Updated: Feb 8
Learning to make your own herbal remedies can be exciting and rewarding. But how do you know what solvent to use for your plants?
Part of learning about plants and their healing properties is learning what part you want from the plant and what solvent best achieves that goal.
The main solvents used in remedy making are alcohol, water, vinegar, glycerin and oil.
Water is most often used to extract vitamins, minerals, mucilage, polysaccharides, volatile oils, proteins, some alkaloids, and glycosides. Water is readily available but not very shelf stable. Water based preparations last between 36- 48 hours at room temperature before going off. Examples of water-based prep are teas, infusions nourishing herbal infusions and decoctions, which is reducing a tea by half by simmering it. Examples: Elderberry, Peppermint, Tulsi, Hawthorn berry
To learn how to make infusions and teas see my blog post here
Alcohol is used to best extract essential oils, resins, alkaloids, and glycosides. Alcohol tinctures can last 5 years or more and make good use of expensive or scarce plants as they are dosed by the drop. Examples, Echinacea, Motherwort, Dandelion root, Osha root
To learn how to make an alcohol tincture see my blog post here.
Vinegar extracts minerals very well and is often used for tonic preparations. Vinegar tinctures last 2-5 years. They can be used for internal or external uses.
Examples, Yellow dock root, Mugwort, Nettle
To learn how to make herbal vinegars see my blog post here
Glycerin is used to extract hormonal precursors, glycosides, and some volatile oils. Glycerin is sweet so children and sweet toothed adults usually do not object to taking these remedies. They last 2-4 years.
Examples: Rose, chamomile, lilac, lemon balm, violet flowers
Oils are used to extract fatty acids, terpenoids, waxes, and triglycerides.
These preparations last as long as the base oil lasts, from 3 months to 2 years.
Examples Calendula, Plantain, Comfrey, Dandelion flower, St John’s wort
To learn how to make an infused oil, see my blog post here
The Herbal Medicine-Maker’s Handbook, A home Manual James Green 2000
Healing Wise, Susun Weed 1989
The New Menopausal Years the Wise Woman Way, Susun Weed, 2002
The information presented is provided for informational purposes only. It is not meant to substitute for medical advice or diagnosis provided by your physician or other medical professional. If you have, or suspect that you have a medical problem, contact your physician or health care provider.