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Thursday, December 20, 2012

All About Herbal Tinctures

A tincture by definition is an herbal alcohol solution. Herbalists believe tinctures to be a benefit by combining the benefits of a topical medicine and aroma therapy. Although SOME can be taken orally as well. However, do your research before ingesting anything! Some herbs are toxic and ingesting them can be very dangerous!

Tinctures will vary in portions of herbs vs alcohol, but are at LEAST 45% alcohol and 25% herbs. According to the United States Pharmacological Convention anything with lower than 45% alcohol is NOT considered a Tincture, but infusions.

Herbalists generally believe herbal tinctures to be more powerful and longer lasting than dried herbs. They are also more effective in releasing all the medical components from the plant than other methods of using herbs. Active ingredients from the plants are more easily extracted by alcohol than by other liquids and they do not loose their potency as they do when heated, as in tea.

Also, by making they yourself you're able to both control the quality of the product and save money. Because you control the purity and quality of the herbs and alcohol used you know exactly what you're getting. But you are also able to skip the up-charges and "middle man" fees. So it's really a win win. And even better - you're able to create mixes and blends that are perfect for you!

Most herbs are considered to be more potent and produce better tinctures when fresh, however there are a few which MUST be dried first... Other herbal tinctures require time to age before they are of any real value. A small amount of research goes a long way as each herb is different. General recipes for tinctures will give you a basic foundation for understanding tincture creation, but for the best result you should find a specific recipe.

While actual amounts will vary from herb to herb, if you can't find an exact recipe you can use a basic recipe. For dried herbs this means a 1:5 ratio with alcohol (1pt herbs to 5pt alcohol) and a 1:2 ratio for fresh. Tinctures made from dried herbs to have less than the 25% herb volume usually required for tincture classification, but because they are concentrated they are in fact still considered to be properly made.

This is the video that really got me in to making tinctures. It's a little funky, but the information is great!

Basic Herbal Tincture Prep.

You will need:
  • Sterilized Mason jar with tightly fitting lid.
  • Coffee Grinder, Blender, Knife or Something Equal
  • Herb either dried or fresh
  • 80 - 100 proof Alcohol (Vodka or Rum are common)
  • Small Dark Glass Dropper Bottles
  • Cheese Cloth
  • Marker & Labels
What to do:

  1. Chop Fresh or Dried Herbs as finely as possible. Coffee grinders, Food processors, Blenders or a simple knife work. The finer the better.
    **Herbs which are chopped or powdered more easily allow for the plant materials to be extracted. 
  2. Decide how much alcohol is needed by weighing plant materials.
  3. Place plant materials in jar & cover with proper amount of alcohol.
  4. Seal the jar with lid. Label and Date. And place in cool, dry, dark place. 
  5. Shake jar each day for two weeks.
  6. After two week, strain the tincture using cheesecloth or similar product. 
  7. Tinctures are usually stored in small dark glass, dropper bottles. Poor strained alcohol in to final labeled bottle. Store in cool, dry, dark area.

Additional Tips:
  • 200g of dried herbs or 300g of fresh chopped herbs will need aprox. 1l of liquid.
  • For tinctures which will be ingested, Rum will help disguise the taste of bitter herbs.
  • Standard oral dosage is 1 teaspoon, 1-3 times daily, diluted in tea, juice or water.
  • Tinctures can last up to 2 years if stored properly. 

The BEST place I know of to buy Herbs is Mountain Rose Herbs! Unless you can find them locally, or grow your own!

**Originally Written and Posted on my One Witch's Wonderland Blog, which has since closed.

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