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 Table of Contents  
Year : 2022  |  Volume : 5  |  Issue : 1  |  Page : 3-11

Zootherapeutic documentation from Tiruppur district, Tamil Nadu, India

1 Siddha Medicinal Plants Garden, Central Council for Research in Siddha (CCRS), Ministry of Ayush, Govt. of India, Mettur Dam, Salem, Tamil Nadu, India
2 Siddha Clinical Research Unit, CCRS, Ministry of Ayush, Govt. of India, Palayamkottai, Tirunelveli, Tamil Nadu, India

Date of Submission19-Oct-2022
Date of Decision11-Nov-2022
Date of Acceptance15-Nov-2022
Date of Web Publication18-Apr-2023

Correspondence Address:
Prakasam Radha
Siddha Medicinal Plants Garden, CCRS, Ministry of Ayush, Govt. of India, Mettur, Dam, Salem - 636 401, Tamil Nadu
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Source of Support: None, Conflict of Interest: None

DOI: 10.4103/jrsm.jrsm_25_22

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Introduction: Animals and their parts have been used as an important source in the traditional systems of medicine such as Ayurveda, Siddha, Unani, and folklore. The present study was aimed to document the medicinal uses of animals and animal products used by the inhabitants of Tiruppur District, Tamil Nadu.
Materials and Methods: A medico ethnobotanical survey was conducted from December 2017 to December 2020 in order to collect the information on the animals and their parts used in the treatment of various ailments by both tribal and non-tribal inhabitant of Tiruppur District, Tamil nadu. The documentation was done by conducting face-to-face interview with the informants such as traditional medicinal practitioners, folk healers, and indigenous with their prior consent.
Results: 67 people were interviewed and the therapeutic values of 28 animals and their products used in the treatment of various ailments such as dermatological infection/diseases, hemorrhoides, skeleto-muscular system disorder, respiratory system diseases, genito-urinary ailments, etc. were recorded and documented with their tamil name, zoological name, family, part used, mode of administration, and ailments treated.
Conclusion: The present study revealed that, though the inhabitants possess the traditional knowledge to use animal products for various diseases, currently very few are in practice for their primary health care needs.

Keywords: Animal products, animal, tiruppur district, zootherapeutic

How to cite this article:
Radha P, Udhayavani C, Nagaraj R, Sivaranjani K. Zootherapeutic documentation from Tiruppur district, Tamil Nadu, India. J Res Siddha Med 2022;5:3-11

How to cite this URL:
Radha P, Udhayavani C, Nagaraj R, Sivaranjani K. Zootherapeutic documentation from Tiruppur district, Tamil Nadu, India. J Res Siddha Med [serial online] 2022 [cited 2023 Sep 25];5:3-11. Available from: http://www.jrsm.in/text.asp?2022/5/1/3/374336

  Introduction Top

In India, the traditional systems of medicine have been used since the ages. Most of them are herbal based, but in some formulations documented in Siddha, Ayurveda and Unani, animals and their products have been used. About 128 animal products are used in Siddha (Indian Materia Medica and Gunapadam Thathujeeva Vaguppu) for the treatment of different types of diseases.[1] In Ayurveda, about 143 animals and their products include mammals, aves, reptiles, pices, insects etc. were used therapeutically.[1],[2],[3] However, the Biological Diversity Act 2002 controlled the poaching of wild animals from their native habitats.

A diversity of animals are widely used in the traditional medicinal systems. The animals used as medicine are earthworms, crabs, fishes, snakes, and mammals including humans. Though, this practice has been continued since the ages in the various parts of the world.[4],[5],[6],[7],[8],[9],[10],[11],[12],[13],[14],[15] According to the World Health Organization, about 80% of the world’s populations rely primarily on traditional medical practices where the use of animals and animal products for medicinal purposes is significant.[16] People with different cultures apply their traditional knowledge to prevent and treat various ailments using animal products world-wide.[17]

Different parts and products of various species of both domestic and wild animals are used for the preparation of preventive remedies for the management of various ailments.[18] Very few studies were reported in India with reference to therapeutic uses of animals and animal products[19],[20],[21],[22],[23] and a few of them are from the state of Tamil Nadu.[11],[12],[13] For the first time, zootherapeutical documentation from Tiruppur District, Tamil Nadu was undertaken in this study for the conservation of traditional knowledge and identification of the potential source of alternative medicine.

  Study area and methodology Top

An intensive field exploration was carried out during the period of December 2017 to December 2020 in Tiruppur District, Tamil Nadu. Tiruppur District (11°06’55.48” N 77°21’16.42” E) is a role model city for textile and small-scale industries [Figure 1]. A few research studies were reported in Tiruppur district, and most of the studies are based on environment issues with textile industries and wind mills as sources of pollution[24],[25]; needless to mention there are only a few ethnobotanical studies in report.[26],[27],[28] The literature survey revealed there is no comprehensive study reported on the animals and animal products used by the inhabitants of Tiruppur District. The present study was aimed at documenting the traditional and indigenous knowledge of the ethno-medicinal important animals and their products used for different ailments by the local and tribal communities of Tiruppur District.
Figure 1: Map showing the study area of Tiruppur District

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Area selected for the study are rural/urban and tribal settlements of Tiruppur District. A total of 292 informants were interviewed, out of which documentation of animals and their products were recorded from 67 informants (27 male and 40 female) including five tribal people (Pulaiyar and Mudhuvar) from Tirumoorthy hills and Anaimalai hills [Table 1]. Folklore data was recorded in a prescribed passport datasheet,[29] which included the informants’ demographic profile, the local name of the animal/animal products, the part/s used, the mode of preparation and administration, and the diseases treated [Figure 2]. The recorded information on the uses of animals and their products were verified and cross-checked with other folk healers from the same village and nearby villages.
Table 1: Socio-demographic profile of the informants

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Figure 2: Passport data sheet

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  Results and discussion Top

A total of 28 animal species belonging to five classes and 23 families were documented to find their use in the treatment of 13 ailment categories [Table 2]. These animal species comprised both vertebrates and invertebrates. Mammals were the most frequently (41%) used medicinal animals, followed by birds (26%), reptiles (18%), fishes (4%), and in vertebrates (11%) [Table 3]. Mammals and birds are used more frequently as components of folk medicine and fishes are used rarely which is in agreement with similar studies reported from other parts of India.[8],[13],[14],[30],[31],[32] Out of 23 animal families recorded, Bovidae is the dominant family represented with three species, followed by Colubridae and Phasionidae represented with 2 species each, and the rest of the families are represented with single species respectively.
Table 2: List of animals and their products used by the tribal and local inhabitants of Tiruppur District, Tamil Nadu

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Table 3: Classes of animals used traditionally in Tiruppur District

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Parts used

Different parts and products of animals were used for different therapeutic purposes. Totally, 15 animal parts and products such as blood, meat, whole body, fat, egg, milk, shell, urine, excreta, feather, etc. were recorded. It was found that, fresh meat of 13 species is predominantly recommended to treat piles, jaundice, body strengthening, rheumatoid arthritis, joint pain, and pox diseases. Seven species of whole body of animal were used to treat rheumatoid arthritis, chronic wounds, paralysis, cold, carcinoma, and earache. Blood (5 species) used to treat rheumatoid arthritis, herpes, hair growth, ottorhoea etc. Animal fat, liver, excreta, egg and milk are represented with each three species and rest of the parts such as shell, feather, ghee, tusk, and urine are represented with less than three species [Figure 3]
Figure 3: Animal parts used for medicinal purpose

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Mode of preparation and administration

The recorded animal medicines were administered orally, some through external application, and some of the medicines were treated both oral as well as external. Out of 28 species recorded, 10 animals were used in both forms, nine animals were used only for internal medicines, and 8 animals/products were used for external application in the form of oil, paste, rubbing as fresh animal, etc.

It has been observed that, the egg of Gallus domesticus, Crocodylus porosus; blood of Passer domesticus, Lepus timidus, and breast milk of Homo sapiens are used in raw form. Fresh meats from the animals such as Chamaeleo zeylanicus, Calotus versicolor, Sus scrofa, Capra aegagrus hircus, Anas platyrhynchos, Clanga hastuta, Corvus splendens, Pteropus medius, Paraechinus nudiventris, Ptyas mucosa, Brachura sp., Columba livia and Herpestes edwardsii etc were used to cure diseases such as piles, ulcer, for lactation, pox diseases, cold etc.

Ailment/s categories treated

Most of the diseases reported here are common ones such as paronychia, body cooling, earache, vomiting, hair care, cold, piles, and joint pain etc. and some of them are chronic ailments such as jaundice, asthma, leucorrhoea, paralysis, night blindness etc.

In the present study, it was observed that 29 different types of diseases were treated by using 28 animals. Six species were reported for the treatment of piles; followed by rheumatoid arthritis, represented by six species; joint pain with five species; jaundice and herpes treated by using three species; and the rest of the diseases such as cold, dysentery, leucorrhoea, paralysis, earache, asthma, carcinoma, headache, polio, paronychia, snake bite and, vomiting etc. were treated by using less than three species [Figure 4].
Figure 4: Graphical representation of treated ailments

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The diseases that are treated were grouped into 13 ailment categories. It has been observed that, dermatological infections/diseases (DID) represents the dominant ailment category treated by using 9 animal species followed by hemorrhoides (HEM) 8 species, skeleto-muscular system diseases (SMSD) represented by 7 species each, ear, nose and throat (ENT) treated by using 5 species, gastro-intestinal ailments (GIA) recorded with 4 species, respiratory system diseases (RSD), liver problems (LP) and genito-urinary ailments (GUA) represented by 3 species each, circulatory system/cardiovascular diseases (CSCD) represented with 2 species each, and the rest of the ailment categories such as poison bite (PB), cooling agent (CA), general health (GH) and hair care (HC) are each represented with single species respectively [Figure 5].
Figure 5: Graphical representation of treated different ailment categories

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In the present study, different parts of Capra aegagrus hircus were highly cited for the treatment of jaundice, dysentery, lactation, earache, eye diseases and, leucorrhoea. The present observations agree cooked liver is recommended for the treatment of night blindness.[12] In previous reports, milk of C. aegagrus hircus has been reported for the treatment of jaundice.[11],[19],[33] Urine was most cited, for the treatment of jaundice. The milk is recommended for the treatment of leucorrhoea the same was used by the traditional healers of North east India.[19] In other countries, the C. aegagrus hircus was used for asthma, cough, ulcer, scabies, aneamia using blood, fat, milk.[4],[30],[34] In India, it is used for various diseases such as tuberculosis, cold and cough, burns, stomach ailments, asthma, fracture, constipation, paralysis, eczema, anal infection etc.[3],[8],[14],[15],[19],[22],[35]

Nine domestic animals and their products were reported for zootherapeutic value, Bos taurus L. is one of the important domestic animal yields diary produts and it is observed and recorded as the second highest cited animal for the treatment of stomach and mouth ulcer, dysentery, headache, eye infection, for lactation and foot corn by using milk, liver. Milk and milk products are used for body cooling, ulcer, dysentery, and headache. In the treatment of dysentery raw milk was prescribed orally and the same was reported and used by the Odissa tribal community and tribes of Nagaland[19],[36]; and in the adjoining state of Kerala.[35] For treating eye infections, butter is applied over the eye lid, but in the Shoka tribes of Uttaranchal, bile is used for the treatment of eye diseases,[14] and for headache raw milk is applied externally over the forehead, and same was reported and used by the Mediterranean countries.[4]

It is interesting to note that, Bubalus bubalis is the third most cited animal for the treatment of paronychia and skeleton-muscular system disorders. The local inhabitants keep their infected fingers in the B. bubalis nose for the treatment of paronychia. This is frequently used and cited by more than 10 informants of this study. Heated excreta are applied externally for joint pain, the same was reported from the north-east India.[3],[19]

The therapeutic uses of animals and animal products such as Lissemys punctata shell for the treatment of piles; breast milk of Homo sapiens as eye drops for treating eye diseases; Pavo cristatus feather for the treatment of vomiting, cough and asthma; blood of Lupus timidus for hair growth; cooked meat of Chamaeleo zeylanicus for paralysis; meat of Sus scrofa is for the treatment of piles; Columba livia meat, blood, and excreta to treat rheumatoid arthritis; Tusk of Elaphas maximus for dermatological infections/diseases, Equus asinus excreta for jaundice; meat and egg of Anas platyrhynchos for piles; meat of Ptyas mucosa for rheumatoid arthritis, Herpestes edwardsii meat and blood for joint pain agree with the earlier reports.[3],[11],[14],[15]

The hard-shell of a marine animal Monetaria moneta is made into powder mixed with cow milk, administered orally to treat leucorrhoea, one of the common genito-urinary ailment, the same was reported in the critical review on animals used in the Indian Traditional System of Medicine.[3]

Apart from India, the therapeutic values of animals and their parts were reported from various countries. It has been observed that, egg white of Gallus domesticus used for dysentery, skin diseases; meat of Sus scrofa for piles, breast milk of Homo sapiens for eye diseases have also been reported from different countries.[2],[4],[30],[34],[37] Other animals such as Anas platyrhynchos, Elaphas maximus, Equus asinus, Pteropus medius, Corvus splendens, Lepus timidus etc. were also recorded in other countries, but the usage of parts of the animal and treated diseases are different.

Various animals and animal products have been used for the treatment of different kinds of diseases since ancient times. The present results shows that, the therapeutic uses of animals and their products such as meat of Lissemys punctata for the treatment of piles, meat of Brachura sp. for cold and arthritis and meat of Sus scrofa for piles, external application of the Homo sapiens breast milk for eye diseases; and ash powder from Pavo cristatus feather used for the treatment of cough are already used and reported in the Siddha system of medicine.[38] Hence, the ancient traditional system of medicine is still followed by the traditional practitioners of Tiruppur District. At the same time, medicines from animals, except domestic animal/products like milk, ghee, excreta, urine, etc., it should also be possible to replace the zootherapeutics by herbal medicine or chemical substitutes to save the animals from extinction in the wild.

  Conclusion Top

According to the present research findings, the local and tribal communities of Tiruppur District, Tamil Nadu, have extensive knowledge of the therapeutic uses of animals and animal products, and herbal medicine and animal medicines are their first choices in their daily lives. Most of the animal medicines were reported by the well-practiced old Vaidyas/traditional practitioners; also they are not using the wild animals for the past forty years. As compared to elder generation, knowledge on zootherapeutic is very less on younger generation due to rapid modernization of the study area and it’s under threat status. Hence, further studies on the documentation of rest of the zootherapeutic knowledge are most important to conserve our traditional knowledge.


The authors are thankful to the Director General, Central Council for Research in Siddha (Ministry of Ayush, Govt. of India, Chennai) for constant support and encouragement. We thank all the informants of Tiruppur District, Tamil Nadu for sharing their valuable knowledge and help during survey tour and Mr. C. Maharaja and Mr. K. Karthik Field Assistants for their assistance in the field survey.

Author Contributions

P. Radha designed the project and framed the manuscript. C. Udhayavani and R. Nagaraj carried out the survey tour, documentation, and manuscript preparation. K. Sivaranjani confirmed the documented folk medicines. All authors read and finalized the manuscript for submission.

Financial support and sponsorship

The IMR Project is supported and funded by the Central Council for Research in Siddha (Ministry of Ayush, Govt. of India), Chennai (Grant Sanction Order No. 242/2017–18).

Conflicts of interest

The authors declare that, there is no conflict of interest.

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  [Figure 1], [Figure 2], [Figure 3], [Figure 4], [Figure 5]

  [Table 1], [Table 2], [Table 3]


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