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Medicinal Application of Insects -- A Special Exhibit and Activities

The Taipei Zoo is holding an “Insects and their Medical Applications in Chinese Medicine” exhibit at the Insectarium. This special exhibit takes visitors from the long-used medical applications developed from insects in Chinese history, to the modern development of potential medicines by today’s standards, giving the general public a deeper understanding about ancient Chinese knowledge, and the advancements made from developing insect resources.

Using insects as treatments for diseases have been in practice for more than two thousand years in China. There are as many as three hundred insects with medicinal-properties used in Chinese medicine, i.e. the likes of ants, bees, cockroaches, cicada shells, blister beetle, praying mantis, common silkworms and flies.

According to nutritionists, insects are the green food source of the 21st century, for they contain rich nutritional properties including proteins and fats. In addition to their rich nutrition, quite a few insects have their own unique health-sustaining functions, for example, locust warms the stomach and increases male sexual drive, and cicada removes internal heat, overcome cold and chills, and calm nerves.

The research team at Japan’s University of Tokyo has proved that flies release a type of biologically active compounds which acts to suppress cell sharing (osteoclasts), and may be used as treatment for osteoporosis.