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You Are Not a Lab Rat

Laboratory Mouse

Image © Shruti Muralidhar [flickr.com/polybiotique] under CC BY-ND 2.0

Safety regulations of Chinese herbal medicines are a good idea. Because herbs do have a potential for biological or heavy metal contamination—lead poisoning being one of the adverse effects that occasionally makes headlines. Safety regulations help mitigate such negative outcomes, thus furthering public acceptance of Chinese medicine.

Another path to broader public acceptance of Chinese medicine is scientific study—of both safety and effectiveness. This article hearkens this need for scientific study, but it misleads the reader by implying that the practice of Chinese medicine would be the subject of such studies.

The scientific research called for in the article—and commonly elsewhere—involves the study of the isolated chemicals of individual herbs. While this method helps gauge the safety and effectiveness of the isolated plant and mineral compounds, it does not [click to continue…]


Rhino Rescue Plan

Save the Rhinos

Image © Matthew Baldwin [flickr.com/thisbrokenwheel] under CC BY-NC-ND 2.0

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…]