It seems that some tribes in India’s northeast have a special remedy for treating arthritis symptoms. The treatment involves eating a wasp with a sharp sting which was stir-fried or boiled.
The scientists at the North East Institute of Science and Technology (NIEST), Jorhat, looked into this natural remedy and noticed that the larvae from the wasps help to boost the activity of two essential enzymes found in the body. The mentioned enzymes are responsible with the elimination of biological molecules associated with arthritis and other health issues.
Jatin Kalita, a scientist at the NIEST, a laboratory under the Council of Scientific and Industrial Research has presented a molecular mechanism that explains how the wasp consumed by the tribes (Vespin affinis) helps with arthritis pain. According to him there is a strong connection between the dose of larvae extract and detoxifying enzymes, meaning that the effect is stronger with a higher dose.
Arthritis, diabetes and cardiovascular disease have all been linked to enhanced oxidative stress in the body, which is caused by the accumulation of free radicals, making the body unable to eliminate them.
Kalita and the other researchers managed to demonstrate with the help of laboratory experiments how the wasp larvae extract can cause the two detoxifying enzymes, called glutathione-s-transferase and catalase, to be more efficient in reducing the oxidative stress in the body.
According to Kalita, the goal of the research is to identify the single compound present in the larvae so that they may synthesize it in order to measure how efficient it is as a new anti-oxidative compound for treating arthritis and other medical conditions.
It was known for some time now that the tribal communities present in different parts of Assam, Manipur and Nagaland eat the Vespa affinis for its medical properties. The information gathered by the NIEST researchers show that the wasp larvae are normally sold for roughly Rs 1000 per kilogram and are boiled or stir-fried alongside vegetables.
Natchiappan Senthilkumar, a senior entomologist at the Institute of Forest Genetics and Tree Breeding, Coimbatore, who also took part in the research, said that it is really interesting to discover anti-oxidative properties in an insect, given the fact that most anti-oxidants are normally found in plants. The research from the NIEST is supported by the campaign from Food and Agricultural Organization (FAO) which wants to popularize the consumption of edible insects in order to fight malnutrition.
A study from 2013 made by the FAO showed that around two billion people worldwide eat insects as part of their tradition. Insects are a great source of high fat, protein, vitamin and minerals that are essential for the body.
The NIEST study is part of a larger operation that aims to evaluate the nutritional and medical properties of the edible insects found in the northeastern states