Marine Invertebrates in Traditional Medicines

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Abstract

This chapter reviews the uses of marine invertebrates for medicinal purposes, based on an extensive literature survey. We identified at least 266 species which are prescribed to treat a number of diseases and conditions categories, especially those of the digestive and genitourinary systems. Among the medicinal species, 19 species feature on the IUCN (International Union for Conservation of Nature) Red List and/or are CITES-listed (Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora). This highlights the need to assess the impacts of zootherapy in the context of marine biodiversity conservation. Conservation efforts should also be directed to unprotected species, whose medicinal use is widespread. In addition to biological aspects, economical and sociocultural factors influence the relationship between people and zootherapeutical resources. Therefore, studies bridging ecological, anthropological, and pharmacological aspects of the medicinal use of animals should be fostered.