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Herbalists decry bear bile use

Vietnam's traditional medicine practitioners are opposed to bear bile farming, according to a recent survey.

The survey carried out by the Animals Asia Foundation of 152 traditional medicine practitioners in Vietnam revealed that 93 percent of Vietnam's traditional medicine practitioners were opposed to bear bile farming and 76 percent had never prescribed bear bile.

Twenty-four percent of practitioners surveyed had prescribed bear bile to treat medical conditions ranging from bruises, fever, poor blood circulation, and cirrhosis. The responses suggest however that bear bile is not safe for human consumption with respondents reporting seven cases of bear bile poisoning, four of which (57 percent) had resulted in death.

Respondents commented that bear bile is expensive, poor in quality and not scientifically proven as a treatment. Thirty-nine herbal alternatives to bear bile were identified by the traditional medicine practitioners, with 45 percent naming cay mat gau (bear bile plant) as a replacement treatment. Animals Asia Foundation is aware of 54 herbal alternatives that can be used instead of bear bile in China .

Bear bile does not have a prominent role in traditional medicine with a handful of around 1,500 remedies containing bear bile, according to Dr Nguyen Xuan Huong, chairman of the Traditional Medicine Association of Vietnam.

From VietNamPlus

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