How alternative medicine is wiping out the greatest of cats

Kill the Tigers – Forbes.

Here’s a choice: save the last remaining tigers on the planet, or kill them, chop them into pieces, and eat them in the mistaken belief that tiger parts can be used as medicine.

Sounds like an easy choice, no? Unfortunately, humans have already decided to kill the tigers rather than saving them. Fewer than 4,000 wild tigers survive on the planet. As journalist Caroline Alexander wrote in a compelling article in the December issue of National Geographic, “tigers in the wild face the black abyss of annihilation.” And their greatest threat, she writes, is “the brutal Chinese black market for tiger parts.”

Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) practitioners claim that tiger parts can be used to treat a wide variety of ailments, including malaria, bacterial infections, bad skin, ulcers, leprosy, and impotence. There is not a whit of scientific evidence to support any of these claims; they are nothing more than folk medicine, based on primitive beliefs dating from a pre-scientific era, when it was believed you could acquire the properties of an animal by eating it. Unfortunately, these beliefs have driven the mightiest of the big cats to the brink of extinction.

Tip: @EdzardErnst on Twitter

What is humanity doing? We destroy things for the lamest beliefs. Even after a TCM practitioner society implored their members to stop using tiger bones, it’s not enough. Once a species gets to critically low numbers, the damage can not be undone. What’s worse, people still want this “medicine” even though it is completely implausible, magical thinking that does not work.

The Forbes article is a strongly worded, highly critical post against TCM. But, too little, too late.

  3 comments for “How alternative medicine is wiping out the greatest of cats

  1. twh
    December 21, 2011 at 5:50 PM

    Maybe we can combine alternative medicine techniques here: homeopathic tiger medicine? No tiger ingredients necessary!

  2. Massachusetts
    December 21, 2011 at 7:46 PM

    And to inspire us to rally behind all things feline:

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