How to write a plant monograph

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As you study herbalism in any capacity, it's great to know how to write a plant monograph. A plant monograph is a report or compilation of comprehensive information about a particular plant that is organized in a logical manner. Plant monographs can differ in length. It can be a one page summary or a multi-page text. It might include:

  • the plant’s botanical and other common names
  • constituents
  • identifying characteristics
  • herbal actions
  • research findings
  • traditional uses
  • prescribing information with dosage
  • products  and preparations
  • clinical indications and references
  • drawings or photographs

Clinical practitioners are wise to update plant monographs that include safety information, like side effects and contraindications. Herbal practitioners can refer to plant monographs for references. Historical researchers can also benefit from plant monographs as they can use it to learn more about the plant’s actions and key constituents. Here are some tips on how to write a plant monograph.

Herbal medicine; How to write a plant monograph.

Provide Detailed Information and Cite References

There’s no set standard for plant monographs. The length of a monograph does not determine the quality of information it provides. Some plant monographs don’t have references and provide extremely limited information. Other sources are very detailed. If you want to write a good monograph, you should always provide detailed information about the plant that you are discussing and cite references. Conduct your own research. You should clearly indicate the plant’s constituents, but avoid being so technical and repetitive to the point that it’s hard to understand. A good plant monograph is understandable and well-referenced. 

On the other hand, anecdotal reporting is invaluable too: again, it's just ideal to include as much information as possible.

Include the Herbal Actions and Constituents of the Plant

A lot of plant monographs are being reviewed to exclude traditional plant uses unless some circulated research has been done. This can limit information to a great extent. There is no way to determine a particular condition in the past, so historical researchers find that the modern labels given to health problems are not necessarily proper. If it’s possible to determine the actions and constituents of a plant, it is also possible to determine the ways in which a plant might be used. The actions and constituents of a plant are closely connected. For instance, herbs that contain a large amount of tannins have a drying effect. This may applicable in various external and internal complaints like weeping sores. So, your plant monograph should include details about the plant’s herbal actions and constituents.

Plant monographs provide a logically arranged set of information about a certain plant. It gives detailed information about its traditional uses, actions, research findings and constituents with references. A good plant monograph can help people save a lot of time and effort, especially those who are looking for evidence about the uses or effects of a certain plant. If you want to make a good plant monograph, you have to make sure that it is detailed, but not too repetitive and technical. When in doubt about how to write a plant monograph, ask yourself what information you would want on a plant you were trying to get familiar with. 

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Kylie Worthington is an herbalist, wellness educator, and mother passionate about equipping women to approach health holistically in a modern, mechanical world. She founded Everblossom to serve as a resource for healthy, meaningful, balanced living.

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