Getting the most out of your herbs
It’s clear that most of us are enamored with herbs and their healing properties. There’s no doubt these plants are a formidable natural medicine. But did you know that tinctures are the most effective way to harness and utilize the power of medicinal herbs?
When we need a natural remedy for a health concern, or to fortify our well-being, we often reach for a tincture, herbal pill, or soothing tea. All have benefits. However, if you are seeking the most potent natural medicine, quality herbal extracts are your best bet. Here’s why.
Tinctures are medicinal extracts of herbs in an alcohol, vinegar, or glycerin base. Alcohol is regarded as the universal menstruum (solvent) because it is able to successfully draw out more essential oils and other active compounds compared to using water or other medium. In short, alcohol-based tinctures provide the most effective concentration of beneficial elements found in the plant. A variety of material can be used to prepare a tincture, such as leaves, berries, fresh or dried flowers, roots or bark. It’s important to note that some herbs (like mushrooms and lichen) require double-extraction in water and alcohol to fully access the medicinal compounds—more on this in an upcoming post.
Tinctures also offer flexible dosage with the ability to easily increase or decrease the amount to find the best therapeutic fit—unlike tea, tablets, or capsules. Nutrient uptake is maximized with tinctures as well. Depending on preference and taste, tinctures can be taken straight or diluted in tea, juice, or sparkling water.
Another advantage of herbal extracts is that they are virtually indestructible when stored in a well-sealed container to avoid evaporation. The alcohol preserves the active compounds by eliminating any microorganisms that may have been introduced into the extract. Incredibly, tinctures can last for up to seven years.
How to Make a Tincture at Home
- Fill a glass jar with loosely packed herbs, 1/3 to 1/2 full.
- Next, add the alcohol (at least 80 proof/40% alcohol content) leaving 1/2 inch (1.25 cm) space at the top. Stir thoroughly.
- Close the lid securely, label and date, then store in a cool, dry location. Two months is a general rule for most herbs, but some can take as little as 4 weeks, while others may take up to 6 months. Shake the jar once a day.
- When your tincture is finished, strain and rebottle. While a dropper bottle is convenient, it’s not necessary. A small glass bottle works just fine. The normal dose for adults is 1/2 teaspoon. For children the range is 1/4-1/3 teaspoon, depending on weight. Note that tincture dosage may vary depending on the herb and tincture strength – always check the bottle for dosage instructions if you are purchasing tinctures.
If you need a quality herbal extract sooner rather than later, visit my apothecary. All tinctures are crafted with organic and/or wild-harvested herbs.
Roll Up Your Sleeves and Do it Yourself?
Are you interested in making your own herbal remedies at home and learning about the many plants, lichens, and mushrooms you can find out your own back door? If so please pick up a copy of my book: "The Lost Book Of Herbal Remedies: The Healing Power of Plant Medicine" today!