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Animal Drugs Used to Treat Urinary Stones
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Animals like plants are also medicinal agents for the prevention and cure of different health problems all over the world practically in about all human cultures. The concept of zootherapy is very old and has strong evidence of the medicinal use of animal resources. There are many animals with the potential to treat urolithiasis.

Zootherapy urolithiasis Animal drugs Urinary stone Kidney stone
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Update Date: 15 Aug 2022
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    1. Introduction

    Natural resources (plants, animals, minerals and microbes) are the richest source of medicinal agents based on the belief and observations regarding their folk and traditional uses for the prevention and cure of different diseases. A large number of research findings and the data are utilized by the scientific community in evaluating and establishing the pharmacological activities of these natural resources. Healing with animal parts or products is called Zootherapy. Animal based therapeutic agents are usually obtained from the animal body parts, metabolic products and other bodily secretions as well as non-animal materials such as nests and cocoons etc. Zootherapy is very popular among ancient cultures throughout the world [1]Figure 1).

    Figure 1. Animal drugs used to treat urinary stones.

    2. Historical Evidences of Zootherapy 

    Using animals as a medicinal agent is reported throughout the history [2]. Snakes have been considered as a sign of medicine and healing both by virtue of its associations with God of Medicine (Asclepius) and God of Health (Hygeia) in Greek mythology (B.C. 2000-400) [3]. Discussing the historical evidences of Zootherapy, Ebers Papyrus (written around 1550 B.C.) contain medicinal uses of birds, beasts, insects, reptiles, fish, eggs, milk, etc. and excrements of living animals blood, flesh, bones, fat, marrow and hide of carcasses, the shell of the tortoise, feathers of birds, the slough of snakes and the quills of the porcupine, entire body of insects and worms, brain, eyes, feet, gall, hair, head, heart, hoofs, horns, jawbone, legs, liver, spleen, teeth, testicles, uterus and vulva of ordinary animals were used as medicine. Grease or fat of the goose and ox were employed in a large number of medical recipes. 

    Ancient   mesopotamia, mainly   the   Assyrian   and    the Babylonian texts contain medicinal use of fish oil, honey and bee wax, turtle shell, mongoose blood, skin of goat, sheep and deer, bird excrement and animal fat. Compendium of Materia Medica written by Li Schizhen in 1578 A.D. contain the medicinal use of bear gallbladder and bear fat as a medicine. Ancient Ayurvedic literatures, Sharaka Samhita (900 B.C.), contains 380 and Sushruta Samhita (600 B.C.) described 57 drugs of animal origin as therapeutic agents such as honey, milk and its derivatives, bones, bone marrow, fat, bile, blood, feces, flesh, urine, semen, skin, ligaments, shell, feathers and horn. Dioscorides in De Materia Medica book II mentioned zootherapeutics domestic animals, fishes, birds, insects and products of larger animals such as butter, milk, cheese, wool, fat, wax, marrow, blood, gall and the excrements. The entire body of cantharid beetles, grubs, earthworms, millipedes, cockroaches was crushed, dried, burned or cooked and applied in the form of a powder, salve, poultice; cockroaches are ground up in an oil and used for ear ache. Similarly millipedes are taken internally with wine and for kidney trouble and epilepsy [2].

    Zoo-therapeutic is based on indigenous knowledge system built up by a group of people through generations, by living in close contact with the nature and use of traditional drugs of animal origin in the local environment so that it is specifically adapted to the local people and conditions. This plays an important role in the healing practices, of both indigenous and western societies throughout the world [4]. Not only the ancient systems but also the modern medical system utilizes animal based medicines [1]. In modern world, zootherapy is an important alternative mode of therapy among many other known therapies practiced in different parts of the world. Domestic and wild animals and also their by-products (e.g., bones, skins, hooves, feathers) are important ingredients in the preparation of protective, preventive and curative medicines. In Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM), more than 1500 animal species are listed for different medicinal uses. While in India about 15–20% of the Ayurvedic medicine is based on animal and animal-derived substances [5]. There is a strong connection between medical ethnozoology of ancient and modern times as the combination of bull’s bile and honey, a classical Hippocratic remedy for intestinal constipation, remains functional till today [2]

    The study of local or traditional zoological knowledge offers not only the possibility of new insights into biological phenomena, but also the opportunity to cross-check scientific hypotheses. Unfortunately, the traditional and historical knowledge has been historically pushed aside by the scientific community but now its importance has now being recognized by scientists and researchers and they are intensifying research on this theme [6].

    Despite their importance, studies on the medicinal utilization of animals body parts and products have been neglected, when compared with plants. The use of animals and their products as therapeutic agent is not simply a matter of the pharmaceutical and medical sciences and therefore jointresearch programmes should be undertaken with the experts of ecology, linguistics, anthropology, sociology, etc. Thus, discussing zootherapy within the multidimensionality of sustainable development turns out to be one the key elements in achieving the sustenance of medicinal faunistic resources [5]. Therefore, it is essential to document all the zootherapeutic uses and develop conservation strategies for animals before these traditional and indigenous beliefs, customs, values, know-how and practices are changed and rendered unsuitable, making the knowledge base incomplete [4].

    Animal substances are not as numerous as those of plant substances but have played and continue to do so an important role in the prevention and cure of diseases. In fact, various animals prescribed in the past are still in use as recommended either for the same problem as originally described or for distinct conditions in traditional medicines used in different regions. Increased in knowledge and understanding of the medical systems in a historical context can potentially bring new insights into the medical significance of fauna in the past, as well as open new therapeutic perspectives in the future. The historic and sustained use of naturally occurring substances often has a scientific under-pinning and the persistence of utilization of animal resources may indicate the presence of biologically active compounds [2]. Urolithiasis is derived from two Greek words ouron meaning urine and lithos stone. It is commonly considered as stone formation in any part (kidneys, ureters, urinary bladder and urethra) of the urinary tract. It is one of the oldest, most frequent and highly recurrent disorder and as reported was initially found in the tombs of Egyptian mummies dating back to 4000 BC [7]. At the initial stage, the stones are usually as small as a grain of sand and may gradually increase in size as large as a pearl or even a golf ball. These stones get stuck in the urinary tract causing urinary tract obstruction with hematuria, dysuria, nausea and vomiting. Peoples are at the risk for stone recurrence if they have stone before or any family history of urolithiasis. The other risk factors are not drinking enough water, diet rich in protein, sugar and sodium, being obese or experiencing gastric bypass surgery [8][9] (Table 1 and Table 2).

    Table 1. Animal drugs mentioned by Ibn Sina and Al-Antaki in their well-known books for urolithiasis management.

    Ibn Sina (Al Qanoon fit tibb) [10]

    Scientific name

    Common name

    Parts used

    Mode of use (Orally taken)

    Androctonus crassicauda Oliver.

    Arabian fat-tailed scorpion

    Whole body

    Ash of whole scorpion dissolves and expels urinary stones.

    Erinaceus europaeus L.



    Ash of spines with Frankincense expels urinary stones.

    Equus hemionus Pallas.

    Asian wild ass


    Urine dissolves urinary stones.

    Gallus gallus domesticus L.


    Egg shell

    Ash of hen egg shell dissolves and expels urinary stones.

    Lumbricus terrestris L.

    Earth worm

    Whole body

    Whole earth worm taken with Frankincense expel urinary stones.

    Mus musculus L.



    Ash of mouse stool dissolves and expels urinary stones.

    Oryctolagus cuniculus L.


    Whole body

    Ash of whole rabbit dissolves and expels urinary stones.

    Daud Al-Antaki (Tadhkirat Uli l-al-Bab-wa l-Jami li-L-‘Ajab Al-‘Ujab)

    Eucidaris metularia Lamarck.

    Sea urchin


    Petrified spines of sea urchin dissolve urinary stones [10].

    Halyomorpha halys Stål.

    Brown marmorated stink bug

    Whole body

    Ash of stinking bug dissolves urinary stones [11].

    Lampyris noctiluca L.


    Whole body

    Ash of firefly dissolves urinary stones [12] .


    Otis tarda L.



    Stomach, feathers and


    Bustard’s stomach and the ashes from its feathers and claws dissolves urinary stones [10].

    Table 2. Zootherapy used against urinary stones in different countries and cultures.

    Scientific name

    Common name

    Parts used


    Administrated orally

    Capra hircus L.


    Horn, legs and


    Syria, Lebanon,

    and Jordan

    Ash of body parts (Horn, legs and hoof) break up urinary stones [12]



    Gallus gallus L.








    Albania, China

    The membrane of the muscular stomach (Mullis pule) of a hen is removed and dried, then ground and made into a decoction intake to pass urinary stones [13][14].


    To pass urinary stone; the gizzard is removed, washed, dried and pounded, then eaten [15]


    atkinsonianum Wood- Mason.

    Freshwater crab



    Eaten flesh passes urinary stones [16].

    Hippocampus guttulatus





    Whole body


    Crushed with thorns and eaten or drunk in wine [17]

    Lumbricus terrestris L.

    Earth worm


    Earth worm baked with bread expels urinary stones [18].

    Merlangius merlangus L.

    Whiting or merling


    Otoliths (fish

    ear stone)


    Swallow with water [17]

    Periplaneta americana L.

    American cockroach

    Whole body


    Ash of American cockroach in crude liquor dissolves

    urinary stones [18]

    Plagioscion squamosissimus


    South American silver croaker/ Corvina (fish)






    Swallow with water dissolves urinary stones[19] 

    Pteropus vampyrus L.

    Flying fox (the world

    largest bats)



    Rice soaked in bat urine, dried and orally taken [4]

    Petaurista petaurista Pallas.

    Giant flying




    Bile is collected in bottle and drink with water [20]

    Upupa epops L.

    Eurasian hoopoe



    Boiled or cooked flesh is orally taken [20]

    Apis mellifera L.




    Bee glue



    Drinking of 15 drops of Propolis tincture (one part of propolis, and 10 parts of vodka or alcohol) for 2 weeks expels or flush out urinary stones [21][22]


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    2. Alves RRN et al. From past to present: Medicinal animals in a historical perspective, in Animals in Traditional Folk Medicine: Implications for Conservation, R.R.N. Alves and I.L. Rosa, Editors, Springer Berlin Heidelberg: Berlin, Heidelberg 2013, P11-23.
    3. Okuda J, Kiyokawa R. Snake as a symbol in medicine and pharmacy - a historical study. Yakushigaku Zasshi 2000;35(1):25-40.
    4. Kakati LN, Ao B, Doulo V. Indigenous knowledge of zootherapeutic use of vertebrate origin by the Ao tribe of Nagaland. Journal of Human Ecology 2006;19(3):163167.
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    6. Alves RRN, Souto WMS. Ethnozoology: A brief introduction. Ethnobiology and Conservation 2015;4(1):1-13.
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    8. Goswami PK et al. Urolithiasis: an overview. International Journal of Pharmaceutical & Biological Archive 2013;4(6):1119-1123.
    9. Rettner R. Kidney stones: causes, symptoms & treatment 2014.
    10. Ahmed S, Hasan MM, Mahmood ZA. Urolithiasis management and treatment: Exploring historical vistas of Greco-arabic contribution. Journal of Pharmacognosy and Phytochemistry 2016;5(5):167-178.
    11. Saad B, Said O. Greco-arab and Islamic herbal medicine - Traditional system, ethics, safety, efficacy, and regulatory issues, Hoboken, New Jersey: John Wiley & Sons, Inc 2011.
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    13. Quave CL et al. A comparative assessment of zootherapeutic remedies from selected areas in Albania, Italy, Spain and Nepal. Journal of Ethnobiology 2010;30(1):92-125.
    14. Xu H, Feng S. Investigation of using endothelium Corneum Gigeriae Galli to treat urolithiasis. Journal of Sichuan of Traditional Chinese Medicine 2015;33(4):3638.
    15. Yeşilada E et al. Traditional medicine in Turkey IX: Folk medicine in north-west Anatolia. Journal of Ethnopharmacology 1999;64(3):195-210.
    16. Yeshi K, Morisco P, Wangchuk P. Animal-derived natural products of Sowa Rigpa medicine: Their pharmacopoeial description, current utilization and zoological identification. Journal of Ethnopharmacology 2017;207:192-202.
    17. Vallejo JR, González JA. Fish-based remedies in Spanish ethnomedicine: a review from a historical perspective. Journal of Ethnobiology and Ethnomedicine 2014;10(1):37.
    18. Meyer-Rochow VB. Therapeutic arthropods and other, largely terrestrial, folk-medicinally important invertebrates: a comparative survey and review. J Ethnobiol Ethnomed 2017;13(1):9.
    19. El-Deir ACA et al., Ichthyofauna used in traditional medicine in Brazil. Evidence-Based Complementary and Alternative Medicine 2012, p16.
    20. Ngaomei G, Singh E. Traditional knowledge of therapeutic use of animals by Rongmei Tribe, Manipur, India. International Journal of Scientific & Engineering Research 2016;7(8):1982-1991.
    21. Healthylife Guru. Propolis for kidney: tincture, treatment, contraindications. 2017. [cited 2018 March, 15].
    22. Lopez-Cabanillas R et al., [Antiurolithic activity of the ethanolic extract of Ayacuchano Propolis in Rats]. Revista Peruana De Medicina Experimental Y Salud Publica 2017;34(4):642-648.
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    View Times: 118
    Revisions: 10 times (View History)
    Update Date: 15 Aug 2022
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      Ahmed, S. Animal Drugs Used to Treat Urinary Stones. Encyclopedia. Available online: (accessed on 06 February 2023).
      Ahmed S. Animal Drugs Used to Treat Urinary Stones. Encyclopedia. Available at: Accessed February 06, 2023.
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      Ahmed, Salman. ''Animal Drugs Used to Treat Urinary Stones.'' Encyclopedia. Web. 02 August, 2022.