What is a tincture?
Herbal tinctures are an alcohol-based extraction of the medicinal properties of plants.
Tinctures offer a concentrated, easy to take and easy to transport method of using plants for healing. Tinctures extract both the water soluble and alcohol soluble parts of plants making a well-rounded preparation. This tincture is then taken by the drop rather than by the cup, making very efficient use of the plants involved.
Both water and alcohol are the solvents in most tinctures.
Water extracts Proteins/amino acids, Gums, Mucilage, Glycosides, Tannins, Salts, Saponins, Anthraquinones, Carbohydrates, and Phenolics from the plants
Alcohol extracts Alkaloids, glycosides, essential oils, resins, and small amounts of tannins
Why make your own herbal tinctures?
1) Save money over buying premade tinctures
Buying premade tinctures at the store is a great way to get an introduction to a plant remedy. If you find that you enjoy using that remedy, learning to make your own tinctures can save you substantial money and time.
2) Make use of locally available fresh plants
Making your own tinctures allows you to use locally available fresh plants, plants that you may have grown or harvested yourself or support ethical suppliers of commercial herbs.
3) Gives one control over quality of their remedies.
By making your own tinctures you have more control over the freshness and quality of your remedy.
4) Helps one learn about plant in an experiential way
Making your own tinctures allows you to learn about a plant by experiencing it in all its forms.
5) And you are More likely to have a positive outcome with herbs because you make enough product to be cost and dose effective.
How do you make a tincture?
There are several ways to make tinctures. The Folk method, the ratio method and percolation.
We will be learning the FOLK method in this post as it is the easiest and most accessible method. In a nutshell the methods are
Folk method: Fill jar w fresh plant, 1/3 with dried, cover with alcohol(50%) let sit
Ratio method: 1:2 or 1:5 plant weight to alcohol volume usually using 50% alcohol but can vary, let sit 6 weeks. This method requires a scale and math to calculate the volume of alcohol.
Percolation: Ground dried plant alcohol poured over in special funnel. Can make tincture in a few days instead of weeks. Complicated to make. Needs special equipment.
What do you need to make a Folk tincture?
Fresh or dried plant
Alcohol- 100 proof is 50% water 50% alcohol. Vodka is bland and neutral in flavor
Jars, lids- I often use pint sized jars unless I need to make a large quantity like Echinacea tincture or Elderberry tincture
Strainer, muslin cloth
Labels- I use masking tape and sharpies
How do you do it?
1) Fill jar full with cut fresh plant OR
2) Fill jar 1/3 full with dried plant
3) Cover with 100 proof alcohol making sure plant is submerged in alcohol. Fill jar to very top.
4) Cap jar and shake well.
5) Label jar with name of plant, date made, type of alcohol(100 proof vodka for example) used, location gathered if fresh, Date ready(optional)
6) Let tincture sit for 6 weeks in a dark, cool space.
7) Decant tincture into a pitcher, straining through the cloth and squeezing well
8) Return tincture to previously labeled jar.
Dosage can be from 3-90+ drops as researched for individual plant.
Store in dark space for 5-10 years or more.
What are examples of tinctures?
Many plants can be made into tinctures.
Echinacea is one of the most popular and cost-effective plants to tincture.
Most often used as an immune system stimulant, dosing echinacea properly requires a lavish amount of tincture. For most folks buying the amount of tincture needed is cost prohibitive. But by making your own tincture you can be assured that you have enough echinacea on hand for as long as you need.
Another easy to make tincture is dandelion leaf and root.
Fresh dandelion leaf and root is often easy to access at no or low cost and making the tincture is easy as we have seen. Making your own tincture encourages regular use of dandelion to help tonify and support one’s liver.
Making your own herbal tinctures opens the world of herbal remedies to you in a fun and satisfying way. Herbal medicine is the people’s medicine and by learning to make your own remedies you tap into the traditional method and use of plants for healing.
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.