Animal Self Medication

imageIn the wild animals would self medicate using their innate ability to choose medicinal compounds found naturally. Zoopharmacognosy is the oldest known process that animals use to self-medicate and forage plants and their essential oils, algae, clay and other natural remedies.

All animals have an innate ability to prevent disease. The word Zoopharmacognosy was coined by Dr.Eloy Rodriguez a biochemistry biochemist at Cornell University. The word derived from the ancient greek 'Zoo' (animal), 'pharmaco' (remedy) and 'gnosy' (knowing).

As an Applied Zoopharmacognosy practitioner I offer domestic and captive animals secondary compounds (such as essential oils) so that they can self medicate safely and freely. During a session I observe their behavioural response and teach the owner about the plant extracts and how to offer them.

Animals may choose several methods of selection. They may choose to inhale an extract, ingest an extract or indicate they would like it applied topically. The animal guides us to the method and the dosage. When their body is challenged by a disease, injury or stressful situation it sends a signal such as a neurotransmitter. This signal then alters their taste and smell perception and guides them to the plant constituent they need. Once the plant has successfully tackled the challenge the signal stops and their taste and smell reverts to normal again.

Applied Zoopharmacognosy is often confused with Aromatherapy but it is very different. We encourage the animal to guide us using its innate responses as they would in the wild. We offer them a variety of essential oils, absolutes, plants extracts, macerated oils such as comfrey, dried compounds such Devil's Claw, clay, rosehips, seaweed and many more. If appropriate we may apply the oils and compounds externally to specific areas such as wounds, skin problems, aches and sprains.

It is very important that the animal guides us to the dosage and frequency and they must always be free to walk away from the application.

Balanced Natural Healing


When animals are domesticated and kept in captivity they do not have the ability to take charge of their own health. We therefore have to make decisions for them and often this leads them to an unbalanced life. Applied Zoopharmacognosy bridges the gap between their domesticated life and the life they would lead if they were in their natural environment.

When I became interested in a more natural approach to keeping horses I was surprised by how picky my horses were. It was only when I started to learn more that I realised they weren't being picky they were just foraging for medicinal plants as they would have done in the wild. I was fascinated that my convalescing Suffolk horse would select bark from one tree, leaves from another and berries from another. Each time he would select what he needed and then move on. I was fascinated. Having moved on to train with Caroline Ingraham I realised how much was missing from their day to day diet and once I was able to offer my animals a far wider choice the results were amazing. Now if my horses need something they signal to me by way of behavioural changes or simply through observing them day to day and noticing subtle changes in their coat, eyes, movement and breathing etc.

Many owners comment that after a session with me they are much more in tune to how their horses are feeling and more observant to subtle changes in them.

How does an Applied Zoopharmacognosy consultation work?


Based on the information you give me I will offer appropriate secondary compounds for them to choose from. Your animal will be free to choose what it needs and I will show you how to offer and read their responses.

A session can take up to 2 - 3 hours depending on the needs of your animal and complexity of their condition. I will observe their responses to what I offer and can leave you with their chosen products so that you can continue to offer them yourself.

Some animals do benefit from a second visit but this will only be apparent once I have met the animal.

For more details and to book an Applied Zoopharmacognosy session for your animal please contact me.

In keeping with the law we will always recommend you advise your vet.
Many pet insurances now cover complimentary therapies. Please check your policy for more details.