Tiger tooth aloes have a rich, refreshing fragrance and have long been an ingredient in traditional Chinese medicine.
Now, the herbal ingredient is making its way to the United States, and it could have a major impact on a lucrative, yet misunderstood, Chinese medicine business.
Aloe, an alkaloid native to India and Madagascar, is rich in vitamin C, vitamin E and potassium.
It’s also used in tea, cosmetics, body wash, hair care, antiseptic, antifungal, disinfectants and in cough syrups.
In a study published online this month in the journal Medicinal Chemistry, researchers from the University of Southern California in Los Angeles, the University at Buffalo in New York and the University College London in London analyzed tiger tooth extracts from about 100 tiger tooth samples collected from China, Thailand, Vietnam and Indonesia.
They found that tiger tooth extract is richly concentrated in the vitamin C compound, and that this concentration can be detected in tooth enamel and is present in higher concentrations in the teeth of Asian tigers than in the American tigers.
The researchers noted that tiger teeth can also contain vitamin E, a vitamin that can be a powerful anti-cancer agent.
The tooth enamels of the American and Vietnamese tigers were significantly more alkaline than the American tooth enams of the Asian tigers, the researchers found.
Tiger tooth extract, they say, could potentially have beneficial effects on the development of cancer in Asian tigers and may have a role in the disease of Asian tiger populations.
The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is investigating the possibility that tiger extract may be responsible for the rising incidence of tumors in the tiger population in Asia.
“The findings support the hypothesis that tiger extracts may be a promising new source of cancer-fighting anthocyanins and cancer-resistance materials in the wild,” said Dr. James B. Johnson, the study’s lead author and an assistant professor of veterinary chemistry at the University’s Center for Animal Science.
But tiger tooth enemas are also used for treating the digestive tract and skin.
“If tiger tooth is a good candidate, I don’t think it will be very long before people are using it for oral care,” said Jai, who said that in addition to being a natural alternative to tooth enema, tiger tooth may be particularly useful in treating tuberculosis.
Tumors and tuberculosis are common in tiger populations, according to the World Health Organization.
“It’s important to get this research out there so that people can actually use it and use it as they see fit,” he said.
“Tiger tooth enems, tiger teeth are good to chew, but they also can be used to treat a lot of other diseases.”
Aloe Vera is an alkaline, water-soluble herb that can contain high levels of vitamin C. It can be extracted from plants or harvested from wild animals.
Aloes are used as skin, hair and facial treatments and as an ingredient for tooth enames.
But the American tiger is the only one of its kind.
It has long been used as an aphrodisiac in China.
“I think the American lion has more than anything else that we’re really concerned about the tiger and how it’s been misused in medicine and misused as a scapegoat,” said Johnson.
“We’re just hoping that tiger enemes and tiger tooth can really be used as a good alternative to traditional Chinese medicines and that people don’t take them too seriously.”
The researchers say that the Asian tiger population could grow to between 300,000 and 1.2 million in the next 30 years.
But they also noted that the U.N. Food and Agriculture Organization estimates that tiger populations in Southeast Asia are in decline by about 70 percent.
So there is a risk that the American population could also be growing.
“To have tigers that are so dominant in the Asian wild, there’s a real possibility that that population could go through a very severe decline in that region,” said Aloe researcher Dr. Michael C. Guggenheim.
“There’s a risk of that tiger population going to extinction in the foreseeable future.”
Tumor experts have long criticized the use of tiger tooth as a medicine, arguing that its use in traditional medicine was often misguided and led to the creation of toxic compounds that were ineffective in treating cancer.
They also warn that there’s no scientific evidence that tiger-derived anthocanins are useful for cancer treatment.
“People are always looking for a way to say ‘Hey, tiger is cancer-resistant and it’s great for you,’ and they’re looking for something that is not true,” said Guggerheim.
T.S., a tiger-toxin-free supplement is currently in the market, but its ingredients aren’t currently in clinical trials.
“This is a very dangerous business,” said Robert M. Zemel, a toxicologist and professor of toxicology at the UCL Institute of Veterinary Medicine.
“And the industry has been