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Some years ago a friend recounted a conversation she had with a Native American regarding the medicinal use of plants and herbs.   She had admitted her great sadness that much of what had once been known of medicinal herbs would one day be lost forever.   Her Native American friend gave her the most quizzical look, paused for a moment, and then responded, “The plants can speak”.



The Symbiotic Relationship between Animals and Plants
The symbiotic relationship between animals and plants as healers is well documented.  In a brief internet search I came across many fascinating examples.  In Tanzania chimpanzees search out and eat the toxic and bitter pith of the Vernonia plant to kill intestinal parasites.  In Africa elephants have been observed journeying some 17 miles in the late stages of pregnancy just to eat a shrub containing a chemical that induces labor.  Domesticated finches with life-threatening illnesses were able to correctly select antibiotics from a range of available medicines, thus saving their lives.  A horse, scheduled for euthanasia and too sick to stand, raises its head at the scent of medication being given to the horse in the next stall and makes a full recovery on that medication.
Examples of Self-Medication by Animals
In fact, self-medication by the animal kingdom has been well-studied and documented.   Zoopharmacognosy is the science that studies this self-medicating behavior and has led to the discovery of new medications for the treatment of human conditions.  I find this fascinating.  How is it the animals learned to do this?  Do they have an intuitive sense that is in some way able to communicate with the plants as the Native American suggested?  Is this a skill we as humans once had but have allowed to atrophy? 
Do Humans Possess the Intuition of Self-Medication
Personally, I believe that we humans, somewhere in our history, also possessed such abilities.  However, in our current modern lifestyle we seem very far removed from our intuitive senses.  I imagine if we were to re-build these health restoring, and perhaps life saving, skills we would have to start with the fundamentals and proceed from there.  I believe we would have to learn how to listen to our bodies.
Re-learning How to Listen to Your Body
Here are some fundamentals we would need to start with. 
  • Shut off the mental chatter.  
    • Can you clear your mind, or do thoughts pre-occupy your every waking moment?  Do you have a meditative or calming practice?  Are you tethered to your electronic devices?
  • Do you know when you’re hungry?  
    • Are you eating because you’re hungry, or because it’s time to eat?  Are you eating to alleviate stress, boredom, or sadness?
  • Do you know when you’re full?  
    • Do you keep eating anyway? Are you aware of what you’re eating, or does eating just happen while you’re doing something else (driving or watching tv)?
  • Do you know when you are thirsty?  
    • Are you eating when you’re really thirsty?  Do you have any sense of dehydration in your body?
When I think about these questions I have the feeling I’m quite far removed from the intuition that might guide me to healing foods.  However, I also have the feeling that I’ve improved in these areas and most importantly I believe I can improve a great deal more!
This post is part of Fight Back FridayMonday Mania, and Real Food Wednesday.
Photo 1 – Amelia photos – The Vintage Perfume Vault. (Photographer). (2006).Exif. [Web Photo]. Retrieved from
Written by Peter Wright
Peter Wright, NTP, CGP

Peter Wright, NTP, CGP

I’m on a mission to help you prevent and reverse chronic illness by utilizing nutrition to restore your body’s natural balance.

Contact me directly for a free 30 minute consultation.
Peter Wright, NTP, CGP

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