I came across an interesting article in ‘The Hindu’ which says that animals have been using herbal medicine as part of their life, since time know. I have put together the salient features of the article below.
Those who wish to read the original article can refer to the link given towards the end of the article. A research was conducted about animals using various herbal medicne for their day to day use. Following are the observations:
Animals Using Herbs
Sparrows and Finches use Cigarette Butts
It was observed that Sparrows and Finches pick up the used cigarette butts and keep them in their nests. Research has found that these butts reduce the parasite infection on the eggs. It has been found that eggs with no butts had more parasites than the ones with cigarette butts.
Chimpanzees and bonobos use herbs as therapy
It has been found that Chimpanzees and bonobos seek some specific plants and use their leaves as therapy, the same as we use herbal medicine for remedy. They take the whole leave of the plants and consume them so that the intestinal parasites get flushed out.
Gorillas, bush pigs and porcupines Consume Intoxicants
It has been observed that gorillas, bush pigs and porcupines go in search of certain specific plants and consume their roots. When researched on the reason, It has been found to contain antioxidants. This shows that these have been using herbal medicine as part of their daily life.
Goats Take coffee
It has been observed that goats consume the coffee plants. We know that coffee is a good stimulant and that’s the reason for goats consuming them as herbal medicine.
Mongooses consume Antidote before fighting Cobras
It has been observed that Mongooses consume the roots of the plant called “chota – chand” in Nepal before picking a fight with snakes. It was found that these roots act as anti-dote for snake-bite, which is also used as herbal medicine by us.
Caterpillars’ method of self-medication
It is observed that caterpillars consume the leaves of some specific plants as herbal medicine. This is to to get rid of the parasites. This helps them to produce healthier eggs and to live longer. While parasite-free caterpillars do not require to be fed on the leaves, those infected with parasites took the leaves as a self-medication which helped the weak caterpillars to survive better.
Fruit flies lay eggs with high ethanol
Fruit flies are found to lay eggs with high ethanol content. This ethanol heps protection from infection of parasites.
Wood ants lay anthills with microbial plant resins
Wood ants are found to lay anthills with microbial plant resins which prevent microbial growth.
While the above are only a few of the tactics used by animals and plants for protecting themselves and as preventive measures, they are innumerable of other tactics being used. Some of them are already recorded in the panchatantra, while others are being researched now.
Based on the above research findings, it has been very clear that animals and plants have utilised each of them for mutual benefit and have evolved over the years. The medication need not be for curative effects, most of them are for preventive measures. Some of the plants have been known to emit toxic substances inorder to protect them. This stems from the basic principle of survival where species by nature protect themselves from other predators and other infectitious parasites.