Hostname: page-component-5d59c44645-l48q4 Total loading time: 0 Render date: 2024-02-23T17:39:19.673Z Has data issue: false hasContentIssue false

Animal self-medication and ethno-medicine: exploration and exploitation of the medicinal properties of plants

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  11 August 2008

Michael A. Huffman*
Affiliation:
Section of Ecology, Primate Research Institute, Kyoto University, 41-2 Kanrin, Inuyama Aichi, 484-8506, Japan
*
Corresponding author: Dr Michael Huffman, fax +81 568 63 538, huffman@pri.kyoto-u.ac.jp
Rights & Permissions [Opens in a new window]

Abstract

Core share and HTML view are not available for this content. However, as you have access to this content, a full PDF is available via the ‘Save PDF’ action button.

Early in the co-evolution of plant-animal relationships, some arthropod species began to utilize the chemical defences of plants to protect themselves from their own predators and parasites. It is likely, therefore, that the origins of herbal medicine have their roots deep within the animal kingdom. From prehistoric times man has looked to wild and domestic animals for sources of herbal remedies. Both folklore and living examples provide accounts of how medicinal plants were obtained by observing the behaviour of animals. Animals too learn about the details of self-medication by watching each other. To date, perhaps the most striking scientific studies of animal self-medication have been made on the African great apes. The great ape diet is often rich in plants containing secondary compounds of non-nutritional, sometimes toxic, value that suggest medicinal benefit from their ingestion. Chimpanzees (Pan troglodytes), bonobos (Pan paniscus) and gorillas (Gorilla gorilla) are known to swallow whole and defecate intact leaves. The habit has been shown to be a physical means of purging intestinal parasites. Chimpanzees and man co-existing in sub-Saharan Africa are also known to ingest the bitter pith of Vernonia amygdalina for the control of intestinal nematode infections. Phytochemical studies have demonstrated a wide array of biologically-active properties in this medicinal plant species. In light of the growing resistance of parasites and pathogens to synthetic drugs, the study of animal self-medication and ethno-medicine offers a novel line of investigation to provide ecologically-sound methods for the treatment of parasites using plant-based medicines in populations and their livestock living in the tropics.

Type
Nutrition and Behaviour Group Symposium on ‘Exploitation of medicinal properties of plants by animals and man through food intake and foraging behaviour’
Copyright
Copyright © The Nutrition Society 2003

References

Abbiw, DK (1990) Useful Plants of Ghana Kew Intermediate Technology Publications and Royal Botanic GardensGoogle Scholar
Abebe, D (1987) Plants in the health care delivery system of Africa Medicinal and Poisonous Plants of the Tropics 7987 Leeuwenburg AIM, compiler Wageningen Pudoc WageningenGoogle Scholar
Adegoke, GO & Skura, BJ (1994) Nutritional profile and anti-microbial spectrum of the spice Aframomum danielli. Plant Foods for Human Nutrition 45, 175182Google Scholar
Akah, PA & Okafor, CL (1990) Blood sugar lowering effects of Vernonia amydgalina in experimental rabbit model The State of Medicinal Plant Research in Nigeria. Integrative Seminar on Natural Products Research and Development of Plant Based Drugs 27 Sofowora A Kumani, Ghana University of Science and TechnologyGoogle Scholar
Anderson, RM & May, RM (1982) Population Biology of Infectious Diseases Berlin Springer-VerlagGoogle Scholar
Asaka, Y, Kubota, T & Kulkrani, AB (1977) Studies on a bitter principle from. Vernonia anthelmintica. Phytochemistry 16, 18381839Google Scholar
Baker, M (1996) Fur rubbing: Use of medicinal plants by capuchin monkeys (Cebus capucinus). American Journal of Primatology 38, 263270Google Scholar
Balick, MJ & Cox, PA (1996) Plants, People, and Culture New York WH Freeman and CoGoogle Scholar
Blum, MS (1981) Chemical Defenses of Arthropods New York Academic PressGoogle Scholar
Boppre, M (1978) Chemical communication, plant relationships, and mimicry in the evolution of danaid butterflies. Applied Experimental Entomology 24, 264277Google Scholar
Boppre, M (1984) Redefining ‘Pharmacophagy’. Journal of Chemical Ecology 10, 11511154Google Scholar
Brander, AAD (1931) Wild Animals in Central India London Edward ArnoldGoogle Scholar
Brower, LP (1969) Ecological chemistry. Scientific American 22, 2229Google Scholar
Burkill, HM (1985) The Useful Plants of West Tropical Africa, Vol. 1 2nd ed. Kew Royal Botanical GardensGoogle Scholar
Burton, RW (1952) The tiger as fruit eater. Journal of the Bombay Natural History Society 50 649Google Scholar
Caius, JF (1940) The pomegranite. Journal of the Bombay Natural History Society 42, 1337Google Scholar
Clark, CC (1991) The nest protection hypothesis: the adaptive use of plant secondary compounds by European starlings Bird-parasite Interactions: Ecology, Evolution, and Behaviour 205221 Loye JE Zuk M Oxford Oxford University PressGoogle Scholar
Clayton, DH & Moore, J (1997) Host-parasite Evolution. General Principles & Avian Models Oxford Oxford University PressGoogle Scholar
Cousins, D & Huffman, MA (2002) Medicinal properties in the diet of gorillas – an ethnopharmacological evaluation. African Study Monographs 23, 6589Google Scholar
Cowen, R (1990) Medicine on the wild side. Science News 138, 280282Google Scholar
Cox, FEG (1993) Modern Parasitology 2nd ed. Oxford Blackwell Scientific PressGoogle Scholar
Dalziel, JM (1937) The Useful Plants of West Tropical Africa. Appendix to Flora of West Tropical Africa Hutchinson J Dalziel JM London Whitefriars PressGoogle Scholar
Dharmakumarsinhji, RS (1960) Indian wild boar ( Sus scrofa cristatus Wagner) feeding on Boerhavia diffusa Linn. Journal of the Bombay Natural History Society 57, 654655Google Scholar
Dubois, L (1955) Tabernanthe Iboga Baillon. Bulletin Agricole du Congo Belgique 46, 805829Google Scholar
Dupain, J, Van, Elsacker, L, Nell, C, Garcia, P, Ponce, F, Huffman MA (2002) New evidence for leaf swallowing and Oesophagostomum infection in bonobos ( Pan paniscus ). International Journal of Primatology 23, 10531062Google Scholar
Ehrlich, P & Raven, PH (1964) Butterflies and plants: A study in coevolution. Evolution 18, 586608Google Scholar
Engel, C (2002) Wild Health Boston, MA Houghton MifflinGoogle Scholar
Etkin, NL (1996) Medicinal cuisines: diet and ethnopharmacology. International Journal of Pharmacology 34, 313326Google Scholar
Etkin, NL & Ross, PJ (1983) Malaria, medicine, and meals: Plant use among the Hausa and its impact on disease The Anthropology of Medicine: From Culture to Method 231259 Romanucci-Ross L Moerman DE Tancredi LR New York PraegerGoogle Scholar
Ewald, PW (1994) Evolution of Infectious Disease Oxford Oxford University PressGoogle Scholar
Feeny, P (1976) Plant apparency and chemical defense. Recent Advances in Phytochemistry 10, 140Google Scholar
Freeland, WF (1980) Mangaby ( Cercocebus albigena ) movement patterns in relation to food availability and fecal contamination. Ecology 61, 12971303Google Scholar
Futuyma, DJ & Slatkin, M (1983) Coevolution Sunderland, MA Sinauer Associates IncGoogle Scholar
Gasquet, M, Bamba, D, Babadjamian, A, Balansard, G, Timon-David, P & Metzger, J (1985) Action amoebicide et anthelminthique du vernolide et de l'hydroxyvernolide isoles des feuilles de Vernonia colorata (Willd.) Drake (Amoebicidal and anthelmintic action of vernolide and hydroxyvernolide isolates of the leaves of Vernonia colorata (Willd.) Drake). European Journal of Medical Chemical Theory 2, 111115Google Scholar
Gompper, ME & Holyman, AM (1993) Grooming with Trattinnickia resin: possible pharmaceutical plant use by coatis in Panama. Journal of Tropical Ecology 9, 533540Google Scholar
Grisanzio, JA (1992) Fur-bearing pharmacists. Animals September–October issue, 2630.Google Scholar
Gustavson, CR (1977) Comparative and field aspects of learned food aversions Learning Mechanisms in Food Selection 2343 Barker LM Best MR Domjan M Baylor, TX Baylor University PressGoogle Scholar
Harborne, JB (editor) (1978) Biochemical Aspects of Plant and Animal Coevolution. Phytochemical Society of Europe Symposia Series no. 15 London Academic PressGoogle Scholar
Harrison, GP (1968) Tabernanthe iboga: an African narcotic plant of social importance. Economic Botany 23, 174184Google Scholar
Hart, BL (1990) Behavioral adaptations to pathogens and parasites: Five strategies. Neuroscience and Biobehavioral Review 14, 273294Google Scholar
Hausfater, G & Meade, BJ (1982) Alternation of sleeping groves by yellow baboons ( Papio cynocepahalus ) as a strategy for parasite avoidance. Primates 23, 287297Google Scholar
Howe, HF & Westley, LC (1988) Ecological Relationships of Plants and Animals Oxford Oxford University PressGoogle Scholar
Hubback, TB (1939) The two-horned Asiatic rhinoceros ( Dicerorhinus sumatrensis ). Journal of the Bombay Natural History Society 40, 594617Google Scholar
Hubback, TB (1941) The Malay Elephant. Journal of the Bombay Natural History Society 42, 483509Google Scholar
Huffman, MA (1994) The C.H.I.M.P.P. Group: A multi-disciplinary investigation into the use of medicinal plants by chimpanzees. Pan Africa News 1, 35Google Scholar
Huffman, MA (1997) Self-medication in primates. Yearbook of Physical Anthropology 40, 171200Google Scholar
Huffman, MA (2001) Self-medicative behavior in the African Great Apes – an evolutionary perspective into the origins of human traditional medicine. BioScience 51, 651661Google Scholar
Huffman, MA & Caton, JM (2001) Self-induced increase of gut motility and the control of parasitic infections in wild chimpanzees. International Journal of Primatology 22, 329346Google Scholar
Huffman, MA, Gotoh, S, Izutsu, D, Koshimizu, K & Kalunde, MS (1993) Further observations on the use of Vernonia amygdalina by a wild chimpanzee, its possible effect on parasite load, and its phytochemistry. African Study Monographs 14, 227240Google Scholar
Huffman, MA, Gotoh, S, Turner, LA, Hamai, M & Yoshida, K (1997) Seasonal trends in intestinal nematode infection and medicinal plant use among chimpanzees in the Mahale Mountains, Tanzania. Primates 38, 111125Google Scholar
Huffman, MA, Koshimizu, K & Ohigashi, H (1996a) Ethnobotany and zoopharmacognosy of Vernonia amygdalina, a medicinal plant used by humans and chimpanzees Compositae: Biology & Utilization, Vol. 2, 351360 Caligari PDS Hind DJN Kew The Royal Botanical GardensGoogle Scholar
Huffman, MA, Page, JE, Sukhdeo, MVK, Gotoh, S, Kalunde, MS, Chandrasiri, T & Towers, GHN (1996b) Leaf-swallowing by chimpanzees, a behavioral adaptation for the control of strongyle nematode infections. International Journal of Primatology 17, 475503Google Scholar
Huffman, MA & Seifu, M (1989) Observations on the illness and consumption of a possibly medicinal plant Vernonia amygdalina (Del.), by a wild chimpanzee in the Mahale Mountains National Park, Tanzania. Primates 30, 5163Google Scholar
Huffman, MA & Wrangham, RW (1994) The diversity of medicinal plant use by chimpanzees in the wild Chimpanzee Cultures 129148 Wrangham RW McGrew WC DeWaal FB Heltne PG Cambridge, MA Harvard University PressGoogle Scholar
Idani, G, Kuroda, S, Kano, T & Asato, R (1994) Flora and vegetation of Wamba Forest, Central Zaire with reference to Bonobo ( Pan paniscus ) foods. TROPICS 3, 309332Google Scholar
Irvine, FR (1961) Woody Plants of Ghana London Oxford University PressGoogle Scholar
Janzen, DH (1978) Complications in interpreting the chemical defenses of tree against tropical arboreal plant-eating vertebrates The Ecology of Arboreal Folivores 7384 Montgomery GG Washington, DC Smithsonian Institute PressGoogle Scholar
Jisaka, M, Kawanaka, M, Sugiyama, H, Takegawa, K, Huffman, MA, Ohigashi, H & Koshimizu, K (1992a) Antischistosomal activities of sesquiterpene lactones and steroid glucosides from Vernonia amygdalina, possibly used by wild chimpanzees against parasite-related diseases. Bioscience, Biotechnology and Biochemistry 56, 845846Google Scholar
Jisaka, M, Ohigashi, H, Takagaki, T, Nozaki, H, Tada, T, Hirota, M, Irie, R, Huffman, MA, Nishida, T, Kaji, M & Koshimizu, K (1992b) Bitter steroid glucosides, vernoniosides A1, A2, and A3 and related B1 from a possible medicinal plant Vernonia amygdalina, used by wild chimpanzees. Tetrahedron 48, 625632Google Scholar
Jisaka, M, Ohigashi, H, Takegawa, K, Hirota, M, Irie, R, Huffman, MA & Koshimizu, K (1993a) Steroid glucosides from Vernonia amygdalina, a possible chimpanzee medicinal plant. Phytochemistry 34, 409413Google Scholar
Jisaka, M, Ohigashi, H, Takegawa, K, Huffman, MA & Koshimizu, K (1993b) Antitumor and antimicrobial activities of bitter sesquiterpene lactones of Vernonia amygdalina, a possible medicinal plant used by wild chimpanzees. Bioscience, Biotechnology and Biochemistry 57, 833834Google Scholar
Keymer, A, Crompton, DWT & Sahakian, BJ (1983) Parasite induced learned aversion involving Nippostrongylus in rats. Parasitology 86, 455460Google Scholar
Kloos, H & McCullough, FS (1987) Plants with recognized molluscicidal activity Plant Molluscicides 45108 Mott KE New York John Wiley & Sons LtdGoogle Scholar
Kokwaro, JO (1976) Medicinal Plants of East Africa Nairobi, Kenya General Printers LtdGoogle Scholar
Koshimizu, K, Ohigashi, H, Huffman, MA, Nishida, T & Takasaki, H (1993) Physiological activities and the active constituents of potentially medicinal plants used by wild chimpanzees of the Mahale Mountains, Tanzania. International Journal of Primatology 14, 345356Google Scholar
Kupchan, SM, Hemingway, RJ, Karim, A & Werner, D (1969) Tumor inhibitors XLVII. Vernodalin and vernomygdin, two new cytotoxic sesquiterpene lactones from Vernonia amygdalina Del. Journal of Organic Chemistry 34, 39083911Google Scholar
Kyriazakis, I, Oldham, JD, Coop, RL & Jackson, F (1994) The effect of subclinical intestinal nematode infection on the diet selection of growing sheep. British Journal of Nutrition 72, 665677Google Scholar
McCann, C (1932) A cure for tapeworm. Journal of the Bombay Natural History Society 36, 282284Google Scholar
Messner, EJ & Wrangham, RW (1996) In vitro testing of the biological activity of Rubia cordifolia leaves on primate Strongyloide species. Primates 37, 105108Google Scholar
Moore, M (1979) Medicinal Plants of the Mountain West Santa Fe, NM Museum of New Mexico PressGoogle Scholar
Moutsamboté, J, Yumoto, T, Mitani, M, Nishihara, T, Suzuki, S & Kuroda, S (1994) Vegetation and list of plant species identified in the Nouabalé-Ndoki Forest, Congo. TROPICS 3, 277293Google Scholar
Muanza, DN, Dangala, NL & Mpay, O (1993) Zairean medicinal plants as diarrhea remedies and their antibacterial activities. African Study Monographs 14, 5363Google Scholar
Murakami, A, Ohigashi, H & Koshimizu, K (1994) Possible anti- tumor promoting properties of traditional Thai foods and some of their active constituents. Asia Pacific Journal of Clinical Nutrition 3, 185191Google Scholar
Murakami, A, Ohigashi, H & Koshimizu, K (1996) Anti-tumor promotion with food phytochemicals: A strategy for cancer chemoprevention. Bioscience, Biotechnology and Biochemistry 60, 18Google Scholar
Nelson, GS (1960) Schistosome infections as zoonoses in Africa. Transcripts of the Royal Society of Tropical Medicine and Hygiene 54, 301314Google Scholar
Neuwinger, HD (1996) African Ethnobotany: Chemistry, Pharmacology, Toxicology London Chapman & HillGoogle Scholar
Nfi, A, Ndi, C, Bayemi, PH, Njwe, R, Tchoumboue, J, Njakoi, H, Mopoi, N, Njakoi, M & Django, S (1999) The anthelmintic efficacy of some indigenous plants in the Northwest province of Cameroon. Revue D Elevage et de Medecine Veterinaire des Pays Tropicaux 52, 103106Google Scholar
Nishida, T & Uehara, S (1983) Natural diet of chimpanzees ( Pan troglodytes schweinfurthii): Long term record from the Mahale Mountains, Tanzania. African Study Monographs 3, 109130Google Scholar
Nyazema, NZ (1987) Medicinal plants of wide use in Zimbabwe Medicinal and Poisonous Plants of the Tropics 3643 Leeuwenburg AJM Wageningen Pudoc WageningenGoogle Scholar
Ogilvie, GH (1929) Bison eating bark. Journal of the Bombay Natural History Society 33, 706707Google Scholar
Ohigashi, H (1995) Plants used medicinally by primates in the wild and their physiologically active constituents. Report to the Japanese Ministry of Science, Education and Culture for 1994 Grant-in-Aid for Scientific Research (No. 06303012). Tokyo: Japanese Ministry of Science, Education and Culture.Google Scholar
Ohigashi, H, Huffman, MA, Izutsu, D, Koshimizu, K, Kawanaka, M, Sugiyama, H, Kirby, GC, Warhurst, DC, Allen, D, Wright, CW, Phillipson, JD, Timmon-David, P, Delmas, F, Elias, R & Balansard, G (1994) Toward the chemical ecology of medicinal plant-use in chimpanzees: The case of Vernonia amygdalina Del. A plant used by wild chimpanzees possibly for parasite-related diseases. Journal of Chemical Ecology 20, 541553Google Scholar
Ohigashi, H, Jisaka, M, Takagaki, T, Nozaki, H, Tada, T, Huffman, MA, Nishida, T, Kaji, M & Koshimizu, K (1991) Bitter principle and a related steroid glucoside from Vernonia amygdalina, a possible medicinal plant for wild chimpanzees. Agricultural and Biological Chemistry 55, 12011203Google Scholar
Ohigashi, H, Sakai, Y, Yamaguchi, K, Umezaki, I & Koshimizu, K (1992) Possible anti-tumor promoting properties of marine algae and in vitro activity of wakame seaweed extract. Bioscience, Biotechnology and Biochemistry 56, 994995Google Scholar
Okunji, CO & Iwu, MM (1988) Control of schistomsomiasis using Nigerian medicinal molluscicides. International Journal of Crude Drug Research 26, 246252Google Scholar
Oloke, JK, Kolawole, DO & Erhun, WO (1988) The antibacterial and antifungal activities of certain components of Afromomum melegueta fruits Fitoterapia LIX 384388Google Scholar
Page, JE, Balza, FF, Nishida, T & Towers, GHN (1992) Biologically active diterpenes from Aspilia mossambicensis, a chimpanzee medicinal plant. Phytochemistry 31, 34373439Google Scholar
Page, JE, Huffman, MA, Smith, V & Towers, GHN (1997) Chemical basis for medicinal consumption of Aspilia (Asteraceae) leaves by chimpanzees: a re-analysis. Journal of Chemical Ecology 23, 22112225Google Scholar
Palgrave, KC (1983) Trees of Southern Africa 2nd revised ed. Cape Town, South Africa Struik PublisherGoogle Scholar
Phillips, R (1981) Mushrooms and Other Fungi of Great Britain and Europe London PanGoogle Scholar
Rausch, R (1954) Studies on the helminth fauna of Alaska. XXI. Taxonomy, morphological variation, and ecology of Diphyllobothirium ursi n. sp. provis. on Kodiak Island. Journal of Parasitology 40, 540563Google Scholar
Rausch, R (1961) Notes on the black bear, Ursus americanus Pallas, in Alaska with particular reference to dentition and growth. Zeitschrift für Saugetierk 26, 77107Google Scholar
Riesenberg, SH (1948) Magic and medicine in Ponape. Southwest Journal of Anthropology 4, 406429Google Scholar
Rodriguez, E, Aregullin, M, Nishida, T, Uehara, S, Wrangham, R, Abramowski, Z, Finlayson, A & Towers, GHN (1985) Thiarubrine A, a bioactive constituent of Aspilia (Asteraceae) consumed by wild chimpanzees. Experientia 41, 419420Google Scholar
Rodriguez, E & Wrangham, RW (1993) Zoopharmacognosy: the use of medicinal plants by animals Recent Advances in Phytochemistry. Vol. 27, Phytochemical Potential of Tropic Plants 89105 Downum KR Romeo JT Stafford H New York Plenum PressGoogle Scholar
Sengputa, S (1981) Adaptive significance of the use of margosa leaves in nests of house sparrows Passer domesticus. Emu 81, 114115Google Scholar
Smolenski, SJ, Silinis, H & Farnsworth, NR (1974) Alkaloid screening. V. Lloydia 37, 506536Google Scholar
Sugiyama, Y & Koman, J (1992) The flora of Bossou: Its utilization by chimpanzees and humans. African Studies Monographs 13, 127169Google Scholar
Swain, T (1978) Plant-animal coevolution: A synoptic view of the Paleozoic and Mesozoic Biochemical Aspects of Plant and Animal Coevolution. Phytochemical Society of Europe Symposia Series no. 15 319 Harbourne JB London Academic PressGoogle Scholar
Toft, CA, Aeschlimann, A & Bolis, L (1991) Parasite-Host Associations; Coexistence or Conflict? Oxford Oxford Science PublicationsGoogle Scholar
Toubiana, R & Gaudemer, A (1967) Structure du vernolide, nouvel ester sesquiterpique isole de Vernonia colorata (Structure of vernolide, new sesquiterpene ester isolate of Vernonia colorata ). Tetrahedron Letters 14, 13331336Google Scholar
Tutin, CEG, White, LJT, Williamson, EA, Fernandez, M & McPherson, G (1994) List of plant species identified in the northern part of the Lopé Reserve, Gabon. TROPICS 3, 249276Google Scholar
Wakelin, D (1996) Immunity to Parasites – How Parasitic Infections are Controlled 2nd ed. Cambridge Cambridge University PressGoogle Scholar
Waterman, PG (1984) Food acquisition and processing as a function of plant chemistry Food Acquisition and Processing in Primates 177211 Chivers DJ Wood BNA Bilsborough A New York Plenum PressGoogle Scholar
Watt, JM, Breyer-Brandwinjk, MG (1962) The Medicinal and Poisonous Plants of Southern and East Africa Edinburgh E. and S. Livingstone LtdGoogle Scholar
Wilson, E (1962) Aubrey's Brief Lives xix Dick OL Ann Arbor, MI Ann Arbor PaperbacksGoogle Scholar
Wink, M, Hofer, A, Bilfinger, M, Englert, E, Martin, M & Schneider, D (1993) Geese and dietary allelochemicals – food palatability and geophagy. Chemoecology 4, 93107Google Scholar
Wrangham, RW (1995) Relationship of chimpanzee leaf-swallowing to a tapeworm infection. American Journal of Primatology 37, 297303Google Scholar
Wrangham, RW & Goodall, J (1989) Chimpanzee use of medicinal leaves Understanding Chimpanzees 2237 Heltne PG Marquardt LA Cambridge, MA Harvard University PressGoogle Scholar
Wrangham, RW & Nishida, T (1983) Aspilia spp. leaves: A puzzle in the feeding behavior of wild chimpanzees. Primates 24, 276282Google Scholar
Wrangham, RM, Rogers, ME, Isabirye-Basuta, G (1993) Ape food density in the ground layer in Kibale Forest, Uganda. African Journal of Ecology 31, 4957Google Scholar
Yumoto, T, Yamagiwa, J, Mwanza, N & Maruhashi, T (1994) List of plant species identified in Kahuzi-Biega National Park, Zaire. TROPICS 3, 295308Google Scholar