History of Tinctures
For hundreds of years, both European and American herbal traditions have utilized tinctures, which are concentrated liquid extracts of herbs. Up until 1918, tinctures were the main “drugs” included in the US Dispensatory (Remington and Wood’s US Dispensatory, 20th Ed.). Up until the late 1960s, the American Medical Association and the emergence of synthetic medications forced the practice of plant medicine in the US underground.
Since at least 4,000 years ago, when medicinal wines were produced for religious rites and medical uses, tinctures have also been used in East Asian medicine. While the majority of East Asian medicines are currently made as teas, powders, or pills, commercial pharmacies and traditional healers in this region of the world also sell alcoholic extracts (tinctures), such as the well-liked tonic liqueur shou wu chih.
How To Make Tinctures
Tinctures are prepared using alcohol as the menstrum (solvent). It is recommended to use a high quality vodka (80-100 proof). The menstruum can be a mixture of alcohol with or without water. The menstrum is then mixed with crushed or chopped herbs in a container, covering it tightly, and letting it soak for two to four weeks minimum. The tincture is ready to press, strain, and store in a cool, dark environment. A tincture needs to have at least 25% of its volume made up of alcohol in order to be shelf stable. Vegetable glycerin may occasionally be added at the very end to enhance flavor. If you don’t have alcohol or the tincture is intended for a child, you can substitute vegetable glycerin or apple cider vinegar for the vodka while making the tincture. Tincture prepared with alcohol can last indefinitely if prepared properly. Tinctures prepared with apple cider vinegar, can last approximately 6 months and require refrigeration. Tinctures prepared with glycerin can be stored 14-24 months, but do not require refrigeration.
Benefits of Tinctures
The use of tinctures to prepare or consume herbal medication has various benefits. For making durable and efficient treatments, alcohol is a superior solvent and preservative. Alkaloids, glycosides, phenolics, resins, and terpenes are just a few of the medicinal plants’ active ingredients that can be easily isolated and kept in ethanol. Tinctures are simple to store and dose in little amounts, and they are shelf stable for at least five years.
Since tinctures are swiftly absorbed in the mouth and stomach, they frequently have the ability to start working quickly. As a result, tinctures make an excellent delivery method for supporting the neurological system, which can help with issues like difficulty sleeping, discomfort, and concern, as well as the digestive system and other situations needing prompt action. Additionally, tinctures can be taken every day to support a person’s long-term health objectives.
An average adult should take 1 to 5 dropperfuls (not drops), one to four times daily (1 dropperful is equal to 1 mL). Herbal tinctures are concentrated liquid extracts. With tinctures, a little bit goes a long way, thus they are typically taken by the dropperful, diluted in warm water, tea, or juice. They should be used cautiously and sparingly because of how concentrated they are.
How To Make A Herbal Tincture
- Organic Herbs (fresh or dried)
- Mason jar
- Herb grinder or chopper
- Cheesecloth or fine mesh strainer
- Alcohol (vodka or brandy; at least 80 proof)
- Amber dropper bottles
- Chop fresh herbs or grind dried herbs.
- Place herbs in clean, dry mason jar
- Pour alcohol (vodka or brandy) over herbs in mason jar until completely covered. Dry herbs will absorb the liquid so add alcohol as needed.
- Cover mason jar tightly with lid and place in dark cabinet to soak for 4-6 weeks. Shake the jar every other day. Add more alcohol to ensure the herbs remain covered.
- Place the cheesecloth over a clean bowl and strain the contents of the mason jar.
- Gather the cheesecloth and squeeze tightly to make sure as much liquid is strained from the herbs.
- Allow liquid to settle overnight and strain again the next day.
- Use a funnel to transfer the tincture into amber dropper bottles.
- Store tincture in a dark cabinet