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Your husband has a cold, how can you help him get well? Your child has a stomach ache, which herb will help with that? You are developing a dreaded urinary tract infection, how will you get relief? These are the questions that can be easily answered by consulting your herbal materia medica journal.
If you are an aspiring herbalist, you are likely already making your herbal materia medica journal, where you can keep records of which herbs are most accessible to you, how to use them, and how effective they are with each member of your family. Recording proper dosages, herb combinations, and monographs will be simple, and treatment of minor medical issues will never be difficult because you will have the information written just the way you understand it.
What Is an Herbal Materia Medica Journal?
“Materia medica” is just a fancy name for a system for keeping plant information organized. The words just mean “healing materials” in Latin. So an herbal materia medica journal is just a notebook where you would keep your herbal “healing materials” information as you study and take notes on specific plants.
Your herbal materia medica journal will contain any information that will help you to remember how to use the plants you grow and the herbs you stock in your pantry. This information will help you to keep your family well, as well as help you heal your family’s minor ailments and injuries.
What’s the Journal Part?
The journal part would be the part where you add notes about your family’s medical history and information. Add pockets to the notebook to keep shot records for when you need them to take to the doctor. Keep a sheet of paper for each person in your family and take notes of their minor ailments and what you did to help them. The possibilities are endless for getting into the driver’s seat regarding your family’s health.
Components of a Good Herbal Materia Medica Journal
The truth is, there are no rules to what could be included in your herbal materia medica journal because it is your journal. In an age where we have become much more aware of how individual we are, it would be silly not to make it your own. Still, there are some very helpful components that should be in your notebook that will make consulting and using the information inside quicker and easier.
Photos, monograph sheets, dosage charts, and even family medical information are all good additions to your herbal materia medica. Let’s dive into what each of these pages/sections would look like, plus a few more pieces of information you can keep in your notebook.
- Monograph sheets – the name, properties, parts of the plant used in herbal medicine, growing and harvesting, effects/energetics, safety issues/drug interactions, preparation and doses. (Here’s a little hint: if you subscribe to my blog, there is a free monograph page on the exclusive subscriber resource page. It’s yours for the taking, just plug your name and email address in the form in the right sidebar and you will get the information in your inbox!)
- Photos of the plants you have studied – photos of each stage of the plant are a great help in learning to identify plants helpful for medicine. Often, plants have look-a-likes that are poisonous, so knowing exactly what plant your are looking at, especially when foraging your medicinal plants. This can be the difference between healing and additional illness (and sometimes death, depending on your circumstances).
- Section of medical conditions treatable at home – Colds, scraped knees, sore muscles, and other minor ailments can each get a page in this section. On those pages, you can add information on what you’ve used in the past that has worked and what form it was in when you used it (salve, tincture, tea). Don’t forget your info on how quickly the condition cleared up so that you can decide if this is something you want to use again.
- Recipes for Medicinal Preparations – instructions for preparing teas, tinctures, salves, poultices, balms, etc. You can also keep a list of herbs and preparations that you keep in your herbal medicine cabinet as you build it.
- Reference guides that you use regularly
- Family records and medical history
Make Your Own Herbal Materia Medica Journal
This can be as simple or elaborate as you would like it to be. Building this book will take a few moments, but it will take shape over months and years of use as you add more and more information that is personally useful to yourself and your family. Eventually, your herbal materia medica journal may need to be divided into two books in a way that makes sense to you.
Get a Quick Start…
If you would like to get started today, you will need just a few items. These items will help you get your notebook together and start using it for your family’s wellness this week.
- 3-ring binder (even a leftover one will do for now if have one)
- generic notebook dividers, 6-8
- lined paper for making notes on plants, family members, treatment plans, etc.
…Then Add a Little More to Make it Your Own
Later, if your book gets very large, or if you would like to build a more elaborate version of your herbal materia medica journal, you can add:
- alphabet dividers, two sets (one for plant section, and one for a medical conditions section)
- photos of the plants you are (or have) studied and planned to use in your family’s simple medical care
- a pretty notebook (I love these ones!)
- premade worksheets for family member information, monographs
- printer (this one is similar to the printer i use) and printer ink
Whichever way you choose to get started (simple or elaborate), it’s a good idea to start today. In this way, you can get used to keeping records of the information needed for you to take charge of your family’s wellness.
If you love this idea and want to further your knowledge in putting together your materia medica, the Herbal Materia Medica short course by Herbal Academy can help. This course goes over putting together your own materia medica, creating each herbal profile (monograph), finding good information for your notebook, and lots of other information that will get you started.
Don’t want to make a book? Let me suggest a fantastic resource called The Wellness Notebook. This book contains pretty much everything I’ve mentioned here, but it’s already put together for you. If you don’t have the time to spend on putting together an herbal materia medica notebook, this book will definitely save you the time needed to do so. Just print, three-hole-punch, and add to a binder. Easy peasy!