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Complement Ther Med. 2003 Jun;11(2):118-22.

Use of animal products in traditional Chinese medicine: environmental impact and health hazards.

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  • 1Witkoppen, Johannesburg, South Africa.


Traditional Chinese medicine (TCM) has been increasingly practised in many countries of the world. Some recent textbooks of TCM still recommend formulas containing various animal tissues such as tiger bones, antelope, buffalo or rhino horns, deer antlers, testicles and os penis of the dog, bear or snake bile. Usually, animal tissues are combined with medical herbs. In most of the cases, the medical use of the preparations is justified in terms of the rules of TCM. So far, little research has been done to prove the claimed clinical efficacy of TCM animal products. This paper discusses some related ecological, ethico-legal and health concerns such as hunting, breeding and trade with endangered species, risks of transmission of zoonoses, quality of the products, and alternatives to preparations from endangered species.

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