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Dog with essential oil

Zoopharmacognosy stems from the Greek zoo (animal), pharma (drug), and gnosy (knowing).

In Applied Zoopharmacognosy, herbs and plant extracts from an animal’s evolutionary natural environment are offered to them in order to allow them to self-select the remedies that are needed for their current physical and/or emotional state. 

Applied Zoopharmacognosy

Dog with essential oil

What exactly is Applied Zoopharmacognosy?


Zoopharmacognosy is the study of how animals self-medicate to support their physical and emotional healing by seeking out specific medicinal plants in the wild. It is a well-described and researched behaviour that has developed over millions of years and is observed across all species. Even caterpillars are able to identify the specific plants they need to help their body get rid of parasites like wasp or fly larvae.

Domestic animals often do not have the opportunity to self-medicate because they have lost access to the wide range of medicinal plants that are naturally found in their evolutionary environment. through Applied Zoopharmacognosy, we can bring this choice back to domestic and captive animals.

Applied Zoopharmacognosy

Applied Zoopharmacognosy means that we bring medicinal plants and other natural substances to domestic and captive animals in order to allow them to self-medicate. In contrast to herbalism, a practitioner of Applied Zoopharmacognosy never prescribes any substances to an animal; instead, the animal is allowed to freely choose whatever they need for their physical and/or emotional healing. The remedies, mostly in the form of essential oils, are selected by the animal via inhalation, topically or orally.

The role of the Applied Zoopharmacognosy practitioner is to know what substances to offer to an animal based on their condition and previous selections, and to read the subtle signs of an animal in response to the offered substances.


The IMIM Method

IMIM stands for  the Ingraham Method of Individualised Medicine (IMIM), which has been created by Caroline Ingraham and teaches a safe and effective approach to animal self-medication. IMIM offers a refined methodology, developed over several decades and based on experience and observations from working with a wide range of different species. IMIM follows specific techniques to take into account an animal’s individual needs.

The key skills of an Applied Zoopharmacognosy practitioner following IMIM are:

  • Understanding what remedies to offer to an individual animal, when to offer them and how

  • Understanding how to read an animal's response to a remedy in order to decide whether it is needed and how to proceed

Since the responses of an animal to the offered remedies can be very subtle, highly trained skills are necessary to get the best possible outcome. An IMIM practitioner looks at the Animal's body and behaviours as a whole to understand what is needed. It is crucial for the success of Applied Zoopharmacognosy that the animal realises they can communicate with the practitioner and their signals are understood.

Note: An Applied Zoopharmacognosy practitioner following IMIM never diagnoses an animal. The selected remedies may offer clues regarding underlying physical conditions and can thereby help to guide professional veterinary diagnosis, for example if the selection points towards a painful condition. However, each natural remedy has diverse effects, often acting on different organ systems. Some of these effects may not be known to us yet, and many have not been well researched. It is therefore important that an animal's selection is interpreted with great care and that no assumptions regarding the cause for their selection are made.

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