Thursday, July 16, 2009

Animals Use Plants To Kill Parasites & Bacteria

Self-medication - animals know how to use Nature's pharmacy... can humans do it too? I am not saying that humans are intelligent enough to self-medicate, it is not something I would advise! It seems animals are intelligent enough to know which medicinal plants and herbs to eat so they stay healthy.

Not only monkeys, but bears and insects consume plants, bark and herbs that have apparently little or no food value. Researchers have discovered that the medicine plants animals have been observed to eat, have been found to contain compounds that kill parasites and eliminate bacteria and fungus...

Chimps Eat Herbs To Cure Maleria
Researchers at Kibale National Park have discovered that chimps eat plants similar to the ones used by traditional healers to treat malaria and diarrhoea.

"The chimps and human beings around Kibale use similar plants to overcome sickness," Sabrina Kreif, a researcher, said. She was speaking at Makerere University's Faculty of Science at a ceremony to launch a memorandum of cooperation between Uganda Wildlife Authority and French institutions.

In her five-year study at Kanyawara research station, located on the edge of Kibale, Krief found that chimps carefully select and consume plants like mululuza, which have little nutritive value.

These plants, however, have medical properties that help the chimps to overcome malaria and diarrhoea, as well as to expel worms from their intestines, Krief said. Her research included collecting and analysing chimp dung and urine.

"I had to examine the dung to find out the plants in their diet and then extract the active components," she said.

She also monitored the behaviour of the chimps to find out if there was any improvement each time sick chimps ate the plants. She also found that traditional healers in the area use the same plants.

In some cases, the chimps ate the bark of certain trees, which helped them to overcome parasites that cause diarrhoea.

"It was stunning to see that the traditional healers use the same plants to treat the diseases," she said. "The studies on great apes, which are the closest relatives to humans, will help us to discover plants with medicinal properties."

Healing Herbs: In Uganda, chimpanzees swallow leaves of Rubia cordifolia, a plant deemed so dandy for easing stomach ailments that local villagers cultivate it in home gardens. Ugandan chimps also carefully select and chew young leaves of a particular species of fig tree. Tests by phytochemist Rodriguez reveal that the fig leaves contain 5- methoxypsoralen, an antibiotic compound that kills nematodes, or wormlike parasites. Read More...

The term Zoopharmacognosy refers to the process by which animals self-medicate, by selecting and using plants, soils, and insects to treat and prevent disease. Coined by Dr. Eloy Rodriguez, a biochemist and professor at Cornell University, the word is derived from roots zoo ("animal"), pharma ("drug"), and gnosy ("knowing").

'- ) Just break it up to understand it: Zoo - pharma-cognosy

Nature's Pharmacy Used by Animals - Self-medicating behavior is a topic of rapidly growing interest to behaviorists, parasitologists, ethnobotanists, chemical ecologists, conservationists, and physicians. Scientists from various disciplines are currently exploring the possibility that many species use plants, soils, insects, and fungi as 'medicines' in ways that guard against future illness...