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Tinctures can be made with different solvent (called menstruum). Tinctures are the most common method for taking herbal medicine. When making the tinctures, first select the solvent needed to pull the healing properties from the plant matter (flowers, leaves, roots, etc.) based on best practices for the herb(s) and the patient. Making tinctures is a little more complex than just selecting on of the menstruum below and adding herbs.

  • Alcohol – if over 25% of fluid is alcohol, it will act as a preservative. Tincture made with alcohol have the longest shelve life.
  • Vinegar – acidifies solution increasing solubility of minerals and alkaloids
  • Glycerin – is utilized when giving tinctures to children because it is sweet and really help cover the bitter taste of a lot of herbs. Glycerin is also used if giving medicine to an alcoholic.

When making a tincture fresh or dried herbs can be utilized.  Most tinctures recipes call for the use of alcohol that is 80% proof (40% alcohol and 60% water).  The main difference between using fresh and dry herbs is you have to account for the water inside the herbs.  To determine the amount of water, take 100 grams of fresh herbs and use the oven/toaster oven to dry the herbs.  Now weight the herbs again.  The difference in current weight (50g) and the original 100g, so in this example the herb contained 50% water.  You can use any amount to compare weight of fresh and dried, but I like to use 100 because it makes the math easy enough to do in my head. 

Now if you are thinking this sounds a little complicated… we still haven’t covered that some herbs require a stronger than 80% proof alcohol.  Plants like Lavender, Milk Thistle, Myrrh, rosemary require the use of Everclear or 190 proof corn grain moonshine (if legal in your state). 

Tinctures should be done utilizing guideline that are being adopted by the herbal community, this way when you buy a tincture from one person, it is the same from the next herbalist.

Herb Log

Keeping a log of the basic information about ingredients and recipes utilized to make each tincture.

  • Plant Name
  • Date Harvest
  • Date of Production
  • Fresh Herbs Weight
  • Dry Herb Weight
  • Weight to Volume
  • Total Menstruum
  • % Alcohol
  • Total Alcohol
  • Total Water

Store the tincture in a dark colored bottle in a dark cool location and the tincture is good for 2 years, dry herbs are good for 1 year stored in air-tight jar, and fresh herbs are only good for about a week stored in the refrigerator.

If you are the consumer, you should keep a log of all herbs you utilize and discuss it with your doctor “BEFORE” starting a new herbal regiment, also do your homework and study the herb, write a list of questions to discuss with your doctor. Anytime you see a medical professional, make sure you tell them the herbs and any prescription medication you take. Some herbs and prescription drugs are not compatible.

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