Subscribe To Natural Wonder Pets Health Blog for Free!
Animal Self-Medication: Do Wild Animals Heal Themselves? by Gary Le Mon
What do wild animals do when they get sick? Unlike domestic pets, animals in the wild don’t have access to the range of treatments provided by owners or vets. Do wild animals know how to heal themselves?
Growing scientific evidence indicates that animals do indeed have knowledge of natural medicines. In fact, they have access to the world's largest pharmacy: nature itself. Zoologists and botanists are only just beginning to understand how wild animals use plant medicines to prevent and cure illness.
There’s a name for it
The emerging science of Zoopharmacognosy studies how animals use leaves, roots, seeds and minerals to treat a variety of ailments. Indigenous cultures have had knowledge of animal self-medication for centuries; many folk remedies have come from noticing which plants animals eat when they are sick. But it is only in the last 30 years that zoopharmacognosy has been scientifically studied. Biologists witnessing animals eating foods not part of their usual diet, realized the animals were self-medicating with natural remedies.
When a pregnant African elephant was observed for over a year, a discovery was made. The elephant kept regular dietary habits throughout her long pregnancy but the routine changed abruptly towards the end of her term. Heavily pregnant, the elephant set off in search of a shrub that grew 17 miles from her usual food source. The elephant chewed and ate the leaves and bark of the bush, then gave birth a few days later. The elephant, it seemed, had sought out this plant specifically to induce her labor. The same plant (a member of the borage family) also happens to be brewed by Kenyan women to make a labor-inducing tea.
Chimps take their medicine
Not only do many animals know which plant they require, they also know exactly which part of the plant they should use, and how they should ingest it. Chimpanzees in Tanzania have been observed using plants in different ways. The Aspilia shrub produces bristly leaves, which the chimps carefully fold up then roll around their mouths before swallowing whole. The prickly leaves 'scour' parasitical worms from the chimps intestinal lining.
The same chimps also peel the stems and eat the pith of the Vernonia plant (also known as Bitter leaf). In bio-chemical research, Vernonia was found to have anti-parasitic and anti-microbial properties. Both Vernonia and Aspilia have long been used in Tanzanian folk medicine for stomach upsets and fevers.
It is only the sick chimpanzees that eat the plants. The chimps often grimace as they chew the Vernonia pith, indicating that they are not doing this for fun; healthy animals would find the bitter taste unpalatable.
Nature’s pharmacy for all
Wild animals won’t seek out a remedy unless they need it. Scientists studying baboons at the Awash Falls in Ethiopia noted that although the tree Balanites aegyptiaca (Desert date) grew all around the falls, only the baboons living below the falls ate the tree’s fruit. These baboons were exposed to a parasitic worm found in water-snails. Balanites fruit is known to repel the snails. Baboons living above the falls were not in contact with the water-snails and therefore had no need of the medicinal fruit.
Many animals eat minerals like clay or charcoal for their curative properties. Colobus monkeys on the island of Zanzibar have been observed stealing and eating charcoal from human bonfires. The charcoal counteracts toxic phenols produced by the mango and almond leaves which make up their diet.
Some species of South American parrot and macaw are known to eat soil with a high kaolin content. The parrots’ diet contains toxins because of the fruit seeds they eat. (Even the humble apple seed contains cyanide.) The kaolin clay absorbs the toxins and carries them out of the birds' digestive systems, leaving the parrots unharmed by the poisons. Kaolin has been used for centuries in many cultures as a remedy for human gastrointestinal upset.
Survival of the medicated
So, how do animals know how to heal themselves? Some scientists believe that evolution has given animals the innate ability to choose the correct herbal medicines. In terms of natural selection, animals who could find medicinal substances in the wild were more likely to survive. Other observations have shown that, particularly among primates, medicinal skills appear to be taught and learned. Adult females are often seen batting their infant's hand from a particular leaf or stem as if to say “No, not that one.”
Wild animals don’t rely on industrially produced synthetic drugs to cure their illnesses; the medicines they require are available in their natural environment. While animals in the wild instinctively know how to heal themselves, humans have all but forgotten this knowledge because of our lost connection with nature. Since wild animals have begun to be observed actively taking care of their own wellbeing, it raises questions of how we approach
healthcare with natural remedies,
not just for ourselves but for our companion and farm animals too.
Copyright 2007 - 2015 Natural Wonder Products Corp - All Rights Reserved
Information provided on this web site is intended for educational purposes only. Any statements made have not been evaluated by the FDA. No information provided on this web site is intended to prevent, diagnose, treat, or cure any symptom or disease. If you have questions about medicinal herbs or their chemical constituents, please see a licensed medical professional.
UNSOLICITED TESTIMONIALS From Our Doggedly Loyal Customers:
My only regret is ...
"I am the kind of person who always speaks up when I think I'm not getting my money's worth for anything. I am also not hesitant to give praise where praise is due.
With that said I bought some of your
DentaSure teeth spray
for my cat. I received it at the beginning of this week. After 3 DAYS of using this product her teeth have already gone from a scary looking brown and very unhealthy to a light shade of yellow.
I am absolutely blown away by how fast this product has helped her teeth improve and the fact that it's all natural is huge to me (the vet has been pushing me to pay $720 for a cleaning including anesthesia!!).
My only regret is not finding you guys sooner!! Keep up the great work!!!!" ~ Fred Brennan, Waymouth, MA
I am amazed!
"We have 3 dogs. One is almost 10, the second is 2 but is fighting Valley Fever right now and the third is 2 also.
We put the VF dog on antibiotics as soon as she began coughing. The old man never really started but I seem to remember he has had Kennel Cough before so he may now have some immunity.
The third dog started to cough on Thursday and by Saturday it was just awful to listen to. She was trying to hack up a lung and leaving foamy puddles of spit ALL OVER our house.
Thank goodness your
arrived so fast. It came in the mail on Saturday afternoon. I immediately dosed all 3 dogs.
Overnight the cough was drastically reduced. I am amazed! I am continuing to treat all 3 dogs for another week.
Thanks for an incredible product. Please do not hesitate to use this review on your website." ~ Lyn Chambers, Phoenix, AZ
We are pleased with the cedar and peppermint flea spray - it seems to perform as promised & that's a big deal here in Florida which is flea central.
Finally, a practical alternative to the nasty spot style flea pesticides. I will recommend this to my friends who (like us) don't want to use the traditional toxic treatments.
My dog also smells woodsey, a lovely side benefit. We sprayed the house and the combo is working. THANKS!" ~ Michelle G., Ft. Myers, FL
Do we ship to your country? After adding your items to our shopping cart, Proceed to Checkout. In the Shipping Information area, click on the Country drop-down menu. If you see your country listed, that means we ship to it. However, any applicable taxes/duties imposed by your country are your responsibility.*
For the first time in 2 years, no coughing!
"I have two dogs that have kennel cough. I bought the
for the immune system and the kennel cough. The medicine arrived today and for the first time in two years, no coughing!" ~ Kerry Jacques, Temecula, CA
I would also like all pet lovers to know ...
"I just want to thank you for your wonderful products and caring nature.
We made the decision to put Oreo to sleep on Tuesday. She was much worse Tuesday morning and it was time to let go. It was very hard as my husband and I wanted so bad for her to go on her own, but it was the right decision.
I know that your products helped give her a little more quality time with us than she would have had without them. I would also like all pet lovers to know the importance of spaying and neutering as early as possible - preferably before the first heat cycle - to decrease the chance of getting mammary gland cancer. Studies show mammary tumors in cats are 80% likely to be cancerous.
If I would have known about this risk, I would have started Oreo on the
for cancer as a preventative measure long ago. I am going to continue giving it to my other 2 cats at least once or twice a week to hopefully prevent them from getting cancer.
Again, thank you so much for your kindness and compassion."
~ Jane Hicks, Thomasville, NC
WE SHIP US POSTAL SERVICE PRIORITY MAIL and FedEx (FedEx Overnight delivery available ONLY when order is received no later than 2:30 PM Arizona time) DOMESTIC AND INTERNATIONAL SHIPPING
On a scale from 1 to 10, TripleSure gets a 12
“I just received my order of your flea and tick spray. Ok, at first I was skeptical, but now my wife and I are impressed. We see fleas or ticks on our German Shepard “Bumpers” or our Cocker Spaniel “Bella,” they get sprayed and – “Voila!” – dead fleas or ticks.
The buy one get one free was a good deal. A little pricey, but if you want the best this does what it claims and is worth the money.
I want to thank you for making a product that actually works. On a scale from 1 to 10,
gets a 12.”
~ George and Brenda Campbell, Defuniak Springs, FL
I plan to encourage my friends to try it
from my order of a week ago is already working on my 2 maltese's teeth and they both like it, making the job of cleaning their teeth much easier for me and is much more effective than trying to brush.
Wish I heard about it (on tv) long ago! I plan to encourage my friends with dogs or cats to try it.
Thank you for your immediate response to my inquiry. You are very efficient!
~ Joyce Snelling, Sun Lakes, AZ
Nice to have found a product that works
"Just wanted to let you know that my 3 year old Pomerian no longer has any dark tear stains after using your Tidy Tears formula. What a relief.
As a retired dog groomer I knew most products were not successful and I wished I had answers for my clients who lived with these tear stains. I did not want my dog to have to live with it also.
has all natural ingredients which I look for for my pets. Nice to have found a product that works after all these years in time for my Pom."
~ Marie Cherry, Altoona, FL
Your products and customer service are first rate
product and customer service are first rate. I have been using it on my Wire Haired Pointing Griffon for the past 10 months. Living in Minnesota we are in prime tick country. My dog has been in the thick of them on extended canoe trips, hunting in tall grass and daily trips along the Minnesota river trails.
TripleSure has prevented ticks & fleas. Granted, after water activity, it must be re-applied. However, this is a small price to pay considering not having the questionable chemical cocktail running through her from the standard systemic solutions such as Frontline. I have found that performance is enhanced if I take a minute to work in the spray by hand & finish it off with a light brush. Griffons have a double coat. My guess is that other breeds won’t need this."
~ K.C. Carpenter, Minnesota
I will always shop with you
"Thank you so much for offering these alternative solutions for really dangerous drugs vets give dogs and cats. I will always shop with you, and tell others."
~ Robin Kincaid, Port Orchard, WA
I shall spread the word as much as I can
"I am very happy with the way my 9 year old lab has responded to your
We were considering much more invasive methods, and now I am so happy we found your herbal remedies.
We are all the way from Istanbul, Turkey, and find ways to carry the remedies with us or with people coming from the US to Turkey. I really do think you are doing a great job for dogs and cats. As an animal lover I shall spread the word as much as I can."
"I wanted everyone to know that this product is amazing for dogs with Cushing's. My dog looked terrible -- pot belly, bones showing, dry coat, back legs with no strength. We have used this for 3 weeks and it has made a tremendous difference... Getting ready to order 3 months supply. Wonderful product."
~ Tammy Perry from Virginia
Primalix Blood-Sugar Balance ... it's a life saver!
"About 3 years ago my cat Timmy was diagnosed with diabetes. The vet put him on insulin injections which were a disaster and his health deteriorated greatly and he exuded a horrible odor.
I had my doubts about him being treated as a Type 1 diabetic as in the human population over 90% of people have Type 2, non-insulin dependant, diabetes.
So as my cat Timmy was practically dying in front of me I ordered your Primalix for cat blood sugar control. Within a short time of being on Primalix he recovered and also recovered from his diabetic neuropathy so he was able to jump again.
He has been on Primalix now for almost 3 years and the results have been wonderful. Also our vet is amazed at his progress.
I would, without hesitation, recommend any pet owner whose pet has blood sugar control problems to go onto Primalix----its a life saver!
"I bought this product about 5 days ago, It is Amazing! I have both dogs and cats and everything I used was NOT working until Now! I see no fleas and nobody is scratching themselves to death!
is a Godsend. If you have a problem with fleas do not hesitate to buy this product. I am now a customer for life! Thank you Natural Wonder!"
~ Susan Fussell, Jupiter, FL
Thank you for what you are doing for animals and the world!
"I have been using your TripleSure flea and tick spray and do very much love it. All you stated is TRUE, I can not thank you enough for making my life and my pets life more enjoyable. THANK YOU for what you are doing for animals and the world!!!"
~ Terree W., Atlanta, GA
"C-Care: CURE FOR TUMORS"
"Just a note to let you know that Taylor's breast cancer is completely gone. This was on only one bottle of C-Care. She had tumors the size of pecans in both front teats. 4 years ago when she was 9 years old, she had a tumor the size of a Nerf football on her side. The vet said nothing could be done. It took 4 bottles of C-Care, but cancer completely cured. This is such a marvelous product, I tell everyone about it as cancer seems to becoming so common in our doggies.
Thank you so much for your research & efforts to help our precious babies. Seeing Taylor run and play, and play with toys at 13 years, is more than I could have ever hoped for! Please use this note to let others know that this product really really works. Thanks again so very very much!"
~ Patricia Gregg Cox - Ballinger, TX
All testimonials on this website are unsolicited and given by actual customers who use our products. They are not related to or affiliated with Natural Wonder Products in any way, nor have they received any form of compensation for their testimonies.