Ingredient Name: Saiga antelope horns, Saiga horns

Chinese Name: 羚羊絲 (Líng yáng sī)

I do not condone the poaching and killing of animals (much less endangered ones) for their parts because of traditional medicinal beliefs.  I actually bought this ingredient as part of a package from the wet mart because I wanted to boil something “heat” relieving for myself (because of a bad sore throat and the obvious over-heated symptoms of thick-green mucus and fiery throat).  And of course, little did I know what the ingredient was until I got home and did some research and then went back to speak to the herbalist and he told me “yah, this is a rare and much coveted ingredient in Chinese medicine!”   Nonetheless, I’ve boiled it, drank it and my sore throat is gone, but do not think I will buy it again.  The thing with doing it once is that you learn from it and honestly, once you know most of the ingredients, you can buy them separately (without pre-packaging) and ensure you’re not buying stuff that could get controversial.  So that’s my 2 cents on the parts of endangered species.  However, I will still share what this ingredient is for your own learning (and mine!).

What is this?
  • The horn of the saiga antelope (which is a rare and highly prized ingredient in Chinese medicine)
  • The saiga is an antelope with medium-sized horns that are found only on the males
  • It is an endangered species to date and commonly found in areas in Asia such as Mongolia
  • The horns are found in various forms such as dried, thinly sliced (or flaked as pictured above), ground into a powder, or cut into tiny pieces
  • The horns are white/beige in color
  • China is the largest importer of the saiga horn and often uses the raw horns in various derivatives of this Chinese medicine

How do I prepare it?

  • Rinse the dried, flaked version in warm water before use
  • For powders, mix in water as directed

Where can I buy this?

  • Chinese herbalist stores
  • Chinese medicine specialty stores
  • Not too commonly available in North America, more so in Asia

What is the cost?

  • The cost varies as it is a pretty rare ingredient, but it is not cheap

Any benefits?

  • Said to be an excellent painkiller and antibiotic
  • A diverse ingredient that is used to treat many ailments such as headaches, fever, congestion, delirium (although there is no reliable scientific studies that prove this)

Any precautions?

  • Be sure you’re purchasing from a reputable source as there are quite a few “fake” or not genuine products available
  • With your purchase, you’re also promoting the market of saiga antelope horns, which will further reduce their already limited numbers (did I just say that!?)