Animals Asia launches recipe book of herbal alternatives to bear bile

15 December 2022

Bear bile has been used in traditional medicine for thousands of years. It contains high levels of ursodeoxycholic acid (UDCA) which is known to be useful for treating liver and gallbladder conditions in humans.

But there are over 30 synthetic and herbal alternatives to bear bile that are just as effective, many of which we grow in our Vietnam sanctuary’s herb garden.

Alongside Animals Asia’s work in rescuing bears from bile farms and working with the government to close the industry, we run outreach programs to engage with the traditional medicine community and users of bear bile to promote herbal alternatives.

And it’s working…

We’ve been running outreach events across the country, with a focus on Phung Thuong, a bear bile farming hotspot where 122 bears - almost half of the remaining bears on bile farms in Vietnam - still languish in cages.

Recently, we noticed that people attending our events in Phung Thuong were starting to exchange tips and recipes on using the herbal alternatives, and seemed more confident in using them. 

Jill Robinson, Animals Asia’s founder and CEO said:

“There’s been a remarkable change in attitudes towards bear bile alternatives in communities such as Phung Thuong where the use of bear bile has been entrenched for so long. Our kind, non-judgemental and cooperative approach has resulted in people not just accepting and using herbal alternatives to bear bile, but excitedly exchanging recipes and tips!”

It was time to write a recipe book!

Animals Asia worked with Dr. Shannon Randolph, the Social Impact Director of The Hive, Claremont College, USA, to write a handbook with 40 herbal recipes that the women in Phung Thuong had passed onto us. The recipes include herbal teas, herbal steam baths and infused alcohol to treat health problems that are common among the women of Phung Thuong.

Bright and easy to use, with straightforward guides on how to make each recipe, the book includes recommendations from traditional medicine doctors on dosage and safety precautions.

The book was launched last month in Phung Thuong to the local community and national news outlets. After the launch, doctors from the Traditional Medicine Association held health consultations and screenings for the locals, and discussed the many benefits to using alternatives to bear bile.

Animals Asia’s work in Phung Thuong

The Phung Thuong commune is one of the biggest bear bile farming hotspots in Vietnam, with 122 bears held across 18 farms. Animals Asia and the Hanoi Forest Protection Department have run outreach campaigns against bear bile since 2016, using a friendly, positive and non-confrontational approach. 

Along with the local government, schools and the local community, Animals Asia has held conferences with local wildlife farmers, school programmes about bear protection, and Health days in collaboration with the Traditional Medicine Association.

Read more:

Phung Thuong’s school children help grow herbal garden

Animals Asia rescues seven bears from bear bile farming hotspot

97% of traditional medical practitioners no longer prescribe bear bile