A farm in Dafeng, China was the site of a greenhouse containing one million or more cockroaches. They were intended for use in traditional Chinese ‘medicine’, because of the belief extracts from them can be healing. However, the greenhouse was damaged and its contents loosed by a saboteur.
Raising cockroaches for ‘medicine’ seems like a very dubious enterprise, but the claims made by the centuries-old practice seem even more ludicrous. For example, eating a cockroach mixed with rhubarb and peach seed is indicated for cessation of menstruation. There can be many causes of this problem and some of them are structural such as uterine scarring, and vaginal obstruction. Therefore, eating a cockroach would be of no use, and it isn’t clear doing so would be beneficial for any condition. In fact, roaches can carry disease-spreading fungi and bacteria, so handling them would not be a good idea at all. Furthermore, cockroach feces, residue, saliva and eggs can cause allergic reactions in humans. Research has shown a potential link between asthma and cockroach exposure.
One of the claims about cockroach extracts is that they can boost immunity. It would seem this notion is likely to be utterly false and that it has been proven cockroach exposure can cause allergic reactions. Reportedly, disease control investigators have been engaged in Dafeng to kill the hordes of cockroaches, but what method will they use? Surely, toxic chemicals are one way of eliminating such a large number of bothersome insects. If pesticides are used, won’t they also pose some hazard to humans, both directly at the time of application and later if they make their way through the soil and perhaps into water supplies.
Aspects of traditional Chinese ‘medicine’ seem to be based on a system of very outdated superstitions. Tragically, it remains practiced to this day and continues to devastate populations of wild animals such as rhinos, tigers and elephants. These superstitions may have accumulated over many years, but hopefully the presence and activity of the Internet will help overcome them by counteracting the misinformation.
It is worth noting that some of these ‘medicines’ might also be dangerous to humans.