China's cockroach cure
Apparently, crushed-up cockroach powder does wonders for treating cirrhosis, breast cancer and — bonus! — wrinkles and other unwelcome effects of aging. As Quartz reports, China's roach rage kicked off after a Yunnan medical professor noticed some elderly ethnic minorities were crushing up dead roaches to treat bone tuberculosis; after ten years of his own research, he patented roach powder as a traditional Chinese medicine ingredient, and voila, cockroach jackpot.
Now, other entrepreneurs are jumping on the bug-infested bandwagon. According to this Google-translated Chinese article, Zou Hui learned about the cockroach's apparently curative properties on TV and then rushed out to learn the tools of the trade, purchasing 1.5 million "seedlings" (where does one even buy cockroach seedlings?!). She claims to now make up to 400 yuan per kilogram of cockroach powder and is doing business with five major pharmaceutical companies — and in less than a year, she has already recouped her initial 2 million yuan investment.
Unsurprisingly, people who live near cockroach producers like Zou Hui are less-than-thrilled about their new neighbours. And they are right to be wary — according to news reports, some one million cockroaches recently escaped a cockroach farm in Jiangsu province. Farm owner Wang Pengsheng told reporters he invested 100,000 yuan to raise some 1.5 million cockroaches, feeding them biscuits and fruit every day for six months before an "unknown prepetrator" damaged his farm, thus liberating the well-fed critters into the community.
But let's just get back to the bigger issue at hand; can cockroaches really be used for medicine? This question can't be answered without some solid scientific evidence but for now, at least one researcher from the University of Nottingham sees antibiotic potential in the humble cockroach.