The popularity of tinctures is on the rise, but with so many ways to incorporate healing herbs in our lives, what is the benefit of this preparation? Why take a tincture?
First of all, what is a tincture? A tincture by any other name is simply an extract. It is made by steeping an herb in alcohol to extract the medicinal properties of the herb. The alcohol takes on the flavor and sometimes the scent, as well as the nutritional and medicinal properties of the herb, and it usually changes color. Chances are you have had a tincture recently, possibly in the form of a cake, cookies or whipped cream? Yes, vanilla extract is a tincture!
Although personally I prefer to get the lion’s share of my vitamins and nutrients through the food I eat and drink, I do use tinctures regularly as well. I am a fan of tinctures for a few reasons:
Tinctures are quick and convenient. They are easy to store, easy to take along with you, and easy to ingest. A few drops of a tincture in a glass of water or tea, or just on the tongue, takes only a second.
Tinctures are potent. Tinctures are easily assimilated by the body and offer a stronger concentration of medicinal properties than dried herbs.
Tinctures are long lasting. Tinctures have a much longer shelf life than fresh or dried herbs. I make sure I use up all of my dried herbs within a year of drying them, some within 8 months, to ensure they are fresh and potent. Tinctures, on the other hand, when properly prepared, can last for 5 years or longer. They are an excellent way of preserving the medicinal properties and health benefits of dried and fresh herbs.
Some herbs are very bitter or bad-tasting. Herbs such as horehound, feverfew, and blessed thistle just to name a few, are very bitter, and many find them unpleasant to drink as a tea.
Tinctures can be diluted in water, tea or juice to allay the bad taste, giving you the benefit of the medicinal value without the acridity.
Lastly, tinctures are easy to make! If you missed the Herbal Medicine Workshop with us, directions for making a tincture are at the end of this post.
There are definitely enough benefits to give tinctures the little bit of space on the shelf they require. As always, make sure you are familiar with the herbs you are taking, and that they are safe for you to consume. If you have any health concerns it is always advisable that you work with a qualified medical practitioner. The proper dosage should be listed on the bottle, but it’s equally important that you know your plants!
Herbal Tincture Recipe
To make a 1:1 alcohol to water tincture with 1:2 herb strength
• Fresh herbs
• 100 proof alcohol
1. Fill a mason jar 1/2 full of fresh herbs, then to 1/2 inch from the top of jar with 100 proof alcohol.
2. Screw on the lid and set it in a cool, dark place.
3. Shake at least one time daily for one week, and then shake every once in a while for the next 3-5 weeks.
4. Strain out the plant material, bottle and label your tincture in glass dropper bottles, and you are all set. The proper dosage depends on the herb, and a good herbal book can provide you with that.