Traditional Chinese medicine often contains a number of animal and plant components that are meant to act synergistically to treat a particular ailment. Only a small number of products have been scientifically validated, with their perceived efficacy instead promoted through folklore and word of mouth. Researchers have a found number of traditional Chinese medicines to be adulterated with drugs of known pharmacological activity, presumably to increase their effectiveness.
...Dr. Bunce and his colleagues analyzed 15 traditional Chinese medicines confiscated by customs officials at the Australian border, including powders, tablets, capsules, bile flakes and herbal teas.
...They found goat, sheep, deer, buffalo, cow and toad DNA, in addition to endangered Saiga antelope and vulnerable Asiatic black bear. Both of the latter species are protected under the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species, which includes China among its 175 signatories.
...Over all, 78 percent of the samples contained animal DNA that was not labeled in Chinese or English on the packaging. Saiga antelope horn powder, for example, claimed to be 100 percent pure, yet was laced with traces of goat and sheep.