freedom than those silly enough to take anything that someone tell them is good for them and they get sick. I believe if some people would read somewhere that pigeon crap would be good for longevity they would pay big dollars for pigeon crap and eat it too.

TERRY R6 years ago


Donna Hamilton
Donna Hamilton6 years ago

Sorry, but if anyone buys these cruel products it serves them right if it makes them ill.

Michele Wilkinson

I care more about the poor bears who suffer agonies in cages in these horrific farms than the morons who take the bear bile.

Cheryl B.
Cheryl B6 years ago

thanks... horrible that the bears have to suffer so, esp. the ones on farms