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ARC Home > Projects > Sacred gifts :
Traditional Chinese Medicine

Traditional Chinese Medicine

Update: November 2010

This year has seen the launch of the Daoists' Eight Year Plan for Ecology Protection in China. The foundations have been laid for the development of six initiatives in the areas of asset management; education; belief, tradition and wisdom; daily life and celebration. These categories embrace issues that will call into questioning the use of endangered species in traditional Chinese medicine. Health and healthcare practices are to be reviewed and regular panels will provide opportunities for conservation to be discussed and the broadening of the already existing ecology protection network. The collection of traditional stories is intended to prompt reassessment of daily living in accordance to Daoist core teachings based around the principles of living harmoniously with the environment to encourage growth and not to exploit what the natural world has to offer. Animal parts will not be found in Daoist health products.

ARC is working with respected religious leaders in China to teach people to use alternative natural ingredients
Dried seahorse, tiger penis, bear gall and rhinoceros horn are some of the rare ingredients used in traditional Chinese medicine to treat problems ranging from impotence to migraine Since the 1960s environmentalists and governments have been arguing and legislating against this trade – which has involved the deaths of hundreds of thousands of endangered animals. Yet the poaching still goes on.

ARC would like to develop a new initiative with Buddhists and Daoists, and appropriate Schools of Traditional Chinese Medicine, to remove endangered species from the ingredients of Chinese prescriptions. The justification for this is not only that this is bad for the environment but also that it is bad for the soul. Traditional Chinese medicine relies on principles, shared by Buddhist and Taoist traditions, that emphasise the importance of balance in nature. The argument is that use of these ingredients is so damaging to nature that they cannot actually work.

Researchers at the Beijing School of Traditional Chinese Medicine are looking for alternative non-endangered and sustainable ingredients recognised in the traditional lists.

If you buy traditional Chinese medicine:

Check that it does not use species listed as under threat. Check the TRAFFIC website and notify them if you find illegal products.

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What is a Sacred Gift?
Every religion believes the gift of life itself is sacred. This shared understanding led WWF and ARC to create a special term of recognition for significant new projects.