Economic Importance for Humans: Positive
Phyllobates terribilis is beneficial to humans in several ways. Embre and Choco Indians from Colombia use the poison secreted from the skin of Phyllobates terribilis, as well as other poison dart frogs, to poison their blowgun darts. The darts are wiped over the backs of poison dart frogs after heating them over a fire. The heat causes the poison to moisten the back and becomes easily accessible. Once a dart is poisoned, the dart remains lethal for up to two years. These darts can be used by the Indians as an easy way to catch small prey.
Much medical research is being done with the alkaloid toxin, batrachotoxin, that Phyllobates terribilis produces. Researchers are trying to develop muscle relaxants, heart stimulants, and anesthetics from the batrachotoxin. It has the potential to be a far better anesthetic than morphine.