Bear bile, explained
Bear bile is used in traditional Chinese medicine, but it comes at a cost to individual bears’ welfare and their survival in the wild.
Bear bile has been used in traditional Chinese medicine for thousands of years, with the first reference appearing in an eighth century medical text prescribing bear bile for maladies like epilepsy, hemorrhoids, and heart pain. In the early 1900s, scientists discovered that bear bile, a fluid that’s secreted by the liver and stored in the gallbladder, contains a significant amount of ursodeoxycholic acid—more than other animals like pigs or cows. This acid is medically proven to help dissolve gallstones and treat liver disease.
Bear bile, however, is also marketed as a cure for cancer, colds, hangovers, and more, though there is no scientific evidence supporting its effectiveness for these ailments. It’s also sometimes used an ingredient in