Tinctures: The What and How

If you saw our post from a few weeks ago, you know we are going through all the different ways to make herbal medicine. This week we are looking at tinctures.

Tinctures are alcoholic extracts of herbs. Recently, someone tried to tell me that a tincture is any herbal product that goes in the mouth. This is incorrect. Tinctures are made with alcohol. A tincture you use topically is called a liniment. A tincture made with vinegar is called a vinegar tincture, not a tincture. A tincture made with glycerine is called a glycerite. These three different kinds of ‘tinctures’ are all made with the same process and it is why we are going to talk about them together. A liniment, vinegar tincture, and glycerite, while made using the same process as a tincture, use different ingredients and are therefore not tinctures.tinctures-just-made

The folk method of making these products is all the same. The folk method is just to get it done quickly, to preserve your herbs, and to make medicine that you don’t need to spend a lot of time on math for knowing what is in your medicine.

  • Take a jar and fill it with your herb.
  • Cover it with alcohol that is at least 90 proof, 45% alcohol.
  • Let sit for up to a month (at least 2 weeks).
  • Strain and bottle for use.
  • Label your bottle with the ingredients and date.

If you are making a vinegar tincture, use vinegar instead of alcohol. To make a liniment you can use your normal alcohol or rubbing alcohol. For a glycerite, use glycerine alone or with alcohol. I prefer using some alcohol with a glycerite to extract a wider spectrum of effective molecules from the herb.

The non-folk method of making a tincture is much harder. Visit our online herbal studies program to learn more about this.

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Taking a tincture is not too difficult. When you have done enough research on the herb you are to take to know how much of it to take (there is a broad spectrum of how much is safe and effective) you can simply put it into your mouth and swallow. I personally prefer to add my tincture to a mouthful of water, drink that quickly, and follow with a full glass of water. This is also an excellent way to make sure I get some more water that day. You can also buy your own tinctures if you do not want to make them but they do get expensive quickly if you are taking herbs regularly.

*The proper way to taste a tincture is to drop a few drops onto your hand and lick your hand. Do not stick a dropper into your mouth!*

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