Chimpanzees in the Wild Identify Medicines for Illness

In the 1980’s human researchers began to notice that chimpanzees in Africa practiced a form of basic empirical research that identified plants with the capability of treating parasitic and bacterial illnesses.

It appears that chimpanzees learn basic medicine from other members of their group and family. They also exhibit an amazing learning capacity to only eat bitter or bad-tasting plants with healing capabilities when there is a need to ingest them for health. Less developed life forms are more instinctual in their knowledge of medical treatment, but still practice some treatments.

What’s amazing is that animals at times appear to be more empirical than humans. Chimpanzees’ beliefs tend to be based on observations of treatment efficacy. They also practice a form of poly-pharmacy, that is ingesting multiple plants that have the same effect, which reduces antibiotic resistance. Humans, on the other hand, use single agents – a practice encouraging resistance. Humans also may embrace useless or even harmful healing practices for centuries at a time, while animals are more likely to reject useless treatments in favor of more effective ones.  Bloodletting and overseas “cures” for cancer, are all examples of past and current human practices that occasionally can harm or kill people, that may later be discovered to have no medicinal benefit.

This article is eye-opening and is quite humbling to realize we are not the only scientists on the planet.

What do you think?

Enjoy your day!

Joe

Article: The Self-Medicating Animal by Moises Velasquez-Manoff. New York Times Magazine. May 18, 2017

Full Life Menu

© 2016 Full Life LLC All Rights Reserved