Rainforest Medicinal Plants - a Living Pharmacy

founded in 1999
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Coordinator | Rogéria
Coordinator | Rogéria
Book with Flex Option! Choose new departure dates or change to a different volunteer program at no extra costs.


Help us catalogue medicinal plants of the forest
Interact with locals to hear about their herbal medicine traditions
Get your hands dirty by helping taking care of our medicinal plants garden
Help us host medicinal plants workshops for the community
Make your own medicinal plants soaps and shampoos
Research, inventory and record rainforest medicinal plants. Expand the herbarium, study traditional uses, and learn how to make products from plant extracts. This volunteer program is especially suitable for:
Age 18+

Medicinal Plants Assistant

 For thousands of years, our ancestors from all over the planet have been using medicinal plants. In every continent, in every biome and ecosystem, there is a particular complex system of botanical medicine. The Atlantic Rainforest of Brazil is a great example of a tropical forest extremely rich in medicinal flora, and Iracambi Rainforest Research Center is proud to present the Living Pharmacy Program: where you can discover for yourself the secrets of medicinal plants.

As a team member you'll be involved in all sorts of activities. 

1) Medicinal plants survey and herbarium;

2) Medicinal plant stakeholder mapping in the Serra do Brigadeiro region (includes ethnobotanical study, visiting universities and holistic pharmacies);

3) Medicinal plants agroforestry management;

4) Herbal medicine workshops with the community for knowledge exchange and future partnerships;

5) Learning to make soaps and shampoos based on plant extracts;

6) Recording our findings - writing and photography;

7) Writing grant proposals: to equip our laboratory to host medicinal plants workshops and bring it up to standard for making essential oils. 

If this volunteer opportunity calls out to you, please get in touch. We'd love to hear from you! 

Typical day

A typical working day will involve the areas Field Research, Gardening, Lab work, and Writing. 

Field Research:

We are currently conducting a medicinal plants survey and mapping stakeholders in the Serra do Brigadeiro region. Our mornings might be in the middle of the woods collecting and photographing plants, or we might be having a coffee with a local farmer to talk about their herbal medicine experiences and needs, or visiting  medicinal Plants programs in local universities or visiting medicinal plants pharmacies.  


Since the Living Pharmacy program contains a small garden where we cultivate medicinal plants, we will spend time maintaining it. Activities include: invasive species control, organic fertilizing, pruning, harvesting, and photographic and film registry. 


You'll be working in our laboratory on all manner of activities, creating medicinal plant soaps and shampoos, manipulating tinctures and syrups for cough and stomach pain with local herbs, or helping conduct medicinal plants workshops. 


You'll need to be writing up research findings, keeping the database updated, posting relevant articles on social media or writing proposals to raise funds for the laboratory.

You'll have plenty of free time to conduct your own research, join other volunteering opportunities, go hiking, jump into the river or hang out in a hammock with a good book. 

Free-time activities

On weekends you can swim in the rivers, hike in the forest, climb local mountains – no rock climbing involved and you will be rewarded by amazing views. You can interact with the local community and attend local parties and festivals, particularly in June and July during the winter festivals. You can also organize dinners, bonfires, barbecues or social events to be enjoyed with a glass of wine, a beer or a caipirinha! At the weekends, our staff will be more than happy to help you plan trips to explore the surrounding areas. Weekend excursions might include quad biking round local communities, kayaking on the rivers, horseback riding and getting a taste of local farm life. On three day weekends you could visit Brazil’s famous historic towns Ouro Preto and Mariana, or Caraça Sanctuary -where you can stay in a former monastery and meet the local wildlife- or sun yourself on the beaches of Rio de Janeiro state. You could even attempt to climb the 9000 foot Pico da Bandeira (once considered to be Brazil’s highest mountain before another was discovered in the Amazon!) We don't have a zoo in Iracambi, but that's just because we don't need one. We have lots of wild animals living all around, even big ones like the puma. (But we should warn you, they are mostly nocturnal.) We are an official release center for captive species and occasionally the forest police appear with animals and birds to be released after acclimatizing. 

And if you’re up for gentler pastimes, where better to hang out in a hammock and read a book, or find a quiet spot to practice yoga or meditation? 



In order to join the program you need to be at least 18 years old on the program start date. There might be exemptions if you can provide the permission of your legal guardian(s) or if your are accompanied by your parents.
Language Skills
You need to speak English (intermediate level)
Nationality Restrictions
No restrictions. Helping hands from all over the world are welcome.
Other Skills
The only "skill" needed is a genuine interest in medicinal plants and a willingness to learn.
Time Commitment
Your helping hand will be required on Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday and Friday from 09:00 - 17:00

What's Included

Services by Iracambi Research Center

Our program costs include DELICIOUS food! 

-Filtered water
-all on campus activities  


Volunteers will stay either in our cabins (which have two bedrooms each on with bunk beds, hot shower and study space,) or in the main building, (old farm house with 4 double bedrooms, common room, kitchen and hot showers.) We have good wifi connection but no television. (Read a book, instead!)  Other facilities include the dining hall, our multi-use bamboo Forest House, a classroom, field lab, forest nursery, forestry and agroecology plots, a system of forest trails and a Forest Reserve. Three km from the Center we have the Pico da Graminha Reserve where you can find our Mountain House which can be used as a base for hikers, birders and researchers. Don’t forget to bring your hammock!

And if you love camping, you're welcome to camp - either on the grounds of the research center, or farther afield in the forest! 

Dorm Room Bungalow Camping
Food & Beverages

A delicious breakfast, lunch and dinner is provided by Larissa, who is happy to accommodate special requests, and will always have a vegetarian option, and vegan food on request.  Please, let us know in advance if you have any kind of food restrictions. There is always fresh water, milk, coffee and fresh juices depending on the season. Sodas, alcoholic drinks, and delicious chocolate truffles are also for sale in the restaurant.  

Internet Access
Good access at the project site
What's NOT included?
Visa, flights, travel insurance or vaccinations are NOT included in the program fees. An airport pickup isn't included within the program fees either.
Flight Tickets
The nearest airport is Galeao Antonio Carlos Jobim International Airport (GIG) in Rio De Janeiro. We assist you to find cheap flights to Brazil.
Travel Insurance
Going abroad is an adventure and it is always best to be prepared. Sudden illness or injury, cancellation or theft - a travel insurance for Brazil provides security and is a plus to have.
If you are intending to volunteer in Brazil you should seek medical advice before starting your social journey. Check your required vaccinations for Brazil.

Dates & Fees


Details on arrival

You are welcome to visit year round, since there is no lack of projects for you to join. The rainy season – October through May – is when you’ll see nature at her most exuberant, while the dry season (June through September) has cooler nights with sunny days. Every season has its own charm. 

Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec
1 - 50 weeks

Program fees

Costs: Prices in USD
1 week (min. stay)
2 weeks
3 weeks
4 weeks
8 weeks
16 weeks
50 weeks (max. stay)
Average fees
$200 /week

Please note that the above shown program fees are estimated. Iracambi Research Center will let you know about the final price during your application process.
Deposit (15%)
The deposit is simply to reserve your volunteer placement. Payments are handled by PayPal, our trusted global payment provider. If you don't have a PayPal account, you can also pay using a credit card.
Final Payment (85%)
Your final payment will be agreed with Iracambi Research Center during the application process. Common solutions are either via bank transfer or a cash payment at the project site.

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Rainforest Medicinal Plants - a Living Pharmacy

Research, inventory and record rainforest medicinal plants. Expand the herbarium, study traditional uses, and learn how to make products from plant extracts.


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