Use in traditional medicine

Rhinoceros horn (Xi Jiao/Cornu Rhinoceri) is classified in traditional Chinese medicine as bitter, salty and cold, and as entering the Heart, Liver and Stomach channels. It has been traditionally used in Chinese medicine to cool the blood and stop bleeding (for various kinds of haemorrhage, especially during the course of fevers), eliminate toxins and clear blotches on the skin (for macula and skin blotches that appear during fevers), and calm the spirit and extinguish Liver wind (for disturbance of consciousness and convulsions in the course of high fever). [Chinese Medical Herbology and Pharmacology, Chen and Chen, Art of Medicine Press, 2001]

In response to an international trade ban to protect wild rhinos, the Chinese government banned the use of rhino horns in traditional Chinese medicine in 1993, removing rhino horn from the Chinese pharmacopeia administered by the Ministry of Health of the People’s Republic of China. Yet rhino horn is still in high demand for use within TCM across China and Southeast Asia.

More recently, claims have been made that rhino horn can cure cancer, an entirely erroneous notion which nonetheless has been cited as one of the primary causes of a dramatic surge in the numbers of animals poached over the last 2-3 years [1]. In an attempt to address this rumour, Ms. Lixin Huang, President of the American College of Traditional Chinese Medicine and Council of Colleges of Acupuncture and Oriental Medicine, stated in August 2011: “While this increase may be in part attributable to traditional medicine, the overwhelming demand derives from a non-traditional and unproven use – as a cure for cancer. There is no evidence that rhino horn is an effective cure for cancer and this is not documented in TCM nor is it approved by the clinical research in traditional Chinese medicine."[2] The UK Register of Chinese Herbal Medicine also issued a statement in September 2011 condemning the use of rhino horn [3], and the JCM supports these important initiatives, and the positions stated.

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