Self-Medication (Zoopharmacognosy)

Certainty Style Key

Certainty styling is being phased out topic by topic.

Hover over keys for definitions:
True   Likely   Speculative
Human Uniqueness Compared to "Great Apes": 
Relative Difference
MOCA Domain: 
MOCA Topic Authors: 

All human populations medicate themselves with a wide variety of natural and/or unnatural products. Some animals are claimed to consume certain plants not for nutrition, but to self-medicate themselves. Chimpanzees and Gorillas consume several plants with medicinal properties and uses in traditional medicine. Examples include chimpanzee chewing of bitter-pith (V. amygdalina) and Chimpanzee and Gorilla swallowing of whole bristly, rough-surfaced leaves. These practices provide relief from symptoms of nematode related gastrointestinal upset and help control nematode infection. Evidence exists that overall nematode load is reduced after consumption. Another example of self-medication is chimpanzee consumption of T. rubescens leaves with soil, which shows anti-malarial properties. It is not known how these behaviors were acquired but hypothesized to pass via cultural practice.

Related MOCA Topics
Referenced By:
Topic Certainty
Healing the Sick True
Mind-Altering Drug Use Likely
Self-Injury Likely


  1. Active self-treatment of a facial wound with a biologically active plant by a male Sumatran orangutan, Laumer, Isabelle B., Rahman Arif, Rahmaeti Tri, Azhari Ulil, Hermansyah, Atmoko Sri Suci Utami, and Schuppli Caroline , Scientific Reports, 2024/05/02, Volume 14, Issue 1, p.8932, (2024)
  2. Unusual feeding behavior in wild great apes, a window to understand origins of self-medication in humans: role of sociality and physiology on learning process., Masi, S., Gustafsson E., M. Jalme Saint, Narat V., Todd A., Bomsel M-C., and Krief S. , Physiol Behav, 01/2012, Volume 105, Issue 2, p.337-49, (2012)
  3. Geophagy: soil consumption enhances the bioactivities of plants eaten by chimpanzees., Klein, N., Fröhlich F., and Krief S. , Naturwissenschaften, 04/2008, Volume 95, Issue 4, p.325-31, (2008)