Herbal tinctures, alcoholic extractions of fresh or dried herbs, are more potent than other types of herbal medicines and have a much longer shelf life. In most cases, a properly prepared herbal tincture will retain its potency for several years. In addition, making herbal tinctures is not a complicated, unattainable process; anyone can do it in their own home with only basic equipment. Harvest fresh herbs from your garden or order dried herbs from a reputable mail-order retailer for making your tinctures. In most cases, tinctures are prepared using a single herb rather than compounds. This makes them easier to administer and prevents confusion over the potency or effectiveness of the selected herb. Most herbs lend themselves well to tinctures, especially when they’re fresh. If you’re purchasing dried herbs, make sure they’re certified organic for the best possible quality.
- 1 cup dried herbs or 2 cups fresh herbs
- Pint-size glass jar with a tight-fitting lid
- 2 cups 80-proof vodka, rum or brandy
- Piece of cheesecloth
- Glass or stainless steel bowl
- Dark-colored glass bottle for storage
- Funnel, optional
- Labels and Marker, optional
- Chop the herbs finely and place them in the glass jar, leaving about 1 inch of space at the top for headroom. If you’re using fresh herbs, sort through them and remove any damaged parts first. Shake them off to remove any dirt or insects, and wash off the dirty roots if necessary. Do not place fresh herbs into the jar if they are wet; make sure they’re thoroughly dry first to avoid mold. The jar should also be clean and dry.
- Add the vodka, rum or brandy to the jar, completely covering the herbs. Insert a butter knife and run it around the inside of the jar to dislodge any air bubbles. Add more alcohol to cover the herbs if necessary; they must be completely covered by the alcohol. Secure the lid on the jar and shake the mixture vigorously for about a minute.
- Label the jar with the name of the tincture and the date. Place the jar in a warm, dark area (such as a kitchen cabinet or pantry shelf), and allow the mixture to steep for four to six weeks. The longer you allow the herbs to steep, the more potent the tincture will become. Shake the jar vigorously once each day, and check it periodically to make sure the herbs remain covered by the alcohol. Add more alcohol as needed.
- Strain the mixture through a piece of cheesecloth after four to six weeks have passed. The plant material should look limp and pale. Press the mixture through the cheesecloth into a glass or stainless steel bowl. Once you’ve poured out all the liquid, wrap the herbs in the cheesecloth and wring it out over the bowl to extract every bit of tincture.
- Pour the herbal tincture into a dark-colored glass bottle through a funnel to prevent spills if necessary. Label and date the bottle, and then store it in a cool, dark place out of direct sunlight. Use as needed. Herbal tinctures keep for years and years if stored properly. If mold ever appears, however, discard the tincture at once and do not use.
Different herbalists may recommend slightly different dosages for various tinctures, depending on the herb and the condition being treated. A standard dosage for single-herb tinctures, however, is typically 20 to 30 drops dissolved in an 8-ounce glass of water and taken two to three times daily. For the best results, always begin by taking a small dose and increase slowly as needed to achieve the desired results. Always consult a doctor or certified herbalist before taking herbal tinctures if you are pregnant, breastfeeding, suffer from liver or kidney disease, or if you take prescription medications or other natural remedies.
- How to Be Your Own Herbal Pharmacist
- Herbal Healing for Women
- The Herbal Home Remedy Book
- The Green Pharmacy
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