Wednesday, April 18, 2012
Tinctures are a wonderful way to experience herbal medicine, but buying tinctures at the store can be expensive. Why not make your own?
You can create your own tinctures using fresh or dried plant material. Some herbalists insist on only using fresh plants, believing that medicines and energy are lost in the drying process, while others maintain that using dried plants for tinctures are better than not tincturing at all. You will have to decide what works for you.
For a tincture, you will need:
~80-100 proof vodka or rum ("Proof" is determined by doubling the percentage. So, 40 percent alcohol is 80 proof.)
~Clean, sterilized jar with lid
~Cheesecloth or unbleached cotton cloth
*Please note: if you cannot imbibe small amounts of alcohol, you can use water or vinegar, but these will then be called “extracts.”
If you are using fresh plant material, fill your jar with the plant (but don’t stuff or press down) and then fill the jar with the alcohol. If you are using dried material, use about an ounce of plant to a pint (or approx 500 ml) of alcohol. To eyeball it - fill jar about 1/3 with plant material. I’ve heard of people filling a jar with considerably more than that - but you will find what works for you.
Make sure your alcohol completely covers your herbs/plants. If there is some evaporation, add more alcohol. You don’t want to encourage mould or bacterial growth.
Shake your bottle daily for the first week or two, and then shake weekly. Allow this to sit for six weeks, or longer if using dried plant material. If you are using dried plants, the longer you leave it sit, the better.
When you are ready to bottle your tincture, strain it through the cheesecloth and place in dropper bottles and label. Store in a cool, dark place and your tinctures should last years.
A few great plants to tincture include:
St. John’s Wort
Tinctures can be taken under your tongue or diluted in water or juice. Dosages can be anywhere from 3-30 drops 1-3 times a day. If you are unsure how much of your tincture to use, do a quick search online, consult a herbalist or check out Susun Weed’s website or books for great herbal information.