Reply To: What is seahorse powder used for ?

Pete Giwojna

Dear Matt:

If you are talking about dried seahorses that are ground into a power for use in Traditional Chinese Medicine or Asian Folk Medicine, I can tell you that there is no scientific evidence whatsoever that such “seahorse powder” has any medicinal value at all.

An estimated 25-30 million specimens are now collected from the wild annually, primarily to feed the insatiable demands of Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) for dried seahorses (Garrick-Maidment, May 2002, Aug. 2002). The global demand for seahorses for this medicinal market is virtually limitless. They have no place in modern western medicine, of course, but dried seahorses are used in countless numbers for TCM and its regional variations: hanyak in Korea, kanpo in Japan, and jamu in Indonesia (Lourie, Vincent and Hall, 1999). In vast areas of the world, seahorses are in widespread use to treat maladies such as asthma and other respiratory ailments, broken bones, impotence, arteriosclerosis, thyroid disorders, heart disease, skin problems, and incontinence (Cuen 2000, Gaski and Johnson 1994). They are especially popular in China and Taiwan as aphrodisiacs and treatments for sexual dysfunction (Garrick-Maidment, Aug. 2002).

Seahorses have been exploited for these purposes for centuries and will continue to be used in rapidly growing numbers for TCM throughout the foreseeable future. The handwriting is on the wall: TCM has been formally codified for 2000 years, is practiced by over one quarter of the world’s population, and is acknowledged to be a valid form of medicine by the World Health Organization (Lourie, Vincent and Hall, 1999). TCM and its variants are most popular in those very parts of the world whose population is growing the fastest, fueling the growing demand for seahorses in folk medicine.

Needless to say, this tremendous over-harvesting has a devastating impact on seahorse populations in the wild, and one of the primary reasons that Ocean Rider began breeding and raising seahorses for the aquarium hobby was to help reduce the pressure on wild seahorses, Matt.

In short, sir, there is no medicinal value in dried seahorses or powdered seahorses.

Pete Giwojna, Ocean Rider Tech Support

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