The word zoopharmacognosy was coined by Dr. Eloy Rodríguez, and is derived from three Greek words: zoion which means animal; pharmakon which means medicine and gnosi meaning knowledge.
Zoopharmacognosy is the process by which animals self-medicate, choosing and using plants, clays, and even insects to treat and prevent illness.
Animals living in the wild spend a great deal of their time searching not only for the food they need but also for other substances which are necessary for their health. We know that elephants go to great lengths to obtain clays. Other animals search for salts. Many birds use clays and plants to eliminate parasites: starlings use certain herbs in their nests to reduce or eliminate the parasites that might invade their young and in this way they ensure a stronger and healthier brood. In fact many shamans state that the use of plants and other substances by humans is based on observation of animal self-medicative behaviour.
Applied zoopharmacognosy aims to remedy this situation. By offering dogs different substances and allowing them to choose the ones they need. The key to this technique is that we do not force them to accept anything. We are mere facilitators, offering them the various substances and allowing them to make their choices. The animals will use their innate knowledge to choose the substances they need to maintain or regain physical, mental or emotional health
The substances we can offer range from essential oils, macerated and cold-pressed oils, dried plant material, minerals and other extracts. The animals also choose how to make use of these substances. They may sniff them, inhale them, ingest them, and in some cases they can be applied topically. It is fascinating to see how each animal can distinguish just what it needs at any given time
The wonderful thing about this technique is that the results, which can often be quite rapid, can be observed. When a problem has existed for a long time or is very severe, we will need to be patient, but in any case when working with animals patience is our greatest ally because it allows us to go at the animal's own pace. As we know, each animal, just like each person, is
different, and we must respect the space and time frame of every individual.
ã Mary J. Rodríguez M.A.(Hons); Dip. Ed; Dip IAZ)
Dip. Applied Zoofarmacognosy
Tellington TTouch Practitioner P2.