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In traditional Chinese medicine, a tiger penis (Chinese: 虎鞭; pinyin: hǔ biān) is said to have important therapeutic properties. However, modern science does not support the belief that the tiger penis (usually prepared as part of a dish) possesses any special potency. Furthermore, the demand for tiger parts exacerbates the endangered status of the tiger by providing a market for poachers. While the tiger penis is consumed in parts of China and Southeast Asia, particularly in Laos and Cambodia, its preparation is generally condemned by modern nations.
The penis of a tiger when consumed is said to enhance male virility and be an aphrodisiac, although no scientific studies support these claims. In parts of southeast Asia it is seen as a treatment for erectile dysfunction. This has contributed to the poaching of tigers for their presumed benefits, the penis being just one of many of its assets. As a result the tiger penis is usually sold on the black market in China.
Medical studies conducted by scholars at the University of New South Wales and the University of Alaska claim that as Chinese are rapidly modernizing, more and more men are purchasing Viagra instead of tiger penis to cure erectile dysfunction. The researchers surveyed 256 Chinese men, aged 50 to 76, who sought treatment at a large TCM clinic in Hong Kong over their methods to treat impotence. Although the studies indicated that older men in China are finding Viagra a more effective stimulant, they also indicated that they still resort to traditional Chinese medicine for the treatment of ailments such as arthritis, indigestion and gout.
A tiger penis, deer penis, turtle penis, or bull penis is consumed in restaurants in parts of China and southeast Asia and is commonly offered as a soup delicacy. People have been known to spend up to $5700 (£3000) on a particularly rare tiger penis dish, something that needed to be ordered months in advance. A dried tiger penis is more commonly sold at around $2500 (£1300) in Singapore and Taiwan. The penis can be taken in soup, ground in wine (tiger penis wine), or soaked in rice. One method of preparation, particularly in the Mekong River Delta, is to place a dried tiger penis, with testicles still attached, into a bottle of French cognac or Chinese wine and let it soak for many weeks. Then, as it matures, the liquor is taken in sips every night.