Bear TreatmentBear bile is a traditional component of Chinese medicine, said to cure everything from liver and digestive problems to heart conditions and even cancer.

It is a cruel and barbaric practice. It is not necessary for us to use bear bile because there are many effective alternatives.

Going back well over a thousand years, wild bears were killed for their bile.

These days, farmers keep the animals in cages and extract the bile in an invasive and painful process.

The bear is removed from its cage and laid on its back.

Ultrasound is used to locate the gall bladder, then a catheter or syringe is inserted through the body cavity to extract the bile.

It is estimated that across Asia as many as 20,000 bears are kept in cramped cages, only able to take two or three paces, and often unable to stand up to their full height.

With a poor diet, limited water and often in filthy conditions, the animals are bored and stressed.

You have got one of the most majestic animals, a very large mammal, trapped inside a cage that is literally in most cases no bigger than an old telephone booth. The welfare conditions are atrocious. The bears can just seem broken, have absolutely no spirit and sit looking vacantly out into the distance.

Keeping bears in cages is legal in Vietnam, but live bear bile extraction was outlawed in 2005, but many farmer ignore the laws.

n Australia over the past five years, Customs has seized 270 consignments containing bear bile.

These include bear bile capsules, vials of bear bile, bear gall powder, bear pills and haemorrhoid ointments.

Chinese herbal medicine practitioner Ngaio Richards has never used bear bile and points out there are effective herbal and pharmaceutical alternatives.


Bear bile might be prescribed for conditions such as serous conjunctivitis, for eye disorders that involve a lot of inflammation or infection. The question is not does bear bile work, but what can be effectively used to replace it? And there are a lot of effective ways of replacing it.