University of Oulu

Mozhui, L., Kakati, L.N. & Meyer-Rochow, V.B. Entomotherapy: a study of medicinal insects of seven ethnic groups in Nagaland, North-East India. J Ethnobiology Ethnomedicine 17, 17 (2021).

Entomotherapy : a study of medicinal insects of seven ethnic groups in Nagaland, North-East India

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Author: Mozhui, Lobeno1; Kakati, L. N.1; Meyer-Rochow, Victor Benno2,3
Organizations: 1Department of Zoology, Nagaland University, Lumami, Nagaland, 798627, India
2Department of Ecology and Genetics, Oulu University, SF-90140, Oulu, Finland
3Agricultural Science and Technology Research Institute, Andong National University, Andong, 36729, Republic of Korea
Format: article
Version: published version
Access: open
Online Access: PDF Full Text (PDF, 3.1 MB)
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Language: English
Published: Springer Nature, 2021
Publish Date: 2021-05-17


Background: The ethnic communities in Nagaland have kept a close relationship with nature since time immemorial and have traditionally used different kinds of insects and their products as folk medicine to treat a variety of human ills and diseases. The present study was conducted to record the entomotherapeutic practices of seven different ethnic groups of Nagaland.

Methods: Documentation is based on semi-structured questionnaires and group discussions with a total of 370 informants. The data collected were analysed using fidelity level (FL) and informant consensus factor (ICF).

Results: Fifty species of medicinal insects belonging to 28 families and 11 orders were identified in connection with treatments of at least 50 human ailments, of which the most frequently cited were coughs, gastritis, rheumatoid arthritis, stomach ache and wound healing. Mylabris sp. showed the highest fidelity level (FL) of 100% for its therapeutic property as a dermatologic agent, while the informant consensus factor (ICF) ranged from 0.66 to 1.00. The use of medicinal insects varies amongst the seven ethnic groups, suggesting that differences in cultures and geographic location can lead to the selection of specific insect species for specific medicinal purposes. The largest number of insect species appear to be used for treating gastrointestinal, dermatological and respiratory diseases.

Conclusion: The list of medicinal insect species, many of which are reported for the first time in the present study, suggests the presence of a considerable diversity of therapeutically important insect species in the region and elaborate folk medicinal knowledge of the local ethnic groups. This knowledge of insects not just as a food, but also as therapy is passed down verbally from generation to generation, but is in danger of being lost if not documented in a systematic way. Having stood the test of time, traditional folk medicinal knowledge and its contribution through entomotherapy should not be regarded as useless as it has the potential to lead to the development of novel drugs and treatment methods.

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Series: Journal of ethnobiology and ethnomedicine
ISSN: 1746-4269
ISSN-E: 1746-4269
ISSN-L: 1746-4269
Volume: 17
Issue: 1
Article number: 17
DOI: 10.1186/s13002-021-00444-1
Type of Publication: A1 Journal article – refereed
Field of Science: 1181 Ecology, evolutionary biology
Funding: Financial support for LM came from a National PhD Fellowship for Higher Education of Scheduled Tribe Students. VBM-R was supported by a grant to Prof. C. Jung via the Basic Science Research Program of the National Research Foundation of Korea (NRF-2018R1 A6A1A 03024862).
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