Plants as Medicine: Reclaiming the Art of the Home Apothecary

  • Rancho Mastatal Rancho Mastatal
  • 100 metros noroeste Central de Acopio, Mastatal, Puriscal, San Jose, Costa Rica
  • May 7 - 9, 2019 (3 days)
  • $300

About This Event

Learn the art of distilling essential oils, alcohols and hydrosols of plants for medicinal use.

A three day workshop exploring the practical and theoretical aspects of creating a personalized apothecary using home grown or wild harvested plants. Working from the perspective of traditional western herbalism we will look at the qualities of medicinal plants, developing our understanding of which plant to use for which condition and why. Looking to the ancient Egyptian, Persian and Greek herbal practices (very similar to Ayurvedic medicine) we  will explore the connection between plants and people and discover the patterns present in nature which guide our knowledge in creating appropriate and personalized herbal preparations. This class is suitable for anyone living where plants grow: the knowledge and experience gained is transferable to any climate or ecosystem.

Beginning with plant study, we will move through creating simple preparations: teas, diffusions, salves and syrups to creating more complicated (and profound) remedies: essential oils, hydrosols, alcohols and spagyrics. Each part of the plant can provide different medicines and is appropriate for different situations and conditions. By knowing the plant first hand we will begin to develop a pattern for understanding how best to use the medicine. Plants do not grow in isolation: we will learn the ideal ways and times to harvest, dry and prepare medicine for the greatest good.

This class is ideal for those:

    •    who wish to live more in harmony with nature.

    •    with an interest in using plants holistically and medicinally.

    •    who wish to explore their landscape and plantscape more intimately.

    •    who seek to develop their healing practice .

    •    who wish to treat themselves, their family or their community in a nurturing and wholesome way.

    •    who are living a plant based life .

    •    who wish to connect more deeply with themselves and their practices .

This place is beyond incredible. Such a tight knit group of people doing such amazing things. Rancho Mastatal is nestled deep in the Jungle of Costa Rica, I ended up there with a group of Wilderness EMT students and has no idea what to expect but within the three weeks I spent there is quickly became a second home for me. ~ Clara Murray



Day 1:

9:00 - 10:00 Brief Introduction and Overview of the Workshop
10:00 - 11:00 Plant Study
11:00 - 1:00 Plant Patterns in relation to Patterns of Health and Sickness: traditional understandings of herbal medicine
1:00 - 2:30 Lunch and Siesta
2:30 - 4:30 Practical Preparations: teas, diffusions, salves and syrups
4:30-6:00 Patterns of People, Plants and Planets
6:30 Dinner

Day 2:

9:00 -10:00 Essential oil and Hydrolsols
10:00-11:00 Plant Study
11:00-1:00 Matching the plant and preparation with the 'problem'
1:00-2:30 Lunch and Siesta
2:30-4:30 Alcohol and Tinctures
4:30-6:00 Alchemical Aspects of working with Plants, with focus on preparations
6:30 Dinner

Day 3:

1:00-2:30 Lunch and Siesta
6:30 Dinner

More information forthcoming

Venue Highlights

Swimming in the many waterfalls and rivers within walking distance.
Getting involved with the local community at the futbol field, library, or soda.
Taking a tour of one of the other eco-tourism projects in town.
Becoming friends with the hard-working Ranch core team and apprentice team.
Visiting our neighbors at Parque Nacional La Cangreja.
Learning about our sustainability practices during a Day Workshop.
Devouring local chocolate treats from La Iguana Chocolate.
Exploring the 14 kilometers of trails throughout our Private Wildlife Refuge.
Touring the Ranch's extensive campus and permaculture farm and systems.
Feasting on the buffet style meals cooked with care.
Resting in a hammock with one of the thousands of books from our library.
Taking a morning stroll on the quite streets to bird-watch.
Getting involved in a dinner time clean up dance party.
Learning about medicinal plants from leaders of the nearby indigenous reserve of Zapaton.
Helping to harvest ingredients for the days meals.


We build our living structures using contemporary and traditional natural building methods and locally sourced materials. We construct with bamboo, cob, wattle and daub, light clay, natural plasters and wood and stone found in the area's surrounding forests and rivers and design/build all of our own edifices. We have various options to choose from and will do our utmost to match you with the alternative that best meets your desires, budget and needs. Our lodging rates include all meals except for dinners on Sundays when we support the local restaurant. The price for children over 3 and up to 12 years is $30 per night. Costa Rican Nationals get a 15% discount on lodging.


The kitchen is the heart of the Ranch. It is the place we gather, the place we celebrate, and the place that sustains us day by day.

Our food is sourced from our local and regional foodshed, and each meal is prepared by hand from whole foods. We do not own a can opener. We do not own a microwave. We minimize our use of fossil fuels by cooking on fire, with solar energy, or with methane gas from our biodigestor. We value traditional methods of food preparation as well as innovation and culinary fusion from many practices. Each meal is served with something fresh and something fermented, and most include local or exotic delicacies like pejibaye, ojoche, jackfruit, breadnut, zorillo, starfruit, tropical greens, taro, and many more.

Our kitchen philosophy is grounded in the understanding that every part of food production--from farm to harvest to storage to preparation and preservation—are inherently linked in a food system that we have the power to continuously design and implement. We believe that communities everywhere can create sustainable, regenerative solutions that render the predominant global, fossil-fuel-based food system obsolete.

Meals at the Ranch are cooked from scratch, delicious, and plentiful with the majority of ingredients coming from the Ranch and a variety of local farms. Please let us know if you have any special dietary requirements prior to arriving.


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Tags: apothecary food as medicine medicinal plants

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