Veterinary anthropology (Ethnoveterinary medicine; zootherapy) refers to the use of acupuncture, herbs, animal-based drugs and Ayurveda medicine for use in veterinary medicine.
This holistic approach is aimed as considering alternatives to mainstream pharmaceuticals in an attempt to address various etiologies beyond viral, bacterial, environmental and neoplastic causes of disease. Alternative therapies are often a community-based approach that serves to improve animal health and provide basic veterinary services in rural areas. In addition to its focus on botanicals, ethnoveterinary medicine covers people's knowledge, skills, methods, practices, and beliefs about the care of their animals. Ethnoveterinary medicine provides valuable alternatives to and complements western-style veterinary medicine. Ethnoveterinary remedies are accessible and easy to prepare and administer, at little or no cost to the farmer.
Traditional veterinary practices are documented from as long as 14,000 years ago, being at least as ancient as animal domestication. Through the centuries, indigenous people have learned to use the native natural resources in treating illnesses or infirmities in themselves and their livestock. The adaptation of the various human groups to the rich biological resources generated invaluable local knowledge systems that include extensive information on animal uses in general and medicinally useful species in particular. Ever since, animals or animal parts have been broadly used in Brazilian traditional medicine and have played a significant role in healing practices.
The World Health Organization (WHO) estimates that up to 80% of the world's more than six billion people rely primarily on animal and plant-based medicines. However, in spite of the worldwide prevalence of traditional medical practices, research on medicinal animals has often been neglected in comparison to medicinal plants. Drugs of animal origin are still rare in the scientific literature.
Ethnoveterinary knowledge is currently in use not only in developing countries, where often no other resources are available, but in developed ones as well, where it constitutes a very valuable complement and/or alternative to the so-called Western veterinary medicine.
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