by Nicole Wines
Tinctures are an easy way to make a powerful medicine from the herbs grown in your garden or those found throughout your yard or the wild. Tinctures, in short, are an herbal extract made using alcohol as the solvent. This base allows your body to absorb the herbal properties quickly. It is also a great way to preserve the medicinal properties of your herbs over an extended period of time, as tinctures have a shelf life of years if properly stored. Making an herbal tincture is quick and easy. Here’s a quick how-to with additional links and resources for further research.
- Glass jar
- Fresh or dried herb
- Grain alchohol (There are specific proofs that work best with specific herbs but generally tinctures can be made with at least 80 or 100 proof alcohol such as vodka, up to 180 proof Everclear can be used as well)
- Storage jar or amber vials with droppers and funnel
- Choose your fresh or dried herb. Be sure to do plenty of research on any herb or combination of herbs you are using. Tinctures work great for some herbs, but other herbs may work better as teas or other types of extracts, decoctions or infusions. Know the plant you are using. Be sure it was harvested from a clean area, such as an organic garden, or a yard that is not sprayed.
Fill your jar 2/3-3/4 with fresh or dried herb or 1/4-1/2 with roots (if using dried roots, fill no more than 1/3 of the jar, as the liquid will reconstitute the roots). If using fresh herbs, you can chop or grind with mortar and pestle to release some of the herb’s properties and increase the surface area.
- Cover completely with alcohol.
- Store in a cool, dark place for 6-8 weeks, shaking the mixture once a day. If any alcohol evaporates or gets absorbed by the herbs, add more. You want to make sure the herbs are completely covered with alcohol or mold and mildew can develop.
- After 6-8 weeks, your tincture is ready. Strain the mixture through the cheesecloth and strainer into a large jar or bowl. Compost the herbs.
- You can store the tincture in the jar it was made in or funnel into amber dropper bottles. Darker bottles help protect the tincture from exposure to light. No matter what type of bottle it is stored in, be sure to keep it in a cool dark place, and most importantly, be sure to label it with as much information as you can, including the herb used, the percentage of alcohol, the dates the tincture was started and bottled and any other information you want to remember.
- Tinctures can be taken straight from the dropper/teaspoon or diluted in water or tea. Diluting in hot tea can help evaporate the alcohol for those who don’t want to consume any alcohol. More information on dosages can be found in the links below.
MORE LINKS & RESOURCES
- The Mountain Rose Blog: Guide to Making Tinctures – Straight to the point, simple folk method of making tinctures.
- Inhabitat.com: How to Make You Own Herbal Tinctures – Check out the disclaimer at the end of the post, it has some good information and encourages you to know your plants and to do research on all herbs you are using.
- Numan Resource Guide: How to Make a Tincture – Includes information about other types of extracts and links to further resources on herbs and making herbal medicines and details dosage suggestions.