Benefits of Tinctures
Tinctures are a highly effective and incredibly simple means of administering herbal medicines. Tinctures are liquid extracts made from herbs that you take orally. They are usually extracted in alcohol, but can also be extracted in vegetable glycerine or apple cider vinegar. Tinctures are easy to make and convenient to use.
Because they are taken directly under the tongue, they enter the bloodstream much more directly than by any other means. The alcoholic solution of the tincture means herbs are absorbed much more quickly into circulation, and therefore begin to take effect faster than other methods, especially capsules. This is most important when dealing with acute manifestations of conditions (such as pain and anxiety), when immediate relief of symptoms is necessary. Other herbal tinctures that are more nutritive and building in nature may take several weeks or months of continual use before best results are seen.
Additionally, tinctures are fairly easy to digest. If individuals have certain digestive disorders that impair their ability to breakdown tablets or capsules, they may only receive a fraction of the medicine available to them; using tinctures ensures the body receives the dosage taken.
Tinctures are usually taken by the dropperful (also known as a squeeze). A dropperful is the amount of liquid that fills the glass tube of the dropper when the bulb on the dropper top is squeezed and released. The liquid may fill the glass tube only a small portion of the way, but that is considered a “dropperful,” which usually equates to approximately 30 drops.
How Tinctures are Made
I learned how to make tinctures from Daylin Wade at an herbal medicine class she taught at Soilborn Farms. Daylin’s knowledge of herbs and food as medicine is incredible. You can check out her website Tap Root Botanicals. Soil Born Farms is a great urban farm in the Sacramento Area. They have lots of classes throughout the year as well as farm stands on the weekends. (Check out their schedule of events here.) The first time I went there was when our girls were in Girl Scout troops and we took tours. I really recommend checking Soil Born Farms out if you are in the Greater Sacramento Area.
So far, I have made, and am using regularly, tinctures of Valerian, Vitex Caste Berry, and Nettle. I purchase my herbs online at Starwest Botanicals (all organic, of course) and my vodka at Coscto. I’ll detail the benefits of each of these herbs in future posts. Making tinctures is really quite simple.
Tinctures are made by macerating (soaking) the chosen herbs in alcohol (usually vodka or organic grain alcohol) at a ratio typically ranging from 1:1 (herb to alcohol) to 1:10, depending on the desired strength and recommended dosage of the selected herbs. Alcohol-based tinctures have a virtually unlimited shelf life if stored in a cool, dark location. Here are the simple steps to making tinctures.
- Get a clean pint or quart mason jar.
- Use a coffee or spice grinder to grind up your herbs so they are a rough cut, not a powder.
- Fill the jar half way up with the herb and the rest of the way up with the alcohol. Mix it up a bit so the herb absorbs the alcohol and all air bubbles are released. You may need to add more alcohol as it soaks in.
- Place wax paper over the top of the jar and screw on the lid. This prevents the lid from interacting at all with the tincture.
- Set the jar on a counter out of direct sunlight. Shake it once or twice a day for one month.
- Wet some cheese cloth and place about four layers over a funnel set in the opening of a new, clean mason jar. Pour the mixture into the funnel, squeezing out the herbs to get as much liquid as possible. Discard the herbs.
- Transfer the strained liquid into labeled brown bottles with droppers. Keep the extra liquid in a tightly covered mason jar in a cabinet. It will last indefinitely.
I highly recommend taking an herbal medicine class before making your own tinctures. I purchased my small tincture bottles and a little funnel for them on Amazon. You can follow the links to see what I used. Good luck! I’d love to hear how your tincture-making adventure goes.
“May you be happy. May you be well. May you be safe. May you be peaceful and at ease.” – Rochelle
About the Author
Rochelle Barcellona is an animal-loving, family-and-friends-embracing, yoga-meditation-and-ayurveda-teaching, happy red-headed yogi who owns Nourish Mind Body & Spirit in Northern California. You may learn more about Rochelle here. Rochelle may be reached directly at firstname.lastname@example.org and 916-353-5200.
(Photo of Rochelle courtesy of Bella Barcellona Photography.)