Chinese Herbal Medicine & Endangered Animals

rhino_on_blackNote: Edited on 2015-01-06 for clarity.

You have probably heard various news stories about the discovery and confiscation of various types of endangered animal ingredients, presumably for use in Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) preparations. From tiger penises to rhino horns to bear bile, these happenings never fail to make sensational news.

The use of endangered animal ingredients is rare in the US and not tolerated at Watershed

All of the herbal formulas compounded at Watershed Wellness are 100% verified to be endangered animal free. We do not use patent medicines or other remedies that are available over the counter at many healthfood stores – which are more difficult to verify.

That out of the way – it is important to understand that practically no licensed US practitioner of Chinese herbalism is taught how to use these endangered animal ingredients, they are flagged as unethical in our herbal texts, and they are not available through reputable distributors. So, this position isn’t unique to Watershed.

There are other animal based herbs – from un-endangered species – used in limited Chinese herbal formulas

The vast majority of Chinese herbs are plant based. Less than 1% of regularly used Chinese herbs have an animal origin. Most of these are discarded materials (such as antler and dung) or materials left when an animal dies (as in oyster shell and fossilized bone). Some of these materials are available at Watershed, but are used on a very limited basis in our herbal formulas.

As a practitioner of Chinese medicine who is a lover of animals and was vegan for the better part of two decades, I am VERY sensitive to the varying beliefs and needs of my patients. That is why I always seek consent when I am going to use an herb of animal origin in a formula, and find an alternative when needed. You can always feel free to make a blanket statement about your desire to have animal ingredients in formulas at the outset of your treatment and I will abide by that absolutely.

But rest assured, regardless, no endangered animals are ever used in any herbal formula or other product available at Watershed Wellness!

 

Written by Eric Grey