Understanding Traditional Chinese Medicine May Help Protect Species – UQ News


Demystifying traditional Chinese medicine for environmentalists may be the key to better protect endangered species like pangolins, tigers and rhinos, according to researchers at the University of Queensland.

UQ doctoral candidate Hubert Cheung said efforts to change entrenched values ​​and beliefs about Chinese medicine are failing to achieve short-term conservation gains.

He said a better understanding of traditional practices was essential for environmentalists to form more effective strategies.

“The use of endangered species in traditional Chinese medicine threatens the survival of species and is a challenge for environmentalists,” said Mr. Cheung.

“Sending messages of ineffectiveness, providing various forms of scientific evidence or promoting biomedical alternatives does not seem to significantly influence decisions and behaviors.

“And, although many practices and treatments continue to be criticized for their lack of scientific support, the World Health Organization has approved the inclusion of traditional Chinese medicine in its global compendium of medical practices Last year.

“The challenge now is for environmentalists to work proactively with practitioners and other industry players to find lasting solutions.

“However, most scientists and conservation organizations are unfamiliar with traditional Chinese medicine, making it difficult to design effective and culturally nuanced interventions.”

Researchers examined the basic theories and practices of traditional Chinese medicine, with the aim of making it more accessible.

They hope their study – and the nuances it contains – will influence policies and campaigns.

“Today, traditional Chinese medicine is officially integrated into the Chinese health system and has been at the heart of China’s response to the ongoing pandemic,” Cheung said.

“In fact, the Chinese government’s COVID-19 clinical guidelines have included recommendations for the use of a product containing bear bile, which has raised concerns among conservation groups. “

UQ Professor Hugh Possingham said traditional Chinese medicine is now not only ingrained in the social and cultural fabric of Chinese society, but is also gaining users elsewhere.

“A better understanding of traditional Chinese medicine will allow environmentalists to engage more constructively with stakeholders in this space,” said Prof Possingham.

“We hope that this work can help all parties to develop more effective and sustainable solutions for species threatened by medical use.

The research was published in People and nature (DO I: 10.1002 / pan3.10166).

Image above left: Traditional Chinese medicine uses a variety of ingredients derived from plants, animals and fungi. Some of them come from endangered species, like the horns of the critically endangered Saiga antelope, as seen here.

Media: Hubert Cheung, [email protected]; Professor Hugh Possingham, [email protected], +61 434 079 061; Dr Duan Biggs, [email protected]; Dominique Jarvis, [email protected] +61 413 334 924.

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