Zoopharmacognosy: Nature’s Pharmacy Utilized by Animals

Zoopharmacognosy: Nature’s Pharmacy made use of by animals

Author’s title: Prof. Pradeep Mishra, Bhupesh C Semwal, Sonia SIngh*  

Introduction: Self-medicating conduct is a matter of rapidly increasing desire to behaviorists, parasitologists, ethnobotanists, chemical ecologists, conservationists, and doctors.  Experts from various disciplines are at present checking out the chance that quite a few species use crops, soils, insects, and fungi as ‘medicines’ in methods that guard towards long run ailment (preventive medicine) and/or alleviate unpleasant signs or symptoms (curative or therapeutic medicine).  It is critical to take note that the scientific examine of animal self-medicine is not dependent on an assumption that animals possess an innate ‘wisdom’ by which they flawlessly know what is great for them.  Self-medicine approaches are survival techniques honed by organic choice.  In most conditions self-medicine could be motivated by a desire to quickly cut down unpleasant sensations.  Some species, specially terrific apes, display an intention of reason in their medicine and in these conditions the expression ‘zoopharmacognosy’ was coined to describe the approach by which wild animals find and use unique crops with medicinal properties for the treatment and prevention of disease1.

                  In other words and phrases we can say that, “Zoopharmacognosy” refers to the approach by which animal self-medicate, by selecting and utilizing crops and soils and insects to treat and stop sickness. Coined by Dr.Eloy Rodriguez a biochemist and professor at Cornell University,  the term is derived from roots zoo (“animal”), pharma (“drug”), and gnosy (“recognizing”)2. Because ancient times men and women have recorded observations of animals evidently healing them selves with organic medications.  A lot of herbs continue to retain a popular title that infers this use: pet-grass (Agropyron repens), catnip (Nepeta cataria), and horny goat weed (Epimedium sp.), to title a number of.  Even so, these observations continue being largely unexplored by science.  A lot of stories of animal self-medicine are evidently intended to notify and connect herbal lore somewhat than point.  Other individuals are simply misinterpretations of animal conduct. 

                          According to Chinese folklore, quite a few centuries back a farmer in the Yunnan district discovered a snake near his hut. Fearful for his lifestyle, he conquer it senseless with a hoe and left it for lifeless. A number of times later, the similar snake returned. Again he experimented with to eliminate it, but yet again it returned. Following he experienced beaten it a 3rd time, the farmer adopted the severely wounded snake as it crawled into a clump of weeds, started feeding on them, and therefore rapidly healed the worst of its injuries. The plant in the story was Panex notoginseng, which now kinds the main component in the herbal formulation ‘Yunnan bai yao’, a white powder that cauterizes cuts and stems external bleeding quickly. It was typical problem in the Vietnam War, for use when troopers were being wounded much from common medical treatment1.

Self-medicine by animals:                      

Chewing crops: Huffman is a person of the pioneers of zoopharmacognosy, thanks to his observations in 1987 of an animal -the chimp – making an attempt to recover herself. Intrigued by her fast recovery and curious about the bring about of her ailment, Huffman analyzed the chimp’s dung and discovered the intestinal parasite Oesophagostomum stephanostomumto is the most probable rationalization for her signs or symptoms. What’s far more, he discovered decrease degrees of the worm in a different woman chimp’s excretions twenty hrs following she ate the bitter pith from a Vernonia tree, when struggling from diarrhea. Huffman and his colleagues isolated an entirely new course of compounds from the pith, a person of which, vernonioside B1, was discovered to possess antiparasitic, antitumor, and antibacterial properties.

                           Why chimpanzees go to all this difficulties to find Aspilia leaves? For many reasons, researchers consider that chimpanzees try to eat this plant to exploit its medicinal properties. Initially, chimps consume far more of these leaves all through the rainy period, when parasitic larvae abound and there is amplified danger of an infection. 2nd, swallowing the leaves entire somewhat than chewing they offer no nutritional gain to the animals, as they pass by the animal undigested. Africans use Aspilia plant, for a wide selection of ailments these kinds of as lumbago, sciatica, scurvy, malaria, and rheumatism.

                           Experts are now browsing for responses to the greater question: What is the system by which leaf swallowing acts towards parasites? One evaluation showed Aspilia leaves to contain a vivid red oil regarded as thiarubrine-A, a compound clinically confirmed to eliminate parasites, viruses, fungi, and microbes. Huffman discovered are living worms in chimp feces trapped “like Velcro” to leaf hairs and trapped inside of the folds. He speculates that worms may develop into attached to the leaves or in some way enticed into the folds all through digestion, using a “magic carpet journey” by the gastrointestinal tract, eventually to be excreted from the human body. Chemical compounds in the plant may also minimize the capability of the parasites to adhere to the intestine, creating it less complicated for them to be swept out by the leaves. To day, gurus have documented 30 plant species whose furry leaves are “swallowed entire,” not just by chimpanzees (Pan troglodytes), but by pygmy chimps, or “bonobos” (Pan paniscus), and jap lowland gorillas (Gorilla gorilla graueri). These terrific apes, of program, share their forest pharmacy with a different critical primate: Homo sapiens. . Rubia cordifolia is the antiparasitic plant Ugandans use to alleviate stomach conditions. Typically, men and women of that country also depend on Aneilema aequinoctiale for fevers, earaches, and to quit bleeding. Lippia plicata is ingested by Africans for far more severe threats these kinds of as dysentery and malaria. And in Tanzania, Ficus exasperata is the most popular antidote for ulcer sufferers.

Wild solutions for copy: Animals may have “stumbled” upon a wealth of methods to management copy, and researchers believe latest discoveries are only the idea of the iceberg. According to World Wildlife Fund scientist Holly Dublin, African elephants (Loxodanta africana) find a distinct species of tree, potentially to induce labor. Dublin adopted a expecting elephant for far more than a calendar year in East Africa, and noticed that the elephant adopted a strictly uniform food plan and pattern of everyday conduct until near the end of gestation. At that time, the elephant walked seventeen miles in a person day -quite a few far more than her usual three- and ate a tree of the Boraginaceae household from leaves to trunk! 4 times later she gave birth to a healthy calf. The University of Wisconsin anthropologist Karen Strier discovered that, at various times, muriqui monkeys (Brachyteles arachnoides)of Brazil go out of their way to try to eat leaves of Apulia leiocarpa and Platypodium elegans,and the fruit of Enterlobium contortisiliquim(monkey’s ear). The very first two crops contain isoflavanoids which are componds comparable to estrogen. Ingesting the leaves may maximize estrogen degrees in the human body, therefore lowering fertility. Alternatively, consuming monkey’s ear may maximize the monkey’s prospects of starting to be expecting mainly because the plant includes a precursor to progesterone (the “being pregnant hormone”) named stigmasterol.

Fur rubbing conduct: Mary Baker, an anthropologist at the University of California, examined that white-faced Capuchin monkeys ( Cebus capucinus) breaking open up the fruits of particular species of Citrus crops, and rubbing the pulp and juice into their fur. They also tore stems, leaves, and seed pods from Clematis dioica, Piper marginatum and Sloanea terniflorastems, blended with saliva and vigorously rubbed them in as well. These botanicals contain secondary compounds with healing and insect- repelling qualities. Baker also noticed that fur-rubbing conduct turns into far more frequent when temperatures and humidity rise all through the rainy period. This may be because of to the corresponding maximize in the danger of bacterial or fungal infections. North American brown bears (Ursus arctos) chew the root of Ligusticum porteri, creating a paste of the plant with saliva, rub on their faces. Ligusticum porteri includes coumarins- fragant organic compounds that may repel insects when topically applied3.                     

                            ‘Fur rubbing is a common conduct of rubbing masticated plant materials and other objects these kinds of as insects on the external floor of the human body by animals. Fur rubbing has been noted in a selection of primates, like Cebus capucinus, C. olivaceus, C.paella, Atelos geoffroyi, A. belzebuth, Aotus boliviensis, A. lemurinus griseimembra, A. nancymaae and Eulemur macaco. It has been proposed that fur rubbing serves to repel or eliminate ectoparasites. In Venezuela, Capuchin monkeys rub extremely poisonous millipede secretion into their fur all through the humid satisfied period when insect bites are higher. The millipede seretions contain benzoquinones, which are well regarded for their insect repellant home.White- nosed coatis (Nasus narica) have been noticed coating their human body with the resin of Trattinnickia aspera (Burseraceae). These may also provide to management ectoparasites and hence must be regarded as a self-medication4.

Eating microbes for digestion: The folivorous, or leaf-consuming, hoatzin, nonetheless, takes advantage of specialised microbes in the crop to split down tricky-to-digest leafy plant substance. Investigate signifies that the bird’s intestine microbes also neutralize poisonous secondary compounds discovered in the crops it eats.

Antimicrobial home of plant: According to biologist John Berry at Cornell University, sweet red fruits of Aframomum angustifolium, obtaining antimicrobial properties in fact pose a digestive risk to the standard, healthy inhabitants of microorganisms discovered in the gorilla’s intestine. Following consuming fruits of this wild ginger, antibacterial compounds in the plant can quickly harm these microbes, in flip upsetting the gorilla’s digestive program if they are not previously a regular element of the food plan. Proof reveals that the gorilla’s microbiota has produced resistance to the biologically active parts of the plant in places the place it is commonly eaten–an adaptation3.

Anting conduct: ‘Anting’ is a conduct in which birds rub crushed ants during their plumage and some birds allow the ants to crawl over their plumage by specifically lying on ants nests. Anting is noted in far more than 200 species of songbirds and it is made use of to soothe irritated skin, help with feather maintenance and repel or cut down ectoparasites. The most commonly made use of ants by birds for anting are those species which contain formic acid. Subsequent empirical studies with fowl lice unveiled that formic acid is damaging to feather lice.

Antimicrobial lining in the nests: The leaves of wild carrot (Daucus carota, Umbelliferae), appreciably minimizes the quantity of fowl mites (Orntithonysus sylviarum) in starling nests. The dusty-footed wooden rats (Neotoma fuscipes) position bay foliage around their sleeping nests and it has been experimentally shown that the inclusion of bay foliage appreciably minimizes the flea larval survival. The wooden ants, formica paralugubris often integrate huge portions of solidified conifer resin into their nests. By making resin-free and resin –rich experimental nests, it was demonstrated that the integrated resin inhibits the advancement of pathogenic micro-organism inside ant nests4.

                         European starlings (Sturnus vulgaris), lining their nests with find clean vegetation, these birds are guarding them selves from a myriad of probable infections. Wild carrot (Dauscus carota), for illustration, kills fowl mites in starling nests. The carrot includes the steroid B-sitosterol, a compound that repels mites and inhibits their egg-laying skills. Wood storks also reuse old nests, often for generations, over quite a few many years and also provide clean eco-friendly substance to their nests.  A lot of of the crops they use are also extremely volatile these kinds of as red cedar (Juniperus silicola), cypress (Taxodium distichium), black gum (Nyssa bioflora), poison ivy (Toxicodendron radicans), red maple (Acer rubrum), wax myrtle (Myrica cerifera), Virginia creeper (Parthenocissus quinquefolia), and h2o oak (Quercus virginiana). When analyzed towards huge skin beetles that infest wooden storks, these crops experienced no effect.  Even so, wooden storks’ selections display the similar profile of fragrant, bitter and astringent crops, suggesting that medicine may be about dealing with the signs or symptoms of mites and bites somewhat than impacting specifically on the ectoparasites.

                         The domestic dwelling sparrow is in on the act much too. In Calcutta, researchers have observed that the dwelling sparrow commonly provides neem (Azidiachta indica) leaves, which are highly effective pesticides, to line its nest at hatching time.  These sparrows have also been noticed to transform from neem to quinine-wealthy leaves of Krishnachua tree (Caesalpinia pulcherrima) all through an outbreak of malaria. Quinine controls the signs or symptoms of malaria and researchers surprise irrespective of whether the sparrows were being selecting leaves to offer with malarial symptoms1.

Intake of soil: ‘Geophagy’ is an act of intentionally consuming soil, stones and rock by herbivorousand omnivorous mammals, birds, reptiles and insects. This behavoiur is noticed and examined in the context of self-medicine in Japanese macaques (macacca mulatta), mountain gorillas (gorilla gorilla), chimpanzees (pan troglodytes) and african elephants. Geophagy is proposed as a usually means to retain intestine pH, to meet nutritional specifications for traces minerals, to fulfill hunger for sodium to detoxify formerly eaten plant secondary metabolites and to fight intestinal issues like diarrhea4.


                    Self-medicine in animals stays a subject with endless unexplored avenues. Washington University biologist Jane Phillips-Conroy, who examined self-medicine in baboons, says, “Just mainly because a monkey eats a distinct plant won’t suggest he is aware of it’s medicinal. We have to have far more definitive studies like those of Huffman, with genuine proof that distinct crops are effective towards distinct ailments. “According to Huffman, “With increasing chemoresistance to the Western world’s current arsenal of antibiotics and anthelmintics [antiparasitics], we can’t afford to allow that opportunity supply of information disappear3”. Actually, Zoopharmacognosy is dependent on the clear capability of animals to display a cognitive grasp of opportunity medications in their setting. Even more new discoveries in the subject of zoopharmacognosy is necessary in order to educate us far more about conduct, botany, and  with regard to medicine, all places in which we may apply our information to gain the forthcoming long run generations.


  1. http://www.colostate.edu/Depts/Entomology
  2. http://en.wikipedia .org/
  3. http://nationalzoo.si.edu/publications
  4. Raman R and Kandula S. Zoopharmacognosy: Self-medicine in wild animals. Resonance 2008: 245-fifty three.

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