Earthworms - role in soil fertility to the use in medicine and as a food


  • M Grdiša Faculty of Agriculture, University of Zagreb, Svetošimunska 25, 10 000 Zagreb, Croatia
  • K Gršić Tobacco Institute Zagreb, Svetošimunska cesta 25, 10000 Zagreb, Croatia
  • M D Grdiša Ruđer Bošković Institute, Bijenička 54, 10 000 Zagreb, Croatia


earthworms, food, medicine, soil


Earthworms are important regulators of soil structure and dynamics of soil organic matter. They
are a major component of soil fauna communities in most ecosystems and comprise a large proportion of macro fauna biomass. Their activities are beneficial because they can enhance soil nutrient cycling through the rapid incorporation of detritus into mineral soil. However, mucus production associated with water excretion in earthworm guts also enhances the activity of other beneficial soil microorganisms. Earthworms alter soil structure, water movement, nutrient dynamics and plant growth. The medical value of earthworms has been known for centuries. The extracts prepared from earthworm tissues have been used for the treatment of numerous diseases since they are valuable source of proteins, peptides, enzymes and physiologically active substances. Several studies have shown that the earthworm extracts contain different macromolecules which exhibited the variety of activities, such as antioxidative, antibacterial, antiinflammatory, anticancer etc. Some of these activities are involved in wound healing process, using the earthworm preparation. In some countries the
earthworms are used as a part of healthy food. They have very high nutritive value because their bodies contain the high percentage of various proteins. Besides the human food, the earthworms are used in the feeding of animals (fish, chicken, etc.).