University of Oulu

Meyer-Rochow, V.B. Therapeutic arthropods and other, largely terrestrial, folk-medicinally important invertebrates: a comparative survey and review. J Ethnobiology Ethnomedicine 13, 9 (2017). https://doi.org/10.1186/s13002-017-0136-0

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

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Author: Meyer-Rochow, V. Benno1,2
Organizations: 1Department of Genetics and Physiology, Oulu University, Oulu, SF-90140, Finland
2Research Institute of Luminous Organisms, Hachijo, Nakanogo, Hachijojima, Tokyo, 100-1623, Japan
Format: article
Version: published version
Access: open
Online Access: PDF Full Text (PDF, 0.8 MB)
Persistent link: http://urn.fi/urn:nbn:fi-fe202103127236
Language: English
Published: Springer Nature, 2017
Publish Date: 2021-03-12
Description:

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.

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Series: Journal of ethnobiology and ethnomedicine
ISSN: 1746-4269
ISSN-E: 1746-4269
ISSN-L: 1746-4269
Volume: 13
Article number: 9
DOI: 10.1186/s13002-017-0136-0
OADOI: https://oadoi.org/10.1186/s13002-017-0136-0
Type of Publication: A2 Review article in a scientific journal
Field of Science: 1181 Ecology, evolutionary biology
Subjects:
Copyright information: © The Author(s). 2017. This article is distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/), which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided you give appropriate credit to the original author(s) and the source, provide a link to the Creative Commons license, and indicate if changes were made. The Creative Commons Public Domain Dedication waiver (http://creativecommons.org/publicdomain/zero/1.0/) applies to the data made available in this article, unless otherwise stated.
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