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Observations placeholder

How animals heal themselves - self medication



Type of Spiritual Experience


I have put the source as a scientist even though the ultimate source is the animals, as I have no category for animals.

This is not learned behaviour from parents, nor is it experimental behaviour.  The animal goes to the requisite plant the moment it needs that plant.  There are various ways one can interpret this behaviour

  • First this function is part of its package of functions, which it acquires on birth; it is part of the ‘dog’ package or the ‘bear’ package.  This is a feasible explanation
  • Second, the animal’s composer has access via the spiritual world, to the plant’s spirit helpers – to find out about the properties of plants. 

The implication in the latter case is that there is communication between plants and animals or alternatively animals can tap into the processes and properties of plants and here I assume a spirit helper  – the means by which intercommunication between the composer function and other systems of the universe can take place

A description of the experience

Healing like a wolf - Lynne McTaggart on May 8, 2008

Stories abound of animals eating just the right things to heal themselves. After witnessing sick bears eating the roots of Ligusticum plants and getting better afterwards, North American Native Americans gave the plants a name which means ‘bear medicine’.

Most conventional scientists have disparaged anecdotes such as these, putting them down to myth—until recently. Animal behaviourists have discovered that animals appear to have a natural instinct, across species, for determining which plants can be used to heal different diseases.

Animal behaviourist Dr Cindy Engel spent years gathering scientific evidence that animals self-medicate against parasites, infection, skin conditions and poisons. Animals have learned which substances—such as clay, soil and charcoal—can absorb and neutralize particular plant toxins. They understand how to deal with certain pathogens—either by increasing body temperature or, in the case of the honey-bee, by coating the hive with propolis, a potent antimicrobial. Engel has also uncovered ample evidence that animals rub bioactive compounds into their fur or skin to discourage unwanted insects, ticks and mites.

Scientist Dan Janzen began collating evidence that animals somehow are able to differentiate the thousands of toxic secondary compounds in plants that kill internal parasites. For instance, a number of species, including rhinoceros and wild bison. feast on a certain bark known to be toxic to the microbes that cause dysentery. Even animals in captivity often have a native sense of self-medication superior to their doctors. In one instance, a captive capuchin monkey that had a severe skin infection did not get better until he was given access to tobacco leaves (which contain nicotine), which cured the skin condition permanently.

Kodiak bears have been known to make a herbal paste from osha roots, then to rub it onto their skin and fur as an antibacterial.

The source of the experience

Scientist other

Concepts, symbols and science items


Science Items

Activities and commonsteps