MEDICINAL PROPERTIES IN THE DIET OF GORILLAS : AN ETHNO-PHARMACOLOGICAL EVALUATION
- ISSN: 02851601
A growing body of literature in the behavioral, ecological and pharmacological sciences suggests that animals use certain plants for the control of parasite infection and related illnesses. It has also become increasingly apparent that chimpanzees in Africa and their human counterparts share strong similarities in the plants they use for the treatment of similar diseases. Little is yet known, however, of the other closest living ape relative in Africa, the gorilla. Here we review the ethnopharmacological literature to evaluate the possible role of plant secondary compounds in the diet of gorillas in the wild. A total of 118 medicinal plant species from 59 families are listed from an extensive review of the literature on gorilla diet in the wild. The major pharmacological activities of those plant foods, which are also used in traditional medicine include antiparasitic, antifungal, antibacterial, antiviral, cardiotonic, hallucinogenic, stimulatory and respiratory activities. A greater understanding of the role of such plants in the primate diet and how these plants can be used for health maintenance is a promising new avenue for expanding our understanding of the biological basis and origins of traditional human medicinal practices and for developing novel applications of ethnopharmacological knowledge for humans.