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The Myths of Medicinal Ivory | KCET

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Would you like us to take another look at this review? No, cancel Yes, report it Thanks! You've successfully reported this review. In February, China imposed a one year moratorium on the good and in the United States, the trade is coming close to a complete ban. While it's mostly sold as jewelry or in statue form, ivory is also used as a Chinese medicinal ingredient. There are stories of emperors who believed ivory chopsticks would change color upon contact with poisoned food. Tusk powder is said to have detoxifying properties, giving skin a luminous glow when consumed.

If you search ivory powder in Chinese, you might come across a list of the "healing" properties of the powder. On another site written in Chinese , the anti-epileptic powers of ivory are emphasized. The tusks have a good amount of calcium phosphate, it reads. It can be used as an anti-convulsant and to help heal sore throats.

Like most Chinese medicine, it's usually paired with other ingredients as a treatment. On that same website, there's an excerpt from a book called Y? There's a recipe to cure ulcers in there. The ingredients: ivory, turtle shell, and hedgehog skin. Ground it all up, it instructs, and shape it into a pill no larger than a cherry.

If you search patents, you'll find more modern formulas for ivory powder in China. In , a patent was granted for a pill to supposedly relieve osteoporosis. The ingredients: angelica, Achyranthes a medicinal plant , complanatus a type of snail , and ivory. In , a patent for pure ivory pills was granted to cure bone tuberculosis.

More troubling is this patent for hyperostosis , or excessive bone growth, that was filed in Ivory in Chinese medicine form isn't popular in the United States. I asked my family's Chinese medicine doctor about ivory in medicine and she said she never heard of a case like that in her life. It's different though -- buffalo and even rhino horns which are illegal are made out of keratin, a protein found in hair and fingernails.

Ivory can still be found in Los Angeles, mostly as statues and as jewelry. In California, it is illegal to sell ivory that has been brought to the U. It's easy to buy -- you just have to know where to go. Kristie Hang , a freelance journalist in L. One of the stores went into the back room and got out a shoe box. According to a study , L. The study found, within a span of a month, over 1, ivory items offered for sale by vendors in California, with items and 77 vendors in L.

Last month, China announced a one-year moratorium on the import of ivory carvings after years of international pressure. But critics say that's not enough. In January, China crushed a pile of tusks reportedly weighing over six tons, but some of the crushed ivory powder was reportedly "preserved. Things like rhinoceros horn and elephant tusk are being prescribed for infertility as a [traditional Chinese medicine] cure, despite that this actually goes against the tradition," writes China Change, a news blog on Chinese issues.

It all comes down to this: ivory is a status symbol, embedded into Chinese tradition with a value that is driven higher by its rarity.

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To change the mind of the Chinese, it's all about awareness. Steps towards this have already been taken. Former NBA player Yao Ming, for example , has spoken out against the ivory trade and is a wildlife activist of sorts appearing in numerous commercials against ivory and shark's fin soup. Actor Jackie Chan, too, has been outspoken against the trade. The campaigns seem to be working. According to WildAid , in , there was a