Dr. Jane was the first to discover that wild chimpanzees have learned to treat their own
ailments in the most natural of ways, using forest products just as humans use prescribed medicines. Sick chimps tend
to swallow leaves one by one and whole, from any of a number of different trees. The undigested leaves pass through the
intestines and sweep worms and other parasites out of the body - a perfect forest remedy. Perhaps it is through social
learning that chimpanzees know the symptoms, remedy, and dosage, and can move on to a speedy recovery.
She was a constipated chimpanzee called Chausiku, in the Mahale mountains of western
Tanzania, and her behaviors seemed a little odd. Reaching for the shoot of a noxious tree that chimps should normally
avoid, she peeled it and sucked its bitter pith. Within a day, the constipation - and other symptoms - were gone… …Chausiku,
the bitter pith-sucking chimp, seems to be a true pharmacist, though, seeking out an unpleasant substance with no nutritive
value in response to stomach pains. The pith from the tree Vernonia amygdalina, has now been scrutinized in laboratories and
given up its secrets. It contains compounds active against many of the parasites responsible for malarial dysentery and
schistosomiasis. The local people, the WaTongwe, use the same plant to treat the same illnesses - and they recover in
the same time period.
Source: See article "How man apes animal medicine" www.telegraph.co.uk