Porcupine Bezoar: The Legendary Antidote - English Version

Porcupine Bezoar: The Legendary Antidote


A bezoar is a very rare stone-like formation of undigested substances inside the gut of an animal. The rapid self-healing and strong immune system of porcupines are associated with its favour of exotic wild medicinal plants and herbs, which the bezoar is an incredibly dense essence of these medicinal herbs.

Bezoar was named after a Persian word, ‘pazar’, which literally means ‘antidote’ at 10th century AD. It was first used in Arabic traditional medicine, and introduced into Europe at the time of Crusade. {Duffin et al., 2013}

Medicinal History and Who Used it?

Abu Mansur Muwaffak catalogued the rare medicine in materia medica (968 ~ 977 AD) as a precious stone. Al-Biruni (973-1048 AD) had later described more than 5 types of bezoars, which some of them originated from India and China, able to detoxify wide range toxins. Its popularity climbs with expanding trades between Europe, India, China, and South East Asia in 16th century {Rolt, 1967}.

De Bondt (1620-1666 AD) demonstrated the porcupine bezoar as being extremely concentrated medicinal essence to the extent of it emits amazing healing ‘particles’ or ‘energy’ through the skin, where women experienced symptomatic improvement in pregnancy and menstrual problem only by holding it in their hands. {Barbette, 1687}

De Bondt (1620-1666 AD) also used it dissolved in wine to treat Mordexi, a cholera infection. {Searle, 1831}

Many acute and malignant diseases (burning fever, rickett, small pox, measles, jaundice, and bilious fever) showed positive improvements during the time of Frederick Dekkers (1648-1720 AD) and Albertus Seba (1665-1736 AD). {Seba, 1734}.

Eberhard Rumpf (1627-1702 AD) also observed healing of acute and some chronic malignant diseases (fever, gastric pain, poisoning, flatulence, jaundice, pleurisy, chicken pox, cholera, intestinal worms, apostem, bloody flux, heart palpitation, epilepsy, and kidney stones), {Seba, 1734; Borschberg, 2006}

Till today, its alexipharmic properties remains steadfast through modern scientific critics. {Duffin et al., 2013}

Modern Research

Porcupine bezoar extract shown able to inhibit proliferation of cancer cells {Al’aina et al., 2017; Azizulkarim et al., 2018}, induces apoptosis of cancer cells {Ahmed et al., 2019; Yew et al., 2019}, and as an antioxidant to reduce cancer associated oxidative stress {Yew et al., 2018; Khan et al., 2019}.

Porcupine is also widely used as a homeopathic solution for Dengue Fever {Wong and Abu Bakar, 2013}.


Abu Mansur Muwaffak ibn Ali al-Harawi (flourished in Herat, Afghanistan, during the reign of Samanid prince Mansur I ibn Nuh, who ruled from 961 to 976) - Book of the Remedies (Kitab al-abnyia ‘an Haqa’iq al-adwiya), a materia medica dealing with 585 remedies compiled between 968 and 977 AD and the first prose work to be written in modern Persian.

Al-Biruni, Muhammad ibn. English Translation of Al-Beruni’s Book on Mineralogy: Kitab Al-Jamahir Fi Marifat Al-Jawahir. Great Books Project. 66, Islamabad : Pakistan Hijra Council, 1989:  172.

Rolt R. A new dictionary of trade and commerce, compiled from the information of the most eminent merchants, and from the works of the best writers on commercial subjects, in all languages. Printed for G Keith, S Crowder and H Woodgate and S Brooks: London, 1761: unpaginated; James, Ref. 17: 513.

Duffin, C.J., 2013. Porcupine stones. Pharm Hist (Lond)43(1), pp.13-22.

Searle C. Cholera, its nature, cause and treatment; with original views physiological, pathological, and therapeutical, in relation to fever; the action of poisons on the system; &c. &c. To which is added, An essay on vital temperature and nervous energy; explanatory more particularly of the nature, source, and distribution of the latter; and of the connection between the mind and the body: &c. &c. London: John Wilson, 1830;  Anonymous. Bibliothèque Universelle des Sciences, Belles-lettres et Arts. 1831; 2: 286ff.

Barbette P. Thesaurus chirurgiae: the chirurgical and anatomical works of Paul Barbette, MD Practitioner in Amsterdam. Composed according to the doctrine of the circulation of the blood, and other new inventions of the moderns: together with a treatise of the plague, illustrated with observations/ translated out of Low-Dutch into English. The fourth edition; to which is added the surgeon’s chest, furnished both with instruments and medicines all useful; Illustrated with several copper plates; and to make it more compleat, is adjoyned a treatise of diseases that for the most part attend camps and fleets;  written in High-Dutch by Raymundus Minderius. 3 vol. Printed for Henry Rodes next door to the Swan Tavern, near Bride Lane, in Fleet Street: London, 1687: 361-361. 

Seba A. Locupletissimi rerum naturalium thesauri accurata descriptio, et iconibus artificiosissimis expressio, per universam physices historiam. Opus, cui, in hoc rerum genere, nullum par exstitit / Ex toto terrarum orbe collegit, digessit, descripsit, et depingendum curavit Albertus Seba. 4 volumes. Amstelaedami: apud Janssonio-Waesbergios, 1734-1765. 

Dekkers F. Exercitationes practicae circa medendi methodum, auctoritate, ratione, observationibusve plurimis confirmatae ac figuris illustratae. Lugduni Batavorum: Apud Cornelium Boutesteyn & J Luchtmans, 1694: 466; see also Seba, Reference 10: 83.

Barclay, Reference 17, unpaginated; Löseke JLL & Gmelin JF. Materia Medica. 5th edition. Berlin & Stettin, Friedrich Nicolai: Berlin & Stettin, 1785: 197

Manget  J-J. Bibliotheca Pharmaceutico-Medica, Seu Rerum adPharmaciam Galenico-Chymicam spectantium Thesaurus Refertissimus: In quo, Ordine Alphabetico non Omnis tantum Materia Medica Historice, Physice, Chymice ac Anatomice explicata; sed & Celebriores quaeque Compositiones, Tum Ex Omnibus Dispensatoriis Pharmaceuticis, variis hactenus Linguis in lucem editis, tum e melioris notae Scriptoribus Practicis excerptae. Chouet G de Tournes, Cramer, Perachon, Ritter, & S de Tournes: Coloniae Allobrogum, 1703: 136.

Borschberg P. The Trade, Forgery and Medicinal Use of Porcupine Bezoars in the Early Modern Period (c.15001750).Oriente 2006; 14: 60-78.

AL’AINA, Y.F.K., ASUHAIMI, F.A., JALAL, T., NATTO, H.A., ROHEEM, F.O., AHMED, Q.U., JOHAN, M.F., HASHIM, R. and WAHAB, R.A., 2017. Anti-Proliferative Property of Porcupine Bezoar Extract on Melanoma (A375). INTERNATIONAL JOURNAL OF ALLIED HEALTH SCIENCES1(2), pp.1-13.

Yew, P.N., Lee, W.L. and Lim, Y.Y., 2017. Antioxidant and intracellular reactive oxygen species/reactive nitrogen species scavenging activities of three porcupine bezoars from Hystrix brachyura. Pharmacognosy research9(4), p.366.

Yew, P.N., Goh, B.H., Lim, Y.Y. and Lee, W.L., 2018. Gastrointestinal bezoar stones: current knowledge and future perspective on the potential of plant-derived phytobezoar in cancer treatment. In Anticancer Plants: Natural Products and Biotechnological Implements (pp. 19-39). Springer, Singapore.

Yew, P.N., Lim, Y.Y. and Lee, W.L., 2019. Tannic acid-rich porcupine bezoars induce apoptosis and cell cycle arrest in human colon cancer cells. Pharmacognosy Magazine15(65), p.523.

AL’AINA, Y.F.K., ASUHAIMI, F.A., JALAL, T., NATTO, H.A., ROHEEM, F.O., AHMED, Q.U., JOHAN, M.F., HASHIM, R. and WAHAB, R.A., 2017. Anti-Proliferative Property of Porcupine Bezoar Extract on Melanoma (A375). INTERNATIONAL JOURNAL OF ALLIED HEALTH SCIENCES1(2), pp.1-13.

Azizulkarim, A.H., Jamil, M.M.A., Adon, M.N., Wahab, R.A., Ibrahim, T.N.T., Hamdan, S. and Baba, S., 2018, November. In-vitro evaluation of porcupine bezoar extracts (PBE) as anti-cancer agent on HeLa cell line–A preliminary study. In AIP Conference Proceedings (Vol. 2031, No. 1, p. 020024). AIP Publishing.

Ahmed, Q.U., Narayanamurthy, V., Razali, S., Asuhaimi, F.A., Saleh, M.S., Johan, M.F., Khatib, A., Seeni, A. and Wahab, R.A., 2019. Anticancer activity of grassy Hystrix brachyura bezoar and its mechanisms of action: An in vitro and in vivo based study. Biomedicine & Pharmacotherapy114, p.108841.

Khan, F., Abdullah Asuhaimi, F., Jalal, T.K., Roheem, F.O., Natto, H.A., Johan, M.F., Ahmed, Q.U. and Abdul Wahab, R., 2019. Hystrix Brachyura Bezoar Characterization, Antioxidant Activity Screening, and Anticancer Activity on Melanoma Cells (A375): A Preliminary Study. Antioxidants8(2), p.39.

Wong, L.P. and AbuBakar, S., 2013. Health beliefs and practices related to dengue fever: a focus group study. PLoS neglected tropical diseases7(7), p.e2310.

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