What is a Materia Medica?

Materia Medica is a Latin term that literally means “medical material.” It’s used to describe a compilation of information about therapeutic properties of any substance used for healing. When people refer to a Materia Medica, they’re usually referring to a book that would contain information about plants and other natural substances rather than pharmaceuticals.

What is an herbal monograph?

Think of an herbal monograph as a “botanical biography.”

When you begin your own Materia Medica, you’re compiling your collection of herbal monographs into one, organized place.  Each monograph will generally include these sections:

  • botanical and common name(s)
  • uses
  • constituents
  • actions
  • energetics
  • affinities
  • indications/uses
  • preparations
  • dosages
  • safety considerations

Herbarium pages

Included in the herbal monograph is what is called an herbarium template. The information included in this template is geared toward identification, cultivation and harvesting. This can be placed with your dried herb sample, drawing, printed picture/photo or in your Materia Medica with your monograph.


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  • What was the date you collected the sample and where did you collect it from? You want to give yourself an idea of location.
  • Are there any poisonous look-alikes?
  • Habitat: where you would find this plant if it is NOT cultivated. If it is, then you can just put cultivated
  • Form: Shrub? Herbaceous? Mat-forming? Tree? How tall/wide? Anything to help you identify it by form.
  • Cultivation: How would you propagate this plant? Can it be cultivated easily? If not, write  down some guidelines so you can begin growing it if you want.
  • If the plant is edible, note the edible parts, how you would eat it (salads, soups, roasted, etc.) and whether it needs to be cooked. If it is medicinal, record which parts are medicinal. All the rest of the medicinal details will be found in your monograph so you don’t need to go into detail here.

If you’re ready to learn more about holistic health and using herbs to improve your own wellness and the wellbeing of your family, check out our selection of online courses, available over at the Huckleberry Mountain Botanicals Herbal Academy!