J Crit Rev, Vol 4, Issue 2, 1-9Review Article



Department of Zoology, North Eastern Hill University, Shillong 793022
Emails: khirodsankar@gmail.com

Received: 13Aug 2016 Revised and Accepted: 04 Mar 2017


The main objective of the study is to review the practices of Zootherapy among the ethnic groups of the northeastern part of India and to prepare an inventory of all the information. The data were collected from 11 published papers on the practices of zootherapy among different ethnic groups from the region.All the papers were published in the years 2002-2016.A total of 181 animals species are used by 19 ethnic groups from the region. Mammals are the most widely used animal groups followed by Arthropods, Aves, Pisces, Reptiles, Annelids, Amphibian and Molluscs. The number of the animal species are-77 species of Mammals (42.5%) followed by 65 species of Arthropods (35.9%), 24 species of Aves (13.25%), 22 species of Pisces (12.15%), 18 species of Reptiles (9.94%), 6 species of Annelids (3.31%), 5 species of Amphibians (2.76%) and 4 species of Molluscs (2.21%). The most commonly treated ailments are-Tuberculosis, Malaria, Diabetes, Asthma, Arthritis, Rheumatic pain, Jaundice, Anaemia, Paralysis, Pertussis, etc.This review on the zoo therapy practices among the ethnic groups of the region will summarise all the information in one place which will be helpful for the scientists and researchers working in the field of ethnomedicine to study and develop new potential drugs.

Keywords: Ethnic group,Zootherapy, North Eastern India


The use of plants and animals to treat different ailments has a long history. Worldwide, almost 70-80% of the rural population depends on traditional medicine for primary health care[1]. People have been using the plants and animals, or parts therapeutically since ancient time and even in the modern time animal and plant-based medicines continue to play an essential role in world health care sector [2]. Zootherapy is the use of animals and animal products to heal different human diseases[3]. Many wild and domestic animals and their by-products (e. g., skin, bones, blood, meat, hooves, feathers, tusks) from essential ingredients in the preparation of protective, preventive and curative medicine [4,5]. WHO has selected 252 essential chemicals that can be used to treat different ailments, out of which 11.1% come from plants and 8.7% from animals[6]. In China, people are using more than 1500 animal species to treat different ailments in their traditional medicine[7].

In Japan, 60 different species of insects used to treat a wide range of ailments [8]. The Tamang people of Nepal, use by-products of 24 animals therapeutically [9]. In North Eastern Brazil, 180 medicinally important animals have been reported from Bahia state [10]. A report of theuse of 250 animal species in traditional treatments of a variety of ailments in North Eastern Brazil is there [11]. People from Pakistan also use 31 substances derived from animals and products that constitute a 9% of all the inventory of traditional medicine in Pakistan [12].

In India, zootherapy to treat different ailments is widely used too. Mahawar and Jaroli inventoried approximately 109 animal species used in the treatment of different kind of ailments in India [13]. In Maharastra, tribal group’s like-Bhils, Gamits, Koknas and Pawaras have been using almost 15 species of animals as medicine in combination with different plant species [14]. In Tirunelveli district of Tamil Nadu, people use 11 insect species in traditional medicine[15]. In another study, it has been reported the use of 16 animal species including 6 mammals, 5 birds, 2 reptile, 2 arthropods and 1 annelid by nine ethnic groups in four districts from Tamil Nadu[16]. They treat almost 17 different ailments using those species of animals. The Bhil tribe of Rajasthan has also been found to use animals totreatdifferent ailments of human beings and domestic cattle [17]. In Gujarat, Gupta et al.[18] recorded 34 animal species used by local communities of Kachchh district in the primary health care of human beings and live stocks. Mishra et al.[19] recorded the use of animal parts of 7 species of vertebrates to treat 12 different illnesses in the locals of Orissa.

In the northeastern part of India, zootherapy has been practising by different ethnic groups. This region has a total of 220 ethnic groups(Indian census,2011) distributed in seven states viz., Assam, Meghalaya, Arunachal Pradesh, Manipur, Mizoram, Tripura, Nagaland and Sikkim contributing 3.8% of the total population of India. All the tribes have their own culture and they have their own indigenous method of healing for different ailments. In this review, 19 ethnic groups from the region viz., NK (Nath and Karbi), Ka(Karbi),B(Baite), Mis(Mishing) from Assam, Miz(Tribesfrom Mizoram), Ao(Ao),An(Angami), Se(Sema), Sang(Sangatam),Khia(Khiamniungan),Kon(Konayak),Ch(Chakhesang), Lo(Lotha), Zel(Zeliang), Po(Pochury), Re(Rengma) from Nagaland, N(Nyishi), G(Galo), Adi from Arunachal Pradesh are considered.

Mammals used by the ethnic groups

Mammals areone of the widely and commonly used groups of animals by the ethnic groups of North East India. A total of 77 species of mammals are being used by 9 ethnic groups from the region(Table 1). The mammalian species Hystrix indica(the Indian Porcupine) is the most commonly used species, and it is used by nine ethnic groups. The most commonly used parts are the flesh, Gall bladder,liver, etc. and the commonly treated diseases arecancer, asthma, diabetes, malaria, tuberculosis, rheumatism, fertility improvement, etc.

Aves used by the ethnic groups

Aves are also used by many ethnic groups from the region. A total of 24 species of birds are used by 17 ethnic groups to treat different ailments(Table 2). The most commonly treated ailments are-rheumatism, normal body pain, asthma, paralysis, gall bladder stone.(The Crow Pheasant) is the mostly used species and it is used by 12 ethnic groups. Mostly used parts are the flesh, fat etc.

Table 1: Mammals used in traditional medicine by the ethnic groups of North Eastern India

S. No. Animal species English name Parts used(Ethnic group) Ailment treated References
1 Enocysteris spelae Bat Meat(NK) Asthma [20]
  Flesh, Gall bladder(B) Eneuresis,Diabetes [21]
2 Rhinoceros unicornis Rhino Urine,Skin,Horn(NK) Jaundice, Chicken pox [20]
  Horn(Miz) Anti-venom [22]
3 Hystrix indica Indian porcupine Alimentary Canal(NK) Liver diseases, Tonsil [20]
  Spine, Small intestine, Stomach(Ch) Bone fracture,Gastritis,Fever [23]
  Stomach, spine(Ka) Pneumonia, dysentery, stomach cramp [24]
  Meat, Intestine, rectum(Miz) Facilitateseasy birth labor, Fever, [22]
  Gallbladder,Stomach,Intestine(N,G) Diarrhoea, Gastritis, Tuberculosis [25]
  Flesh(B) Easy delivery of child [21]
  Bile(Ao) Dysentery [26]
  Pennis,Bile(Ka) Sexual impotence, Stroke, Dysentery [27]
4 Canis aureus Golden Jackel Meat(NK) Body ache [20]
  Bone(Adi) Skin diseases [22]
  Head(Miz) Wound and Ulcers [22]
5 Capra hircus Goat Milk(NK) Leucorrhoea [20]
  Placenta(Ka) LegCracking’s, Piles [24]
  Fresh milk(Miz) Snake bite [22]
  Gall bladder, Frontal (N) Fever, earlypregnancy pain, [25]
  Flesh(B) Joint pain [21]
6 Bos indicus Cow Milk,Dung(NK) Jaundice, Leucorrhoea, Skin disease [20]
  Fresh urine(Ka) Anaemia [27]
7 Plantanista gangetica River dolphin Oil(NK) Female infertility [20]
8 Sus scrofa domestica Domestic Pig Oil(NK) Joint pain [20]
  Fat(Ao) Body pain, snake bite, Rheumatism, Burn [26]
  Fat(Ka) Furuncles,Tumour [27]
9 Bos taurus Bull Urine(NK) Blood Cancer [20]
  Dung(Ka) Epistaxis [24]
  Dung(Ka) Mosquito repellent [27]
10 Vulpes bengalensis Indian fox Flesh, Fats(Ka) Paralysis, Asthma [24]
  Bone(Adi) Fertility [22]
  Flesh(N) Tuberculosis [25]
11 Hyobates hoolock Hoolock Gibbon Flesh, Bone(Ka) Pertussis [24]
12 Melursus ursinus Sloth bear Gall bladder(Ka) Malaria, TB, Pertussis [24]
  Gall bladder(B) Easy delivery of child [21]
  Bile,hair, fat(Miz) Stomach-ache, dysentery, [22]
  diarrhoea, Rheumatism  
13 Lutra sumatra Hairy nosed otter Trachae (Ka) Fishbone [24]
14 Pteropus meidus Fruit bats Liver(Ka) Schizotrenia [24]
15 Sciurus niger Fox squirrel Liver(Ka) Schizotrenia [24]
16 Elephus maximus Indian elephant Ash,Tusk(Ka) Scabies [24]
17 Homo sapiens Human Urine,Milk (Ka) Piles, Eyes ailments [24]
18 Panthera pardus CommonLeopard Fats(Ka) Cracking on legs, Pertussis, Joint pain [24]
  Bone marrow(N) Body pain [25]
19 Panthera leo Lion Tooth(Ka) Pertussis [25]
20 Capricornis sumatraensis Serow Horn(Ka) Bone fracture [25]
  Dried tongue,Horn(Miz) Chronic ulcer, Revitalization [22]
  Front foot(B) Joint pain, Rheumatism [22]
21 Maschus sp Deer Urine,Blood(Ch) Ear swelling and pain,Anaemia,Stomach-ache [23]
22 Pteromys sp Flying squirrel Urine,Flesh,Hair(Ch) Urethritis,Constipation,Gestation,Skin burn [23]
23 Cervulus sp Barking deer Bone marrow(Ch) Bone [23]
24 Funambulus sp Squirrel Flesh(Ch) Cough [23]
25 Entomias sp Chipmunk Flesh(Ch) Cough, Fever [23]
26 Felix sp Wild cat Flesh(Ch) Body swelling,Fever,Malaria, Cough, Asthma [23]
  Flesh,Bile(Ao) Asthma, Liver cirrhosis [23]
27 Sus scrofa crisatus Wild boar Flesh(Ch) Stomach pain [23]
  Meat(Miz) Piles [22]
28 Manis tricuspis Tree pangolin Skin burn(Ch) Scale [23]
29 Macaca sp Monkey Flesh(Ch) Cough [23]
30 Macaca mulata Rhesus macaque Bone(Adi) Fertility [22]
31 Sus scrofa Wild Boar Bone(Adi) Fertility [22]
32 Sphaerias blanfordi Fruit bat Wings(Adi) Skin diseases [22]
33 Taphozous nudiventris Naked rumped tomb Wings(Adi) Skin diseases [22]
  kachhenis Bat  
34 Bos gaurus Indian bison Urine,Bile(Miz) Scurvey,Asthma [22]
35 Callosciurus pygerythrus Irrawaddy squirrel Meat and soup(Miz) Antispasmodic, Swelling and Sprain [22]
36 Canis lupus familiaris Dog Blood, Flesh(B) Epilepsy, Tonic for pregnant women [21]
  Fresh blood,Skull,Liver(Miz) Asthma, fever, Burn, Haemostatic, [22]
  Night blindness  
37 Cervus unicolor Sambar Tender horn,Blood(Miz) Weakness, Dysentery [22]
38 Chiropter sp Bat Meat, Bone(Miz) Involuntary urination in night, Toothache [22]
39 Hylobates hoolock Hoolock Gibbonn Meat, fresh blood,bored Facilitates easy labor during [22]
  tusk(Miz) delivery, Bee-sting, Fever,Colic,T. B.,  
  hepatitis, hemicranias,Headache etc  
  Brain,Bone,Skull Bone, Hand,Urine(B) Tonic for pregnant women,Rheumatism [21]
40 Macaca assamenssis Assamese Macaque Meat and Brain, Fresh warm blood(Miz) Easy labor and Weakness,Malaria [22]
  Brain,Gall bladder,Dried hand(B) Tonic for pregnant women, Diabetes, Mumps [21]
41 Manis crassicaudata Indian pangolin Bile, Meat,Scale,Feathers(Miz) Splenomegaly, Muscle stiffness, Piles [22]
48 Muntiacus muntjak Barking deer Horn,Fresh urine(Miz) Revitalization of body, Ottorhoae [22]
  Flesh(B) Easy conception [21]
42 Nycticebus coucang Slow loris Dry bones, ribs, hairs(Miz) Haemostatic [22]
  Fur,Blood(B) Cuts and wound, bed sore, Chronic Malaria [21]
43 Ovis aries Sheep Meat, Fat(Miz) Skin diseases, Torsion, [22]
  Fat,Milk(Ao) Rheumatism, Weakness during Jaundice [27]
44 Panthera tigris tigris Tiger Fatty oil, Liver(Miz) Scabies, Itches, Leprosy [22]
45 Bos frontalis Mithun Gall bladder, Testicles,Lobe(N,G) Dysentery, Cough, Fever, Low lactation [25]
46 Rattus sp Rat Whole body(N) Minimize pain after conception [25]
47 Talpa sp Mole Flesh(N) Tuberculosis [25]
45 Canis lupus Wolf Skin(N) Cough, Fever [25]
46 Manis pentadactyla Chinese Pangolin Naila(G) Boils [25]
47 Herpestes javanicus Mongoose Whole body(N) Any disease prevention [25]
48 Herpestes edwardsi Mangoose Meat(Miz) Inflammatory diseases, [22]
  Moongose Penis(Ao) Male impotency [26]
49 Moschus chrysogaster Deer Gall bladder, Umbilicus(G) Malaria, Diarrhoea, fever, [25]
  Fresh blood(N) Stomach upset, tuberculosis  
50 Cervus unicolor Sambar -(G) Bursting open boils [25]
51 Selenarctos thibetanus Black bear Gall bladder(N,G) Malaria,Diarrhoea, fever, body [25]
  immunity, stomach upset  
  Gall bladder,Flesh(B) Easy delivery of child, Diabetes [21]
  Tonic for pregnant women  
  Gall bladder,Penis,Hair,Fat (Ch) Wound, Thorns in flesh,Gestation,Skin Burn [23]
  Bile(Ka) Malaria [27]
  Bile(Ao) Malaria [26]
52 Panthera tigris Tiger Bone and marrow(N) Jaundice [25]
53 Neofelis nebulosa Clouded leopard Bone marrow(N) Body pain [25]
54 Manis crassicaudata Indian Pangolin Scales,Flesh,Gall bladder(B) Hookworm,Tuberculosis,Malaria [21]
55 Elephas maximus Asian elephant Teeth(B) Toothache [21]
  Tooth(Ao) Leucoderma, Itching [26]
56 Lutrogale perspicillata Smooth coated otter Flesh,Fur(B) Fish bone stuck in throat, Burns [21]
57 Trachypithecus pileatus Capped langur Tongue(B) Food poisoning [21]
58 Sus scrofa Wild boar Fat(B) Hair care [21]
59 Trachypithecus cristatus Silvered leaf monkey Gall bladder(B) Diabetes and high blood pressure [21]
60 Bubalus arnee Water Buffalo Fat(Ao) Body pain, sprain [26]
61 Petaurista petaurista Flying squirrel Intestine, Bile(Ao) Ant poison, Asthma [26]
62 Capra sibirica Asiatic Ibex Urine(Ao) Asthma, tuberculosis, Paralysis, [26]
  Skin diseases, Stomach problem  
  Liver,legs,Milk(Ao) Jaundice, Night blindness,Sprain,Bone  
  fracture, Weakness  
63 Bos frontalis Mithun Penis(Ao) Brest pain of lactating mother, Skin diseases [26]
  Penis(Ka) Brest pain of lactating mother, [27]
64 Rhinolophus Bat Fat(Ao) Asthma [26]
  Fleah(Ka) Asthma [27]
65 Macaca sp Monkey Blood(Ao) Tuberculosis [26]
66 Pteropus sp Flying fox Urine(Ao) Kidney stone [26]
67 Talpa sp Mole Flesh(Ao) Asthma [26]
  Flesh(Ka) Asthma [27]
68 Dusicyon sp Fox Fat(Ka) Rheumatism [27]
69 Bos babulus Buffalo Dung(Ka) Eczema [27]
70 Camelus domesticus Camel Droppings(Ka) Stomach ache [27]
71 Macaca sp Monkey Blood(Ka) Tuberculosis [27]
72 Sciurus caroliniensis Squirrel Flesh(Ka) Cough [27]
73 Cerdocyon thous Fox Liver(ka) Rheumatism and Bronchitis [27]
74 Mus musculus House mouse Flesh(Ka) Colds and skin disease [27]
75 Lepus capensis Rabbit Heart(Ka) Prevents miscarriage [27]
76 Homo sapiens Human Urine(ka) Conjunctivitis, skin disease [27]
77 Equus asinus Donkey Milk(ka) Whooping cough [27]

Table 2: Aves used in traditional medicine by ethnic groups of North Eastern India

S. No. Animal species English name Parts used Ailments treated References
1 Acridotheres tristis Common Myna Meat(NK) Diarrhoea [20]
2 Columba livia Pigeon Meat(NK,Ka) Low blood pressure [20,24]
Meat; Blood(Ao,Ka) Weakness; Leprosy [26,27]
3 Tyto alba Brow owl Meat(NK) Dysentery [20]
4 Gallus domesticus Chicken Meat(NK) Bone fracture [20]
Smoked meat; Fat(Ka, Ao) Pertussis; Burn [24,26]
5 Grus sp Crane Soft furs, Fat(Ka) Blisters, Sore, Nasal problem [26]
6 Centropus sinensis Crow pheasant Cooked flesh(Ao, An, Se, Re, Khia, Po,Lo, Sang, Zel, Kon,Ch, Miz) Body ache, Rheumatic pain and earache, Asthma [22,30]
7 Aquila sp Eagle Feather; Fat(Ch, Ao) Wound; Sprain,Burn [23,26]
8 Gallus gallus Red jungle fowl feather, fat and Meat(Miz, B) Pinworm removal, Nasal [21,22]
obstruction, Burn
9 Picus canushassei Black napped green wood Meat(Miz) Asthma [22]
10 Rhyticeros undulatusticehursti Weathered hornbill Fatty oil(Miz) Easy labor during delivery [22]
Fat (B) Burn [21]
11 Aceros nipalensis Necked hornbill Fats(N, G) Bodypain [25]
12 Aceros undulates Weathered hornbill Fats(N, G) Bodypain [25]
13 Buceros bicornis Great hornbill Fats(N, G) Bodypain [25]
Fat(B) Arthritis [21]
14 Anthracoceros albirostris Pied Fats(N, G) Bodypain [25]
15 Corvus macrorhynchos Jungle crow Flesh(B) Health tonic for aged [21]
16 Passer domesticus House sparow Brain; Flesh(B,Ao) Impotency; Stammering [21,26]
17 Myophonus caeruleus Blue whistling trush Flesh(B) Meat allergy [21]
18 Upupa epops Hoopoe Flesh(B) Gall bladder stone [21]
Body (Miz) Kidney problem [22]
19 Gallus sonnerati Jungle fowl Flesh(Ao, Ka) Asthma; Breathing problem [26,27]
20 Pavo cristatus Peacock Bone; Blood(Ao,Ka) Ear ache; Paralysis [26,26]
21 Corrussplendens Crow Flesh, Bones(Ao) Rheumatism, Paralysis, Earache [26]
22 Struthio camelus Ostrich Fat (Ka) Joint pains [27]
23 Streptopelia chinesis Ground dove Feathers(Ka) Stroke [27]
24 Columba livia Pigeon Excreta, Flesh(Ka) Typhoid, Toothache, Blood pressure [27]

Reptiles used by the ethnic groups

The numbers of species of reptiles used by the ethnic groups are 18. Reptiles are used by 15 ethnic groups from the region. They mostly use the reptiles from the genus Naja, which consists of cobra species. The most commonly treated ailments are asthma, arthritis, and malaria, etc. Mostly used parts are the fats, flesh etc.

Table 3: Reptiles used in traditional medicine y the ethnic groups of North Eastern India

S. No. Animal species English name Parts used (Ethnic groups) Ailments treated References
1 Hydrophis sp Snake Liver(Ch) Diarrhoea, Dysentery, Malaria, [23]
2 Calotes sp Roasted meat(Miz) Pneumonia, Asthma, Cough [22]
3 Calotesversicolor Common garden lizard Dried and roasted meat(Miz) Asthma, Cough, Cold [22]
4 Geochelone elongata Star tortoise Fluid commonly out from neck(Miz) Piles [22]
5 Tehanochelys trijuga Turtle Meat, Bile (Miz) Malaria fever [22]
6 Varanus bengalensis Monitor Lizard Tongue, Meat, bile,Skeleton(Miz) Asthma, Malaria, Arthritis, Stammering [22]
Flesh(NK) Skin disease [20]
Flesh(N,G) Cough and fever [28]
Tooth (Ka) Clostridium welchii [24]
Flesh(B) Jaundice [21]
Skin, fat(Ao) Piles, rheumatism [26]
7 Viper ruselli Fatty oil,Bile(Miz) Warts; Malaria fever [22]
8 Python molurus Indian python Flesh, fat(Ka) Leprosy [24]
Bile and meat, fats(Miz) Colic, stomach-ache, cholera, [22]
burn, cut, wound
Fats(N,G) Massage for join pain [28]
Flesh, fat(B) Seizure, sprain, piles, burn [21]
9 Naja sp Cobra Flesh(N,G) Foot and mouth disease of cattle [28]
Flesh(Ao, Lo, Se, Khia,Sang,Po, Zel, Ch,Kon) Rheumatic pain, burn, healing of fracture bones [30]
10 Ophiophagus hannah King cobra Gall bladder(B) Snake bite, diabetes [21]
11 Gekko gecko Tokay gecko Flesh(B) Impotency [21]
12 Melanochelys trijuga Indian pond terrapin Flesh(B) Allergy [21]
13 Chrysenys formasanus - Ash of carapace(Ka) Skin disease [24]
14 Testudo sp Tortoise Flesh(Ao) Skin disease and piles [26]
Blood, flesh(Ka) Erysipelas, piles [27]
15 Tropidurus torquatus Lizard Whole body(Ka) Chickenpox [27]
16 Crotalus durissus Rattle snake Fat(Ka) Rheumatism, arthritis [27]
17 Echiscoloratus Viper snake Eggs, fat(Ka) Inguinal hernia, joint pain of [27]
18 Python reticulates Python Flesh(Ao,An,Se,Khia,Sang,Re,Po,Zel,Ch,Kon) Rheumatism, burn, body pain [30]

Amphibians used by the ethnic groups

A total of 5 species of amphibian are used by 14 ethnic groups. The mostly used species is the Limnonecties limnocharis(Frog) by 9 ethnic groups. Skin, flesh etc. are the commonly used parts and the ailments like wound,diabetes,tongue blister etc. are the commonly treated ailments using amphibian species.

Table 4: Amphibians used in traditional medicine by the ethnic groups of North Eastern India

S. No. Animal species English names Parts used (Ethnic group) Ailment treated References
1 Limnonecties limnocharis Frog Skin, flesh (Ch),(Ao), (An),(Se), (Khia), Skinburn, Gastrictis, tongue blister [23]
  (Lo), (Po),(Sang), (Zel) Rheumatic joint pain [30]
2 Paludomus conica Frog -(Adi) Given to weak person, diabetic [22]
  patient and fertility enhancement
3 Parreysia sikkimensis Frog -(Adi) Given to weak person, diabetic [22]
  patient and fertility enhancement  
4 Rana sp. Frog Whole body (N),(G) Wound healing [28]
  Skin (Ao) Wound healing [26]
  Skin, flesh (Ka) Wound healing, tongue blister [27]
5 Bufo sp. Frog Hind legs (Ka) Urinary retention, Acne [27]
  Bile (Miz) Diabetes [22]
      Gall bladder (Ch) Thorns in the flesh [23]

Pisces used by the ethnic groups

Pisces are one of the widely used animal groups by the ethnic groups of the region.15 ethnic groups are using 22 different species of fishes for medicinal purpose and the species Monopterus albus(Eel fish) is the most commonly used species which is used to treat anaemia and asthma etc. Mostly treated ailments are the skin diseases, burn, asthma, anaemia, etc.

Molluscs used by the ethnic groups

Molluscs are also used by 13 ethnic groups from the region. The mostly used species is from the genus Pila(Snail) among the 4 species of molluscs and mostly used part is the flesh.

The commonly treated ailments are asthma, tuberculosis, stomach disorders, jaundice etc.

Table 5: Pisces used in traditional medicine by the ethnic groups of North Eastern India

S. No. Animal species English names Parts used (Ethnic group) Ailment treated References
1 Barbus sp. Fish Slimy (Ch) Chickenpox [23]
2 Mystusseenghala Giant river cat fish -(Adi) Given to new mother, bones used [22]
  for taboo purposes  
3 Channa punctatus -(Adi) Given to a new mother, malaria [22]
4 Cyclemys gemeli Turtle -(Adi) Skin disease [22]
5 Anabas testidunus Climbing perch -(Adi) Given to a weak person, malaria [22]
6 Clarius batracus Walking catfish -(Adi) Given to a weak person [22]
7 Anguilla sp Eel Body mucus (N,G) Burns [28]
8 Semiplotus sp. Fresh water fishes Stomach and gut (N) Stomach ache and digestive problems [28]
9 Bagarius bagarius Gangetic goonch Fins, bones (G) Body burns, stomach pain [28]
10 Amblyceps sp. Catfish Bones (G) Body burns [28]
11 Psilorhynchus ballitora Ballitora minnow whole body (N,G) Diarrhoea [28]
12 Semiplotus sp King fish Whole body (N) Smallpox [28]
13 Amphipnouscuchia Eel Blood (Ao) Asthma, general weakness [26]
  Blood (Ka) Asthma, jaundice, weakness [27]
  Meat, blood (NK) Premenstrual abdominal pain, anaemia [20]
14 Channa gachua snake head Whole body (NK) Abdominal pain [20]
15 Xenentodon cancila Fresh water garfish Whole body (NK) Joint pain and swelling [20]
16 Amblypharyngodon mola Indian carplet Whole body (NK) Premenstrual abdominal pain [20]
17 Chaca chaca Devil fish Whole body (NK) Polio [20]
18 Channa punctatus Sengeli Whole body Body pain [29]
19 Mastacembalusarmatus Giant thorny eel Whole body Carbuncle [29]
20 Monopterus cuchia Cuchia Blood Diabetes [29]
21 Labeo gonius Carp fish Edible portion Obesity [29]
22 Monopterus albus Eel fish Blood (Ao),(An), (Se), (Khia), (Lo), (Re), (Po), (Zel),(Ch), (kon) Anaemia, asthma [30]

Table 6: Molluscs used in traditional medicine by the ethnic groups of North Eastern India

S. No. Animal species English names Parts used (Ethnic groups) Ailment treated References
1 Pila sp Snail Flesh, shell (Ch) Affected bone, skin burn, injuries, [23]
  gastritis, tongue blister  
  Flesh (Ao), (An), (Se), (Re), (Khia), (Lo), (Sang), (Po), (Ch), (Kon) Asthma, tuberculosis, stomach disorder [30]
2 Lymnaea sp Snail Flesh (Miz) Measles, liver ailment and jaundice, [22]
  swelling and sprain  
  Flesh (B) Jaundice [22]
3 Cryptozona sp Snail Flesh (B) Rheumatism and sciatic [22]
4 Ariolimax columbianus Banana slug Whole body (Ka) Pertusis [24]

Tables 7: Annelids used in traditional medicine by the ethnic groups of North Eastern India

S. No. Animal species English names Parts used (Ethnic group) Ailment treated References
1 Pheritima sp Earthworm Whole body (Ch) Eye (red) [23]
  Whole body (Miz) Chronic fever, malaria, convulsion [22]
  Whole body (Khia), (Lo), (Sang), (Re), (Po), (Zel), (Ch), (Kon),(Ao), (An) Antitode in snake and spider bites [30]
2 Tachypodoiulus niger Black millipede Whole body (Miz) Tuberculosis [22]
3 Hirudo medicinalis Leech Whole body (Ka) Piles, swelling of muscle [27]
4 Lumbricus sp Earthworm Whole body (Ka) Clear obstruction of urinary tract, arthritis [24]
  (NK) Pertussis [20]
5 Metaphirehouletti Earthworm Whole body (NK) Burn [20]
6 Perionyx sp Earthworm Whole body (NK) Piles [20]

Annelids used by the ethnic groups

Six different species of Annelida are used by 13 ethnic groups from the region. They mostly use the whole body of the species and mostly used species is from the genus Pheretima (Earthworm). Commonly treated ailments are malaria, fever, tuberculosis, piles, etc.

Arthropods used by the ethnic groups-

Arthropods are the second widely used group of animals by the ethnic groups of the region. 65 different species of arthropods are used by 17 ethnic groups. The mostly use the species the Blatta orienatlis(Cockroach) and the Paalamnaeus wammerdami(Scorpion). They mostly use the parts-whole body and honey. Ailments like-diabetes, asthma, malaria are mostly treated with arthropods species. Some species like Lyttavesicatoria (Spanish fly), Mylabris cichorii(Blister beetles), Epicauta histiconis (Red headed blister beetles), etc. they also use against cancer. The traditional edible insect of northeastern India, Vespa affinis L., showed some antioxidant potential which can be a cure to the oxidative-stress associated disorders [32].

Table 8: Arthropods used in traditional medicine by the ethnic groups of North Eastern India

S. No. Animal species English names Parts used (Ethnic groups) Ailment treated References
1 Cancer pararus Crab whole body(Ch) Urethritis, Malaria, Cough, Earache [23]
  Flesh Stomach pain  
2 Apis indica Bee Honey(Ch) Deep wound, Cough [23]
  Honey(Mis) Cough, coldand fever [31]
  Honey (NK) Cough [20]
  Honey (Ka) Cold, cough, fever, ulcer on tongue, [24]
  sore throat  
3 Myrmeleon immaculatus Ant lion whole body(Ch) Wart [23]
4 Podisus sp Plant bug whole body(Ch) Cough [23]
5 Paneus indicus Prawn whole body(Adi) Diabetes [22]
6 Oecophylla samargdina Weaver ant -(Adi) Digestive system [22]
  Larvae and Pupa (Ka) Production of Children [20]
  Whole body (N), (G) Stomach-ache and dysentery [28]
  Whole body, larvae (N,G) Stomach pain, fever [25]
7 Aspongopus najus Stink bug -(Adi) Malaria [22]
8 Apis mellifera Bee Honey(Miz) Throat pain, irregular [22]
  menstruation, Burns, Cuts  
  Honey(Ka),(N,G) Cough, fu, Asthma [27]
9 Carausius morosus Stick insect whole body(Miz) Wounds [22]
10 Cimex lactularis Bed bug whole body(Miz) Inflammatory glands, ulcers, [22]
  Boils, Malaria  
  Whole body flesh(B) Malaria [21]
11 Gryllus pensylvanicus Field cricket whole body(Miz) Chest problem [22]
12 Heteropoda vanatoria House spider Dead and dry spider(Miz) Ottorhoea [22]
13 Myrmeleon formicarius Ant lion Whole part(Miz) Warts and verrucose [22]
14 Paratelphusa sp Freshwater crab Whole body-boiled(Miz) Inflammatory glands, Warts [22]
  Whole body (B) Jaundice [21]
15 Periplaneta americana Cockroach Body(Miz) Asthma, stomach-ache, [22]
  saliva exuding in children  
  Whole body dried (B) Tuberculosis [21]
  Whole body(Ka) Asthma [27]
16 Samia cynthia ricini Eri sikworm Pupae, cocoon and cocoon ash(Mis) Protect Liver [31]
17 Vespa orientalis Wasps Whole insect, egg, larvae(Mis) Cough, cold and stomach problem [31]
18 Dorylus orientalis Red ant Egg, adults(Mis) Small pox, chicken Pox, stomach-ache,Dysentery [31]
19 Schistocera gregaria Desert locusts Body and body oil(Mis) Lip cracking [31]
  Whole body and body oil (Ka) Lip and leg cracking [24]
20 Antheraea assamensis Muga silkworm Pupae and silk(Mis) Diet supplement [31]
21 Eumenes petiolatus Potter wasp Eggs, larvae(Mis) Headache [31]
22 Achaeta sp Cricket Hind legs(Ka) Diuretic [27]
23 Pseudocantherotermes sp Termites Whole body(Ka) Asthma [27]
24 Musca domestica House fly Whole body (Ka) Boldness [27]
25 Poecillocerus strictus Grasshopper Whole insect(Ka) Lung infection [27]
26 Trigona spinipes stingless bee Honey(Ka) Throat inflammation [27]
27 Lytta vesicatoria Spanish fly Whole body (Ka) Anti-cancer, Increase sexual pleasure [27]
28 Mylabris cichorii Blister beetle Whole body(Ka) Anti-cancer, warts, rabies [27]
29 Epicauta hirticornis Red-headed blister Whole body (Ka) Anti-cancer, warts, rabies [27]
30 Pediculus sp Louse Whole body (Ka) Clears urinary tracts obstructions [27]
40 Sceliphron sp Wasps Whole insect (N K) Pneumonia [20]
41 Gryllotalpa africana African mole cricket Ash(Ka) Ear infection [24]
42 Philosomia ricini Eri silkworm Whole body and Cocoon(Ka) Dribbling saliva [24]
43 Lampyris noctuluca Common glow worm Whole body (N K) Nightblindness [20]
44 Coptotermes formosanus Termites Whole body (Ka) Hepatomegaly and hepatitis [24]
45 Achaearanea tepideriorum American house spider Dead skin (Ka) Blisters, schizotrenia [24]
46 Carcinus sp Crab Whole body (Ka) Night blindness [24]
47 Galeodes sp Spider Whole body (Ka) Schizotrenia [24]
48 Aeshna mixta Dragonfly Whole body (Ka) Nocturnal enuresis [24]
49 Neurothermis fluctuans Dragonfly Whole body (Ka) Nocturnal enuresis [24]
50 Apis dorsata Giant honey bee Honey (Ka) Cold, cough, fever, ulcer on tongue, sore throat [24]
51 Apis florea Dwarf honey bee Honey (Ka) Cold, cough, fever, ulcer on tongue, [24]
  sore throat  
  Honey, comb (N,G) Cough, fever, stomach pain, stomach [25]
  cleanser, skin irritation  
52 Apis cerena Honey bee Honey, comb (N, G) A cough, fever, stomach pain, stomach cleanser, skin irritation [25]
53 Bothroponera rufipes Black ant Whole body (N,G) Scabies, toothache; high blood [25]
  pressure, boils, wounds malaria,
  dysentery, chest pain. Foot and  
  mouth disease (Mithun). Maggots/
  worm infection (cattle)  
54 Tetraponeraa rufonigra Iron ant Whole body (N,G) Foot and mouth disease (Mithun) [25]
55 Ephemera danica May fly Nymph (N,G) Stomach disturbance  
56 Cantharid sp. Beetle Whole body (N,G) Skin allergy [25]
57 Lepidiota sp. Beetle Whole body (N,G) Skin allergy [25]
58 Catharsius sp. Beetle -(N,G) Diarrhoea [25]
59 Tytius sp Scorpion Whole body(Ka) To treat its own sting [27]
60 Blatta orientalis Cockroach Flesh(Ao,Re,Se,An,Lo,Po,Zel,Ch, Khia) Asthma [30]
61 Palamnaeus wammerdami Scorpion (Ao,Re,Se,An,Lo,Po,Zel,Ch,Khia) Rheumatic joint pain [30]
62 Penaeus indicus Prawn -(Adi) Diabetes [22]
63 Scylla serrate Crab -(Adi) Diabetes, skin disease [22]
64 Tachypodoiulus niger Black millipede Whole body (Miz) Tuberculosis [22]
65 Myrmelon formicarius Ant lion Whole body(Miz) Warts or verrucose [22]


It has been seen that the practice of zoo therapy in the north-eastern part of India is very common like many other parts of India and world. From the observations on the zoo therapy practised by the ethnic groups of North Eastern India, it can be summarized that-

(1)Among the 19 ethnic groups from the region, the use of Mammalian species has found to be the highest followed by Arthropods,Aves, Pisces, Reptiles, Annelids, Amphibians and Molluscs.

  1. The most commonly treated important diseases are-Tuberculosis, Diabetes, Schrizotrenia, Cancer, Gallbladder stone, Kidney problem, Arthritis, Impotency and Malaria etc.

In this modern world with tremendous advancement in the medical field, cure for some diseases like–Cancer, Diabetes etc. has yet to be found. Many people around the world still prefer to go for traditional medicine to treat different ailments, which primarily is based on their knowledge and experience. This knowledge of traditional medicine has been the basis for the development of many potential drugs that are being used in modern medical field. Thus, with screening and proper scientific study of the animal species used in traditional medicine by different ethnic groups can lead to the development of new potential drugs for many serious diseases of the present time.


Declared none


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How to cite this article

  • Khirod Sankar Das, Sudipta Choudhury, K Chanreila L Nonglait. Zootherapy among the ethnic groups of North Eastern region of India-a critical review. J Crit Rev 2017;4(2):1-9.

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Ethnic group, Zootherapy, North Eastern India





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Authors & Affiliations

Khirod Sankar Das
Department of Zoology, North Eastern Hill University, Shillong 793022

Sudipta Choudhury
Department of Zoology, North Eastern Hill University, Shillong 793022

K. Chanreila L. Nonglait
Department of Zoology, North Eastern Hill University, Shillong 793022


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