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Table 1 Therapeutic invertebrates of non-insect affiliations

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


English name

Malady or target treated


Platyhelminthes & Nematodes

Schistosoma mansoni

Bilharzia fluke

Diabetes 1


Ancylostoma sp.

Necator americanus



Crohn’s disease


Trichuris suis

Pig worm

Ulcerative colitis; inflammation of colon and bowel

[34, 151]


Eisenia foetida, Lumbricus rubelus


Secretions influence murine malignant and lymphocyte cell proliferations


Pheretima spp.


Eaten raw to serve as antidote in snake & spider bites

Taken orally or mixed with honey to drink in cases of malaria

Crushed and applied to red eyes

[73, 77, 119]

Metaphire houletti


Fried and oily substances applied externally to a burn


Perionyx sp.


Crushed fresh and resultant juice to drink to fight piles


Lumbricus sp.


Consumed for haemorrhoids, arthritis, earache, to clean obstructions


Lumbricidae etc.

Earthworms generally

Extracts with antibacterial, prophylactic and neuroimmune sytem supporting functions


Earthworms generally

Earthworm extracts with antipyretic, antispasmodic, diuretic, detoxic, antiasthmatic, antihypertensive and antiallergenic effects


Earthworms generally

Kidney stones, alopecia, jaundice, arthralgia, infections, anticoagulant & antibacterial effects


Black earthworm

Schistosomiasis, lumps


Hirudo medicinalis

(Medicinal) leech

Fried in sesame oil and oil applied over penis for stimulation


Hirudo medicinalis

(Medicinal) leech

Abnormal swellings, wound healing, surgery, piles, osteoarthritis, haematoma, anticoagulents, post-phlebitis syndrome, abscesses

[34, 227]

Mollusca: Bivalvia & Cephalopoda

Angulus (=Tellina) sp.

Sea shell

Ground shell as a mild purgative; women’s diseases


Mactra sp.

Sea shell



Loligo sp.

Octopus sp.



Asthma treatment with tea of toasted cuttlebone or octopi arms


Sepia officinalis


Skin & tooth troubles


Mollusca: Gastropoda

Gastropoda generally

Snails generally

Skin, analgesic & ischaemia cardiporotective, syncope, mental illness, vertigo, infections, pain

[34, 57, 58]

Arion hortensis

Garden slug, swallowed whole

Treatment for gastritis or stomach ulcer


Unidentified slugs

N American slugs

Ulcers, bronchitis, asthma

[58, 226]

Unidentified slugs

Snail and slug slime

Facial skin lesions, acne, combat wrinkles, reduce pigmentation


Unidentified slugs

Slug mucus

Dermatitis, inflammation, calluses, wound healing, warts removal


Unidentified black slug

Black slug mucus

Wart removal

[229, 230]

Unidentified snails

Garden snails

Snail slime application in cases of skin problems and internal for tuberculosis, gastrointestinal conditions, nephritis; hernias, inflammations, colds & coughs, bronchitis, asthma, pharyngitis; snail extracts work antibacterial against Staphylococcus spp., E. coli, Propionibacterium and Helicobacter pylori, scar and wrinkle removal


Pila sp.

Apple snail

Flesh boiled and drunk for bone healing or locally applied; flesh eaten for injuries; flesh eaten raw for gastritis; flesh cooked & consumed form tongue blister; shell roasted and crushed applied to burns


Pila globosa

Apple snail

Flesh cooked and eaten as relief for asthma, TB, stomach disorders, eye problems


Helix sp.

Common snail

Body consumed to treat haemorrhoids & internal ills


Helix pomatia


Whooping cough, chronic bronchitis


Semisulcospira libertina

Black freshwater snail

Ingested as soup for liver and gastroenteric trouble


Lymnaea sp.

Pond snail

Flesh, boiled in water for measles, liver ailments, swellings and sprains


Chelicerata: Araneae


Bird-eating spiders, “tarantulas”

Homeopathic uses as “mygale lasidora” tincture


Grammostola spatulata

Psalmapoeus cambridgei

China “tarantula”

S. Am.“tarantula”



[88, 146]

Brachypelma vagans


Tarantula-based beverage with spider crushed or roasted and powdered; sometimes rubbed on chest externally


Tegenaria gigantea

Sheet spider

Web’s ashes with honey as aphrodisiac and for muscular dystrophy symptoms


Heteropoda venatoria

Huntsman spider

Dried spider put in orifice to treat ottorhoea


Neoscona excelsus

Argiope pulchella

Neoscona mukerjei

Neoscona theis

Lycosa poonaensis

Pardosa birmanica

Pardosa sumatrana

Artema Atlanta

Mirpissa decorata

Orb web spider

Orb weaver

Orb weaver

Wolf spider

Pond spider

Marsh spider

House spider

Jumping spider

Spider drug to cure liver enlargement

Spider dry powder with various leaf juices to treat bleedings, dry cough, headache

Dry powder used in cases of fever in kala-azar, for purgative condition in children, insomnia and blood dysentery

Diuretic and purgative condition

Spider drug for insomnia

Dry powder used in connection with bronchitis, asthma, arterial sclerosis


Powder to improve memory, loss of voice, applied in cases of epistaxis and to remove body fat

Spider drug to cure tonsillitis


Spiders generally

Spider webs

External uses: Removal of warts; to dress wounds and stop bleeding; internal uses: to cure troublesome, obstinate distemper, reduce intermittent fever; to congeal blood after tooth extraction

[16, 41]


Webs covered in black soot

Used to cover pale spots on people’s black skin in Chad (Africa) or dress wounds (Tanzania: Marusha)



Spider webs

Put over boils, postules, ulcers; covering wounds; curing wound following circumcision (Sudan: Dongolawi); as a filter during sucking blood (Kenya: Kuku)



Bird-eating spiders

Toasted powdered hairs mixed with chalk for pemba floor drawings used in magic about spirits and death


Chelicerata: Scorpionida & Acari

Tytius sp.


Whole animal used to treat its own sting;

Crushed scorpion or extract or dried and ground applied to site of sting

[49, 59]

Tytius discrepans


Inhibits Leishmania spp. in vitro


Leiurus quinquestriatus hebraeus


Consumed for skin problems & haemorrhoids


Buthus martensii or Mesobuthus martensis


Pain killer, convulsions, palsy, stroke, facial paralysis, migraine, lymph damage, tetanus, parotis, oedema, carbuncle;

Speech disorders

[69, 70]

Palamnaeus swammerdami


Boiled in mustard oil with extract for massage to relieve rheumatic joints pain


Ixodes ricinus & I. scapularis


Vascular & thrombotic ills


Ornithodoros moubata

Soft bird tick

Deliberate tick bites to develop immunity against tick-borne fever bacterium or rubbing crushed tick into small skin incision


Boophilus microplus

Cattle tick



Trombidium grandissimum

Red velvet mite

Malaria, urogenital ills, paralysis, aphrodisiac



Ocypode quadrata

Eupagurus sp.

Name not available

Ghost crab

Hermit crab

Jellyfish crab

Whole animal used for treatment of asthma and haemorrhage in women


Paratelphusa sp.

Freshwater crab

Boiled in water; water to be drunk to fight jaundice; ground up with male banana flower and consumed to healinflammatory glands


Ucides cordatus

Mangrove crab

Crab fat mixed in white wine to treat haemorrhage in women


Scylla serrata and Penaeus indicus

Mangrove crab and river prawn

Treatment of old age diabetics and to cure skin disease


Cancer pagurus


Body crushed into paste, the boiled and drunk to cure jaundice & liver ills;

as a tonic

[113, 119]

Claridopsis dubia

Mantis shrimp

Tea of powdered animal for asthma treatment


Porcellio scaber

Woodlouse, slater



Echinodermata: Asteroidea

Actinopyga agassizi

Acanthaster planci

Asterias forbesi





[228, 232]





Echinodermata: Echinoidea

Mellita sp.,

Echinometra lucunter

Sand dollar

Sea urchins

Tea of toasted whole animal to treat asthma

[18, 228]

Myriapoda: Chilopoda

Scolopendra spp.


Hyperlipidemia, problems of joints, feet, legs, stroke, convulsions, lumps, snake bites, tumours, carbuncles, tetanus, lymphangitis, cough, alopecia, neuralgia, whooping, osteomyelitis, gangrene

[34, 69, 70, 136]

Myriapoda: Diplopoda

Tymbodesmus falcatus

Sphenodesmus sheribongensis

One Spirostreptid species




Archispirostreptus syriacus

Giant millipede

Removal of unwanted hair from eyelids


Tachypodoiulus niger

Black millipede

Decoction to be taken orally for tuberculosis



Jongoo (Swaheli) millipede

Dried, used as ash and rubbed into scarifications

Referred to as “Tausenfüßler” in [51], but could be a centipede (“Hundertfüßler”)