The Original Mobile Herb Clinic

The Herb Bus was Herbalista’s original mobile clinic, serving Atlanta for over a decade.  Bringing herbal medicine out of the shadows and into the hands of the people, the Bus provided free clinical care, a spot of tea, and herbal education to communities in need.

We made regular monthly stops at set stations, providing follow-up care that allowed us to partner with people on their health journey.  We offered both basic first aid treatment and long-term tonic therapy based on a constitutional and energetic approach.  Our dispensary custom compounded an array of tinctures, teas, aromatic remedies and more. Finally, at the ripe old age of 34 (well over 100 in van years) the Bus has passed the herbal torch along to other younger clinics, such as the Herb Cart and Herb Bike, and is greatly enjoying her re-TIRE-ment. 

Like any community-based project, the project evolved over time– from our practice as herbalists, as a response to the specific needs in our community and with the resources we had available. We hope that our journey helps other herbalists looking to create mobile clinics in their neck of the woods.

Herb Bus History

The Herb Bus was the original mobile clinic of the Herbalista Free Clinic.  Tasked with the mission of providing herbal care + comfort to communities in need, the Herb Bus hit the road in Atlanta, Georgia on February 6, 2013. 

For 5 years, until February of 2018, the Herb Bus made regular monthly clinical rounds to two seperate stations in Atlanta–  the Open Door Community and the Big House.  With the side tent as a consult room and the interior of the Bus as our dispensary, where customized formulas were compounded and dispensed, the Bus served hundreds of visitors over the years. 

In February of 2018, when our last monthly service station at the Big House closed, the Herbalista Free Clinic made a major transition, refocusing our efforts on expanding the other mobile clinics.  We realized that not everyone has access to a Bus to run a clinic, so we wanted to focus our attention on helping to develop models that might be more replicable for other herbalists trying to make change in their communities!  We reworked the Herb Cart Program in Atlanta and helped to start the Herb Bike Clinics in Ireland and expanded the reach of our Herb Care Stations.

The Herb Bus continued to play a large role in the work of Herbalista in and around Atlanta, offering pop-up First Aid Stations, Herb Care Stations, transporting other clinics around town(such as the Herb Cart), and serving as a mobile classroom.  Over they years, we have shared the Herb Bus model with communities and herbal schools around the country through practical clinical trainings and workshops and know she has made a lasting impression.  Viva la Herb Bus!

Starting your own clinic!

Interested in starting a mobile clinic of your own?  If you find yourself with a passion to serve but are wondering where to start, we have shared some helpful resources below.  Looking for even more resources? You can also join us as a sustaining member for access to the Herbalista Toolkit– sharing tools for community herb work. 

But first, a few quick thoughts that have served us well:

  • Build your skills (always and forever)
  • Identify the populations you wish to serve and which organizations are already working in those communities (community centers, shelters, other non-profits, etc.)
  • Volunteer with those organizations to get a better understanding of the community to be served, their needs, and how your project could be a valuable addition.  Partnerships rock!
  • Find other like minded herbalists to team up with.
  • Identify the local resources that you can call on for help (medicine makers, herb growers, small independent health food cooperatives or independent pharmacies, networkers, mechanics, herb schools, herb groups or organizations, local chapters of the AHG, etc.)
  • Start small, take on what you can manage and get a feel for the work.
  • Work with integrity and your project will draw support.

The Herb Bus Manual was written to help us establish some basic protocols when working in the unpredictable field of mobile medicine. We hope it offers a glimpse into how our clinic was organized, helping other herbalists wishing to offer this type of care in their community. 
The manual also serves as part of the training curriculum for our apprentices and volunteers.   The manual contains information regarding how we set-up and service a station, how we stock and maintain the apothecary, examples of forms we use to track patient care and inventory, and oh-so-much more.  This manual was last revised in 2014.