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Evidence-Based Complementary and Alternative Medicine
Volume 2012, Article ID 164152, 11 pages
Review Article

Earthworms Dilong: Ancient, Inexpensive, Noncontroversial Models May Help Clarify Approaches to Integrated Medicine Emphasizing Neuroimmune Systems

1Graduate Institute of Basic Medical Science, China Medical University, Taichung 40402, Taiwan
2Laboratory of Comparative Neuroimmunology, Department of Neurobiology, David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA, University of California, Los Angeles, Los Angeles, CA 90095-1763, USA
3Division of Vermibiotechnology, Department of Zoology, Annamalai University, Annamalai Nagar-608002, India
4Graduate Institute of Basic Medical Science and Graduate Institute of Chinese Medical Science, College of Chinese Medicine, China Medical University, Taichung 40402, Taiwan
5Department of Biology and Department of Sociology, University of California, Los Angeles, Los Angeles, CA 90024, USA
6Department of Linguistics, University of California, Los Angeles, Los Angeles, CA 90024, USA
7Department of Biology, University of Bari, Via Orabona 4, 70125 Bari, Italy
8Department of Biology, University of Padua, Via U. Bassi, 58/b, 35121-Padua, Italy

Received 9 December 2011; Revised 20 March 2012; Accepted 1 April 2012

Academic Editor: Bashar Saad

Copyright © 2012 Edwin L. Cooper et al. This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.


Earthworms have provided ancient cultures with food and sources of medicinal cures. Ayurveda, traditional Chinese medicine (TCM), and practices in Japan, Vietnam, and Korea have focused first on earthworms as sources of food. Gradually fostering an approach to potential beneficial healing properties, there are renewed efforts through bioprospecting and evidence-based research to understand by means of rigorous investigations the mechanisms of action whether earthworms are used as food and/or as sources of potential medicinal products. Focusing on earthworms grew by serendipity from an extensive analysis of the earthworm’s innate immune system. Their immune systems are replete with leukocytes and humoral products that exert credible health benefits. Their emerging functions with respect to evolution of innate immunity have long been superseded by their well-known ecological role in soil conservation. Earthworms as inexpensive, noncontroversial animal models (without ethical concerns) are not vectors of disease do not harbor parasites that threaten humans nor are they annoying pests. By recognizing their numerous ecological, environmental, and biomedical roles, substantiated by inexpensive and more comprehensive investigations, we will become more aware of their undiscovered beneficial properties.