Self-Medication in Animals

  title={Self-Medication in Animals},
  author={Jacobus C. de Roode and Thierry Lef{\`e}vre and Mark D. Hunter},
  pages={150 - 151}
Animal self-medication against parasites is more widespread than previously thought, with profound implications for host-parasite biology. The concept of antiparasite self-medication in animals typically evokes images of chimpanzees seeking out medicinal herbs to treat their diseases (1, 2). These images stem partly from the belief that animals can medicate themselves only when they have high cognitive abilities that allow them to observe, learn, and make conscious decisions (3). However, any… Expand
The evolution of self-medication behaviour in mammals
It is found that reports of self-medication were restricted to eutherian mammals and evolved at least four times independently, and large, longer-lived species might thus benefit uniquely from self-Medication. Expand
Self-medication in insects: when altered behaviors of infected insects are a defense instead of a parasite manipulation.
Studies have demonstrated that medication behaviors by insects are much more common than previously thought. Bees, ants, flies, and butterflies can use a wide range of toxic and nutritional compoundsExpand
Ants medicate to fight disease
Ants selectively consume harmful substances upon exposure to a fungal pathogen, yet avoid these in the absence of infection, providing evidence that social insects medicate themselves against fungal infection, using a substance that carries a fitness cost to uninfected individuals. Expand
Self-medication by orang-utans (Pongo pygmaeus) using bioactive properties of Dracaena cantleyi
This work documents self-medication in the only Asian great ape, orang-utans (Pongo pygmaeus), and for the first time, to the authors' knowledge, the external application of an anti-inflammatory agent in animals. Expand
Protection against the lethal side effects of social immunity in ants
It is demonstrated that antimicrobial acids, produced by workers to disinfect the colony, are harmful to the delicate pupal brood stage, but that the pupae are protected from the acids by the presence of a silk cocoon. Expand
News Feature: Animals that self-medicate
  • J. Shurkin
  • Medicine
  • Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences
  • 2014
Birds, bees, lizards, elephants, and chimpanzees all share a survival trait: They self-medicate and know to ingest certain plants or use them in unusual ways when they need them. Expand
Social-medication in bees: the line between individual and social regulation.
Examples among social bees (bumblebees, stingless bees and honey bees) in which the consumption or use of plant compounds have a demonstrated role in parasite defense and health of the colony are provided. Expand
Behavioural evidence for self-medication in bumblebees?
Nicotine consumption did not affect bee lifespan but the reduction in the parasite load may have other likely unexplored subtle benefits both for individual bees and their colony, and the contention that secondary metabolites in nectar may be under selection from pollinators, or used by plants to enhance their own reproductive success, remains to be confirmed. Expand
Ecological immunology mediated by diet in herbivorous insects.
The hypothesis that a diet-mediated defense by the host against parasites acts as a temporally explicit, multi-stage process is synthesized to generate the idea that nutritional influences the quality and quantity of immunological defense in herbivorous insects. Expand
A theoretical exploration of dietary collective medication in social insects.
An individual-based model of nutritional geometry is developed to examine the impact of collective nutrient balancing on pathogen spread in a social insect colony and suggests a new possible mechanism by which colonies can defend themselves against pathogens. Expand


Animal self-medication and ethno-medicine: exploration and exploitation of the medicinal properties of plants
  • M. Huffman
  • Medicine, Biology
  • Proceedings of the Nutrition Society
  • 2003
In light of the growing resistance of parasites and pathogens to synthetic drugs, the study of animal self-medication and ethno-medicine offers a novel line of investigation to provide ecologically-sound methods for the treatment of parasites using plant-based medicines in populations and their livestock living in the tropics. Expand
Evidence for trans-generational medication in nature.
This work provides the first evidence of trans-generational medication, in which animals actively use medicine to mitigate disease in their offspring, and provides evidence that infected animals may indeed use medicine as a defence against parasites. Expand
Self-Medication as Adaptive Plasticity: Increased Ingestion of Plant Toxins by Parasitized Caterpillars
This case challenges the conventional view that self-medication behavior is restricted to animals with advanced cognitive abilities, such as primates, and empowers the science of self-Medication by placing it in the domain of adaptive plasticity theory. Expand
Alcohol Consumption as Self-Medication against Blood-Borne Parasites in the Fruit Fly
It is shown that exposure to ethanol reduces wasp oviposition into fruit fly larvae, and this multifaceted protection afforded to fly larvae by ethanol is significantly more effective against a generalist wasp than a wasp that specializes on D. melanogaster. Expand
Fruit Flies Medicate Offspring After Seeing Parasites
A behavioral immune response that Drosophila melanogaster uses against endoparasitoid wasps is described, found that when flies see wasps, they switch to laying eggs in alcohol-laden food sources that protect hatched larvae from infection. Expand
Disentangling Genetic Variation for Resistance and Tolerance to Infectious Diseases in Animals
Using rodent malaria in laboratory mice as a model system and the statistical framework developed by plant-pathogen biologists, genetic variation for tolerance is demonstrated, as measured by the extent to which anemia and weight loss increased with increasing parasite burden. Expand
Propolis and bee health: the natural history and significance of resin use by honey bees
This review serves to provide a compilation of recent research concerning the behavior of bees in relation to resins and propolis, focusing more on the bees themselves and the potential evolutionary benefits of resin collection. Expand
Nutritional PharmEcology: Doses, nutrients, toxins, and medicines.
This work argues that PharmEcology shares with the established discipline of nutritional ecology an organismal focus, at the core of which is the notion of evolutionary function, and that this potential will best be realized if the boundaries of Pharm Ecology are drawn broadly to encompass not only toxins and medicines, but also nutrients. Expand
Prophylaxis with resin in wood ants
Results show that the ants deliberately choose the resin and suggest that resin collection is prophylactic rather than therapeutic, which is suggested to be better than therapeutic in animals that use plant compounds to defend themselves against parasites. Expand
Virulence evolution in response to anti‐infection resistance: toxic food plants can select for virulent parasites of monarch butterflies
A theoretical model is developed to show that anti‐infection resistance can in fact select for higher virulence when such resistance reduces the effective parasite dose that enters a host, and shows that when the effective infectious dose is reduced, parasites can compensate by evolving a higher per‐parasite growth rate, and consequently a higher intrinsic virulence. Expand