Animals that heal themselves

It’s not just people who look for drugs when we get sick. Nature also repeats this behavior. Certain animal wisdom tells them how to treat certain symptoms. These are the animals that heal themselves.

The discovery
Animals that heal themselves have an ancient wisdom that can be put to good use.
Animals that heal themselves have an ancient wisdom that can be put to good use.

Something was discovered in a study on chimpanzees 35 years ago. It was strange behavior. A sick female chimpanzee was caught feeding a certain plant that her species did not consume. why did he do that? Primatologist Mike Huffman learned that this plant, bitter vernonia, was widely used by the local population. And what was it for? Medically accurate. It is used for malaria and upset stomach. The chimpanzee just chewed on the leaves: apparently he knew that consuming too much was harmful.

This caused them to pay special attention to the animal. They found that a day later he was in much better shape. Had they discovered one of the animals that heals itself?

This happened in 1987. It was the first documented evidence that an animal was consuming a plant with medicinal properties and recovering. However, it had to be checked whether there was a relationship between the two.

Huffman had his biochemists analyze Vernonia amygdalin. They found more than a dozen new compounds with anti-parasitic properties. In animals that chewed the bitter plant, the parasite eggs decreased by 90%. In addition, it was more common in animals to chew the plant in the rainy season. This was when parasites were most common.


This event was far from unique. Huffman began investigating reports from other parts of Tanzania. Monkeys had a strange habit of taking rough leaves, folding them in their mouths, and swallowing them. They actually drove away parasites. ‘

The leaves were difficult to digest. “This reduces the time it takes for food to pass through the intestinal tract.” They cleaned up his system. “They drove away the parasites in exactly 6 hours.”

Today it is known that there are 40 different types of rough leaf used by 17 different populations of chimpanzees, bonobos, and gorillas. The end? Get rid of your parasites.

The monarch butterfly also uses this knowledge.
The monarch butterfly also uses this knowledge.

And primates aren’t the only ones using this technique. So does the brown bear and the black bear. And the Canadian snow geese just before they migrate in winter when they go south and have a long way to go. A really interesting observation was made in Borneo last year. Some orangutans chewed certain plants. They then ground it into a paste with their teeth, which was then rubbed in for 15 to 45 minutes. ‘It is from Dr. Kim Walker of the Royal Botanic Gardens at Kew in London.

What was really interesting? It was the same plant that the local human population used for joint pain.

Insects too

Another example are monarch butterflies. If they are caterpillars, they can only eat milkweed or milkweed plants. And these plants contain chemicals called cardenolides that make them toxic.

Butterflies are immune to these compounds. But they build up in your system and protect you from predators.

Animals that heal themselves aren’t just an anecdote from nature. Their habits are a holdover from ancient wisdom. And people can learn from them. And maybe discover something with humility that we did not imagine

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