The Elephant Tusk in the Room
First off, a thank-you is owed to a courageous patient who point blank asked me an awkward question last night. I suggested that I prescribe a Chinese Medicine formula to which she responded, without hestitation, “Will there be bear claw in it?”.
A Thank-you is owed in part because being shocked out of the script is a valuable experience for any practitioner, but more because the question shines a light into a dark place in our medicine that, let’s face it, everyone is wondering about, but no one has quite the nerve to ask. Point blank. In the consultation room.
So thank-you for that.
Since this is largely a question of illegal international wildlife trade, it’s very reasonable for you to ask whether or not the product you are buying is legal; whether or not I’m asking you to dissolve a controlled substance into hot water twice a day and drink it.
The short answer is no; there is no bear’s claw in your formula. The long answer goes something like this:
Most of the substances in your formula are plant-based: roots, rhizomes, leaves, twigs and grasses. There are also animal substances in some formulas, consisting largely of insects, but this is much less common; if you are a vegetarian, your formula will be modified to reflect this. And lastly, there are no illegal, endangered animal parts in your formula. The substances we use are strictly regulated and rigorously tested for quality and purity. If you are interested in getting information on the herbs, their quality and source, please follow this link.
And if you have more specific questions, always feel free to shock your practitioner and just ask!