Do animals use natural properties of plants to self-medicate?

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Abstract

For more than 30 years, field studies have shown that chimpanzees ingest items of low nutritional value such as rough leaves, bitter stems of Vernonia amygdalina and clay, apparently thereby protecting themselves against parasites and renforcing their health. Among animals, several species of insects and birds as well as other mammals have been evidenced to use secondary compounds to recover or to maintain health. Recently, we described the diversity and the biological activities of items of low nutritional value used by wild chimpanzees in Uganda suggesting a broad repertoire of natural substances that our closest relatives are able to use.