How to make herbal tinctures
What is a herbal tincture?
A tincture is a method of preparing fresh or dried plants for use by infusing them in alcohol, glycerine or vinegar. These are a type of wet preparation and require only two ingredients – a menstruum or solvent (alcohol, glycerine or vinegar) and the herb.
Tinctures are one of the most common methods or administrating herbs, because they are convinient to store and carry, long-lasting, easy to use, potent and quick-acting.
In fact, tinctures are the form of herbal remedy you are most likely to be prescribed if you visit a medical herbalist. Because, they help us to use high concentrations of herb within a small dose volume. For a similar reason, they are most likely to be used in acute situations and also where medicines must be taken multiple times in a day.
For making alcohol-based tinctures, any type of drinking alcohol can be used (for example, rum, vodka or brandy), but vodka is most often used because it is tasteless and clear, so will take on the qualities of the plant. Whichever is used, aim for 80-100 proof. (100 proof means that the alcohol is pre-mixed with water in a ratio or 50%:50%. 80% proof means the alcohol has been pre-mixed with water in a ratio or 40%:60%).
When making alcohol-based tinctures, you can use either fresh or dried herbs. However, do bear in mind that the wetter the herb you are using to make the tincture, the high the percentage of alcohol you will need in order to effectively preserve it. It is a good idea to avoid collecting fresh herbs until about mid-morning, so the dew has had a chance to evaporate and the plant has had a chance to dry out.
Alcohol-based tinctures can last up to 2-3 years if sealed and stored correctly in a cool, dark, dry place.
When making vinegar-based tinctures, you can again use any type of edible vinegar. However, cider vinegar is most often used because it has its own nutritious and tonic properties and is high in potassium and calcium.
For vinegar-based tinctures, you can use both fresh and dried herbs, but try to collect fresh herbs in the mid-morning after the dew has evaporated and the plant has had some time to dry off.
Vinegar-based tinctures can last up to 2 years is sealed and stored correctly in a cool, dark, dry place.
Glycerine-based tinctures are a great method of prescribing herbs for children, being warmer, sweeter and more palatable. Although, they are not as strong as alcoholic or vinegar-based tinctures.
When making glycerine-based tinctures, you will need to use fresh herbs. Again, collect your herbs after they have had a chance to dry out a little and the dew has evaporated from the plant.
Glycerine-based tinctures can last up to 1 year is sealed and stored correctly in a cool, dark, dry place.
What you will need
To make a herbal tincture, you will need:
- Fresh or dried herbs
- Clean glass jars
- Alcohol, glycerine or vinegar
- Muslin cloth or strainer
How to make your tincture
Before making your tincture, you will need to prepare your plants – which will depend on the type of plant and the parts used. If you plan to make your tincture using dry herbs, moisten them very slightly with hot water first. If you plan to use fresh herbs, make sure they are clean, then gently pat them dry. And, if using woody roots or tree bark, try gently boiling the plants to help soften them first.
- Chop or crush your herbs and fill your jar about two-thirds full with your chopped up plants.
- Fully submerge your herb in the alcohol, vinegar or glycerine and seal your jar with it’s lid. (If you are using tough, woody roots, add them to the jar along with the liquid you boiled them in then add an equal amount of alcohol).
- Date and label your jar so you remember what it is and when you made it.
How to use your tincture
Tinctures are traditionally taken 2.5-5ml, 1-3 times a day (5ml is about 1 teaspoon), with a little water or juice, before meals to aid their absorption. However, in acute conditions, such as for fever, they can be given up to 20 drops every 30 minutes and when using in children, we suggest 3-5 drops 2-3 times a day.
- Please remember not to pick or use any plant or part of a plant unless you are completely certain of its identity and that it is safe to use.
- The information provided here is for educational purposes only. It is not a replacement for professional medical advice or treatment and should not be used for self-diagnosis.
- Do not give any herbal remedies to young children or babies under two without the advice of a qualified medical practitioner.
- Do not use any herbal remedies while pregnant or breast-feeding without the advice of a qualified medical practitioner.
- Do not use any remedies alongside other medications without first seeking advice from a qualified medical practitioner.
- Seek medical advice immediately if you experience any adverse reactions after taking or using any plants or plant preparations.
- Instructions provided are for home use only. Medicines provided by qualified practitioners are carefully formulated and prescribed by plant, preparation and intended usage.
- My Nature Nook and our authors do not accept any responsibility for loss, harm or damage done from the use or misuse of information provided here, or from your failure at seeking professional medical advice.