Why is “bear gall bladder uses” a popular search term today? Last night, a new show premiered on the National Geographic Channel. The show, aptly named “Wild Justice,” follows California game wardens as they carry out their duties.
Last night’s show took viewers on a detailed operation to catch bear poachers. Bears have become a valuable commodity. Some people will pay thousands of dollars for a dead bear. This is due to a popular belief that bear gall bladders can cure everything from fevers to liver disease. Unfortunately, this isn’t the first time an animal has been exploited in the name of traditional Chinese medicine (TCM).
Tigers bone used for arthritis cure
In 2008, The Telegraph reported on the making of tiger wine as a cure for arthritis. Authorities found that certain “zoos” were marketing this cure, using the bones of tigers who expired in captivity. This practice could be described as questionable at best, criminal at worst. Certainly it’s no better than poaching bears for their gall bladders, since it encourages exploitation by acceptance.
Musk deer used for perfume, circulation issues, and more
Many of us are guilty of wearing heady musk-scented perfume. Did you know these scents are made from the glands of musk deer, a soon-to-be-extinct species? TCM has long used musk as a cure for circulatory issues and much more. Illegal trade in musk deer is gaining in popularity.
The problem? Due to an increase in human population and the lust for musk, the natural habitat of musk deer is decreasing and taking them with it.
Rhinoceros horn used for fever and convulsions
The use of rhinoceros horn in traditional Chinese medicine is largely responsible for the near-extinction of the species. Rhino horn is touted as a cure for flu, fever and convulsions. Unfortunately, it seems the rhino has been brought to the verge of extinction for no apparent reason.
There is absolutely no evidence to support the health claims of TCM practitioners. This makes rhino poaching an even greater crime than the exploitation of bears for gall bladders or musk deer for their precious glands. Still, it doesn’t excuse the other crimes, since humane alternative medicines are available.
What happens now?
I’ve long been an advocate for natural cures, but I draw the line when it comes to animal exploitation. There are many more humane medicinal cures for afflictions such as liver disease. You can read about some of them here.
I’m sure National Geographic chose to feature bear poaching on “Wild Justice” for good reason. Hopefully it will bring the practice of using bear gall bladder as a TCM cure to light. Meanwhile, it’s best to remember natural cures aren’t always humane cures.