(Austin, TX) May 13, 2010. In many parts of the world, people rely on animal-derived products as important healthcare options. Unfortunately, such medicinal use can threaten species’ survival. A recent article published in HerbalGram, the quarterly journal of the nonprofit American Botanical Council (ABC), examines how various researchers and organizations have been promoting botanical alternatives in place of some medicinally-used animals—particularly those already considered threatened or endangered.
HerbalGram 86, which features the article “Medicinal Use of Threatened Animal Species and the Search for Botanical Alternatives,” was posted online and distributed to ABC members last week. The peer-reviewed magazine/journal is also available in select bookstores and natural food stores.
The 16-page illustrated article profiles the situations of four medicinally-used animals: tigers, rhinoceroses, bears, and turtles/tortoises. Use of tiger bones and rhino horns as medicinal ingredients is now banned through many international and national regulations, but continued medicinal demand has encouraged poaching and black market trade of these animals. Numerous bears and turtles, meanwhile, are trapped within “farms” in various Asian countries. The bears are tightly confined within cages and their bile crudely extracted for medicinal products, and turtles are slaughtered to create “turtle jelly” and other commodities from their shells.
The article quotes many notable animal welfare advocates and cites numerous research articles, examining the historical and current uses of these animals and attempts that have been made over the years to identify and promote substitute ingredients. Surveys of practitioners and/or scientific studies have suggested botanical alternatives for all four animals.
In addition to explaining the situations of these specific animals, the article delves into health and safety concerns related to use of animal-based medicines, challenges associated with stopping illicit trade and promoting botanical substitutes, and recent efforts in Asia to increase knowledge of conservation issues related to medicinal use of threatened animal species. The full HerbalGram article has been posted to ABC’s website and is freely available to ABC members and the general public here.
About the American Botanical Council
ABC is tax-exempt under section 501(c)(3) of the IRS Code. Information: Contact ABC at P.O. Box 144345, Austin, TX 78714-4345, Phone: 512-926-4900. Website: http://www.herbalgram.org/.