Endangered species link to Chinese medicines

John von Radowitz

TESTS of traditional Chinese medicines have shown that many contain traces of endangered animals.

Scientists who analysed 15 samples of powders, pills, capsules and herbal teas found "multiple" examples of banned animal ingredients.

Some of the samples also contained potentially toxic plant compounds and allergy triggers.

The traditional Chinese medicines (TCMs) studied were among products seized by Australian border officials.

Dr Michael Bunce, from Murdoch University in Western Australia, said: "Some of the TCMs contained plants of the genus Ephedra and Asarum. These plants contain chemicals that can be toxic if the wrong dosage is taken.

"We also found traces from trade-restricted animals that are classified as vulnerable or critically endangered, including the Asiatic black bear and Saiga antelope."