Homemade tinctures are as easy to make as putting herbs and alcohol in a glass jar and waiting! Should I back up and remind you what a tincture is first? A tincture is a highly concentrated extract of herbs. Tinctures provides a concentrated dose of the herb which can be taken by the dropper and mixed into water or juice.
Why use a tincture?
There are a few reasons to take a tincture. First, a tincture is good for herbs that are not very tasty and you would not be able to suffer through a cup of tea made from them. Second, it is good for roots and barks that are harder to get the active constituents out by hot water steeping. Third, you can use a tincture to simply save time. Maybe you would need to drink 3 cups of an herbal tea (also called a tisane) but instead can take a dropper full of the tincture in juice or water three times a day. They can especially be good for children who may not want to drink a whole cup of tea. Third, tinctures are good for acute situations, such as the onset of the flu or a cold sore, where you want to get a lot of an herb into your body quickly.
Why make a homemade tincture?
There are two main reasons to make your own tinctures. First, they are so much less expensive. Second, you can control the ingredients. I like to use organic herbs and organic alcohol for instance. Those who are grain-free could choose a grain-free alcohol. If you have to avoid alcohol completely, you can make your tincture with raw apple cider vinegar.
How to make a HOmemade tincture
As stated above, making homemade tinctures is as simple as putting herbs in a jar and covering the with alcohol. You use different amounts of herbs depending on whether you are using fresh or dried herbs and whether you are using the leaves/flowers or the roots/bark/berries. Also, if you are using fresh herbs, you will need to chop them first to release the juices. If you are using dried, you can just add the alcohol.
To make a tincture you will need:
- Organic Herbs (leaves and/or flowers or roots, bark, and/or berries)
- 80-100 proof alcohol such as vodka or brandy
- Glass jars
- Glass droppers (If you don’t have any, you can buy them on Amazon, of course.)
- Cheesecloth (unbleached and organic is best) for straining out herbs
If you are using leaves and/or flowers:
- Fill your jar 2/3 to 3/4 full of your chopped fresh leaves and flowers. Next, fill the jar to the top with your alcohol. The herbs need to be submerged in the alcohol.
- Or fill you jar with 1/2 to 3/4 with dried leaves and flowers.Next, fill the jar to the top with your alcohol. The herbs need to be submerged in the alcohol.
If you are using roots, bark, and/or berries:
- Fill your jar 1/3 to 1/2 full of your chopped fresh leaves and flowers. Next, fill the jar to the top with your alcohol. The herbs need to be submerged in the alcohol.
- Or fill you jar with 1/4 to 1/3 with dried leaves and flowers.Next, fill the jar to the top with your alcohol. The herbs need to be submerged in the alcohol.
Storing and Using your homemade tinctures
Store your herb/alcohol mixture in a cool, dark place where you will remember to shake it several times a week for 6-8 weeks, or a sunny warm location for 4-6 weeks. Watch the level of alcohol. If some of it evaporates, you will need to add more. The herbs must be submerged in alcohol or there is the possibility of introducing mold into your tincture. Yuck!
After the requisite waiting period, strain the herbs through the cheesecloth and compost them. Bottle your tincture in clean glass jars or bottles (dark glass is best). Label them!! These will keep for many years in a cool, dark place!!!
The usual dosage for an adult is 2 droppers full 3 times a day for an acute situation, i.e. a cold coming on. For children, consult a trusted pediatrician.
Which homemade tinctures should you make?
Of course this answer depends on what ailment you are trying to treat or prevent. A great introductory book is called Medicinal herbs: A Beginner’s guide by Rosemary Gladstar. My favorite homemade tinctures to make are echinacea and olive leaf. Both are great for the immune system. As you probably know, echinacea tincture is superb when taken at the onset of a cold or flu. Olive leaf tincture is an amazing antiviral so it is good for sinus infections and ear infections (both of which have a 90% viral origin), as well as other viral infections. You can make combination tinctures as well. The possibilities are endless. Happy homemade tincture-making!
Do you make homemade tinctures? Do you want to try?