Open Access

Traditional zootherapeutic studies in India: a review

Journal of Ethnobiology and Ethnomedicine20084:17

DOI: 10.1186/1746-4269-4-17

Received: 17 January 2008

Accepted: 18 July 2008

Published: 18 July 2008

Abstract

The present study aims to review the zootherapeutic practices of the different ethnic communities of India. This work is also an attempt to present a list of animals' use for medicinal purposes by different communities of India. Data were gathered from 15 published research papers of various authors on zootherapeutic studies in India from 2000 to 2007. Approximately 109 animals and their 270 uses are reported in traditional medicine in different parts of India. Of these, the highest numbers of animal species (42, 38.5%) with 50 (18.5%) uses have been reported for the treatment of Respiratory system related problems. Rheumatic and other pains are treated with 32 species (29.4%) in 34 (12.9%) uses. Gastric problems are reported to be treated with 22 (20.2%) species in 26 (9.9%) uses. The mammals constitute the highest number of animals used for medicinal purposes. 44 (40%) mammals, 24 (22%) invertebrates, 18 (17%) birds, 12 (11%) reptiles, nine (8%) fishes and two (2%) amphibians have been reported for medicinal purposes. Of the total 109 animal species reported, 76(70%) are included in IUCN red data list and 36 (33%) animal species are listed in CITES appendix I, II, and III. This work will be helpful in biodiversity conservation in India and also give a clue to investigate bio-active compound in these animal raw materials.

Background

The world health organization estimates that as many as 80% of the world's more then six billion people rely primarily on animal and plant based medicine [1]. In modern societies, zootherapy constitutes an important alternative among many other known therapies practiced worldwide. Wild and domestic animals and their byproducts (e.g. hooves, skin, bones, feathers and tusks) form important ingredients in the preparation of curative, protective and preventive medicine [2]. For example, in Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) more then 1500 animal species have been recorded to be some medicinal use [3]. Of the 252 essential chemicals that have been selected by the World Health Organization, 11.1% come from plants, and 8.7% from animals [4]. And of the 150 prescription drugs currently in use in the United States of America, 27 have animal origin [5]. In India nearly 15–20 percent of the Ayurvedic medicine is based on animal-derive substance [6]. In Unani system of medicines about 200 drug of animal origin are described which are claimed to be beneficial for the treatment of the various ailments [7]. In Bahia state, in the northeast of Brazil, over 180 medicinal animals have been recorded [8]. In Pakistan 31 substances were listed (animal parts and products), constituting 9% of all the medicinal substances in the inventory of traditional medicines [9].

In India, since times immemorial, great work was done in this field and documented in works like Ayurveda and charaka Samhita. Additionally immense knowledge has come down to modern times through folklore as various practices became a part of tradition amongst various groups. We can find that people still use various animal products and by-products for cure of various diseases. For example, honey is used as expectorant, cattle urine has been used as a therapeutic. All this knowledge has once again come to the limelight, as there has been a sort of disillusionment with the current allopathic cure, as it has got its own side effect and in fact has no cure for various diseases. Therefore people are looking for traditional remedies for the treatment of ailments. But in India this traditional knowledge is fast eroding due to modernization. Thus there is an urgent need to inventorise and record all ethnobiological information among the different ethnic communities before the traditional cultures are completely lost [10]. Therefore, ethnobiologist have a greater responsibility not only in inventorising the traditionally used biological resources but also in conserving and revitalizing the traditionally beliefs, so that the age-old cultures are not lost. The studies on the therapeutic uses of animals and their parts have been neglected, when compare to plants [11]. Thus there is an urgent need to make such study in the field of ethnozoology and document it, so that it can be put to the welfare of human kind.

Many ethnobiologist are collected zootherapeutic information from different ethnic groups or tribes in India. S.K. Sharma describes use of animals to cure ailments of human beings and domestic cattle by Bhil tribe of Rajasthan. [12]. Jamir and Lal describe the traditional method of treating various kinds of ailments using twenty six animal species and their products by different Naga tribes [13]. Patil found that the tribals of Nandurbar district (Maharashtra) have been use wild animal parts as medicines along with plants. This study assesses 15 species of animals used by the tribals like Bhils, Gamits, Koknas and Pawaras as medicine [14]. Ranjit Singh et al describe the Ethno-entomological practices in Tirunelveli district, Tamil Nadu. In this investigation, 11 species of insects used to prepare traditional medicine [15]. Banerjee et al describe that Honey, as a product from bees, has multiple properties, and is being therapeutically used since time immemorial. It's antibacterial, anti-inflammatory and wound healing properties are promising [16]. Gupta et al describe the traditional knowledge of local communities in district Kachchh and listed about 34 animal species, which are used in primary health care needs of human beings and livestock [17]. Kalita et al study the plant and animal based folk medicine used by people of Dibrugarh district, Assam for treatment of eleven different diseases. In this study, information on utility of 19 plant species and four animal species is collected [18]. Solavan A et al carried out a study among nine tribes spread over four districts of Tamil Nadu, India and identified the traditional therapeutic uses of sixteen different animal's species, consisting of six mammals, five birds, two reptiles, two arthropod and one annelid for the treatment of over 17 kinds of ailments [10]. Mahawar and Jaroli carried out a study among the inhabitants, whose are living surrounding the Ranthambhore National Park, India and identified a total of 15 animals were used comprising 20 therapeutic purposes [19]. Mahawar and Jaroli [2007] carried out a study among the Saharia tribe and identified a total of 15 animal species were recorded and they are used for different ethnomedical purposes, including cough, asthma, tuberculosis, paralysis, earache, herpes, weakness, muscular pain, etc [20]. The Chakhesang tribe of Nagaland also uses twelve mammals, one bird, one reptile, two amphibians, one fish, one mollusk, one annelid and four arthropods for treatment of various ailments [21]. Kakati and Doulo studied Ao tribe of Nagaland and identified twenty five different vertebrate species for traditional therapeutic use, of which, some have become rare [22]. Oudhia describe three animal's medicinal uses, which are reported by traditional healers and natives of Bhopalpatnam region, Chhattisgarh, India. These native have rich traditional medicinal knowledge about common herbs insects and other animals [23]. Oudhia also describe the traditional Medicinal knowledge about excreta of ten animals used to treat many common diseases in Chhattisgarh, India [24]. Insects, mites, and spiders are used as medicines to cure both common and complicated ailments in Chhattisgarh, India. For example, the oil from the red velvet mite (Trombidium grandissimum (Koch, 1867) is useful for paralysis. Also due to its ability to increase the sexual desire, these mites are named as Indian Viagra [25].

This study deals to summarized and review on the zootherapeutic practices by the different ethnic communities of India. This work is also an attempt to present a list of animal's uses for medicinal purposes by different communities of India. The authors hope that this work will be helpful in biodiversity conservation in India and also give a clue to investigate bio-active compound in these animal raw materials.

Methods

Data were gathered from 15 published research papers of various authors on zootherapeutic studies in India from 2000 to 2007 (Table 1). The majority of these papers contain English name, scientific name, area or tribe reported, part or product or raw material name and mode of preparation, etc. All the medicinal uses of animals are classified in 14 major disease categories i.e. Antidote, Burn, Eye and Ear, Gastric disorder, Gynecological problems, Impotency, Nervous System, Pains, Respiratory Problem, Skin related Problem, Urinary Problem, Weakness and Wound healing. These categories are forms to show all related health problems in a major group. For example asthma, cough, cold, tuberculosis or any other respiratory problems are presented into a major disease category called respiratory system related problems.
Table 1

List of published research works on Ethnomedicinal uses of animals in different parts of India.

Tribes/Ethnic Groups/Region/

Indigenous people

Number of

animals

reported

Authors

Chakhesang of Nagaland

23

Kakati and Doulo (2000)

Bhil of Rajasthan

17

Sharma S K (2002)

Bhil, Gamit, Kokna, etc of Maharastra

15

Patil S H (2003)

Bhopalpatnam (chhattisgarh)

3

Oudhia P (2003a)

Chhattisgarh

10

Oudhia P (2003b)

Chhattisgarh

7

Oudhia P (2005)

Kachch (Gujrat)

34

Gupta Leena et al (2003)

Irular, Kurimba of Tamilnadu

26

Solvan A et al (2004)

Kanikar, Paliyar of Taminadu

11

Ranjit Singh ASA (2004)

Naga tribe of Nagaland

26

Jamir N S et al (2005)

Dibrugarh (Assam)

4

Dilip Kalita (2005)

Ao tribe of Nagaland

25

Kakati L N et al (2006)

Mogya, Meena, Bawaria of Rajasthan

15

Mahawar, Jaroli (2006)

Shoka tribe of Uttaranchal

36

Negi and palyal (2007)

Saharia of Rajasthan

15

Mahawar, Jaroli (2007)

We summarized all the medicinal information in 14 disease categories table. Each disease category table contains information in the following pattern: English name, scientific name, area or tribe reported, part or product or raw material name, mode of preparation and reference of the authors (additional file 1).

The valid scientific names with author's names of the animal's species were included in the database. Many times authors have given synonyms of animal species in their publications. These data are updated according to the ITIS Catalogue of Life, Annual Checklist (2007) and NCL Centre for Biodiversity Informatics (NCBI) [26, 27] (Table 2). The conservation status of the animal species follows IUCN (2007) and CITES (2007) [28, 29].
Table 2

List of animals uses as medicinal purposes in different parts of India.

S. N.

Category

Scientific name

English name

Red data list

CITES

1.

Invertebrate

Apis cerana indica – (Fabricius 1798)

Honey bee

  

2.

Invertebrate

Apis dorsata (Fabricius, 1793)

(Rock bee)

  

3.

Invertebrate

Apis florea (Fabricius, 1787)

(Little bee)

  

4.

Invertebrate

Blatta orientalis Linnaeus, 1758 – valid – blatte orientale, oriental cockroach

Cockroach

  

5.

Invertebrate

Bombyx mori (Linnaeus)

Silkworm

  

6.

Invertebrate

Cancer pagurus (Linnaeus, 1758)

Crab

  

7.

Invertebrate

Cimex lectularius (Linnaeus, 1758)

Bed Bug

  

8.

Invertebrate

Cimex rotundatus (Signoret, 1852)

Bed Bug

  

9.

Invertebrate

Dactylopius coccus (Costa, 1835)

Cochineal insect

  

10.

Invertebrate

Dasymutilla occidentalis (Linnaeus)

Velvet ant

  

11.

Invertebrate

Dorylus labiatus Shuckard, 1840

Ant

  

12.

Invertebrate

Helicoverpa armigera (Hübner, 1805)

Pod Borer

  

13.

Invertebrate

Heterometrus swammerdami (Simon, 1872) Synonym – Palamnaeus swammerdami

Scorpion

  

14.

Invertebrate

Kerria lacca (Kerr, 1782)

Lac insect

  

15.

Invertebrate

Macrobrachium malcolmsonii (H. Milne-Edwards, 1844)

Prawn

  

16.

Invertebrate

Matuta planipes (Fabricius, 1798) Synonym-Matuta victor

Sandy shore Crab

  

17.

Invertebrate

Musca domestica nebulo (Fabricius. 1784)

Housefly

  

18.

Invertebrate

Nephotettix nigropictus (Stal), 1870

Green Leafhopper (GLH)

  

19.

Invertebrate

Oecophylla smaragdina (Fabricius, 1775)

Weaver ant

  

20.

Invertebrate

Pheretima posthuma (L. Vaillant) 1868

Earthworm

  

21.

Invertebrate

Photuris lucicrescens (Barber, 1951)

Lightening Beetles or Fireflies or Lighting bugs

  

22.

Invertebrate

Pila globosa (Swainson, 1822)

Apple Snail

  

23.

Invertebrate

Trombidium grandissimum (Koch, 1867)

Red Velvet Mite

  

24.

Invertebrate

Uca pugnax

Hermit Crab

  

25.

Pisces

Amphipnous cuchia (Hamilton, 1822).

Eel

  

26.

Pisces

Monopterus cuchia (Hamilton, 1822)

cuchia eel

  

27.

Pisces

Schizothorax richardsonii (Gray, 1832)

Fish

  

28.

Pisces

Monopterus albus (Zuiew, 1793)

Eel Fish

Data deficient

 

29.

Pisces

Tor putitora (Hamilton, 1822)

Fish

Endangered

 

30.

Pisces

Channa punctata (Bloch, 1793) Synonym-Channa punctatus Linn.

Channa

Least concern

 

31.

Pisces

Labeo gonius (Hamilton, 1822)

carp fish

Least concern

 

32.

Pisces

Labeo rohita (Hamilton, 1822)

Labeo

Least concern

 

33.

Pisces

Eusphyra blochii (Cuvier, 1816) Synonym-Zygaena blochii

Hammer head shark

Near threatened

 

34.

Amphibian

Fejervarya limnocharis synonym-Lymnonecties limnorcharis

Frog

Vulnerable

 

35.

Amphibian

Hoplobatrachus tigerinus (Daudin, 1803) synonym-Rana tigrina

Frog

Vulnerable

II

36.

Reptile

Gloydius himalayanus (Günther, 1864) Synonym-Ancistrodon himalayans

Snakes

Data Deficient

 

37.

Reptile

Eryx johnii (Russell, 1801)

Earth Boa

Least concern

II

38.

Reptile

Naja naja (Linnaeus, 1758)

Cobra

Near threatened

II

39.

Reptile

Calotes versicolor (Fitzinger, 1826)

Common Garden Lizard

Near threatened

 

40.

Reptile

Lissemys punctata (Lacépède, 1788)

Indian Flap shell turtle

Near threatened

II

41.

Reptile

Ptyas mucosus (Linnaeus, 1758)

Snakes

Near threatened

II

42.

Reptile

Python reticulatus (Schneider, 1801)

python

Near threatened

II

43.

Reptile

Daboia russelii (Shaw & Nodder, 1797) Synonym-Vipera russelli

Snakes

Near threatened

III

44.

Reptile

Varanus bengalensis (Daudin, 1758)

Monitor

Vulnerable

I

45.

Reptile

Kachuga tentoria (Gray, 1834)

Hard shelled Turtle.

Vulnerable

II

46.

Reptile

Uromastyx hardwickii (Gray, 1827)

Spiny tailed lizard

Vulnerable

II

47.

Reptile

Varanus salvator (Laurenti, 1768)

Monitor

Vulnerable

II

48.

Aves

Acridotheres ginginianus (Latham, 1790)

Bank myna

Least concern

 

49.

Aves

Centropus sinensis (Stephens, 1815)

Crow-pheasant

Least concern

 

50.

Aves

Coracias benghalensis (Linnaeus, 1758)

Indian Roller

Least concern

 

51.

Aves

Corvus splendens (Vieillot, 1817)

Crow

Least concern

 

52.

Aves

Gallus gallus domesticus

hen

Least concern

 

53.

Aves

Halcyon smyrnensis (Linnaeus, 1758)

White-breasted Kingfisher

Least concern

 

54.

Aves

Passer domesticus (Linnaeus, 1758)

House sparrow

Least concern

 

55.

Aves

Pavo cristatus (Linnaeus, 1758)

Indian Peafowl

Least concern

 

56.

Aves

Pseudibis papillosa (Temminck, 1824)

Black ibis

Least concern

 

57.

Aves

Streptopelia decaocto (Frivaldszky, 1838)

Collared dove

Least concern

 

58.

Aves

Vanellus indicus (Boddaert, 1783)

Red-wattled bird

Least concern

 

59.

Aves

Aquila rapax (Temminck, 1828)

Eagle

Least concern

II

60.

Aves

Gallus sonneratii (Temminck, 1813)

Jungle fowl

Least concern

II

61.

Aves

Strix aluco nivicolum (Blyth, 1845)

Owl

Least concern

II

62.

Aves

Tyto alba (Scopoli, 1769)

Barn or Screech Owl

Least concern

II

63.

Aves

Columba livia (Gmelin, 1789)

Pigeon

Least concern

III

64.

Aves

Martes flavigula (Boddaert, 1785)

Martens bird

Least concern

III

65.

Aves

Catreus wallichii (Hardwicke, 1827)

Chir pheasant

Vulnerable

I

66.

Mammal

Myotis lucifugus (LeConte, 1831)

Bat

Conservation Dependent

 

67.

Mammal

Bison bison (Linnaeus, 1758)

Bison

Conservation Dependent

II

68.

Mammal

Equus asinus (Linnaeus, 1758)

Donkey Indian

  

69.

Mammal

Panthera tigris (Linnaeus, 1758)

Tiger

Endangered

I

70.

Mammal

Bubalus bubalis (B. arnee) (Linnaeus, 1758)

Buffalo

  

71.

Mammal

Capra falconeri (Wagner, 1839)

goat

Endangered

I

72.

Mammal

Camelus dromedarius (Linnaeus, 1758)

Camel

Least concern

 

73.

Mammal

Capra sibirica (Pallas, 1776)

goat

Least concern

 

74.

Mammal

Cervus unicolor (Kerr, 1792)

Sambhar

Least concern

 

75.

Mammal

Cynopterus sphinx (Vahl, 1797)

Bat

Least concern

 

76.

Mammal

Felis catus (Linnaeus, 1758) Synonym-Felis domesticus

Cat

Least concern

 

77.

Mammal

Funambulus pennantii (Wroughton, 1905)

Five Striped Palm Squirrel

Least concern

 

78.

Mammal

Hystrix indica (Kerr, 1792)

Porcupine

Least concern

 

79.

Mammal

Lepus nigricollis (F. Cuvier, 1823)

Hare

Least concern

 

80.

Mammal

Muntiacus muntjak (Zimmermann, 1780)

Barking deer

Least concern

 

81.

Mammal

Oryctolagus cuniculus (Linnaeus, 1758)

Hare

Least concern

 

82.

Mammal

Paraechinus micropus (Blyth, 1846)

hedgehog

Least concern

 

83.

Mammal

Petaurista petaurista (Pallas, 1766)

Flying squirrel

Least concern

 

84.

Mammal

Pseudois nayaur (Hodgson, 1833)

Bharal

Least concern

 

85.

Mammal

Rattus rattus (Linnaeus, 1758)

Rat

Least concern

 

86.

Mammal

Sus scrofa cristatus

Indian Wild Boar

Least concern

 

87.

Mammal

Sus scrofa domestica

Domesticated pig

Least concern

 

88.

Mammal

Semnopithecus entellus (Dufresne, 1797) Synomym-Presbytis entellus

Hanuman Monkey

Least concern

I

89.

Mammal

Ursus thibetanus (G. Cuvier, 1823) Synonym-Selenarctos thibetanus

Himalayan black bear

Least concern

I

90.

Mammal

Macaca mulatta (Zimmermann, 1780)

Rhesus Macaque

Least concern

II

91.

Mammal

Canis aureus (Linnaeus, 1758)

Jackal

Least concern

III

92.

Mammal

Herpestes edwardsii (É. Geoffroy Saint-Hilaire, 1818)

Mongoose

Least concern

III

93.

Mammal

Paradoxurus hermaphroditus (Pallas, 1777)

Common Palm Civet, Toddy Cat

Least concern

III

94.

Mammal

Bos taurus (Linnaeus, 1758) Synonym-Bos indicus

Cattle

  

95.

Mammal

Equus caballus (Linnaeus, 1758)

Horse

  

96.

Mammal

Homo sapiens (Linnaeus, 1758)

Human

  

97.

Mammal

Canis lupus familiaris (Linnaeus, 1758) Synonym-Canis familiaris

Dog

  

98.

Mammal

Hemitragus jemlahicus (H. Smith, 1826)

Himalayan Thar

Near threatened

 

99.

Mammal

Hyaena hyaena (Linnaeus, 1758)

Striped Hyena

Near threatened

 

100.

Mammal

Manis crassicaudata (Gray, 1827)

Indian Pangolin

Near threatened

II

101.

Mammal

Pteropus giganteus (Brünnich, 1782)

Indian flying fox

Near threatened

II

102.

Mammal

Equus onager khur (Lesson, 1827) Synonym-Equus hemionus khur (Lesson, 1827)

Indian wild ass

Endangered

I

103.

Mammal

Bos gaurus (H. Smith, 1827) Synonym-Bos frontalis

Mithun

Vulnerable

 

104.

Mammal

Elephas maximus indicus (Cuvier, 1798)

elephant

Vulnerable

I

105.

Mammal

Melursus ursinus (Shaw, 1791)

Sloth Bear

Vulnerable

I

106.

Mammal

Moschus moschiferus (Linnaeus, 1758)

Musk deer

Vulnerable

I

107.

Mammal

Panthera pardus (Linnaeus, 1758)

Leopard

Vulnerable

I

108.

Mammal

Equus hemionus (Pallas, 1775)

Indian wild ass

Vulnerable

II

109.

Mammal

Semnopithecus johnii Synonym-Presbytis johni

Black monkey

Vulnerable

II

Result

Approximately 109 animals are reported in traditional medicine in different parts of India. The mammals constitute the highest number of animals used for medicinal purposes. 44 (40%) mammals, 24 (22%) invertebrates, 18 (17%) birds, 12 (11%) reptiles, nine (8%) fishes and two (2%) amphibians have been reported for medicinal purposes (Table 3, figure 1). Approximately 270 medicinal uses of these animals are reported in different diseases in India. Many animals were used for the treatment of multiple ailments. Of these, the highest numbers of animal species (42, 38.5%) with 50 (18.5%) uses have been reported for the treatment of Respiratory system related problems. Rheumatic and other pains are treated with 32 species (29.4%) in 34 (12.9%) uses. Gastric problems are reported to be treated with 22 (20.2%) species in 26(9.9%) uses. Skin related Problems are treated with 16 species (14.7%) in 19 (7%) uses. 20 species (18.4%) are reported in 20 (7.6%) uses in Eye and Ear disease category. Impotency, aphrodisiac and birth control category is reported to be treated with 16 species (14.7%) in 20 (7.6%) uses. 26 (23.9%) animal species are reported in 31 (11.5%) uses in miscellaneous disease category (table 4, figure 2 and 3). Of the total 109 animal species reported, 76 (70%) are included in IUCN red data list (Table 5, figure 4). 36 (33%) animal species are listed in CITES appendix I, II, and III (Table 6).
Table 3

No. of animals species of different classes reported for medicinal purposes in India.

Name of animal class

No. of species

% of Total animals

Mammals

44

40%

Aves

18

17%

Reptiles

12

11%

Amphibians

2

2%

Pisces

9

8%

Invertebrates

24

22%

Total

109

 
Table 4

No. of animal species and their medicinal uses reported in different disease categories in India.

Disease Categories

No. of

animal

species

Uses

% of total

109 animals

uses

No. of

medicinal

applications

of animals

%

Antidote

06

5.5%

07

2.7%

Burn

10

9.2%

10

3.8%

Eye and Ear

20

18.4%

20

7.6%

Gastric disorder

22

20.2%

26

9.9%

Gynecological problems

06

5.5%

06

2.3%

Impotency, aphrodisiac, birth control

16

14.7%

20

7.6%

Miscellaneous

26

23.9%

31

11.5%

Nervous System

12

11%

15

5.7%

Rheumatic and other pains

32

29.4%

34

12.9%

Respiratory Problem

42

38.5%

50

18.5%

Skin related Problem

16

14.7%

19

7%

Urinary Problem

8

7.3%

8

3%

Weakness

13

11.9%

13

5%

Wound healing

10

9.2%

11

4%

   

270

 
Table 5

Conservation status of animal species reported for medicinal purposes in India according to IUCN Red List or Red Data List.

Conservation status

No. of animal species

% of total 109 animal

species reported

Endangered

04

3.7%

Vulnerable

14

12.4%

Conservation Dependent

2

1.8%

Near threatened

11

10.1%

Least concern

43

39.4%

Data Deficient

2

1.8%

Not evaluated

33

 

Total

109

70%

Table 6

Conservation status of animal species reported for medicinal purposes in India according to CITES.

Appendix

CITES

% of the total animal

used

I

11

10%

II

19

17.5%

III

6

5.5%

Total

36

33%

Figure 1

No. of animal species in different classes reported for medicinal purposes in India.

Figure 2

No. of animal species reported for medicinal uses in different disease categories in India.

Figure 3

No. of medicinal uses reported in different disease categories in India.

Figure 4

Conservation status of animal species reported for medicinal purposes in India according to IUCN Red List.

Animal body part or product use as raw material

All animal body part or products use as raw materials are categorized in following three categories (Table 7, figure 5). (1) The flesh, fat, organs, bile blood, whole body and ash are those raw materials, which are always collected with injury to animal life. (2) But Excreta, urine, by-products (Honey, milk, mucous, wax, shellac, cocoon, musk, egg) are those raw materials, which are collected without injury to animal's life. (3) However some raw material like scale, antler, feather, teeth and bones can be collected with injury to animal life or some time these raw materials can be collected from natural dead animals.
Table 7

Raw material collected with or without injury to animal life for medicinal uses in India.

Injury status

No. of medicinal uses

% of animal uses

With injury to animal life

170

63%

With or without injury to animal life

27

10%

without injury to animal life

73

27%

Total

270

100%

Figure 5

Raw material collected with or without injury to animal life for medicinal uses in India.

The raw materials are used in 170 medicinal preparations is always injured to animal life (flesh in 62 preparations, fat in 24 preparations, organs and bile in 25 preparations, blood in 19 preparations, whole body and ash in 40 preparations). The number of raw materials collected for medicinal preparation with injury to animal's life is very high (Table 8, figure 6). However in 73 medicinal uses, the raw materials are collected without injury to animal life (byproducts uses in 34 preparations, excreta uses in 27 preparations and urine uses in 12 preparations). Others 27 medicinal uses, the raw materials are collected with or without injury to animal life (scale, antler, feather, teeth are uses in 14 preparation and bones are uses in 13 preparations).
Table 8

Animal part or products uses for medicinal purposes in different parts of India.

Medicinal uses without injury to animal

Medicinal uses

with/without injury to animal

Medicinal uses with injury to animals

Disease

By-products

(Honey,

milk,

mucous,

wax, shellac,

cocoon, musk,

egg)

Excreta

Urine

scale/antler/

Feather/teeth

Bones

/carapace

Flesh

/meat

Fat

Blood

Organs/

bile

Whole

body/ash

/powder

Antidote

      

2

 

4

1

Burn

    

1

 

4

2

3

2

Eye and Ear

3

 

2

3

2

6

  

2

2

Gastric disorder

3

8

2

2

1

2

  

6

2

Gynecological problems

1

1

  

1

2

   

1

Impotency

1

4

 

1

1

12

  

1

 

Miscellaneous

4

5

1

2

1

4

3

1

3

6

Nervous System

 

1

1

  

4

 

4

1

4

Pain

7

2

1

  

5

12

3

2

3

Respiratory Problem

7

4

2

3

2

16

 

5

3

9

Skin related Problem

3

1

1

3

2

2

2

  

4

Urinary Problem

 

2

  

1

3

   

2

Weakness

2

 

1

  

5

 

2

 

3

Wound healing

3

 

1

 

1

1

1

2

 

1

Total-270

34

27

12

14

13

62

24

19

25

40

% of total-

13%

10%

4%

5%

5%

23%

8.9%

7%

9%

15%

Figure 6

No. of animal part or products uses for medicinal purposes in different parts of India.

Respiratory system Problems

The damp conditions in local homes, leading to high mold counts, as well as insufficient air circulation account for the prevalence of respiratory problems. Many houses in rural areas still have wooden stoves, with smoke causing constant irritation to the pulmonary system.

42 animal species with 50 uses is reported for the treatment of Respiratory related problems like asthma, cough, cold, tuberculosis in different part of India. Of the total 50 Respiratory uses, 32 uses are only for the treatment of asthma. In 16 uses, flesh of animal is reported as raw material for the treatment of respiratory problems. Because mostly ethnic communities eat flash of various animals to control asthma, so there can be a relation between animal flash and asthma.

Gastric system Problems

Stomach disorders, liver problems, constipation, cholera, dysentery, etc are included in the gastric system problem category. 22 (20.2%) animal species are reported in 26 (9.9%) medicinal uses to treat gastric problems. Gastric problems treated include liver problems (2 uses); stomach problems (7 uses); constipation (2 uses); dysentery (3 uses); cholera (1 uses) and other gastric problems (2 uses).

The animal raw materials reported are urine, excreta, dung, feaces, Gall bladder bile, etc.

Rheumatic and other pains

The housing conditions already described, as well as difficult working conditions, leads to a wide spectrum of pains. 34 uses (12.9%) of 32 animal species (29.4%) are fall into this illness category. Body pain, Sprain, Rheumatism, Muscle pain, Headache, Sprain, Bone fracture, Arthritis, Internal Pain, etc are included in this disease category. Animal raw materials are reported for the treatment of arthritis and rheumatic pain in the 23 uses. Mostly fat is uses as raw material in the pain related problems. Of the total 34 uses, fat is reported as raw material in 12 uses of this category. So there can be a relation between animal fat and pains.

Skin related Problem

Skin infections, either fungal or bacterial, as well as sunspots, moles, pockmarks and acne can be observed frequently in India. Traditional healers are consequently consulted to treat these problems. 16 species (14.7%) are reported in 19 uses (7%) to treat skin problems. Fungal infections are particularly difficult to treat in the context of Western medicine, and the use of animal raw materials to alleviate such infections is thus of particular interest. Leprosy, Acne, leucoderma, Scabies, Spots, Itching, eczema, ringworm infections and to improve the fairness, etc are included in this disease category.

Eye and Ear related Problem

20 (18.4%) animal species are reported for 20 (7.6%) uses to treat eye and ear related Problem. Eye-ache, Conjunctivitis, Night blindness, Cataract, Earache and pus in ear are included in this disease category. Legs of Pavo cristatus (Linnaeus, 1758) is used for ear infection is reported in many parts of India.

Impotency, Aphrodisiac, Birth control

16 (14.7%) animal species are reported in 20 (7.6%) uses to treat Impotency and birth control related Problem in various part of India. This disease category included aphrodisiac, increase sexual desire and efficacy, birth control measure, male impotency and to attain early puberty. 19 uses are reported for increase sexual potency and two uses are for birth control measures. Four uses are for remove to male impotency. Sex organs mainly penis, excreta, flesh, etc are main animal raw materials uses in this category. Of the total 20 uses, 12 times flesh is reported as raw material in this disease category.

Gynecological Problem

Gynecological problems are among the important medical problems treated by different ethnic communities of India. Infections of ovaries, uterus, and vagina as well as post partum infections were very common conditions for which women sought the help of healers. Six (5.5%) animal species are reported in six (2.3%) uses of Gynecological Problem in the various part of the India. Menstruation problem, Facilitates delivery, leucorrhoea, gonorrhea, etc are included in this disease category.

Nervous System

The enormous role that traditional healer play in the area of treatment of psychosomatic and nervous system problems. 12 (11%) animal species are reported for 15 (5.7%) uses of nervous system disorders in the various part of the India. Epilepsy, paralysis migraine, nervous disorder, etc are main ailments that are included in this disease category. Of the total 15 uses, nine uses are reported for paralysis and four uses for epilepsy in this disease category.

Weakness

13 (11.9%) animal species are reported in 13(5%) uses to treat weakness in the various part of the India. General weakness, anemia, malnutrition are main ailments, that are included in this disease category. In 13 uses, milk, flesh and blood are main raw materials reported in this category.

Wound healing

Wound infections from accidents are very common in India, and are a major concern especially in rural areas. 10 (9.2%) animal species are reported for 11 (4%) uses of wound healing in the various parts of the India. small cuts, ulcers, wounds and mouth ulcers are included in this disease category.

Urinary Problem

Eight (7.3%) animal species are reported for eight (3%) medicinal uses of urinary problems in the various parts of the India.

Antidote

Six (5.5%) animal species are reported in seven (2.7%) uses to treat antidotes in the various parts of the India. Snake bite, spider bite, poisoning are included in this category. Bile duct, intestine, fat are reported as raw materials for antidote.

Burn

10 (9.2%) animal species are reported for 10 (3.38%) medicinal uses of burn problems in the various parts of the India. Fat is mostly uses as raw material in burn wounds.

Miscellaneous

26 (23.9%) animal species are reported for 31 (11.5%) uses of miscellaneous purposes in the various parts of the India. The rare disorders included are diabetes, Cancer, carbuncle, haematoma, eosinophilia, Enuresis (bed wetting), Internal tumours, Obesity, alcoholic drinks, Stammering, contracted limbs, hiccups, etc in this category.

Discussion

It is widely accepted that plants, animals and their by-products used as a source of folk or traditional medicines indicate the presence of a biologically active constituent(s) in them. A significant portion of the currently available non-synthetic and/or semi-synthetic pharmaceuticals in clinical use is comprised of drugs derived from plants, animal, microbial, and mineral products [3032]. Although today much is known about the phytochemistry and phytopharmacology of many traditional plant remedies, but real bio-scientific evaluations of remedies of animal origin are still quite rare in the literature [33]. However many animals have been methodically tested by pharmaceutical companies as sources of drugs to the modern medical science [34].

Approximately 109 animals and their 270 uses are reported in folk medicine in different part of India. The number of animals reported for medicinal purposes in different parts of India is enough to feel a need to discuss on the use of animals and their products, as medicines. In order to stress how important animals were, are and can be as sources of pharmacological substances and discussion on the use of the animals and their products, as medicines in conservation biology and sustainable use.

42 animal species with 50 uses is reported for the treatment of Respiratory problems like asthma, cough, cold, tuberculosis in different part of India. Of the total 50 Respiratory uses, 32 uses are only for the treatment of asthma. In 16 uses flesh of animal is reported as raw material for the use of respiratory problems. So there can be a relation between animal flash and asthma, because mostly ethnic communities reported flash of various animals is uses for asthma.

Kadrobova et al. (1996) reported that low selenium (Se) levels were observed in patients with asthma when compared to a group of patients without asthma. The researchers concluded that Se supplementation may be beneficial to patients with intrinsic asthma, who may be at risk of Se deficiency [35]. Selenium occurs in various chemical forms (selenite or selenate) in plants and animals. It is in an inorganic form such as selenomethionine or other selenium-containing amino acids [36]. The meat and fish group which include quantities of dry fish (Tilapia nicotilus), cray fish (Procambaris clarkii), snail (Achatina fulica) and albino rat was richest in selenium. Although snail and rat contained little or none [37].

In Brazil, Alves et al reported the medicinal uses of 283 animal species, 96% of which are wild caught and 27% of which are on one or more lists of endangered species [38]. Alves et al also demonstrate that at least 165 reptile species are used in traditional folk medicine around the world. Some species are used as sources of drugs for modern medical science. Of the reptiles recorded, 53% are included on lists of endangered species [39].

109 animal species are uses in India, of which 76 (70%) are included in IUCN red data list and 36 (33%) animal species are listed in CITES appendix I, II, and III and the Raw materials are used in 170 medicinal preparations is always injured to animal life. All these data is very high to affect biodiversity. Many protected animal species like peacock (Pavo cristatus (Linnaeus, 1758), hard shelled turtle (Kachuga tentoria (Gray, 1834)), sambhar (Cervus unicolor (Kerr, 1792)), Spiny-tailed lizard (Uromastyx hardwickii (Gray, 1827)), and collared dove (Streptopelia decaocto (Frivaldszky, 1838)) are mentioned as important medicinal resources in India. The Kanjar community girls eat flesh of collared dove for attain puberty in early age in the surrounding areas of Ranthambhore national park [19]. Now collared dove facing a serious problem due to this activity in this area. It's suggested that this kind of neglected traditional knowledge should be included into the strategies of conservation and management of faunistic resources in the investigated areas.

Conclusion

We have summarized and analyses the data collected by various authors in 15 published research works on zootherapeutic practices in different part of India. Some important points are outcome of this work.

1. Approximately 109 animals and their 270 medicinal uses are reported in traditional medicine in different parts of India.

2. Of the total 109 animal species reported, 76 (70%) are included in IUCN red data list. 36 (33%) animal species are listed in CITES appendix I, II, and III.

3. The mammals constitute the highest number of animals used for medicinal purposes. 44 (40%) mammals, 24 (22%) invertebrates, 18 (17%) birds, 12 (11%) reptiles, 9 (8%) fishes and two (2%) amphibians have been reported for medicinal purposes.

4. The highest numbers of animal species (42, 38.5%) with 50 (18.5%) uses have been reported for the treatment of Respiratory system related problems, like asthma, cough, cold, tuberculosis in different part of India. Of the total 50 Respiratory uses, 32 uses are only for the treatment of asthma. In 16 uses, flesh of animal is reported as raw material for the treatment of respiratory problems. Because mostly ethnic communities eat flash of various animals to control asthma, so there can be a relation between animal flash and asthma.

5. Rheumatic and other pains are reported to be treated with 32 species (29.4%) for 34 (12.9%) uses in different part of India.

6. Gastric problems are reported with 22(20.2%) for 26 (9.9%) uses in different part of India.

7. Skin related Problems are treated with 16 species (14.7%) for 19 (7%) uses in different part of India.

8. 20 species (18.4%) are used in 20 uses (7.6%) in eye and ear related diseases in different part of India.

9. Impotency, aphrodisiac and birth control is reported with 16 species (14.7%) for 20(19) (7.6%) uses in different part of India.

10. Raw materials are used in 170 medicinal preparations is always injured to animal life (flesh in 62 preparations, fat in 24 preparations, organs and bile in 25 preparations, blood in 19 preparations, whole body and ash in 40 preparations).

11. In 73 medicinal uses, the raw materials are collected without injury to animal life (byproducts uses in 34 preparations, excreta uses in 27 preparations and urine uses in 12 preparations). However in 27 medicinal uses, the raw materials are collected with or without injury to animal life (scale, antler, feather, teeth are uses in 14 preparation and bones are uses in 13 preparations).

12. Flesh is reported for maximum (62, 23%) uses as animal raw material in Indian ethnic communities.

Declarations

Authors’ Affiliations

(1)
Department of Zoology, Government Post Graduate College
(2)
Department of Zoology, University of Rajasthan

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