For more than 1,000 years the use of tiger parts has been included in the traditional Chinese medicine regimen. Because of the tiger’s strength and mythical power, the Chinese culture believes that the tiger has medicinal qualities, which helps treat chronic ailments, cure disease and replenish the body’s essential energy.
Endangered tiger parts such as bones, eyes, whiskers and teeth are used to treat ailments and disease ranging from insomnia and malaria, to meningitis and bad skin. Chinese texts state that the active ingredients in tiger bone; calcium and protein, which help promote healing, have anti-inflammatory properties.
Western medical experts tend to discount all claims of any curative power in tiger bone, as they do the rhinoceros horn, another popular Chinese medicine. And, it is well known that aspirin contains similar properties and produces the many of the same results as tiger prescriptions in patients.
Despite this, in Hong Kong, China, Taiwan, South Korea, Vietnam and in Chinatowns across Europe and North America, Chinese medicine stores do a steady trade in tiger wines, powder, tiger balms and tiger pills. Many Asian communities believe that tiger bone, in powdered form or prepared as, “tiger wine,” soothes rheumatic pain and cures ulcers, malaria and burns.
These derivatives make international trade and consumption possible in the wake of the, Convention on the International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES) treaty because they are not easily recognizable as tiger parts.
In recent years there has also been a resurgence of interest in traditional values and cures derived from nature in Chinese culture. Thus, the use of endangered tiger parts for medicinal properties is seen as a status symbol, a way to retain customs amid rapid change and as an alternative to the shortcomings of western medicine.
The Chinese culture believes that nearly all parts of the tiger can be used to derive some medicinal cure for any number of ailments. Here are some examples of how tiger parts and their derivatives are used in traditional Chinese medicine and causing the tiger to be a critically endangered species:
Tiger claws: used as a sedative for insomnia
Teeth: used to treat fever
Fat: used to treat leprosy and rheumatism
Nose leather: used to treat superficial wounds such as bites
Tiger bone: used as an anti-inflammatory drug to treat rheumatism and arthritis, general weakness, headaches, stiffness or paralysis in lower back and legs and dysentery
Eyeballs: used to treat epilepsy and malaria
Tail: used to treat skin diseases
Bile: used to treat convulsions in children associated with meningitis
Whiskers: used to treat toothaches
Brain: used to treat laziness and pimples
Penis: used in love potions such as tiger soup, as an aphrodisiac
Dung or feces: used to treat boils, hemorrhoids and cure alcoholism
Fortunately, there are viable natural alternatives for those seeking traditional Chinese medicines to treat ailments and disease without using tiger derivatives.