How to make TINC­TURES

Tinc­tures are an­other way to en­joy the medic­i­nal qual­ity of herbs. Their con­cen­trated na­ture al­lows them to act quickly. Learn how to make your own.

Herbs & Superfoods - - Herbs For Health & Wellbeing -

Tinc­tures are a pop­u­lar way of us­ing medic­i­nal herbs. They are easy to carry around as you only need a small amount of them to be ef­fec­tive – some­times as lit­tle as a drop – and they are eas­ily ad­min­is­tered on the tongue.

Tinc­tures are made by soak­ing plant ma­te­rial in a sol­vent, usu­ally al­co­hol, to ex­tract the ac­tive con­stituents. Al­co­hol is very ef­fec­tive at ex­tract­ing these con­stituents, though veg­etable glyc­er­ine and ap­ple cider vine­gar can be used (but they are not as strong as al­co­hol-based tinc­tures). The sol­vent is also ef­fec­tive as a preser­va­tive, so tinc­tures have a long shelf life. Tinc­tures are quickly ab­sorbed into the blood­stream, mak­ing them use­ful for acute con­di­tions.

You can use dried or freshly picked herbs, though the best tinc­tures are made with fresh herbs. For home herbal­ists, vodka can be used as a sol­vent. Use the high­est proof vodka you can find, at least 80 proof (or 40 per cent al­co­hol).

To make a tinc­ture, har­vest fresh herbs and sort through them to en­sure none are dam­aged or dis­eased. Chop your fresh herb very finely, though flow­ers can be left whole. If us­ing dried herbs, grind them to a coarse pow­der.

Place the herbs in a clean and dry wide-mouthed jar with a tight-fit­ting, non-me­tal cap. Fill the jar un­til it is about three-quar­ters full. Com­pletely cover the herbs with vodka. Screw on the cap and put the jar in a warm spot out of di­rect sun­light for 4-6 weeks. Shake the tinc­ture at least once a day. The herbs must re­main covered in the al­co­hol. If it looks like they have soaked up the al­co­hol, add more al­co­hol. Fresh herbs that are not com­pletely covered in al­co­hol may de­velop mould.

Af­ter 4-6 weeks, strain the liq­uid through cheese­cloth. Squeeze the cheese­cloth and herbs to get all the liq­uid out. Pour the liq­uid into a dark bot­tle, la­bel and store in a dark cab­i­net.

This is a very sim­ple and ef­fec­tive method of mak­ing a tinc­ture. How­ever, if you wish to be more pre­cise with your mea­sure­ments (ex­act ra­tio of herbs to al­co­hol), there is an­other method that you can fol­low. See in­struc­tions, right.

Glyc­erites

In­stead of al­co­hol, you can make your tinc­tures with veg­etable glyc­er­ine. These for­mu­las are known as glyc­erites. They are ideal for chil­dren, or for those who do not wish to or cannot con­sume al­co­hol. Veg­etable glyc­er­ine is sweet, so chil­dren are likely to favour these.

Glyc­er­ine tinc­tures do not last as long as al­co­hol ones. If stored in a dark cup­board in a cool room, they will last 1-2 years. Al­co­hol tinc­tures last 4-6 years.

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