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Chimpanzees seek out medicinal plants.

CHIMPANZEES SEEK OUT MEDICINAL PLANTS. Observers of primate life in African rain forests were surprised to learn that chimpanzees suffering from gastric disturbances appear to seek out medical plants to relieve their discomfort.

Some of the plants contain potent antibiotics and antirivals that may have effectiveness against human diseases.

During a study that has lasted for more than two years conducted in Uganda's Kibale forest, a Harvard professor, Richard Wrangham, Ph.D., has observed sick chimpanzees sucking the juice from particular plants (Aspila and Rubia genera). Although the plants seem to have little or no nutritional value, the animals seemed to recover from their illnesses after eating the vegetation.

The researchers have identified thiarubrine (a component of the Aspila plant, related to the sunflower family). Thiarubrine acts as an antibiotic, is antifungal, and has the potential of being effective by destroying or limiting tumor growth, Eloy Rodriguez, another researcher said.

Another aspect of these studies poses the question: Do the chimpanzees seek out the medicinal plants instictively, or have they learned about their value from ancestral wisdom?
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Title Annotation:Postscripts...
Publication:Nutrition Health Review
Date:Jan 1, 1992
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