One popular way of taking herbal remedies is in the form of a tincture. This means dried herbs are preserved in alcohol. Tinctures have a number of benefits, compared to fresh herbs.
For one, tinctures have a longer shelf life than fresh herbs. You can make tinctures if you’re not using dried herbs fast enough, before they lose their potency. Also, tinctures are more portable, especially if you travel. You can pack a bottled tincture into your purse or suitcase. No brewing is needed. You can put a few drops in a warm glass of water, or a cup of tea.
Tinctures also make your herbs go farther. The alcohol pulls the medicinal compounds out of the plant, into a more concentrated form.
It’s relatively easy to make your own tinctures, if you’re so inclined. Any time you embark upon a DIY project, you can potentially save a lot of money. You also know exactly what will be going in your tincture. You can decide to add organic herbs and organic vodka or grain alcohol. Alcohol is necessary for making a tincture. Some herbal experts believe the addition of alcohol also helps bring the beneficial medicinal agents into your cells.
How to Make Homemade Herbal Tinctures
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Herbal remedies are great to have on hand if you like natural healthcare. I use a lot of herbal remedies because I have chronic nerve inflammation. They’ve been so helpful (along with various lifestyle changes) that I have no need for pain medication. Herbs contain natural anti-inflammatory compounds, as well as natural analgesics. So they relieve the pain, without the nasty and sometimes dangerous side effects of drugs.
Some people (myself included) use herbal remedies in place of allergy medication. I have mild seasonal allergies. But I keep them at bay with essential oils and various botanical remedies, including dried nettle leaf.
Right now, I have some dried nettle leaf in my kitchen cabinet. I bought this some time ago, and I don’t want it to go bad. So I’m going to turn it into a tincture. Then I can use it next allergy season, and beyond.
How to Make Herbal Tinctures With Vodka
By strict definition, an herbal tincture is made with alcohol. This is needed to pull the medicinal compounds out of the plant material, which is later strained. People who don’t want to consume alcohol can instead use organic vegetable glycerin. However, technically speaking, this is considered an herbal extract, not a tincture. Extracts are often used for children. (I’ll tell you how to make extracts as well, if you don’t want to use a tincture.)
I decided to make a tincture with the herbal nettle leaf I had on hand. When using alcohol, vodka will work very well as the base. I didn’t have any, so I used some gin. It will do. I’m a firm believer in learning to work with what you already have, since there may come a day when we need to. Actually, I plan to make a series of tinctures just to have in the house, using some of the herbal remedies I already own.
How to Make Tinctures With Powdered Herbs
It’s best to use finely ground herbs for a tincture. The dried nettle leaf I had in my natural medicine cabinet was close enough. It wasn’t powdered. But it was broken down in small enough pieces. Here’s how to make a tincture with powdered or dried herbs:
- I put a small amount of dried nettle leaf in a clean glass jar that had a lid. Ideally, you would use an amber jar. But all I had available here clear glass jelly jars. The tincture shouldn’t be exposed to light. So I can cover the jar in a paper bag, and store it in a cool dark place.
- Then I added an equal amount of alcohol to the dried nettle.
- The tincture can then be stored and shaken 3 to 4 times a week, for six weeks. If you notice the alcohol has evaporated, feel free to add more. The herbs should always be covered.
- Next, it’s time to strain the herbs. Most recipes call for cheesecloth. I don’t have any. So an unbleached coffee filter will substitute. Put the herbs in the coffee filter and let the liquid drip back into the original jar. You can also use an amber herb bottle with a dropper.
- If you’re making multiple tinctures, you’ll probably want to label them. Weeks later, when they’re ready, you may not remember what’s in each bottle.
How to Make Herbal Remedies and Glycerites
Making herbal glycerites with organic vegetable glycerin is very similar to making tinctures. Using glycerites is probably a good idea for young children and for anyone who can’t consume grain alcohol. When my children were little, they were extremely sensitive to wheat. So a glycerite would have been ideal.
You follow pretty much the same steps for a glycerite, instead of a tincture. You also need to add a little water to the mix, either bottled spring water or filtered tap water.
- Fill a clean jar half way with dried herbs.
- Fill the rest of the jar with vegetable glycerin, leaving enough room to top it off with water, so you have a ratio of 3 parts glycerin to one part water.
- Put the mixture in a dark cook spot and stir it at least five times a week. It should be ready in 6 to 8 weeks.
These statements have not been approved by the FDA. These products are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease. Women who are pregnant or nursing should not use herbal remedies unless directed to do so by a healthcare professional.