MAKING TINCTURES AT HOME
Making tinctures is an easy and inexpensive way to make your own medicine!
What is a tincture? A tincture, also called a plant extract, is a herbal preparation made by steeping plant material in alcohol. As it steeps (for several weeks) the alcohol draws out all of the medicinal qualities of the plant which include alkaloids, volatile oils and resins. Alcohol based tinctures can last for several years and are a convienent way to preserve your medicinal herbs.
For the Wikipedia definition of tincture CLICK HERE.
Because tinctures are concentrated a typical dosage is 15 drops 3 times a day so making a pint or quart of plant extract can go a long way!
To get started you will need:
FRESH HERB TINCTURE
- A quart or pint canning jar
- Your herb of choice (fresh is best but dried will work)
- 100 proof vodka (usually the best choice but some herbalists prefer brandy)
- A label for your jar
When using fresh plant material be aware of where you are getting it from! Do not pick plants that have been sprayed with chemicals or ones along roadsides where they can pick up many toxins. Make sure you pick at the proper time for that particular plant and that it is healthy and pest-free.
DRIED HERB TINCTURE To make a tincture with dried herbs the process is identical except that you will only need to fill your jar 1/3 full of plant material. Dried herbs are convenient because they are always available from a good, organic herb store.
NOTE ABOUT BARK AND ROOT TINCTURES
When making tinctures from bark and root herbs use the same ratio as you would for either fresh or dried herbs but make sure to use at least 100 proof alcohol! Root and bark herbs are a little tougher to draw out the medicinal qualities so you need the strong stuff!
Once you have your fresh plant material the step are simple.
- Simply chop or tear the leaves, roots, flowers or bark (depending on plant) and fill your jar but do not pack it in.
- Pour the vodka or brandy in to fill the jar and cover the herb.
- Tightly screw the lid on the jar and shake gently
- Label your jar with the date, the herb and the type of menstrum (alcohol)
- Store your jar in a DARK place for six weeks!
- After six weeks your tincture is ready. Strain out the plant material and put some in an amber dropper bottle (don't forget to label this too) and continue to store the excess in a cool, dark place.
Making tinctures is that simple!
NON ALCOHOL TINCTURES When making tinctures with vegetable glycerin instead of alcohol, these are called glycerides. The glycerin is usually not as effective in drawing out the plant qualities but they are a good choice if you wish to avoid alcohol or use for your children or pets.
Here's a few uses for herbal tinctures:
To fight virus's use herbs such as ginger root, elderberry, lemon balm, St. John's Wort (cautions with this one!), oregano or licorice root (not for those with high blood pressure). My favorite anti-viral tincture is elderberry. Whenever I feel a cold coming on I'll take a teaspoon of elderberry tincture in some hot water with honey about 3 times a day. This has worked every time for me!
ANXIETY OR INSOMNIA TINCTURES Take a tincture of lemon balm, chamomile, hops, catnip, lemon verbena, passion flower or valerian at night to cure insomnia. You may recognize these herbs from calming herbal teas.
HEADACHE TINCTURES Try a tincture made from chamomile., willow bark, skullcap, valerian or wood betony.
BLOOD PURIFIERS Use herbs such as Pau D' Arco, Red clover, Yellow Dock, Burdock, Sarsaparilla, Dandelion, Cascara Sagada or Buckthorn. For blood cleansing a normal dosage is 15-30 drops three times a day.
WARNING! Always seek the advise of a physician before starting an herbal treatment if you have a medical condition or are on prescription medication! Do your homework on the herbs themselves also!
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