I am starting a new weekly series on herbs How to use them and what they are good for I will start out with the different ways to prepare them. This week is tinctures.
A tincture is made by steeping fresh or dried herbs in food grade alcohol ( Vodka or Brandy) for several weeks then straining it. Also called an extract ( the same way vanilla extract is made) Alcohol tinctures are the most common and the easiest to make. The alcohol acts as preservative giving tinctures a self life of at least ten years if stored away from heat and light. You can make your own or you can buy them from a health food store. Although it can be very expensive to buy them. They are very easy to make your self and a lot cheaper especially when you use herbs you have grown your self.
If you have a problem with the alcohol or you want to give it to children you can make them with Glycerin. You can even make them with pure cider vinegar which is good if you will be using it for daily long term use. The only ones I have made are with alcohol
The advantages of tinctures are that they are concentrated easy to take, rapidly absorbed, easy on the stomach, and they have a very long shelf life unlike dried herbs. And they take up a lot less space then dried herbs and are easier to use and more convenient no boiling teas or making capsules .
Tinctures are very easy to make
You need 80 to 100 proof vodka or brandy
A pint sized ( or larger ) glass jar. I like to use quart jars for tinctures that I am going to be using a lot.
Herbs of choice
Cheese cloth or a fine mesh strainer. I like to get Knee highs that are in the little balls for 33 cents then I will cut each in half and I have 4 (just tie a knot in the cut end) Way cheaper then cheese cloth and it is fine enough that it catches all the small stuff.
Fill the jar about 2/3 to ¾ full of fresh herbs when using dried use about half that. Then fill your jar with vodka or brandy. Make sure all the herbs are covered with alcohol Cover and label then store in a cool dark place for at least four to six weeks I like to let mine sit at least 6 weeks. Shake them up every few days for the first few weeks. It doesn’t hurt for them to sit longer I have a couple that have been sitting for a couple years. Just strain and put into dark glass bottles (be sure to label) when ready to use.
The standard dosage is 1 to 2 drops per 5 pounds of body weight placed in a cup of water of juice. You might want to measure that out into a measuring spoon so it is easier to use when you are using it all the time.
The frequency of use will depend on the illness for acute illness such as colds take smaller doses more frequently sometimes as often as ten times a day. For daily use or long term illness take the standered dose 2 to 4 times a day for as long as needed. As with any medications use common sense when using them if you are allergic to something in the tincture do not use.
For children, pregnant women, or those not wanting to consume alcohol, it can be poured in to a hot liquid like tea to evaporate the alcohol before consuming.
I make a tincture with my cold/flu recipe. Katie hates taking capsules but she will put this in what ever she is drinking so at least I can get her to take it. I will post that on Friday.