My very unique "Tropical herbal apprenticeship " in Costa Rica (April 18 - May 16. 2017)

Posted on May 27, 2017 at 3:00 PM

I recently had the opportunity to participate in a one month "Tropical herbal apprenticeship" in beautiful Costa Rica, Manzanillo village, situated between the jungle and the Caribbean Sea. Molly Meehan Brown, of the Centro Ashe, a certified medical herbalist with a lot of knowledge and experience, organized the course. 


In this exciting month, I learned a lot about Tropical plants and their medicinal effects. I also experienced what it means living in the jungle. My favorite part of the day was sunrise, the moment when the jungle comes alive! The noise surrounding us was absolutely amazing with all kinds of birds and monkeys waking up and greeting the sun!

We spent our days learning about plants, learning how to make tinctures/extractions, teas, herbal oils, herbal honey and hydrosols. We also made herbal soaps and excellent body lotions. We had fantastic meals prepared by our local cooks, Alda and Luba. They were also our local teachers/herbalists.

Alda, a very nice and beautiful mid-40 local woman, tought us about local plants and their effects. She also took us on plant identification walks/Bush Medicine walks to the jungle and on the Manzanillo beach. This is where we learned that Vervain is excellent -when boiled for 20-25 minutes- for colds, and, when mashed with coconut oil, also excellent for dogs’ health. Lemongrass mixed with ginger and bitter melon is a good fever reducer. Papaya is a very nutritious fruit and its seeds are good against parasites and its leaves for cancer treatment. The young coconut/Pipa can keep your kidneys healthy. Dry almond leaves and cinnamon are good for diabetes. And we learned so much more about other beautiful plants, like Mimosa, Life everlasting, Lemongrass, Juanilama, Jackass bitters, Hibiscus and so on…


Luba, our other wonderful teacher, tought us how to make coconut oil. For a bottle of coconut oil we would have to chop, grate, and cook 35 coconuts, a tremendous work! After this experience, I no longer complain about paying a high price for a bottle of coconut oil.

Another time, we visited a Permaculture center where we had an herbal first aid class. And we made a trip to an "Ecological Farm seed saving Sanctuary", where our indigenous guide explained us about the importance of seed savings. “Seeds of Evil: Monsanto”                                                                  

We also visited a "Bri Bri organic farm" where we learned once again about medicinal herbs, used Annatto seeds as a natural lipstick and blush. Annatto is a popular dye plant, safe food coloring that not only lends color to cheese, chocolate and lipstick, but also provides Vitamin A. At the same place, we also made chocolate from scratch - a fantastic experience! From now on, I really prefer the raw and pure chocolate taste!

Many thanks to our organizer, Molly, who did a great job organizing all these wonderful visits that we will never forget!

One of my favorites was the visit of a "Jaguar rescue center" where we saw all kind of birds, monkeys, pigs, sloths, ... In this place, veterinarians and volunteers are dedicated to the rehabilitation of mistreated, injured, orphaned or confiscated animals. Once the animals are recovered from their injuries, they are reintroduced into their natural habitats, mostly to the surrounding jungle. A wonderful way to help these beautiful animals!


Costa Rica is absolutely beautiful and almost a paradise. Unfortunately, it has also its fouls: after a long Labor-Day weekend, people from close-by cities left immense amount of garbage on the beaches of Manzanillo without any care for the environment! A few local angels regularly get together and clean up these beautiful beaches. My deep respect to them! Once more, one can only wish that one day all polluting and harmful materials like, plastic, styrofoam and others will be banned all over the world. And people must be educated to take back home their garbage.


Like everything in life, also this unique and beautiful experience came to an end! My deep thanks go to Molly, Alda, Luba and Omar, as well as to my colleagues who shared the course with me, and to the beautiful people of Costa Rica. Finally, don't forget the proverb: "A moment lasts abut a second, but a memory lives forever"!

My beauties: Ginger flowers

Categories: Herbal Medicine, Herbalism, Plants