Make a Tincture
Tinctures are concentrated, liquid forms of herbal medicine that are simple to make and easy to assimilate. They are so concentrated that sometimes we take our doses in tea or water. They are usually made with consumable alcohol, but can also be made with vinegar, vegetable glycerine, honey, etc.
Alcohol tinctures (also known as extracts) are the most popular because alcohol is the most effective at drawing out the important properties of the herbs. Tinctures made with it have a long shelf life (2 years or longer). Almost all store bought tinctures use alcohol as a base or include some amount of alcohol as a preservative. Vodka is what we use because it doesn't have a strong odor and is very affordable (rum will also do).
Make your tincture by filling a jar 1/3 - 1/2 full of herbs. Use 1/3 for hard herbs and roots (as they will absorb more liquid) and 1/2 for soft or fluffy herbs. Fill the jar to the top with alcohol (80-90 proof Vodka is best), close it, and store for 3-8 weeks in a cool, dry place. Shake the jar daily. After 3-8 weeks, strain and discard the herbs, bottle the liquid and label it.
Expecting mothers or children can easily evaporate the alcohol by placing their dose in a hot liquid like tea or water before taking it.
Tinctures can also be made by using vinegar in place of the alcohol, following the same directions. Vinegar does not draw out an herb's properties as well as alcohol. However, it is very inexpensive, can be used as a gargle, and can be used to fight fungal infections. You may want to rinse after each dose to avoid enamel damage from the vinegar.
Tinctures are best stored in a cool, dry place out of the sun. A cabinet works great!
The following books have been our best references on making our own tinctures at home over the years:
- Herbal Antibiotics for making alcohol and glycerine tinctures
- Practical Herbalism for making alcohol tinctures
- The ABC Herbal for making glycerine tinctures
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