Tortoise shell have medical use

Healing thanks to turtle shell and dried gecko?

Munich, September 8, 2020.

TCM preparations from endangered wild animals also available in Europe

In Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM), components from wild animals such as turtles, geckos and seahorses are still used - also in Germany, Switzerland and Luxembourg. This was the result of research by the animal and species protection organization Pro Wildlife. The organization refers to the increasing species protection problems that go with it, because alternative healing methods have been booming for years. "The larger the international sales market, the more wild animals fall victim to being processed into 'medicine'", worries Dr. Sandra Altherr from Pro Wildlife. "We are observing a deadly pull in new ways." The organization works with the International Society for Chinese Medicine (Societas Medicinae Sinensis) to raise awareness among TCM doctors and to reduce the use of preparations made with wild animals. The random research by Pro Wildlife shows: Even in TCM practices in Germany and Switzerland, turtle shells or seahorses are used to heal ailments such as impotence.

Alternative healing methods are booming - so is the demand for wild animal preparations

TCM practices can now be found in every major German city. 90 percent of the substances used in TCM preparations are of herbal nature and of the remaining 10 percent with animal components, some are based on farm animals. But even a small proportion of formulations with wild animal ingredients can result in an immense species protection problem in view of the huge and globally growing market. Population growth, increasing purchasing power and a boom in TCM are also generating increasing demand outside of China. “Millions of tokehs have been processed into medicine in the last few years alone - a need that cannot be met by breeding and that is causing the gecko population to collapse,” says Altherr.

Treatments with powders and pastes from rare wild animals are also available in Europe

The TCM offers with wild animals are sometimes advertised quite openly on the Internet - and not traded under the counter: During their research, the animal and species protection organization came across a Munich TCM practice that recommends turtle shells ("Gui Ban") against irregular bleeding , or a Swiss TCM doctor who uses seahorses ("Hai Ma") against impotence and incontinence. These threatened fish have been subject to international trade restrictions since 2007 (CITES Appendix II **). In the course of its research, the organization also identified a Chinese-German TCM academy based in Rheinbach, North Rhine-Westphalia, which has been offering courses in TCM for several years. She even has rhinoceros (“Xi Jiao”), tiger bones (“Hu Gu”), bear bile (“Xiong Dan”) and pangolin (“Chuan Shan Jia”) in her online drug list. These are all animal species that are protected in Appendix I of CITES and for which an international trade ban applies. “It is a scandal that a TCM center training here in Germany is still promoting such internationally strictly protected species as medicinal preparations. Should the academy even use these preparations, this would be a violation of international species protection law, ”emphasizes the Pro Wildlife expert. Pro Wildlife also came across a Luxembourg online pharmacy that sells the preparation “Zuo Gui Wan” against night sweating and hair loss, which contains, among other things, turtle shells (“Gui Ban”). Even on Ebay, TCM preparations with Tokeh ("Ge Jie") can be added to the digital shopping cart with a click of the mouse.

TCM is sponsored by the Chinese government

The government in China is very interested in expanding traditional Chinese medicine in other countries as well - it stands for the Chinese way of life and is a popular counter-model to western conventional medicine. Accordingly, President Xi Jinping is actively promoting international expansion, among other things as part of his strategy of a "new silk road", through which the infrastructure in and trade relations with more than 60 countries in Asia, Europe and Africa are to be expanded. The restriction of the wildlife trade in China as a result of the Corona crisis explicitly does not affect TCM. It was not until June 2020 that the Chinese government announced plans to introduce a law to ban “false or exaggerated claims” about traditional Chinese medicine.

** CITES = engl. Abbreviation for the Washington Convention on the Protection of Species; Appendix II means international trade restrictions


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