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Journal of Ethnobiology and Ethnomedicine

, 5:2

First Online: 12 January 2009Received: 22 September 2008Accepted: 12 January 2009


Bear bile has been used in Traditional Chinese Medicine TCM for thousands of years. Modern investigations showed that it has a wide range of pharmacological actions with little toxicological side effect and the pure compounds have been used for curing hepatic and biliary disorders for decades. However, extensive consumption of bear bile made bears endangered species. In the 1980-s, bear farming was established in China to extract bear bile from living bears with -Free-dripping Fistula Technique-. Bear farming is extremely inhumane and many bears died of illness such as chronic infections and liver cancer. Efforts are now given by non-governmental organizations, mass media and Chinese government to end bear farming ultimately. At the same time, systematic research has to be done to find an alternative for bear bile. In this review, we focused on the literature, laboratory and clinical results related to bear bile and its substitutes or alternative in English and Chinese databases. We examined the substitutes or alternative of bear bile from three aspects: pure compounds derived from bear bile, biles from other animals and herbs from TCM. We then discussed the strategy for stopping the trading of bear bile and issues of bear bile related to potential alternative candidates, existing problems in alternative research and work to be done in the future.

AbbreviationsTCMTraditional Chinese Medicine

UDCAursodeoxycholic acid

CDCAchenodeoxycholic acid

TCAtauro-cholic acid

TUDCAtauro-ursodeoxycholic acid

TCDCAtauro-chenodeoxycholic acid

CAcholic acid

DCADeoxycholic acid

HDCAhyodeoxycholic acid

LCAlithocholic acid

WSPAWorld Society for the Protection of Animals

AAFAnimals Asia Foundation

CITESConvention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Flora and Fauna

NGOsnon-governmental organizations.

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Autor: Yibin Feng - Kayu Siu - Ning Wang - Kwan-Ming Ng - Sai-Wah Tsao - Tadashi Nagamatsu - Yao Tong


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