We’re not the only ones to use plants.
I came across this recent news story. The Sun described it as:
A little over the top, right?
They said that, “ORANGUTANS may have secret medical knowledge that most humans don’t know about, after great apes were filmed turning plants into ointment to soothe their aches and pains.”
Anyway, if you’d like to see the video it’s posted below.
Earth.com, which also covered the story, put it differently:
“We often think of medicine as an entirely human invention. We’re the species that researches and manufactures countless drugs and other medications; we perform surgery and reset broken bones. But a new study from researchers out of the Borneo Nature Foundation has found that orangutans may have a knowledge of natural medicines that are still unknown to humans.”
I’m sorry, if you think medicine as an entirely human invention you just don’t understand health, nature or history.
This reeks of the false idea that we’re infinitely more advanced than animals…as well as “backwards” humans.
They say it’s unknown to humans…but just two paragraphs later, they write:
“Through testing the plant, the researchers found that it was Dracaena cantleyi, which is actually used by the orangutan’s indigenous human neighbors in that forest. The indigenous people also use it for treating aches and pains.”
Further analysis of that plant found that it did indeed “inhibit TNFα-induced inflammatory cytokine production.” [Study]
Why is this so surprising? Why is this news?
If they had interviewed the indigenous people there, they could tell you all kinds of medicinal plants that could be used for all kinds of things.
But the West wouldn’t believe them. Show us your double-blind placebo-controlled studies, we’d say.
Yes, science is absolutely useful and has its place. But let’s not forget it’s roots are in observation.
Observing animals use of plants has gone back as long as animals have existed.
You may be familiar with the story behind coffee, where a goat herder saw his goats eat the beans and start acted all caffeinated, so he followed suit.
Epimedium has essentially the same story, and is where the name Horny Goat Weed came from.
The genus name of Seabuckthorn, Hippophae means “Shining Horse” because the horses that ate these would have shiny hair.
If we looked harder I’m sure we could find many such animal uses of all kinds of herbs, including the ones we carry.