As prescribed by Paulina Constancia

Tiger Talk (1) – Traditional Chinese Medicine and Tigers

July 29 is International Tiger Day (UN recognized). This week is a great opportunity to talk about tigers. 

Recently, my family and I spent a day at the Singapore Zoo where they have some absolutely beautiful white tigers. I also saw some  posters and displays about today’s threats to tigers. I did not know they were being hunted for their body parts that are used in traditional medicine. Today I bring you Traditional Chinese Medicine and Tigers.
Shocking & Appalling…
Tigers are hunted for their  bones, nose, tail, teeth,claws and other valuable body parts…that are used as ingredients in Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM)
Photo by Paulina Constancia
Taken at the White Tiger exhibition Area
Singapore Zoo

Wildlife Trade: TIGER
from World Wildlife Foundation(WWF)

Aching joints? Tired muscles? Traveling can wear you out, especially after long flights and plane changes. The concierge at the small hotel you’re in recommended visiting a traditional Chinese pharmacy just down the road. The practitioner there has remedies to cure aches, pains and fatigue.

So, off you go in search of remedies that have been used for thousands of years. The pharmacist is very helpful, and has a few recommendations for you. One is of particular interest to you as it’s supposed to help strengthen the muscles and bones. Sounds good. But, let’s take a look at the list of ingredients before deciding to make purchases.

Hmmmmm. There’s a tiger on the box, and one of the main ingredients is Os Tigris. “What is Os Tigris?”, you ask. “Sounds like tiger,” you laugh. Humor changes to horror when the pharmacist tells you that, in fact, it is the bone of the tiger!
Tiger bone is a revered ingredient in traditional Chinese medicine (TCM). And, even though the world community gives the tiger the highest international protection, you can still find black market products containing tiger bone for sale.
Tiger bone has many different names and medicinal or factory names, so if you want to use traditional medicines to heal your ailments, research it thoroughly to find out exactly what you are buying and taking.

Poster at the Singapore Zoo
White Tiger Exhibition Area
Poster at the Singapore Zoo
White Tiger Exhibition Area

For more than 1,000 years the use of tiger parts has been included in the traditional Chinese medicine regimen. Because of the tiger’s strength and mythical power, the Chinese culture believes that the tiger has medicinal qualities, which helps treat chronic ailments, cure disease and replenish the body’s essential energy.

Endangered tiger parts such as bones, eyes, whiskers and teeth are used to treat ailments and disease ranging from insomnia and malaria, to meningitis and bad skin. Chinese texts state that the active ingredients in tiger bone; calcium and protein, which help promote healing, have anti-inflammatory properties.
Western medical experts tend to discount all claims of any curative power in tiger bone, as they do the rhinoceros horn, another popular Chinese medicine. And, it is well known that aspirin contains similar properties and produces the many of the same results as tiger prescriptions in patients.

Despite this, in Hong Kong, China, Taiwan, South Korea, Vietnam and in Chinatowns across Europe and North America, Chinese medicine stores do a steady trade in tiger wines, powder, tiger balms and tiger pills. Many Asian communities believe that tiger bone, in powdered form or prepared as, “tiger wine,” soothes rheumatic pain and cures ulcers, malaria and burns.

These derivatives make international trade and consumption possible in the wake of the, Convention on the International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES) treaty because they are not easily recognizable as tiger parts.

In recent years there has also been a resurgence of interest in traditional values and cures derived from nature in Chinese culture. Thus, the use of endangered tiger parts for medicinal properties is seen as a status symbol, a way to retain customs amid rapid change and as an alternative to the shortcomings of western medicine.

The Chinese culture believes that nearly all parts of the tiger can be used to derive some medicinal cure for any number of ailments. 

Here are some examples of how tiger parts and their derivatives are used in traditional Chinese medicine and causing the tiger to be a critically endangered species:

Tiger claws: used as a sedative for insomnia

Teeth: used to treat fever

Fat: used to treat leprosy and rheumatism

Nose leather: used to treat superficial wounds such as bites

Tiger bone: used as an anti-inflammatory drug to treat rheumatism and arthritis, general weakness, headaches, stiffness or paralysis in lower back and legs and dysentery

Eyeballs: used to treat epilepsy and malaria

Tail: used to treat skin diseases

Bile: used to treat convulsions in children associated with meningitis

Whiskers: used to treat toothaches

Brain: used to treat laziness and pimples

Penis: used in love potions such as tiger soup, as an aphrodisiac

Dung or feces: used to treat boils, hemorrhoids and cure alcoholism

Fortunately, there are viable natural alternatives for those seeking traditional Chinese medicines to treat ailments and disease without using tiger derivatives.

A hundred years ago there were 
100,000 tigers in the wild. 
Today there are as few as 3,200
is a global campaign by World Wildlife Fund 
and Leonardo DiCaprio.
Their goal is to build political, financial and public support to double the number of wild tigers by 2022, the next Year of the Tiger.
and donates $1 M to the conservation group WWF to help support anti-poaching efforts and protect tiger habitat

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This entry was posted on July 22, 2012 by in Uncategorized.
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