Powdered seahorse is a medicinal ingredient used in traditional Chinese medicine, according to Acupuncture Today. It is made from dried seahorses, a type of fish with a horse-shaped head and curled tail. Powdered seahorse is also available in pill or capsule form. Some markets also carry whole seahorses.
According to Breakthroughs Magazine, seahorses are used to treat conditions such as wheezing, abdominal pain, incontinence and toxic swelling. They are also considered an aphrodisiac and treat impotence. Acupuncture Today states that powdered seahorse should be taken in small doses of 1 to 3 grams. It can also be used topically on skin sores and infections. High doses of powdered seahorse may lead to kidney failure, so individuals should consult a licensed medical professional before taking this supplement.
Seahorses are listed as an endangered species on the Convention on International Trade of
Endangered Species, states Breakthroughs Magazine. This is in part due to destruction of their habitat near the shorelines as well as their use in Chinese medicine. Many countries regulate or ban fishing and exporting of seahorses.
Some countries find it difficult to stop illegal trafficking of seahorses. For example, according to the BBC, Peru banned seahorse fishing in 2004, yet traffickers still catch and export seahorses to Asia. A bust in 2012 seized 16,000 dried seahorses that authorities estimate could have sold for up to $250,000.