Ape, Not Monkey Comic–What’s the Harm?

Alternative Medicine Whats The Harm

A nice reminder from Ape, Not Monkey of something we rarely consider. Many alternative ad folk remedies make use of plant and animal parts which, in addition to being of questionable safety and efficacy, may come from endangered plant or animal species. Ben Radford at Live Science has several examples, including the odd fact that the introduction of viagra to Kenya may have reduced poaching of rhino horn there.  The World Wildlife Fund, International Fund for Animal Welfare, and a number of other conservation organizations have also addressed this problem in their advocacy efforts.

While this issue is not my central objection to unproven alternative therapies, it is yet another reaon why the widespread use of unvalidated traditional remedies should be discouraged. Even with government oversight and the necessary efforts of advocacy groups, it is difficult enough to control the mainstream pharmaceutical industry’s efforts to exploit the possible medicinal value of natural plant and animal substances. The unregulated CAM industry, which seems to be automatically assumed to be “green” and more environmentally friendly than scientific medicine, is likely to be as great or greater a threat to endangered plant and animal species if no effort is made to ensure that only renewable and sustainable sources of raw materials are used. It is especially tragic to lose forever animal or plant species due to their exploitation for likely ineffective folk remedies.

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4 Responses to Ape, Not Monkey Comic–What’s the Harm?

  1. Bartimaeus says:

    Sale of products from rare species like tigers and rhinos could result in the extinction of those species, but even products obtained from common species can cause cruel treatment that nearly everyone would consider unacceptable even if there was some benefit to the product (I’m thinking specifically of bear bile).
    Quite a few traditional medicines and products are not just plant products, but also animal products. Unfortunately, when such traditional uses of animals and rare plants are questioned, accusations of prejudice or racism are often thrown around in an attempt to quell the criticism.

  2. skeptvet says:

    Yes, stories like this are all too easy to find. 🙁

  3. Rita says:

    Once again, for onward referral, I recommend looking at the “provings” of homeopathic remedies so people finally realise these wretched nostrums use animal body parts as their sources whenevr it occurs to them. Rudolph Steiner’s remedies for ground infertility included burying cow intestine stuffed with something or the other inside; shark cartilage (recently covered here, I think) is fed to dogs for athritis. Humans will do anything, hurt anyone, use any substance to control (or have the illusion of controlling) health problems…….it may be “integrative”, “traditional”, whatever they like, but it’s just any cruel port in a storm when you come down to it.

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