Monday, 22 October 2018

Therapeutic arthropods and other, largely terrestrial, folk-medicinally important invertebrates: a comparative survey and review.

Send to J Ethnobiol Ethnomed. 2017 Feb 7;13(1):9. doi: 10.1186/s13002-017-0136-0. Meyer-Rochow VB1,2. Author information 1 Department of Genetics and Physiology, Oulu University, Oulu, SF-90140, Finland. 2 Research Institute of Luminous Organisms, Hachijo, Nakanogo, Hachijojima, Tokyo, 100-1623, Japan. Abstract Traditional healing methods involving hundreds of insect and other invertebrate species are reviewed. Some of the uses are based on the tenet of "similia similibus" (let likes be cured by likes), but not all non-conventional health promoting practices should be dismissed as superstition or wishful thinking, for they have stood the test of time. Two questions are addressed: how can totally different organ systems in a human possibly benefit from extracts, potions, powders, secretions, ashes, etc. of a single species and how can different target organs, e.g. bronchi, lungs, the urinary bladder, kidneys, etc. apparently respond to a range of taxonomically not even closely related species? Even though therapeutically used invertebrates are generally small, they nevertheless possess organs for specific functions, e.g. digestion, gas exchange, reproduction. They have a nervous system, endocrine glands, a heart and muscle tissue and they contain a multitude of different molecules like metabolites, enzymes, hormones, neurotransmitters, secretions, etc. that have come under increased scientific scrutiny for pharmacological properties. Bearing that in mind it seems likely that a single species prepared and used in different ways could have a multitude of uses. But how, for example, can there be remedies for breathing and other problems, involving earthworms, molluscs, termites, beetles, cockroaches, bugs, and dragonflies? Since invertebrates themselves can suffer from infections and cancers, common defence reactions are likely to have evolved in all invertebrates, which is why it would be far more surprising to find that each species had evolved its own unique disease fighting system. To obtain a more comprehensive picture, however, we still need information on folk medicinal uses of insects and other invertebrates from a wider range of regions and ethnic groups, but this task is hampered by western-based medicines becoming increasingly dominant and traditional healers being unable and sometimes even unwilling to transmit their knowledge to the younger generation. However, collecting and uncontrolled uses of therapeutic invertebrates can put undue pressure on certain highly sought after species and this is something that has to be borne in mind as well. KEYWORDS: Alternative therapies; Entomo-pharmacology; Folk medicine; Health; Traditional healing PMID: 28173820 PMCID: PMC5296966 DOI: 10.1186/s13002-017-0136-0 [Indexed for MEDLINE] Free PMC Article