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Herbal Preparations – Tinctures

Herbal Preparations - Tinctures

Welcome friends. Today begins a series of articles I am writing around the subject of home herbal remedies. Herbal healing has been around for many thousands of years and is a highly effective way of healing ailments and aiding the general well being. Whilst I am an advocate for always seeing your practitioner for any serious conditions, many minor well being issues can be safely tended to by most people and the use of home made herbal remedies is a great way to do this. Given the greed currently sweeping the world when it comes to health care both natural and pharmaceutical, knowing how to make simple, effective home herbal remedies is a great way to save a few dollars and to ensure great family well being naturally. Today we start off with tinctures.

What is a Tincture?

In a tincture, the medicinal parts of the plant or herb are extracted by one of the solvents; alcohol, vinegar or glycerine. This process is called maceration, the solvent is called the menstruum and the herbs are called the marc. The final result is called the extract or extractive. The purpose of the menstruum is to pull the medicinal constituents out of the plant into the solution and to be preserved by it. Tinctures are quite concentrated herbal medicines so only a small amount should be taken at a time. They are used for bitter tasting herbs, those too strong to drink in teas or infusions or for herbs that need to be taken over  a long period of time. They are good for herbs that don not extract well in water. Having a long shelf life, tinctures are also convenient when stored in small bottles and can be carried where ever you go.

Tinctures may be made with either; alcohol, vinegar or glycerine. Alcohol is an excellent extracting agent, drawing out both the volatile oils and the alkaloids of the herb. Alcohol is also a preservative. The best kind to use is GIN, VODKA. Vinegar acts as an astringent and natural preservative for use in liniments (I’ll explain how to make these in a future post!) and make a useful tincture for those who can not tolerate alcohol. Vinegar only extracts the alkaloids from the herbs. Glycerine is a preservative and extracts properties from herbs as water and alcohol do only not as strongly. It is also antiseptic, emollient and soothing and acts as a drawing agent. Because it is sweet, it is great for children’s herbal remedies.

Alcohol Tincture

Vodka is the best alcohol to use for alcohol tinctures due to it’s lack of colour and taste. When making a tincture from dried herbs use 50% alcohol and 50% water, which is fairly equivalent to 100 proof vodka. Because fresh herbs contain water, normally 70-80%, this needs to be taken into consideration when making tinctures from fresh herbs. The alcohol to water ratio then varies per herb. In general use the same amount of alcohol and decrease the amount of water by an estimate of how much is in the fresh herb (70-80%). I know this seems a little confusing, but I have included the instructions for using both powdered (Dry) or fresh herbs in the recipe for creating an alcohol tincture. It is better to use powdered herbs as this allows for better and more complete extraction.

 

Vinegar Tincture

Obviously these are tinctures made from vinegar instead of alcohol. Although vinegar doesn’t draw out as much of the medicinal properties of the herbs, it is still an excellent method of extraction for herbs that contain alkaloids. It will not  work well for herbs that contain acids as vinegar is an acid hence vinegar tinctures are called acidic tinctures.

Glycerine Tincture

Glycerine tinctures, also known as glycerites, have a sweet taste and are great for kids herbal remedies and also helpful for those unable to take alcohol at all. Vegetable glycerine is a preservative and draws out herbal properties with an effectiveness of somewhere between water and alcohol; effective but not epic! Glycerine may also be added to alcohol tinctures to help smooth out the harsh taste of tannins and bitter herbs.

What You Will Need To Make Herbal Tinctures

  • Blender, coffee grinder or nut/seed grinder for powdering the herbs.
  • Mortar and pesal for brusing fresh herbs.
  • Resealable, airtight glass jars that can hold 1 litre of fluid.
  • Empty, clean eye dropper glass bottles or small glass bottles – (Must be clean and sterilized.)
  • Vodka, Gin or Apple Cider Vinegar, Vegetable Glycerine; depending upon what tincture you wish to make.

Herbal Tincture Recipes

The recipes below are for creating herbal tinctures for you to use for yourself or family. These are not suitable for commercial sale and should not be sold as such. The dosing suggestions are just that, suggestions and averages, proper dosing is dependant upon the persons age, size and the severity of the illness.

Alcohol Tincture Recipe
1. Powder dried herbs by placing in a blender or nut, seed or coffee grinder.
2. Mix powders together and place 115 gm (4 oz) of dried herbs in a glass jar. – (Ensure the jar is well cleaned and sterilized using a sterilizing agent.)
3. Pour 500ml (approx 1 pint) of Vodka over herbs in jar and seal the lid.
4. Each day shake the the jar so the herbs and alcohol mix together. Repeat this each day for 2 weeks.
5. After 2 weeks, strain the mixture by covering a kitchen colander with cheese cloth. Place colander in a big bowl. Pour the herbal alcohol into the colander. Herbs will collect in the cheese cloth while the liquid will run through into the bowl. If there are still herbs in the liquid, strain again. Squeeze herbs in cheese cloth to wring out any remaining liquid.
6. Pour contents of bowl into a clean glass jar and seal well. This is your tincture! You may transfer to smaller bottles as needed.

Amounts:
Use 115 gm of dried herbs to 500 ml of Vodka. For fresh herbs use 250 gm of herbs to 500 ml of vodka.
Dose:
For children 5 drops of tincture twice a day is an average dose, depending upon the age of the child, slightly more or less may be given. For adults 10 to 40 drops of tincture are taken 2-3 times daily depending upon size and severity of illness. Here is a link to a dosing card to help you work out more accurate doses should you need them. Children’s Dosing Card
Storage:
Because of their antibacterial properties, tinctures can be stored for up to 10 years. They are best kept in cool, dark storage in brown glass bottles.

Vinegar Tincture Recipe
1. Powder dried herbs by placing in a blender or nut, seed or coffee grinder.
2. Mix powders together and place 115 gm (4 oz) of dried herbs in a glass jar. – (Ensure the jar is well cleaned and sterilized using a sterilizing agent.)
3. Instead of alcohol pour apple cider vinegar over herbs in the glass jar. Use alone or in combination with an equal amount of water; this will make a weaker tincture.
4. Each day shake the the jar so the herbs and vinegar mix together. Repeat this each day for 2 weeks.
5. After 2 weeks, strain the mixture by covering a kitchen colander with cheese cloth. Place colander in a big bowl. Pour the herbal liquid into the colander. Herbs will collect in the cheese cloth while the liquid will run through into the bowl. If there are still herbs in the liquid, strain again. Squeeze herbs in cheese cloth to wring out any remaining liquid.
6. Pour contents of bowl into a clean glass jar and seal well. This is your tincture! You may transfer to smaller bottles as needed.

Amounts:
Use 115 gm of dried herbs to 500 ml of Vinegar. For fresh herbs use 250 gm of herbs to 500 ml of vinegar.
Dose:
For children 5 drops of tincture twice a day is an average dose, depending upon the age of the child, slightly more or less may be given. For adults 10 to 40 drops of tincture are taken 2-3 times daily depending upon size and severity of illness. Here is a link to a dosing card to help you work out more accurate doses should you need them. Children’s Dosing Card
Storage:
Because of their antibacterial properties, tinctures can be stored for up to 10 years. They are best kept in cool, dark storage in brown glass bottles.

 

Glycerine Tincture Recipe
1. Powder dried herbs by placing in a blender or nut, seed or coffee grinder.
2. Mix powders together and place 115 gm (4 oz) of dried herbs in a glass jar. – (Ensure the jar is well cleaned and sterilized using a sterilizing agent.)
3. Pour glycerine over the herbs in the jar. Use Purely Glycerine or for a weaker tincture, use equal parts of water.
4. Each day shake the jar so the herbs and glycerine mix together. Repeat this each day for 2 weeks.
5. After 2 weeks, strain the mixture by covering a kitchen colander with cheese cloth. Place colander in a big bowl. Pour the herbal liquid into the colander. Herbs will collect in the cheese cloth while the liquid will run through into the bowl. If there are still herbs in the liquid, strain again. Squeeze herbs in cheese cloth to wring out any remaining liquid.
6. Pour contents of bowl into a clean glass jar and seal well. This is your tincture! You may transfer to smaller bottles as needed.

Amounts:
Use 115 gm of dried herbs to 500 ml of glycerine. For fresh herbs use 250 gm of herbs to 500 ml of glycerine.
Dose:
For children 5 drops of tincture twice a day is an average dose, depending upon the age of the child, slightly more or less may be given. For adults 10 to 40 drops of tincture are taken 2-3 times daily depending upon size and severity of illness. Here is a link to a dosing card to help you work out more accurate doses should you need them. Children’s Dosing Card
Storage:
Because of their antibacterial properties, tinctures can be stored for up to 10 years. They are best kept in cool, dark storage in brown glass bottles.
Tinctures are often made to the new moon and strained on the full moon so that the drawing power of the waxing moon helps top extract further energetic herbal properties from the herbs. This is similar to the pull the moon has on the ocean when creating tides. You can follow the moon cycle when creating tinctures but it is ok to make them other times as well.
Well, there you go, enjoy making some home made herbal tincture the way our ancestors did.
Until next time, be well, naturally.

Craig Hitchens – Natural Health Practitioner

 

References:

My own clinical knowledge

“Herbs of Life” authored by Lesley Tierra, pg 190-192

 

Alternative & Natural Health Disclaimer:

The information contained in this article is accurate at the time of posting but may change thereafter. The information provided on the various natural health subjects from this website of www.craighitchenstherapies.com  is for informational purposes only and should not be considered as any form of medical advice. The information in the article this disclaimer is linked from is not meant to treat, diagnose, prescribe or cure any ailment. Always check with your health professional before taking any products or following any advice that you believe may conflict with other forms of health care. Always consult your health care professional before you start, stop or change anything that has been previously prescribed. Certain herbs and holistic remedies are unsuitable to take if you are pregnant or nursing and must always be cleared by your health professional before use.

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