SO can animals teach us to listen to our body’s needs more?
Well did you know that all animals have the ability to self-medicate from medicinal plants, essential oils, clay and other natural products?
This self-medication process is known as Zoopharmacognosy, and it allows animals to use their innate abilities to prevent disease and basically stay physically and emotionally healthy! The word Zoopharmacognosy was coined by Dr.Eloy Rodriguez a biochemist and professor at Cornell University. The word is derived from the ancient greek zoo “animal”, pharmaco “remedy”, and gnosy “knowing”. This self-selection process is fairly complex, and does not directly apply to commercial foods – more on this in a later blog! It applies to natural substances containing medicinal properties which are not eaten to provide nutritional value i.e. not ‘foods’. In simplistic terms, food is generally eaten until the individual is full, whilst medicinal or nutritional substances are selected in response to a specific need when the body is out of balance! A good example of this would be garlic! Many people LOVE garlic, it is a great natural anti-biotic, immune booster, good for circulation, respiration and parasites to name but a few, but you could not physically eat enough garlic to satisfy hunger! Most people accept that pregnant women ‘crave’ strange things! This is often because the nutritional needs of the mother change when pregnant and her body is trying to find certain nutrients.
Before animals became domesticated, they roamed free selecting plants, algae, clays, vitamins, minerals and herbs which would be beneficial to aid in recovery from illness and to maintain health. Even carnivores obtained these valuable vegetative matter from the guts of their prey, however have you noticed how many dogs and cats also ingest grasses and some other plants / clays etc?
Today’s animals, for example horses, are taken away from their natural habitat where the grasslands and herbs suited their constitution. Many pastures have not retained their mineral balance, variety of grasses and herbs, meaning many animals are lacking essential minerals and vitamins. Another problem is that many owners over supplement, often with heavily processed mineral and vitamins that the body cannot process, which does not allow an animal the choice of selecting those plants they would forage in the wild in order to maintain their individual health. Modern diets for our animals are often restrictive and can lead to imbalances in the body resulting in both structural, physiological and emotional problems.
Does this sound familiar? There are so many similarities between what is happening for our animals and ourselves, it is just that many humans (not all) have more control over their own diet, if they see that as a priority. However, how many of us humans really ‘listen’ to what our body is craving? Those of us who do consume high nutrient products such as juices / barley grass etc. often find our hunger pangs disappear as the body is no longer craving nutrients. When we eat or drink primarily processed foods which are high in calories but low in nutrients, our bodies nutritional needs are not satisfied so it thinks it needs to ingest more in a search for the nutrients it so desperately needs!
So I would encourage you to try the following:
- Listen to your bodies needs more – if you are craving something salty for instance your body is probably needing additional nutrients so try self-dosing yourself on a pure sea salt or Himalayan rock salt! Take a little amount at a time until you feel you have had enough!
- Watch what your animals eat when they are out in terms of vegetation / soil etc. – they will be giving you big clues as to what their bodies are craving! Have you noticed that your dogs and cats will only eat certain types of grass! Let them eat it, as much as they like, as long as it is not by a busty road or sprayed with pesticides!
Dogs loved Barley grass too: Here is Star self-selecting her barley grass!
- Watch what your horses try and eat when out on rides and let them! They know far better than us what their bodies need at any particular time. Then enjoy researching what they selected and what medicinal properties that plant has. It will give you a big clue as to what your houses nutritional gaps are.
Charlie our Shetland self-selecting his hedgerow herbs!
If you have any health concerns feel free to Contact Us – we will be able to help!
And even guinea pigs know exactly what essential oils and herbs they need to keep themselves healthy when given the chance to choose, as nicely demonstrated below by Squeaky!