• Anna Rothärmel

ANIMALS’ HEALING POWES – REALLY THOUGH?


Onions against insect bites, ginger against headaches, tea with honey against throat pain. Ah, home remedies are simply the best to heal small and big aches an pains in a natural way. However, it is not all roses when it comes to traditional medicine, especially when wild animals are part of it which are said to have healing, almost magical powers. Most of these are not scientifically proven (we mainly see the placebo effect) and the way how this medicine is sourced and produced is gruesome and brings animals to the brink of extinction. What are ivory, rhino horn & co. supposed to be good for anyway? Here are the top 5 myths!



1. The Pangolin's scales Even before Corona the pangolin has made the headlines as the world’s most trafficked mammal. All pangolin species are endangered because of their scales: according to Traditional Chinese Medicine they are supposed to help against skin diseases, oedema, blood stasis, inflamed wounds and even cancer. They are roasted, cooked or turned into powders or pastes. Fact: the scales consist of keratin, just like our fingernails.



2. The Rhino's horn Had a cup too much last night? The rhino's horn can help you with that. Supposedly. As a powder it is said to work wonders – against headaches, temperature, strokes, gout, rheumatism, epilepsy, cancer and much more. However, the horn only consists of keratin as well, without any magical anti-hangover-effect. 




3. The Giraffe's bone marrow With a decline of approximately 40 percent in the last 15 years, the world's tallest animal is now regarded as threatened as well. This dramatic devolopment is reducible to the misbelief that both bone marrow and brain help against HIV and aids. Only after this allegation the giraffe has become an interesting target for poachers.



4. The Tiger's everything Want to be a tiger in bed? It seems as if the Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) takes that a little too literally, since the Tiger's penis is supposed to have an aphrodisiac effect. Also its snout allegedly helps against epilepsy, the bones against arthritis and the whiskers against caries. Although no doctor of the TCM would still prescribe tigers’ bones, the misbelief is still there making the tiger to a regular on mainly Asian black markets.


5. The Bear's gall In some cultures the liquid gall of the moon bear is perceved as a magic medicine. In Vietnam these adorable animals are bred in so-called bile farms where bile fluid is taken from the living bears. What the liquid is supposed to help against now? Against COVID-19. The Chinese Government has recommended the use of Tan Re Quing, a traditional medicine containing bear's gall. Its bile acid does actually help against gall stones and liver diseases – however, a bear is not necessary for producing the medicine any longer, since it can be created synthetically.



Hardly any of these healing powers are scientifically proven. However, most cultures are not aware of that which is why the key to ending the animals’ suffering lies in educating and raising awareness. Once the consumers know that none of these animal parts heal anything, demand will decrease. Pretty sure that such a tiger penis is not cheap after all.




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© 2020 Anna Rothärmel