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Juliette de Bairacli Levy - the grandmother of veterinary herbalism

08 Sep 2013 by Holly

Juliette de Bairacli Levy was a pioneer of animal herbalism and travelled the world for over fifty years discovering the secrets of traditional herbal medicine for animals.

Her book, The Complete Herbal Handbook for the Dog, first published by Faber in 1955, is a true bible for any dog owner who wants to use more natural methods and is a valuable resource even today.

Juliette began her career in veterinary school in England, but didn’t finish her studies, instead setting off to scour the globe in search of authentic and traditional animal treatments. She was a life long breeder of Afghan hounds and said that they were her best teachers as they were so good at self-selecting herbs to keep them well.

She travelled for over fifty years visiting, among many far flung places, North America, Mexico, Austria, Turkey, Egypt, Israel and Afghanistan before settling in Greece. She lived a nomadic existence with gypsies, farmers and livestock breeders, acquiring a wealth of herbal lore and knowledge that may otherwise never have been recorded or disseminated in such a way.

De Bairacli’s philosophy was very much inspired by the great herbalist of the Middle Ages, Paracelsus, who urged his students to travel in search of medical knowledge and experience and to learn from peasants and wandering gypsies. He taught his students that:

The knowledge to which we are entitled is not confined within the limits of our own country, and does not run after us, but waits until we go in search of it. No one becomes master of practical experience in his own house, neither will he find a teacher of the secrets of Nature in the corner’s of his own room.

Juliette followed his advice and discovered how wild animals could find their own medicines in Nature and how people all over the world had knowledge of how their indigenous plants could heal their livestock.

Her most renowned books on herbalism for animals include:

  • The Complete Herbal Handbook for the Dog, Faber and Faber 1955
  • Puppy Rearing by Natural Methods, 1948
  • Herbal Book for Farm and Stable, Faber and Faber 1943
  • The Complete Herbal Handbook for the Dog and Cat, Faber and Faber 1971