(NaturalNews) The mere thought of unexpectedly encountering one in a dark hallway or bedroom is probably enough to send shivers up your spine, seeing how there are likely many more of the nasty critters where that one came from. But in China, cockroaches have become big business, with prodigious entrepreneurs now intentionally raising them by the millions for the purpose of selling them to pharmaceutical companies as a form of medicine.
The U.K.'s Telegraph reports that the cockroach industry is simply booming in many parts of China, as news about the alleged health benefits associated with their consumption spreads like wildfire. Everything from blood clots and gastroenteritis to tuberculosis and heart disease are considered eligible conditions for treatment with cockroaches, which is why so many people want to get their hands on them these days.
As it turns out, native Chinese people groups, particularly in the northern regions of China, have been eating roaches for centuries. So there is not necessarily a "grossness" factor when it comes to consuming them in powdered form loaded into pills or capsules. Roach farmers like 43-year-old Wang Fuming from China's Shandong province know this quite well, and they are happily riding the waves of financial success in this burgeoning industry.
"These are not the same ones you see in your home, those are German cockroaches," Wang is quoted as saying. "There are hundreds of species of cockroaches, but only this one has any medicinal value. It is native to Guangdong province."
Wang speaks, of course, about the Periplaneta americana roach type, also known as the American cockroach. He currently raises some 22 million of these creepy insects in a string of concrete bunkers located in a suburban area of Jinan and has mastered a technique that prevents them from escaping. Before they turn four months old, he kills them and sells their bodies to pharmaceutical companies, which process them into various drugs.
Roach farming more lucrative than food farming in China
To some, the idea of raising roaches for pharmaceutical processing and use might sound absurd, and perhaps more like an usual hobby than an actual career. But Wang says it brings in more cash than most other jobs and industries, including typical farming of fruits and vegetables. Roach farming is so lucrative, in fact, that Wang alone has quintupled his output in just two years, as well as helped others establish more than 30 other roach farms in the area.
"I have a trucking business too, transporting marble, paper and farm products for local companies," he says, noting that he earns anywhere between $50,000 and $150,000 a year for his roach crop. "But that brings in pocket money: it is cockroaches that bring in the big money.... The pharmaceutical companies set the price, but I stockpile my cockroaches when the supply is plentiful to wait for when the demand picks up."
So, is cockroach-based medicine actually viable, you might be asking? Local experts seem to think so, reinforcing a traditional Chinese medicine practice that dates back thousands of years. Far from a pipe dream, many doctors in China are largely in agreement that cockroach therapy works, and that it holds incredible potential for healing patients without causing harmful side effects.
"They really are a miracle drug," says Liu Yusheng, a professor at Shandong Agricultural University and head of the Shandong province's Insect Association, as quoted by the Telegraph. "They can cure a number of ailments and they work much faster than other medicine."