Discover How to Grow Medicinal Herbs

Medicinal herbs have been used by man for thousands of years. Even today, many societies around the world still make great use of medicinal herbs from knowledge which has been passed down from generation to generation. All plants regarded as medicinal herbs contain phytochemicals which have an effect of the body.

Build your herb knowledge

In this course you will learn what constitutes a medicinal herb, how to identify them, and how different plants and plant parts are used. You also learn about which soils are suited to growing herbs, water and fertiliser requirements, how to propagate them from seeds or cuttings, and control of pests and diseases. Cultural requirements for many of the most widely grown herbs are provided along with their uses and methods for preparing herbal remedies. 


Find Out How Plants Can Promote Health

Medicinal herbs are plants which contain chemicals which have an effect upon the body (usually the human body, but sometimes animals as well). Sometimes they are prepared for topical applications, and other times they are consumed in teas. The vapours of some herbs are inhaled. The parts of plants used in remedies vary from roots to leaves, flowers and bark. Knowing which parts are safe to use and how to prepare them is all part of understanding the field of medicinal herbs.  

The effect of medicinal herbs may be mild or strong depending on a number of things including:

  • The species and variety of plant - NB: there can be subtle but important differences between two plants which may appear to be identical. For example many herbs now sold are cultivated varieties of the original species and may not have the chemical constituents of the species form.
  • Species that have the same common name but are totally different and unrelated - one could be highly poisonous the other benign
  • How it was grown ie. herbs that are over fertilised and watered tend to have a lower concentration of the important chemical constituents.
  • The part(s) of the plant used. (eg. root, leaf, stem, flower, fruit, mature or new growth, etc).
  • Harvest time - i.e. time of day, time of year, weather conditions at the time, etc.
  • The preparation of the medicine (eg. as an oil, tablet, tea, ointment etc).
  • The storage of the medicine NB: some medicines store well, but generally fresh is best).
  • How it is used - (eg. some herbs may be safe to use externally, but the same herb may be a serious problem if taken internally. Some may be beneficial in a certain concentration, but dangerous in a different concentration).

This course of study provides a foundation for growers, nurserymen,  manufacturers, and marketers of medicinal herbs and medicinal herb produce 



  • 8 lessons

  • 8 assignments

  • 100 nominal hours

  1. Introduction to Medicinal Herbs
  2. Culture of Medicinal Herbs
  3. History
  4. Main Medicinal Herbs
  5. Herbal Remedies
  6. Preparing Herbal remedies
  7. Poisonous Plants
  8. Developing a Production Plan


On successful completion of the course you should be able to do the following:

* Distinguish between medicinal herbs in cultivation including twenty-five different genera and fifty different varieties.

* Discuss the history of medicinal herb usage.

* Compare the chemical components of different medicinal herbs in terms of their general affect on thehuman body.

* Prepare simple and safe herbal remedies in a domestic situation.

* Explain the potential dangers involved in dealing with plants.

* Prepare a schedule of cultural practices for a medicinal herb crop.

* Develop a production plan for a medicinal herb crop.


Here are just some of the things you will be doing:

-Define the term "medicinal herb" according to both horticultural and naturopathic meanings.

-Compile a resource file of fifty different sources of information regarding medicinal herbs.

-Distinguish between fifteen different plant families which common medicinal herbs belong to.

-Prepare a plant collection of fifty different medicinal herb varieties.

-List ten different medicinal herbs which were often used more than one hundred years ago, but are no longer commonly used.

-Identify modern trends in the use of herbs in medicines in your country.

-Discuss the role of home remedies in modern society.

-Discuss the role of the naturopath in modern society.

-Summarise the history of medicinal herbs since early civilisation, to modern times.

-Explain the characteristics of different types of chemicals found in medicinal herbs.

-Write brief definitions to explain the mode of action of different herbal medicines.

-Write an essay describing the chemical actions which two different herbs have upon the human body.

-Explain various factors which can influence the effectiveness of active constituents of a herb.

-List herbal remedies derived from forty different commonly grown herbs.

-Identify the morphological parts of fifteen different herbs which are used medicinally.

-Explain thoroughly how to prepare six different types of simple medicines, including a: *Poultice *Infusion *Decoction *Tincture.

-Develop a list of safety procedures to follow when preparing a given herbal medicine.

-Explain methods to administer six different herbal medicines which are safe and appropriate for an unskilled person to make and use at home. (ie. medicines which do not have any dangerous risks if prepared or administered incorrectly).

-Describe, in summaries, twelve commonly occurring plants which contain poisonous substances, including: *names (botanical and common) *dangerous parts of the plant *poisonous substances *mode of action of poison *remedy (if any).

-List five herbs that should never be taken internally.

-List five herbs which should never be used by pregnant women.

-List three herbs which should never be used by children.

-Describe, including at least two specific examples, precautions when dealing with unknown herb materials.

-Develop guidelines for the culture of a specified variety of medicinal herb.

-Explain natural pest and disease control methods for five medicinal herb varieties.

-Prepare a sample of soil suitable for growing a specified herb variety in the open ground.

-Demonstrate propagation techniques for five different medicinal herbs.

-Produce container plants of two different medicinal herbs, propagating and growing on the plants to a marketable stage and condition.

-Record the development of two medicinal herbs in a log including a summary of the condition of the plant, growth, and cultural practices carried out.

-Develop a list of criteria for selecting the most commercially viable variety of a nominated medicinal herb species available.

-List thirty different varieties of a medicinal herb species which are readily available for purchase as "reliable" seed or tubestock.

-Compare different varieties of six nominated medicinal herb species to determine a commercially viable variety to grow in your locality.

-List tasks to be undertaken in the production of a selected medicinal herb variety, including: *soil preparation *planting *growing practices *harvest and post harvest.

-Write a production schedule for a medicinal herb variety which designates tasks to be undertaken systematically at each stage of crop development.

-Explain the facilities which would be required to produce a specified commercial medicinal herb crop, including: *equipment *materials *land.

-Estimate the cost of producing a specified medicinal herb crop, itemising the cost components into at least five categories.


Ways of Using Herbs

There are many ways of using medicinal herbs, some include:

Herbal Medicine

This is a broad term which may incorporate other techniques as described below.

Herbal medicine tends to work with the bodies natural processes to combat disease (in contrast with allopathic medicine practiced by doctors, which aims to combat disease by blocking the processes followed by nature). In extreme situations, herbal medicine may be inappropriate. You should always acknowledge that there is a place for doctors practicing allopathic medicine, just as much as there is a place for herbal medicine.


This is based on helping the body heal itself by attending to the five "cornerstones" of good health (ie. good nutrition, a good (psychological) attitude, fresh air, exercise and sunshine. Disease is seen as a body reacting against a build up of toxins; where the body may be working to eliminate the undesirable levels of harmful chemicals. Herbs may be used to stimulate a faster elimination of these toxins.


This involves using scented oils (derived from herbs), to treat various ailments, from mild stress or headache, to more severe problems. (e.g. massage with scented oils, scented baths, scenting the air (e.g. candles, atomisers, potpourri), washes -soaps, baths, etc.).


This is based on a principle that "like cures like" (similar to the concept of immunisation).

The body is seen to have a self healing potential. By giving the patient a very dilute solution of something (normally derived from herbs), which will cause the same symptoms as an illness, the body is then stimulated to combat those symptoms, and in doing so, combat the illness.


Opportunities After Your Studies

This course is likely to be of value to people who have a keen interest in herbal plants and medicine. It will also appeal to anyone with a general interest in herbs. People who take this course are most likely those working in or aspiring to work in:

Parks & gardens
Herbal industries
Herbal medicine
Herb farms

The course will also be of value to people wishing to start a herb farm business.