Herbal tinctures are concentrated liquid extracts of the medicinal properties of herbs. Tinctures represent one of many different ways to prepare and use herbs. The terms tincture and extract are often used interchangeably. In most cases you should choose to make alcohol tinctures because of its superior qualities. Alcohol will extract volatile oils and most alkaloids from your herbs and will preserve your tinctures longer. Most herb tinctures will maintain their potency for many years. A selection of dried herbs in your medicine cabinet has a shelf life of approximately one year. Alcohol also acts as a carrier for your herbs causing them to be rapidly absorbed into the bloodstream when you take them. If you don't wish to consume alcohol it is possible to put the required dosage into a cup of boiled water.
Basic Tincture Edit
This recipe is the simplest way to make your own liquid herbal extracts in your own home.
1. Start with a clean jar that has a tight fitting lid and the herbs of your choice. If you can use fresh herbs, then fabulous! Fresh material is always preferred but availability is determined by your local bioregion, climate, etc and many quality herbs may not be available. If you cannot locate fresh materials, be sure to get good quality, organic herbs from a reputable supplier. Note: Try not to use powdered herbs; they will be difficult to filter out in the end and the debris will settle in your final product.
2. Chop the herbs finely – a blender or coffee grinder works well. Then place the materials in the glass jar with a tight fitting lid, such as a canning jar.
3. Pour a good and strong grain alcohol, brandy, or vodka over the herbs. Completely cover the herbal material, and leave 2-3 inches of alcohol above the herbs. 100 proof alcohol is recommended, but you can also use grain alcohol. When using grain alcohol, mix it with equal parts of purified water to create 50% alcohol to 50% water ratio. If you wish to avoid alcohol, then vegetable glycerin or vinegar may be used. When using vegetable glycerin, dilute it with equal parts of water. Although glycerin and vinegar are not as effective or strong as alcohol, they do create milder extracts that are suitable for children or those sensitive to alcohol. If using dried herbs you will need to add more alcohol over the next day or two as the dried herbs absorb and expand. A good ratio for dried material is about 1 part herb to 5 parts alcohol, and with fresh material 1 part herb to 3 parts alcohol.
4. Cover with a tight fitting lid, shake well, and place the jar in a dark place. Allow the mixture to soak and macerate for 4 to 6 weeks. Shake every few days to help the alcohol extract the active constituents from the herbs.
5. After 4 to 6 weeks strain the herbs. Use a large strainer lined with fine mesh cloth or cheesecloth. Make sure to tightly squeeze the material to extract every precious drop from the cloth. Funnel the material from your larger container into smaller bottles, preferably amber bottles and store your tinctures in a cool dark place. Your herbal tinctures will stay good for at least 3-5 years, if not indefinitely.
Tincture Recipes Edit
Antibiotic Add 2 cups garlic cloves, 2 cups of nasturtium leaves and flowers, and 2 cups of rosemary needles and stems to 4 cups of vodka. Let steep 2 weeks and strain. Dosage is 1 dropperful every 2 hours for several days. This is used to fight off an infection .
Earache Herbal Tincture Fill a small jar with mullein flowers and cover with olive oil. Allow to stand in the sun for 1 week, shaking daily. Strain and place in sterile jar. Apply 3-4 drops to affected ear as needed and cover with a warm cloth.
Clove Oil Herbal Tincture For Toothaches Clove oil is great to use for toothaches. You can make your own by mixing together equal amounts of whole cloves and vegetable oil and allowing it to sit for several weeks. I use this oil as an addition to my potpourri pot when simmering scented water. Cinnamon oil can be made the same way. Simply pour the oil over cinnamon sticks and allow to sit for several weeks. Not only does this save you money; but these oils are handy to have around.
Wound Herbal Tincture St. John's wort is really a wonderful tincture to keep around. It kills harmful bacteria as well as pain. To make the tincture to use on wounds (especially dirty wounds), put 2 tablespoons of St. John's wort in 2 cups of boiling water. Cover and steep for 30 minutes. Strain well and add 1 cup of sugar. Use this to clean wounds. Change the bandage frequently and wash the wound each time with the tincture.
Here's another variation: Put 2 tablespoons of St. John's wort in 2 cups of witch hazel and allow to steep for 2 weeks before straining. This makes a good wash for wounds. Be sure to label all bottles with the ingredients and their use.
Rosemary Herbal Tincture This tincture is good to take internally to prevent colds or to fight infections. Because of the antibiotic nature of this tincture, it is also good to use to clean cuts and scrapes. It removes bacteria and prevents infections. Add 1/2 cup of rosemary needles to 2 cups of vodka and allow to sit for 2 weeks. Strain and use 1/2 dropperful every 2 hours for a couple of days. Then cut back to 2 times daily for about 2 weeks. Treats infections and colds.
Sweet Woodruff Herbal Tincture For Wounds Fill a pint jar with dried sweet woodruff and pour olive oil over the herb to fill the jar. Place in the sun for 2 weeks and strain. Add several drops of tincture of benzoin to the mixture before placing it in a labeled bottle. This can be applied to any cut, scrape, or wound. Sweet woodruff has long been used to aid in the healing of wounds. It has also been used for centuries as a perfume base. This recipe could be applied to the skin as a scent, as well as for medicinal purposes.
The scent of sweet woodruff gets stronger the longer it dries. The herb's vanilla scent comes from an organic compound called coumarin. Coumarin is used in making perfumes and was the fIrst natural scent to be synthesized from coal-tar products