Animals are a huge part of a lot of herbal medicines provided to the public in China. This is just a part of their culture. There are also so many endangered species listed these days that it would not be shocking to find that some have and are being added to create these types of remedies.
I do not, however, believe that those who make these medicines are doing this in the malicious ways that some may think (although I am not condoning it). I feel that this practice is just simply a part of their culture. They know the ingredients that have worked for centuries and some of those ingredients happen to be provided by species whose numbers are dwindling.
Yes – tiger bones are prevalent in the use of traditional Chinese medicine (TCM) for treating rheumatism and arthritis. In 1993, China put a ban on tiger trade because the numbers of tigers were getting so low, leading to practitioners of TCM to remove tiger bone from their pharmacopeia, although they are still poached by some illegally.
Since the ban on tiger trade, the poaching of snow leopards (also endangered) increased, and snow leopard bones are widely used as a substitute for tiger bones in TCM. The meat of snow leopards is also reportedly used as an aphrodisiac.
Tibetan moon bears are also used in traditional Chinese medicine. The bile from their livers is harvested and used to treat impotency, hangovers, and gall stones. The Animals Asia Foundation runs a Moon Bear Rescue Center in Hong Kong to provide sanctuary for bears that might have been harvested for their bile.
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