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

Starting your Materia Medica can be intimidating, but it doesn’t need to be! If you just focus on the most important aspects, I think you’ll find it both fun and educational.

First, be sure you are writing down the vital information regarding a particular herb and remember to make notes as you learn more about it from personal use. We’ve put together a basic monograph template that will help guide you as you begin gathering information and getting to know your herbs.

The photo area was intentionally left blank. You can either insert your own drawing, (go ahead and get artistic here!) print out an image from the web or take your own photo. The point is to have some visual representation of the herb you are documenting. You can always update it as you go along – don’t get caught up in perfection.

Feel free to print out as many pages as you need for personal use. If you’d like to share it on your website, please link back to our website. If you’d like to use the template in a classroom setting, please contact me.


Herbarium pages

Included in the monograph template is what is known as an herbarium. 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.

click for download


  • 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!