Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Making tinctures

Many herbs contain active ingredients which are not easily extracted by water, or are destroyed by heat, and a tincture solves these problems. A tincture is an herbal preparation made with alcohol and dried or fresh herbs. The alcohol preserves the medicine for 3 years or more. The alcohol used commercially is ethyl alcohol, but a spirit such as brandy or vodka is usually used for making tinctures at home. Do not use industrial alcohol and isopropyl alcohol, as they are poisonous.

I like using dried herbs in my tinctures, but you can use fresh as well. Make sure you do your homework and know the medicinal value of the herb you are using...check several resources!
Here I am making a cayenne tincture.
Take your herbs (dried or fresh) and chop.
A food processor is a great time saver for this step!

Next, put your dried herbs in a one quart sized mason jar about 1/3 full. For fresh herbs fill about half full and compact tightly. Pour your alcohol over the herbs and fill up the jar. Secure your lid well and shake. Store in your cupboard for three months and be sure to give it a shake every now and then. When time is up, strain the tincture into a clean glass bottle or jar.

Be sure to label your concoctions with the date of preparation.
To use your tincture, pour one teaspoon full of tincture into a glass of juice or tea and drink up to three times daily. If you are concerned about the alcohol, you can place your finished tincture jar into a pan of boiling water for about five minutes. This will burn off about half of the alcohol or you can make your tincture using glycerin (but you'll have to Google that process as I've never done it!)

I have to say that I am completely SOLD on the idea of homemade tinctures as herbal remedies! We made several batches of elderberry tincture last year during the big H1N1 outbreak and not one of us got so much as a sniffle! We had a daily glass of OJ with tincture and supplemented with 2000 IU of vitamin D3 and I truly, truly believe that is what kept us well. We'll be doing the same this year!

Here is our elderberry tincture made right in the vodka bottle! Just make sure none of your neighbors looks in your cupboard....you might have some 'splainin to do!

Check out the Tuesday Garden Party
at An Oregon Cottage

for more tips and tricks from the garden!


Athena at Minerva's Garden said...

This is very interesting--thank you for posting!

Athena at Minerva's Garden

Melinda said...

What part of the elderberry plant did you use to make the tincture? Flowers? Leaves?

JoAnnC. said...

Melinda, I used the berries from the plant. I ordered the dried berries from Rose Mountain Herbs (they are certified organic) for a very reasonable price. I've heard from neighbors that there are wild elderberries in the woods around where I live, but I'm not that confident in my identification skills yet! Maybe next summer I'll go foraging and see what I can find.

Jami@ An Oregon Cottage said...

Oh, thank you for this explanation- I have wanted to do this for awhile. You always seem to have the most useful link-ups to the TGP that I have been wondering about. :-) Plus, there are lots of wild elderberry around here (quite distinctive once you know what they look like- they have a beautiful blue flower that will start blooming in a few weeks around here).