Fundación Reserva Biológica Dúrika

Protecting for the future generations

Natural Health: Phytotherapy (Herbal Medicine)


The herbal medicine or therapy based on herbs and medicinal plants is a very old form of treatment, and was born with the history of man. Virtually all cultures and civilizations of mankind have a tradition of herbal medicine which depends on the local flora and vegetation and that is based on many native species. Moreover, much of modern medicine is based on primitive herbal practice; many conventional drugs currently used by allopathic medicine contain synthetic extracts and essences of herbs and plants. The aim of the modern pharmaceutical industry is to find an "active" ingredient in a plant and extract it to produce a more powerful drug. When we created the CNI we always had very clear that we wanted to work with medicinal native plants to our region while incorporating into our organic garden of herbs some which were not indigenous, but which medicinal use were really well known.

Salud natural The tradition of using medicinal plants in Costa Rica is being lost. And the same could happen to the people who used the medicinal plants in their daily practices like the indigenous healers called shaman or awa, Sukia or sorcerer. In an effort to collaborate so the Indigenous knowledge will not disappear, Durika Foundation has developed several workshops and seminars with local communities, sharing knowledge in the use of plants and their various uses to rescue the popular and traditional medicine in the region .

The ancient herbal medicine transmitted in each country from one generation to another, still exists, however, the doctor who comes from orthodox universities often ignores this traditional medicine. We wanted to create a bridge between these two medicines, between empiricism and science; therefore, using natural or herbal medicines, under the guidance of trained staff to do so. Products made from medicinal plants have wide therapeutic margins, and tend to have fewer side effects than synthetic drugs, but it does not mean they are safe, and therefore they should not be self-medicated.

Medicine is the art of healing, and most importantly to prevent disease. It is the art of maintaining or regaining a condition that allows human beings to develop their functions in harmony with nature. Therefore, some conditions can be cured with poultices, herbs or plasters, or in some case with antibiotics. What you have to do is to look objectively at different therapeutic disciplines using the techniques depending on each patient's benefit.

In Durika Foundation we have an organic garden and cultivated medicinal plants. We also have medicinal plants which are from primary and secondary forest. The plants are harvested in the morning, before sunrise, so that its active components are present in greater amounts in the plant. We use different parts of the plant:

  • Bulbs. They are harvested after the seeds have matured, when they contain active substances.
  • Stems. They are used when they are totally grown, before flowering, when the flower heads just appear .
  • Flowers and flowered waters . Cut early in development, before the petals expand and fertilization takes place.
  • Fruits . Both fleshy or dry, they should be harvested at maturity, but before they begin to degrade.
  • Seeds. We wait for the fruit to be fully ripe, when the plant begins to wilt.
  • Bark. Can be harvested during the year, but you must choose trees or shrubs over 3 years to avoid harming the trees.

Salud natural We use pruning scissors, or if the plant permits, the harvest is gently done by hands, and then each plant is separately placed in paper bags. Then they are taken to the laboratory where the parts that are not bitten by bugs or withering will be selected. The plants are carefully washed and placed by categories to have them hung and dry, trying not to have two different categories in touch. The roots are cut into pieces about 2 cm thick, otherwise it would be hard chopping them dry. Then they are placed on trays, or extended into a lab bench where we have heaters (with temperatures between 30 ° C and 35 ° C) to dehydrate the plant slowly to remove water, comprising approximately 80% of fresh plant. The drying will be terminated, for example in the case of the leaves, when the touch acquires a rigid consistency and the leaves break when you try to bend them. The duration of the process varies from plant to plant. Finally the plants are stored in airtight glass jars, previously sterilized, that will be labeled with its scientific name, common name and date.


  • Tea. Put water to boil, when it has boiled add the herbs , cover the pan, leave for five minutes and retire from fire. Then allowed to stand for five minutes, strain and drink.
  • Infusion. Boiling water is poured on the herbs .Let it stand tightly covered for 10 minutes. This procedure is used more for flowers and leaves.
  • Cooking. Put the herb in a pot and cold water is applied on top. Boil for 15-30 minutes. When you remove the pot from the fire, it must be kept covered for several minutes, then strain. This is the best way for peelings, roots and stems.
  • Maceration. Get to soak the herb in water, wine or alcohol for 10-24 hours, depending on how they will be used, then strain.
  • Poultice. Composite prepared by powder substances by cooking or tea, diluted to form a gelatinous paste.
  • Filtration. The substance is filtered through a cone of filter paper and placed in a funnel.
  • Tincture. It is the addition of alcohol or ether to herbal substances.
  • Roasting. This operation removes the water and the substances undergo a decomposition process that modifies some of its properties.
  • Medicinal wines. Preparations resulting from the action of wine on substances.