Wild animals used as food medicine in Brazil

Evid Based Complement Alternat Med. 2013;2013:670352. doi: 10.1155/2013/670352. Epub 2013 Aug 6.


The connection between eating and healing is common in traditional folk medical systems, and the multiple possibilities resulting from the combination of biodiversity and culture confer a wealth and complexity in terms of knowledge of the flora and fauna as to their potential as food medicine. The growing awareness of the links between traditional therapeutic-alimentary uses of wildlife and conservation has drawn attention to the gaps in knowledge on the social, economic, and biological contexts in which different forms of traditional wildlife uses take place, particularly with regard to zootherapeutic resources. In this study we interviewed 124 merchants and 203 traditional users of animal-derived remedies in Brazil, aiming at documenting the animal species used as foods and medicines in urban and rural areas of the country. At least 354 wild animal species are used in Brazilian traditional medicine, of which 157 are also used as food. The high degree of overlap between medicinal and alimentary uses of wild animals highlights the importance of understanding the socioeconomic, cultural, and ecological contexts in which those traditional uses take place for elucidating their potential impact on public health and biodiversity conservation.