Earlier this month in South Africa, a rhino was mutilated for her horn. Rhino horns are used by some Asian medicine practitioners, as well as general consumers who buy in to marketing claims that the horns can treat cancer, hangovers and impotence.
It is true that the use of rhino horn in Chinese medicine was first documented about 2,000 years ago in the materia medica, Shen Nong Ben Cao Jing. It was traditionally used for febrile diseases, and those few Chinese medicine practitioners that still use it, likely do so with such application in mind. The indications for cancer, hangovers and impotence are modern scripts.
In 1993, China banned the use of rhino horn in traditional Chinese medicine by removing it from the official pharmacopeia administered by the Ministry of Health. It was a good measure to reduce the rhino horn market.
However, “traditional Chinese medicine” has several meanings. In regards to the ban on rhino horn, [click to continue…]