What are Chinese Weevils and what are their benefits?

Chinese weevils, Ulomoides dermestoides, are a type of insect native to China that has gained popularity as a natural remedy that is capable of curing various conditions.

Chinese weevils, a type of beetle.

Chinese weevils, also known as Argentine weevils, are beetle-type insects. Although they are native to Asia, they have a worldwide distribution.

These insects have been widely used as an alternative therapy for a large number of health conditions.

The practice of using insects for healing purposes is called entomotherapy. It is an empirical treatment system that is part of the oral tradition of many population groups passed from generation to generation without a basis that supports it other than the testimony of people who report having had great improvements with its use.

How are Chinese weevils used?

Treatment with these insects is based on eating them alive. This is done following a scheme in which 1 insect must be consumed on day 1 and its quantity is increased at the rate of one insect per day until reaching day 70, when 70 of them must be consumed.

Starting on day 71, one less insect per day is ingested, so that day 69 weevils are ingested and this continues progressively until a single one is consumed, which would be the moment when the treatment ends, approximately after two months. Each treatment cycle leads to nearly 5,000 weevils being consumed.

Many people consume them with meals to avoid the repulsion that can occur when ingesting them.

During this process, you should avoid chewing them since the weevils must reach the interior of the stomach alive, where they die due to the action of gastric juices, thus releasing a series of substances that are responsible for their effects on health.

In order to use them it is necessary to cultivate them.

People who use Chinese weevils must cultivate them to ensure their input.

To do this, a small group of weevils must be found and placed in glass containers similar to a fish tank in which seeds or fruits are placed that serve as food for these insects.

They will reproduce with what is guaranteed the supply of the insects.

Benefits of Chinese weevils for health.

The large number of testimonies in favor of the ingestion of these insects as a therapy to treat a large number of conditions have motivated various investigations that seek to clarify whether they really have any kind of effect on human health.

Initially, an attempt was made to identify the components or active principles provided by these beetles and indeed two substances with a pharmacological effect were identified:

  • They are molecules capable of binding to the DNA of the cells and triggering responses by the immune system that culminate in the death of the affected cells, to this is added their ability to produce free radicals. This phenomenon is known as cytotoxicity and it is a very important mechanism to eliminate malignant cells and also prevent the inflammatory response that is associated with cell proliferation.
  • It is a component of the exoskeleton of the insect, this substance has antibiotic effects against bacteria and fungi.
  • They are substances released together with benzoquinones but do not have a specific pharmacological activity.

Scientifically proven beneficial health effects.

These insects have been the subject of several studies, which have led to the understanding of the mechanisms by which it has been found that they are helpful for health.

The effects that have been proven and documented by research studies published in scientific journals are explained below.

Anti-inflammatory effect.

These substances are capable of inhibiting inflammatory processes. This is related to its antioxidant effects.

Cytotoxic effect.

As already explained, some compounds in Chinese weevils are capable of producing DNA changes that will lead to the destruction of specific groups of cells mediated by the immune system.

These substances include benzoquinones and pentadecanes.

Central nervous system depressant effect.

The insect extracts showed a nervous sedative effect after administration, which is similar to  that obtained with the use of benzodiazepine-type medications (such as diazepam).

Antiproliferative effect.

These substances inhibit the formation of proteins necessary for cells to multiply, a factor that prevents their proliferation.

Antibiotic effect.

The extracts obtained from weevils showed antimicrobial activity against bacteria of the respiratory tract such as Haemophilus influenzae, Streptococcus pneumoniae and Klebsiella pneumoniae. Another microorganism that showed susceptibility was Staphylococcus, a bacterium mainly related to the development of skin infections.

As can be seen, the use of these insects may have associated health benefits. However, it is advisable to consult your doctor before deciding to undergo these types of therapies.

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