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The Dangers and Lies of Traditional Chinese Medicine

Posted by Jerry De Luca on Sunday, July 16, 2023


Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) is just another example of all the lies and deception rampant in medicine. The entire medical quackery industry relies on culture, tradition, the placebo effect, fake science, zero clinical trials, the appeal of celebrity, lack of critical thinking, and the need for certainty - even if it is false. In many cases desperate people fall for snake-oil "cures" and are soon welcomed by their local funeral director. Below is a clear and concise overview, with more details under Further Reading.  

"TCM is modern-day magic. TCM stems from beliefs many thousands of years old that a vital energy called qi exists within the body, suffusing throughout channels called meridians. Life forces called yin and yang are also present. Through the use of acupuncture, tai chi, and various herbal and animal-based remedies, all these forces and energies can be brought into balance, maintaining or restoring good health. 

"As should be apparent, TCM is superstitious nonsense, essentially magic. True, the martial art tai chi can provide salubrious exercise and meditation, but acupuncture is a theatrical placebo, and almost all the potion-like remedies are medicinally worthless. The system, for example, recommends boiled, gelatinous donkey skins for fighting coughs and cancer, dried seahorses for impotence and bed-wetting, and bear bile for pretty much everything. More than one thousand plant and 36 animal species are included in total. 

"Owing to TCM’s popularity worldwide (China’s government estimates there to be 900 million practitioners, if it can be believed), demand for its remedies can be quite high. This creates three key problems. 

"First, the seemingly insatiable desire for the practice’s remedies is driving species to the brink of extinction. Users generally prefer remedies derived from wild animals rather than farmed ones. For example, the glands of musk deer are used to treat coma and to restore menstrual flow. Just one can sell for up to $45,000 on the black market. More than 100,000 musk deer die each year to meet demand in China alone, and just 230,000 of East Asia’s resident species remain. 

"Other species devastated include tigers for their penises, rhinoceroses for their horns, sun bears for their gallbladders, and pangolins for their scales. Even the humble donkey is at risk. Between 1996 and 2016, China’s wild donkey population fell from 9.4 million to 4.6 million, as humans sought the animals’ prized skins. 

"In addition to TCM’s harms to flora and fauna, there can be genuine health risks for humans as well. According to the National Institutes of Health, some remedies are 'contaminated with toxic compounds, heavy metals, pesticides, and microorganisms,' potentially resulting in serious side effects. Lax manufacturing standards and willful adulteration in China are to blame. For instance, in 2019, the FDA found high levels of lead in one company’s herbal products. As TCM remedies generally aren’t beneficial anyway, it seems especially illogical to consume them when the risk of harm is greater than the potential for benefit. 

"Finally, as we’ve learned from the recent COVID-19 pandemic, frequent and sustained contact between humans and wild animals can breed disaster. TCM greatly incentivizes the trade of wild animals like bats, pangolins, and rodents which harbor diseases that could jump to humans. 

"To summarize, traditional Chinese medicine offers little to no health benefit while endangering various animal species, putting consumers at risk from dodgy products, and increasing the likelihood of global pandemics. Given its immense popularity around the world, it may be the most damaging alternative 'medicine'."   


Why Traditional Chinese Medicine is the worst alternative “medicine” https://bigthink.com/health/traditional-chinese-medicine-worst-alternative-medicine/ 

Further Reading 

What Is Traditional Chinese Medicine?                  https://sciencebasedmedicine.org/what-is-traditional-chinese-medicine/    

The World Health Organization’s decision about traditional Chinese medicine could backfire                                                           https://www.nature.com/articles/d41586-019-01726-1  

Africa's traditional Chinese medicine boom sparks fears for endangered species https://www.rfa.org/english/news/china/medicine-01202022145505.html 

“Eliminating cancer” with Traditional Chinese Medicine and other state-sanctioned quackery                                        https://sciencebasedmedicine.org/eliminating-cancer-with-traditional-chinese-medicine-and-other-state-sanctioned-quackery/ 

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Photo: https://www.phyto5.us/blog-1/the-traditional-chinese-medicine-view-on-balancing-heart-and-spirit-with-mindful-speech-practices

Jerry De Luca is a Christian freelance writer who loves perusing dozens of interesting and informative publications. When he finds any useful info he summarizes it, taking the main points, and creates a (hopefully) helpful blog post.


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