Sabrina Krief, a veterinarian at the National Museum of Natural History in Paris, noticed that chimpanzees in Kibale National Park often ate soil shortly before or after eating the leaves of Trichilia rubescens.So remind me, what exactly sets H. sapiens sapiens apart from the animal kingdom again?
After finding that the leaves contained novel anti-malarial compounds, the researchers suggested that the apes were self-medicating.
The team collected 14 soil samples similar to those eaten by chimpanzees, along with T. rubescens leaves from the same area. They then replicated chewing and digestion using a pestle and mortar along with acid and heat treatments.
They tested the soil, leaves, and soil-leaf combination against drug-resistant strains of the malarial parasite Plasmodium falciparum. Only the soil-leaf mix had significant anti-malarial activity, they report in Naturwissenschaften.
Thanks to sclerotic_rings for the link.