Medicine Making

In the spirit of open source herbalism, this work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 4.0 International License.

We invite you to read, share, print, and adapt the materials you find here in the interest of community health. We add new documents and update existing ones on a continual database. Our dream with this page is to support the craft of the practicing herbalist and help us continue our traditions in healthcare! These guidelines are intended for community herbalists… not manufacturers.

On this page you will find links to:

Good Herbalista Practices

Medicine Making Instructions

Medicine Making Worksheets

Guidelines for Proper ID

Sanitation Guidelines

Dispensary Forms


Herbalista Toolkit


As a practicing herbalist, I have made a pledge to my patients, to my community, and to my planet to heal and serve. This means that I hold to certain standards of practice, such as cleanliness, transparency, sustainability, environmental protection, quality, and affordability, all of which guide my daily practices in the clinic and dispensary… aka Good Herbalista Practices.

It is a big responsibility to create medicines that people ingest.

  • We want to be confident that what we say is in the bottle is really what it in the bottle (proper ID– botanical/ organoleptic/ etc.)
  • We want to be able to recreate our masterpieces and avoid replicating our disasters (documentation of process)
  • And we want to be able to track our remedies to a reasonable extent, so if a problem occurs, we can contain the situation.

This is an absolutely intended riff on the Good Manufacturing Practices which were passed by the FDA in 2008.  And here is a little piece I wrote on the subject a few years back …


Distillation Basics Basic math, supplies lists, and resources for hydrosol distillation.  At Herbalista we distill Rosemary hydrosol several times a year for use at the Foot Clinic and on our mobile clinics, so we’ve also included a brief Rosemary materia medica entry.

Oil Based Medicine  Instructions on how to prepare infused oils (with fresh/dry herbs), salves, lotions, and suppositories.

Water Medicine Handout   Instructions on preparations of infusions, decoctions, syrups, isotonic solution (for gargles, nasal/eye rinses, etc.), steams, and basic hydrotherapeutic considerations.

Tincture Instruction Handout   Instructions on preparing tincture extracts utilizing different menstruum (alcohol, glycerine, vinegar). Maceration techniques for utilizing both fresh and dry herbs. Formulas to create custom menstruum blends.

Useful Measurement Conversions  Basic conversions between metric and US, both volume and weight, “Old School” measurements with modern translation, i.e., 1 jigger, dash, pony, and more…



Maceration Worksheet DRY  Create alcohol, vinegar & glycerine based dry plant tincture extracts using the maceration (soaking) process.

Maceration Worksheet FRESH  Create alcohol, vinegar & glycerine based fresh plant tincture extracts using the maceration (soaking) process.

Percolation Worksheet  Create tincture extracts using the percolation or drip method. This worksheet is based on Michael Moore’s original. Thanks Michael for all you shared with us!

Hot Glycerine Extract Worksheet Create glycerine extracts using a hot simmer method of extraction.  Use with fresh or dry herbs and when mixing custom menstruums.  A shorter process which takes only 4-6 hours.

Hot Glycerine Extract Worksheet A simplified recipe card to guide you through fresh plant hot glycerite extraction.

Oil Infusion Worksheet DRY  Create oil infusions with dry plants.

Echinacea MPS Worksheet  A printable worksheet based on the recipe by Michael Moore (www.swsbm). This step-by-step process combines a concentrated percolation with a extremely concentrated decoction, giving your echinacea tincture the best of both worlds.

Reishi Worksheet  A printable worksheet guiding you through a two step Reishi preparation. Your final preparation will combine an alcohol maceration (terpenes) with an extremely concentrated decoction (polysaccharides), for a complete Reishi product.


Capsule Worksheet              Encapsulate herbs and herbal blends.
Basic Lotion Worksheet      Create a luscious lotion.
Syrup Worksheet                 Create sweet and soothing syrups
Tea Blend Worksheet          Create loose or bagged tea blends.


Thanks to our work on the Dublin Herb Bike, we now are able to also share worksheets in the A4 sizing.

CAPSULE WORKSHEET       Encapsulate herbs and herbal blends.
Syrup Worksheet                Create sweet and soothing syrups
Tea Blending Worksheet   Create loose or bagged tea blends.


First and foremost, learn your herbs! Making good medicine begins with good herb. Your ability to properly identify herbs will improve as you spend more time working with them. Watch them grow, learn to harvest and to process them, touch them, taste them, and smell them!


By harvesting your own plants or receiving them in whole plant form, you can often use a plant key or flora to positively identify your plant. Learn which guides are best for your region.

Kew Gardens Herbarium   The Herbarium at Kew Garden’s is one of the largest in the world, with over 7 million plant specimens. These plants have been either pressed and dried or preserved in spirit. Kew works to make these specimen available to botanists around the world and are building an electronic Herbarium catalogue. Hundreds of thousands of specimen have been catalogued so far, with many more each day.


Botanical Identity References Compendium   Free online resource compiled by The American Herbal Products Association. This database covers just around 100 herbs and shares photos of botanical vouchers, organoleptic characteristics/ descriptions, macroscopic and microscopic characteristics, and chromatographic information.

“The AHPA Compendium is a cooperative and centralized source of information on physical characteristics and test methods that can be used by qualified and experienced analysts to determine the identity of plant species and articles of trade obtained from these plants.”  — AHPA Website

World Health Organization Monographs on Selected Plants – Volume 1

World Health Organization Monographs on Selected Plants – Volume 2

World Health Organization Monographs on Selected Plants – Volume 3

World Health Organization Monographs on Selected Plants – Volume 4

The WHO Monographs on Selected Medicinal Plants (4 volumes available online) – These monographs are useful references when trying to Positively Identify your plant material you are working with. They list Botanical Descriptions, Organoleptics (taste, smell, etc), and Microscopic Characteristics.

King’s Dispensatory, 1898 Materia Medica originally published in 1854 that covers herbs commonly used in American botanical medical practice.  The entries include botanical descriptions, and raw material specifications as seen in commerce.  This index is on Henriette Kress’ website (“Welcome to the Bark Side”)

Raw Material Specifications Files shared in the open source project by Guido Mase.


Reusing Bottles and Bits  A blog posting on the Herb Bus Website, addressing the importance of reuse over recycling (when possible) and the step by step process to thoroughly clean all of those bottles and bits.

Clinic Safety and Sanitation  A page on clinical safety concerns (i.e. gloves, masks, waste, etc.) This was originally created to help with the training of volunteers at the Harriet Tubman Free Foot Clinic and modified into its current form for the Herb Bus.)

Pressure cookers for Sterilization  Autoclaves are the gold standard for the sterilization of clinical tools. However, they are quite costly, require a learning curve, and require a consistent electrical source. We need other options for sterilization, not only in developing communities around the world (the reason for this report), but in community healthcare here in America. Pressure Cookers are easily available and can be powered by whatever source of energy you use to you cook your food. This report shares a study conducted at the University of Texas in the School of Dentistry that examined the efficacy of 5 different models of pressure cookers, at different pressures, for different lengths of time. Their conclusion– adequate sterilizing conditions can be achieved using pressure cookers.

WHO_AIDS_2   Guideline to sterilization and disinfection methods effective against HIV by the World Health Organization. This manual explores dry heat, steam, boiling, pressure, and chemical disinfection protocols on medical instruments, surfaces, and living tissues.


Herbalista Apotheke Dispense Form  The blank form we use on the Bus to track all medicaments poured in a clinic. There is room to list the type of herb, the amounts poured, costs incurred, and an area to write in reminders for next time (the Wish List.)

Herb Bus Apotheke Dispensary Form Example  This is an example of an older version of our Dispensary Form that has been filled out.

Script Pad  A photo and explanation of the script pad we use to write formulas. Since we custom compound many of our formulas, it is important to have clear records. There are places to indicate name of patient, type of formula, dosage instructions, any contraindications or cautions (such as if the patient must avoid alcohol or is pregnant) and room to write in the product dispensed (including Lot#), amounts, and a place to check off when the particular ingredient has been poured.

cGMP’s (Good Manufacturing Practices)

AHG Submits a Response to the FDA on GMP Rulings  The American Herbalists Guild’s official response to the FDA’s proposed GMP’s.  This, the last official stance taken by the AHG on behalf of herbal health care practitioners, was submitted over a decade ago.

GMP’s in a Clinical Setting This interview with Mama Jo was published in the American Herbalists Guild Journal Vol 10 No. 1 , shows how her retail and clinical practice is navigating the GMP’s.

American Herbal Products Association’s Member Access Only: cGMP SOP Templates

FDA cGMP open source project by Guido Mase Ongoing project by one of the creators of Urban Moonshine to provide a discussion forum and resources to assist small scale manufacturers comply with the GMP regulations as set forth by the FDA.  Currently inactive.  Hopefully will be back online in the future!!

In Defense of Good Herbalista Practices An essay written by yours truly, exploring the consequences of the GMP on the herbal arts…

GMP Pushback Dossier  For those of you looking to organize and take action against this inappropriately applied set of regulations, I wanted to share with you the brainstorming and research I’ve done over the past few years. This dossier is just a compilation of thoughts, documents, and excerpts on what’s at issue with the cGMP’s and possible actions. There are lots of holes and maybe we can fill these in, think creatively, and protect herbal access!

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