What is a Tincture?
A tincture is a concentrated form of herbal medicine. From tinctures, you can make teas, extracts, salves, and ointments. Tinctures are made with pure alcohol (not rubbing alcohol) or glycerine. Various strengths can be achieved by the volume of herbs used and whether or not they are fresh.
What You Will Need
- A container with a watertight lid (Mason jars work great)
- The herbs you intend to use (the amount can vary depending on the type of herb chosen and the size of container)
- EverClear Alcohol (best) or Bacardi 151 Rum (tastier)
- If you prefer not to use alcohol, you may use glycerine instead, though the tincture will not be quite as potent. Glycerine-based tinctures are recommended for children and pregnant women.
The following instructions will make a very potent tincture. To make a less potent tincture, reduce the volume of herbs used.
- If you are using fresh herbs, pack the jar with them and pound them down with something blunt and hard. You want to bruise the herb. This should reduce the volume by half.
- If you are using dried herbs, fill the jar 3/4 of the way with your herb.
- Add just enough lukewarm water to soak the herbs. The herbs and water should not take up more than half the jar after the water sits for an hour.
- Fill the remaining space with alcohol or glycerine.
- Secure the lid, and then shake the jar for a good minute or two.
- Store the jar in a cool dark place.
- Shake the jar every day for 14 days.
- If you want, you may drain the solution through a cheese cloth and store the clear tincture in a clean jar. It is now ready to use. Personally, I keep the solution intact and allow it to settle before I use it. This typically takes three to five days. The infused herbs will settle on the bottom, leaving the tincture to float on top. Your choice.
How to Use A Tincture
Tinctures are powerful medicine. How much you use is based on the type of herbs used, the potency of the tincture, and the condition you are treating.
You can add the tincture (1 to 3TBS) to 8oz of hot water. Add a bit of lemon and honey to make it tolerable. I like to add it to my coffee.
When I contracted pneumonia several years ago, I took a strong tincture of Echinacea and Goldenseal (herbal antibiotics). I placed three tablespoons of tincture in my coffee three times a day for five days. When I started feeling better, I reduced the dose to once a day for five more days. I was better in three days after taking the first dose.
If you are sensitive and react quickly to medication, reduce your dose. Please use discretion when treating children under 12. Ask a naturopath before taking any tincture unless you know what you are doing.
As with all medicine, herbs are efficient healers. If you are pregnant or taking any pharmaceutical medication, talk to a naturopath before embarking on any self-treatment plan.