Tinctures are herbal remedies which are made by extracting the healing compounds of herbs with ethanol alcohol, vinegar or glycerin.
Alcohol is the most commonly used and generally most effective liquid used in tinctures, which can easily be made at home. There are two primary methods for making tinctures. The simplest way to make tinctures is by using the folk method. However, for maximum potency and accurate dosing, the official method is superior to the folk method.
Benefits of Tinctures
Making tinctures at home offers many benefits. Let’s take a look at some of them.
- The folk method of tincturing is a simple process. It enables you to reap the healing benefits of fresh plants year-round. While tinctures may be made with dried herbs, fresh herbs are generally preferred.
- Purchasing tinctures can be expensive. Making them yourself is much more economical.
- With experience you will be able to create blends which meet your personal needs. For example, if you suffer from anemia and are prone to respiratory illnesses, you can combine herbs for both conditions in one preparation.
- You will be able to stock a highly effective first-aid kit with herbal preparations which are top quality.
Tinctures are concentrated and are easy to take with you as you work or travel. Administration of tinctures is simple. Glycerites are sweet, making them ideal for children.
Like other herbal medicines, tinctures are generally well-tolerated and produce few, if any, undesirable side effects when compared with pharmaceutical drugs.
Tinctures take up minimal storage space and can remain usable for years if stored under the proper conditions. Store them in a cool, dark place such as a closet and out of reach of children.
Drawbacks of Tinctures
While the benefits of tinctures outweigh the drawbacks, there are some facts which you may want to take into consideration prior to making and using tinctures at home.
- While the amount of alcohol consumed is minute, if you have a history of alcohol addiction or liver disease, you may want to opt for another method of taking herbs. Some people reduce the alcohol by dropping the tincture dose into a cup of hot water prior to drinking it. Experts disagree on how effective this method of reducing alcohol content is. It is generally thought that adding the tincture dose to hot water reduces the alcohol content by approximately one-third. Glycerites and vinegar-based extracts may be used instead; however, they are often not as potent as alcohol-based tinctures.
- Tinctures require a minimum of two weeks to prepare.
- If you opt to use the official method, you will need to become familiar with the individual requirements of each herb that you use.
- Grain alcohol is the simplest and most effective menstruum, (liquid) to work with. However, it is not available in all locales. If grain alcohol is not available, I suggest using strong, inexpensive vodka. You may make many tinctures using “weaker’ spirits as well.
- While home tincturing is economical, it is still more expensive than making herbal teas. Alcohol-based tinctures and glycerites are the most expensive, while vinegar-based tinctures are much less costly. You may opt to use organic menstruums.
Make an Herbal Tincture by using the Folk Method
1 cup vodka
4 ounces of fresh herb or 2 ounces of dried herb
Crush or chop the herb. Place the herb in a jar. (Canning jars are excellent). Cover the herb with the vodka. Add extra vodka if needed to ensure that the herb is completely submerged in the vodka. Place a lid on the jar. Label the jar with the name of the herb, liquid, and date that you started the preparation. Store the jar in a warm place. (On top of a refrigerator is a good location). Shake the jar vigorously twice daily. After two or more weeks, strain out the liquid using cheesecloth. Press the herbs while straining so that you will reap the maximum healing benefits from your tincture. Pour the tincture into glass bottles for storage. Carefully label each one. Use the same labeling information that you had on the prior label. Include dosing information. The dose varies depending upon the herb which you are using. Compost the spent herb. That is called the marc.
Tinctures which are designed to be used long-term may be prepared with vinegar. Vinegar is an excellent menstruum for extracting vitamins and minerals.
Glycerin may be combined and heated with water for tincturing. Follow the same instructions which were provided for making an alcohol based tincture. I like to strain my tinctures through coffee filters after using the cheesecloth. If you plan to make large amounts of tinctures, consider purchasing or making a tincture press.
The Official Method of Making Tinctures
If you plan to sell your tinctures, are using strong herbs, or want to ensure that you are economically making the best quality tinctures, you need to learn how to prepare tinctures by using the official method.
In order to extract the healing properties of plants most effectively, you need to know what kinds of chemical compounds that you are extracting. The alcohol content needed for maximum extraction of the compounds varies greatly. While most compounds extract well in alcohol, some respond better to vinegar or glycerin.
By using the official method, you will be able to save money by diluting alcohol for plants which do not need strong concentrations of ethanol. You will be able to dose more effectively.
I recommend taking classes and purchasing books which detail how to make official preparations. For general home purposes, the folk method is highly effective.
How do you make tinctures? Share your advice in the section below: