Zoopharmacognosy – What it is
Zoopharmacognosy recognises the innate ability of animals both domesticated and wild to know what they need to restore them to health.
Ever noticed how a dog will choose to eat certain grasses to purge itself when it feels sick – but not eat the grass when it is hungry? You may be witnessing zoopharmacognosy.This refers to a process by which animals self-medicate.
The word Zoopharmacognosy is derived from the roots"zoo"(animal), "pharma" ( drug) and "gnosy" (knowing).
Since animals first roamed the planet they have had to develop their enzymatic physiology to cope with potential life threatening disease and injuries. In order to evolve into the animals we know today their ancestors developed a life sustaining solution for self medication and dosage by using the materials they found in the natural habitat.
These medicinal compounds are found in plants, roots, seeds, fruits, flowers, algae, clays etc. They are not food, these secondary compounds offer no obvious metabolic food value, no carbohydrates, starches, proteins.
Secondary metabolites taste bitter and are unpalatable to a healthy animal and given the choice a healthy animal will choose not to eat them.
For a sick animal they provide natural medicinal properties that can help them with their disease, stress or injuries, once the animal has recovered - the use of secondary compounds stops and they return to primary compounds (foods) once again.
Today, zoologists monitor wild animals in Africa and in the jungles observing when an animal is sick – (from chimps to birds to woolly caterpillars!) not only which plants they choose but, importantly, which part of the plant is used and how much is taken.
Animals are very meticulous in their self medicating and only choose exactly what they need.
It is amazing to watch the healing process when you give the animal a chance to choose its remedy.
Follow this link and watch self medication by a pony, notice the inhalation and the processing.