years ago this April, Jill Robinson first walked onto a bear bile farm. On that day in April 1993, Jill could have walked away, but she chose to act and do what she could. Today, you also have a choice. If everyone reading this donated just US$20, it would pay for the care of over 150 bears at our China sanctuary for a full year. Please help us celebrate 20 years of progress. Donate US$20 today (or whatever you can afford).
Affordable and effective herbal and synthetic options available
A report by the Chinese Association of Medicine and Philosophy and EarthCare has established that there are at least 54 herbal alternatives to bear bile, including Chinese ivy stem, dandelion, chrysanthemum, common sage and rhubarb. The alternatives are both cheap and effective.
I have been a practitioner of Chinese medicine for over 40 years and have never used bear bile. Today we have over 50 herbal alternatives and synthetic medicines, which have the same efficacy as bear bile there is no need for bears to suffer any longer.
Professor Liu Zhen Cai, Sichuan, China
Give up bear gall bladder and use herbal substitutes.
Dr Lo Yan Wo
National Association of Chinese Medicine
Hong Kong Chinese Herbalist Association, Hong Kong
Practicing Pharmacists Association, Hong Kong
The active ingredient in bear bile, UDCA, was first synthesised in 1954 in Japan from dead chickens and is proven to be effective in treating liver disease.
Ironically, far more synthetic bile is consumed in Asia than bear bile Japan, Korea and China together consume 100 tonnes of synthetic bile annually. (World consumption is estimated to be double this figure.)
Synthesised UDCA (using cow or pig bile and even no animal parts) is a safe medicine with no side effects. It has been successfully used worldwide to treat gallstones, primary cirrhosis, auto-immune hepatitis and colon cancer.
The generic drug name for UDCA is ursodiol. Brand names for UDCA include Actigall and Urso (US); Destolit, Urdox, Ursofalk, and Ursogal (UK); Ursotan (South Africa).
Clinical studies are currently being conducted on the use of UDCA in the treatment of chronic hepatitis C and cancer.
The latest medical research in 2002 in America, has shown that bile acid is able to cross the blood-brain barrier and may be beneficial in treating Parkinson's, Huntington's and Alzheimer's disease. Researchers stress that this bile acid can be produced synthetically.
Professor Clifford J Steer MD, Professor of Medicine and Genetics, Cell Biology and Development, University of Minnesota, is at the forefront of groundbreaking research into the application of synthetic UDCA in the treatment of Huntington's Disease. He has confirmed that UDCA can be synthesised without the use of animals and costs pennies to produce.