Zoopharmacognosy

This is a really long name for a simple concept: that some animals are their own doctors. Boat tailed grackles in Florida have been seen to peck sour oranges and to rub the acid juice into their feathers, probably to fight mites. Chimpanzees eat rough leaves in order to scour their intestines free of parasites. Some finches collect cigarette butts to use in their nests. Why? The nicotine in the butts combats mite infestations in their nests. Brown lemurs use dill weed against mosquitos. Elephants in Kenya have over the centuries dug Kitum cave, in their efforts to consume salt. Pet owners will be familiar with dogs and cats eating grass. The idea has given rise to a movement advocating letting domestic animals heal themselves rather than using veterinarians, which is controversial. An intriguing possibility is that when humans were in the hunting and gathering stage, they observed animals self-medicating and through that, discovered some early medicines.

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