Animals Self-Medicate Far More Than Previously Realized

animals self medicateScience Daily on animal pharmacology as part of the ecosystem:

It’s been known for decades that animals such as chimpanzees seek out medicinal herbs to treat their diseases. But it now appears that the practice of animal self-medication is a lot more widespread than previously thought, according to University of Michigan ecologist Mark Hunter and his colleagues.

Animals use medications to treat various ailments through both learned and innate behaviors. The fact that moths, ants and fruit flies are now known to self-medicate has profound implications for ecology and evolution.

Wood ants incorporate an antimicrobial resin from conifer trees into their nests, preventing microbial growth in the colony. Parasite-infected monarch butterflies protect their offspring against high levels of parasite growth by laying their eggs on anti-parasitic milkweed. Lacking many of the immune-system genes of other insects, honeybees incorporate antimicrobial resins into their nests.

“Perhaps the biggest surprise for us was that animals like fruit flies and butterflies can choose food for their offspring that minimizes the impacts of disease in the next generation,” Hunter said.

The authors also note that the study of animal medication will have direct relevance for human food production. Disease problems in agricultural organisms can worsen when humans interfere with the ability of animals to medicate, they point out.

16 Comments on "Animals Self-Medicate Far More Than Previously Realized"

  1. looking at it on a continuous scale, i still ask myself: animals self medicate, or medications self apply? combinatorics? is it all really outwardly random and inwardly due to shuffling limits like a card deck? also fascinating that an animal manipulates the biomass to the level-of-detail that humans can (human animal).

    • Calypso_1 | Apr 17, 2013 at 11:52 am |

      ‘medications self-apply’

      daisy chains of self-medicating molecules

      • alive xor dead death-watchers, nephelem. save what lo ist est? no es! fungi! shit! pfuit?!?! logical or, ignore, ignore, so many bumpkins all bumping gore door! error led to life and death, neither, neither, void and sarinpem!

        • Calypso_1 | Apr 17, 2013 at 3:18 pm |

          Polyelectrolyte membrane?

          • integer ring addiction noun; factoring problem anyhow! no answer is a greatest answer, indeed, for such a net as this, Neptune, Jupiter, Saturn, Mermaider! what a chemical spill! the emporer shall be thusly displeased at the sand wet monstrosity summoned forth against his legionaires in the pit! told him to add his digits, divide them into nines, of course the fool subtracted, and found but more design of his reverse posterity! ha ha! what a Cicero ben Moses! Whales! a fistful of whales, salted, and orange, i say! bought them at dollar general not so long ago at behy!

          • charlotte | Apr 18, 2013 at 10:23 pm |

            oh, you hear them too?

          • kowalityjesus | Apr 18, 2013 at 3:37 am |

            do you think Simon is patently mad? either that or a Joyce acolyte? nothing else can generally be said of his incantations…

          • Calypso_1 | Apr 18, 2013 at 8:39 am |

            Simon can communicate quite ‘normally’ if he chooses.
            He is wicked smart. As to his incantations – there may be more method to the madness than you realize, though i admit there is a high degree of challenge in parsing some of the statements. I am enjoying that he feels comfortable expressing this dimension of his mind in our presence. I am also enjoying many of the posts in and of themselves.
            As to any actual pathological state: I am certain there would be diagnosticians who would consider much of this to be ‘word salad’. I hate that appellation because in my own experience it is usually tossed out in a very lazy manner without much attempt at analysis. There is a huge difference in thought associations between various mental illness, localized neurological damage & someone who has an expansive mind (especially with non linguistic syntax associations such as math or music) going spelunking in the depths.
            Other than that i would not speculate based on what we see here.
            The main aspect to consider in any individual – are they functioning at a capacity that is suitable for their needs & how satisfied are they with their state of being. If both of those are OK and your existence is not a great burden on those around you, bizarre elocution is fine by me.

            I would hope however, that if Simon’s desire, in the long run is to communicate and not to sort through his own thoughts (intriguing as they may be) he might choose to attenuate the density of the process and/or provide an additional layer of interface for the less initiated.

            If you can’t get anything out of his writing from a top down approach, look at it as asemic writing. Then the grafting on of meanings, fleeting, cryptic, etc. becomes an aspect of your own interpretive mind.

          • in a timeless accretion disc like the planar area of unsound absence betwixt two cymbals, we, the spiritual number in whole eternal. smoke mirrors and flashlights is all. smoke mirrors and fleshlughts.

          • Maxwell’s demon; does it as me if not we increase the certainty of the claims that those holding mirrors and those holding flashlights are a people, a person, and communicated through the smoke … or by fact outside the smoke? Spooky.

          • kowalityjesus | Apr 19, 2013 at 10:23 am |

            jolly fine analysis, thangs! do you think there is someone he is imitating? my only acquaintance with non-standard syntax is Faulkner and (un poco) Joyce. This a contemporary stream-of-consciousness affair? more contrived? I agree it is bizarre, multi-faceted, and thought-provoking. (Although what about his avatar, yeesh.)

            Your mention of a common indistinguishability of brain damage vs genius reminds me of a film directed by Crispin Glover, “It Is Fine! Everything Is Fine.” which I have wanted to watch for a few years, but had no arbitrary notion to. The script was written by Steven C Stewart, who also stars in the film. Since he has cerebral palsy he is perfectly intelligent and artistically gifted but incapable of communicating on a “””normal””” level.

          • do we think there is someone i am not imitating? for i should very much like to flatter them as well. for all then at genus zero, all that remains is simple, so very simple to the algorithmically minded self entwined into each of us. some say that any genera may be embedded into 3d space. are they physicists? some say that that would equate to proving that P = NP. are they computer scientists? what Pschent, then, to wear! would it be two? or three?!? no indeed not a crown for any of us! it must be destroyed! it must be the void! it must be solution to everything theory annoyed! from Amenophis to Akhenaten, i hear. from Akhenaten to Amenophis, i speak. what occur then between is but the first year of history!

  2. howiebledsoe | Apr 17, 2013 at 11:51 am |

    Does that butterfly have a prescription? I doubt it. That is illegal in this state. Round ’em up.

  3. BuzzCoastin | Apr 18, 2013 at 12:44 am |

    who do you think the humans learned it from?

    China still has thousands of herbal medicines widely available
    which have been in use for thousands of years

    which was the same in the EU till just after WW1

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