Self-Medication (Zoopharmacognosy)

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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.

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Healing the Sick True
Mind-Altering Drug Use Likely
Self-Injury Likely

References

  1. 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)
  2. 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)