Use in traditional medicine
Asiatic black bear - use in traditional Chinese medicine
Bear Gall bladder (Xiong Dan/Vesica Fellea Ursi) and Bear Bile (Xiong Dan or Xiong Dan Zhi) are classified as bitter and cold, entering the Liver, Gallbadder, Heart, Spleen and Stomach. They have traditionally been used in Chinese medicine to, i. clear heat from the Heart and Liver and stop spasms (for example childhood convulsions, epilepsy, eclampsia, delirium following extensive burning etc.); ii. clear heat and resolve toxicity (for example sores, carbuncles etc.); iii. clear and drain Liver heat and benefit the eyes (for example severely red, painful and swollen eyes etc.); iv. clear heat and eliminate childhood nutritional impairment.
Modern research has shown that bear bile contains the greatest amounts of ursodeoxycholic acid (UDCA) of any species of mammal. UDCA is known to modify cholesterol absorption and excretion and is used in the treatment of gall stones, biliary cirrhosis, and liver cancers. A recent study has shown that synthetically-produced UCDA (i.e. not extracted from bears - see Alternatives to bear bile) can prevent abnormal heart rhythm or arrhythmia, both following a heart attack and also in foetuses (1).
1. Miragoli M, Sheikh SH, Kadir A, et al. A protective antiarrhythmic role of ursodeoxycholic acid in an in vitro rat model of the cholestatic fetal heart. Hepatology 2011, article first published online: August 1.