Termites Have Been Used By Some Past Cultures As A Form Of Medicine
When you hear the word “termite” you immediately think of useless rotting wood, or maybe a partially collapsed house. The notion that termites are insect pests is pervasive in countries all over the world. Most people, no matter where they are located, or which culture they are a part of, treat termites with the same degree of disdain that Americans do, and always have. However, some locations around the world have used termites for their medicinal advantages.
Many countries that are located in Africa and South America have discovered the medically therapeutic potential that certain termites offer. These regions of the world have used termites in folk-medicine. Today, these regions have been largely overwhelmed by the influence of western medicine. It is improbable that you will find any major hospitals within Africa or South America employing doctors that make medical use of termites.
A recent study has cited various older studies that had documented instances in which medical use of termites was routine for some cultures. For example, a study from 1853 found that people living in the African nation of Zambia used termites in order to treat child malnutrition. The particular termite used by trusted medical figures in Zambia from this time included the Hodotermes mossambicus species of termite. In Somalia a species of termite known as Macrotermes bellicosus was used to suture wounds. In the South American country of Brazil a species of termite referred to as Microcerotermes exiguus was used in order to treat respiratory conditions such as, Asthma, Bronchitis, Influenza and Whooping Cough. India also has a rich history of using termites for medical therapies. For example, termites known as Odontotermes formosanus, were used to treat ulcers, Body pain, Rheumatics, Anemia and they were thought to increase lactation for mothers of newborns. Other termites were used in India to treat asthma.
As far as medical researchers in the west are concerned, there may be just cause for using termites in the field of medicine. Researchers have isolated many potent antimicrobial substances from certain termites. These substances include peptides called espinigerine and termicine. One particular researcher even came to the conclusion that the Nasutitermes corniger variety of termites offered the best form of natural antimicrobial therapy. Some entomologists are hoping that the possible medical application of certain termites will help to reduce the degree of hatred so many people have for these wood-eating creatures. We can all agree that this is an unlikely expectation.
Would you be willing to allow yourself to be treated with termite based medicines if a licensed doctor recommended doing so?