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After walking by dozens of shops lining the streets of Hong Kong selling various dried herbs and animal mixtures for medicinal usage, I was curious about the role endangered plants and animals played in our modern society. The problem lies in the fact that the scientific validity of these remedies remains largely unknown and many contain allergens, toxic substances, or endangered animal parts.
When stocks of Oriental ginseng began to decline, the focus was shifted to populations of wild American ginseng as an alternative. Licorice is a valuable food source for many animals and provides important ecological services such as nitrogen fixation and erosion control. Deceivingly beautiful, this dangerous plant has been used for thousands of years and has likely caused just as many deaths as years of use. Ephedra has been used in Chinese medicine for over 5,000 years as a remedy for a wide range of physical ailments and conditions. The illegal trade and poaching of rhino horns can single handedly be blamed on the popularity of its usage in traditional Chinese medicine and to make other products like knives or beltbuckles.
This iconic Asian bear has undergone terrible and inhumane treatment all in the name of human health. This small, elusive creature is slowly disappearing from the forested mountainous areas all across Asia, mainly to satisfy European and Japanese markets. The Saiga antelope, a bizarre looking rare creature, is highly valued for the medicinal properties of its horns.
Although many of these toxic and endangered plants and animals have a long history being used in traditional Chinese medicines, it has only recently become a serious problem.
I’ve long suspected, through my own observations, that the Chinese will eat ANY critter or plant on this Earth. I had no idea that these particular plants and animals were being used for Chinese medicinal purposes. Chemical Exposure in ChinaLauren Gloekler works as visiting graduate research student for the Department of Biology and Chemistry at City University in Hong Kong.
Check out the full top 10 list of medical doctoral universities that offer a broad range of PhD programs and have medical schools. My research revealed that for thousands of years, traditional Chinese medicine has been practiced in China and across the world but that this practice is alive and well today. This valuable root grows throughout Canada and the United States but is becoming increasingly threatened due to overharvesting for medicinal purposes and damage to habitat from logging and land development.


Despite huge numbers of people reported suffering from kidney failure and cancer of the urinary tract, the plant was not implicated in these cases until the 1950’s.
A study done by Chinese University in Hong Kong determined that the doses in which the horn is used has absolutely no medicinal value, you might as well be “chewing on your own fingernails”.
Over 7,000 bears, although reduced in the last decade, are still farmed for the purposes of extracting valuable bile; Korea being the largest consumer.
Although restricted under CITES, trade continues for the valuable musk, used for medicines and perfumes. According to a recent Australian study looking the DNA profile of products confiscated at customs, the critically endangered animal continues to be exported despite protection under law. Combined with urbanization, population growth, habitat destruction, and increased pressure on many plant and animal species from trade and poaching, the repercussions of using these products today are much higher than before. She will be examining dietary exposure to flame-retardant chemicals, called poly-brominated diphenyl ethers, in people living near e-waste sites in China. The program combines Eastern and Western medical theory, clinical practice and internships. These traditional medicines focus on restoring balance between the individual and the outside world. The import and export of illegal or endangered plants and animals is not limited to Asia; it also occurs in the United States. Recently, German scientists discovered compounds called amorfrutins in licorice root that may help people with diabetes and with metabolic disorders because they have anti-inflammatory and blood-sugar reducing properties. These negative health effects have been directly linked to a toxic compound found in the plant called aristolochic acid.
A staggering 20,000,000 animals are harvested each year and used in over 90 medicinal products. This extraction entails years of confinement in claustrophobic cages and excruciating procedures that puncture and drain the bile fluid each day, sometimes more than once per day.
In order to retrieve the musk, the gland must be removed from the males of the species, thus diminishing numbers and the ability for the population to reproduce. Unfortunately, the availability of alternatives exist for each and every plant and animal species mentioned, but their popularity has not spread.
According to the WWF, it is estimated that between 1985 and 1992, 30 percent of the 2 million medicinal products imported into the U.S.
However, its usage in traditional Chinese medicine has lead to overharvesting and habitat destruction. It was used mainly as a weight loss supplement because of its ability to increase metabolic rate.


They are also the only animal not protected by international law regulating harvest and trade. Despite the fact that over 50 herbal alternatives and a synthetic lab created bile are available and more effective has done little to abate the problem. Stricter enforcement of trade laws protecting endangered species, as well as laws requiring labeling and testing of the safety and effectiveness of products is desperately needed.
This balance is regulated by entities, also responsible for regulating various functions in the body, rather than individual organs. Although it is an effective stimulant and bronchial dilator, it can be very dangerous in excess and for people with certain preexisting conditions.
Historically, different remedies come in the form of capsules, tinctures, teas, or powders and can be made up of up to 18 different ingredients. A wildlife-monitoring group called TRAFFIC conducted a covert study examining the availability of illegal animal products in both San Francisco and New York City.
Although its adverse effects are well studied, it continues to cause illness and death in people who buy traditional Chinese medicines from unreputable or unlabeled sources. Many different countries participate in import and export of these products and it will take a collaborative effort to save them from extinction. The results showed that the sale of products containing both tiger bone and rhino horn have been steadily declining, but have been consistently higher in NYC.
The mixtures are to be prescribed and distributed by licensed professionals called practitioners, although many medicines are purchased from unreliable and unknowledgeable sources.
Despite laws protecting many of these plants and animals, such as the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora or CITES, illegal poaching and trading continues, even in our own country. The Eight Branches program distinguishes itself by teaching all Eight Branches of Eastern Medicine.
Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM), including Acupuncture, Moxibustion and Herbal Medicine, is a comprehensive natural health care system that has been used in Asia for thousands of years. It is currently practiced all over the world to treat a wide variety of symptoms and conditions.
Eight Branches Academy of Eastern Medicine Teaching Clinic is located just next door at 344 Dupont Street, Suite 302. Visit Us Eight Branches Academy of Eastern MedicineA Toronto Acupuncture School Offering Traditional Chinese Medicine and Acupuncture Training in Toronto's Annex.Recent Posts Acupuncture for Pregnancy and Birth Xiao Yao San, the Free and Easy Formula.



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