Medicinal Tincture

A Tincture is a delightful herbal remedy which extracts a plant’s constituents into a mixture of high-proof alcohol and pure water. The medicinal constituents that can be extracted from the plant using the tincture method are its alkaloids, bitters, resins, oils, glycosides, and some water-soluble constituents at lower concentrations of alcohol.

Why make a tincture?

Because it’s fun! And it can offer additional benefits over other methods of herbal preparations, such as:

  • Ease of use: a tincture is easier and more convenient to take than those who don’t like to spend the time making tea.

  • Stability: Tinctures last for 10 years after making them, so you don’t have to worry about it expiring on your shelf any time soon!

  • Increased absorption: tinctures are readily absorbed into the blood stream

  • Increased potency: tinctures extract plant constituents that a tea cannot.

Terminology

Sometimes the hardest part of making herbal remedies is understanding the ancient terminology still used today. Below is a list of commonly used terminology that will be stated as we go along.

  • “Constituent”: a medicinal component of a plant

  • “Marc”: the solid dried or fresh herb you will be using for your tincture

  • “Menstruum”: the solvent you will be using for your tincture – a combination of alcohol and water

  • “1:5 Ratio”: this means that 1 part herb (or marc) to 5 parts menstruum by weight is needed for your tincture. The ratio determines the concentrated strength of your tincture and is predetermined by herbal texts specific to different plants.

  • “Folk Method”: this is the easiest “home-cookin” style of tincture making. There are no measurements required, you just fill a glass jar with fresh/dried herb and then pour in the alcohol until all the “marc” is covered. Let it sit in a dark place for 2-4 weeks, strain, and voila – you have your tincture!

  • “Maceration”: the softening or breaking down of plant material in its solvent over time.

The Supplies You Need to Make Your Tincture

  • Fresh or dried organic/wildcrafted herb: Please note the quality of herbs you start with will determine the quality of the medicine you make. Also, some herbs, like Cascara sagrada, must be dried in order to reduce toxicity and must not be used fresh.

  • Clean large glass jar with a lid and a few tincture bottles

  • Scale

  • Coffee grinder, blender or mortar & pestle

  • Strainer and cheesecloth

  • Sharp knife and cutting board

  • Alcohol (40-50% vodka works for most plants). You can also use vegetable glycerine or apple cider vinegar to make an herbal extract

  • Pure distilled water for diluting the alcohol if needed

  • Calculator (if needed)

NOW YOU’RE READY TO MAKE YOUR TINCTURE!

Since not everyone has access to herbal books and information on particular formulations of certain plants (and it’s too extensive to list on this website), we will use a more generalized method of tincturing. 

Step 1: Collect your organic/wildcrafted herb.

Depending on if you’re using a fresh herb or a dried herb, your ratio of marc to menstruum will change. Fresh plants contain more moisture so they require less menstruum, therefor a 1:2 ratio is used. Dried herb has substantially less moisture and requires a 1:5 ratio. And remember, the quality of herbs you start with will determine the quality of the medicine you make, so make sure your get ethically harvested, organic plants. Also, some herbs, like Cascara sagrada, must be dried in order to reduce toxicity and must not be used fresh.

Step 2: Prepare your Marc. 

Finely chop or use your blender or mortar and pestle to break-up your herbs to enhance the extraction process. Next, weigh your herb on a small scale to determine the weight in ounces to use in your ratio.

Step 3: Prepare your Menstruum. 

Most plants require a 40-50% solution, so your typical vodka works well! If you want to produce tinctures professionally or if you want to create an exact formulation, then you will need to get Everclear or Clear Spring from the US which is 95% alcohol. Using 95-100% alcohol will give you more flexibility in the percentage of alcohol needed for your menstruum. You can dilute the alcohol with distilled water to get a specific percentage required for specific herbs. For example, Withania somniferous requires a 25% menstruum. You can make your menstruum out of 1/4 (25%) Everclear and 3/4 (75%) distilled water to reach roughly 25% alcohol.

STEP 4 – Do some math.

Now that you have weighed your marc in ounces, you can use that to determine how much menstruum you need. If using fresh herb, you need a ratio of 1:2 – this means that if your marc is 8 ounces then you need 16 ounces of menstruum to cover it. If you’re using dried herb, you need a ratio of 1:5 – this means that if your marc is 8 ounces, then you need 40 ounces of menstruum to cover it.

Remember, this website is using a generalized method of tincturing. If you’re interested in making exact formulations, please refer to herbal texts for information on particular ratios and percentages for certain plants.

Step 5: Put it all together. 

Fill your glass jar with marc (herb) and cover it with the right amount of menstruum (40% vodka). Make sure you have a layer of liquid above the herb to prevent oxidation. If you don’t have enough liquid, you may need to alter the ratio and add more vodka. Close the lid tightly and place in a dark room temperature place, a cupboard usually works well, and leave it there for 2-4 weeks. It’s important to shake your mixture each day to ensure that the menstruum is working through all the herb.

Step 6: The big squeeze. 

After 2-4 weeks, pour the mixture through a strainer into a bowl. Then place the remaining herb into a cheesecloth and gather it up into a ball. Squeeze out the remaining liquid over the strainer into the bowl. The harder you squeeze, the more tincture you’ll get! You can also use a juice press to get any remaining liquid out of the marc. 

Filter the liquid through a coffee or milk filter or multi-layered cheese cloth to remove any floaters. You can then use a funnel to pour your tincture into an amber small-mouthed bottle and store in a dark and cool place – like a medicine cabinet! 

YOU DID IT!

Congratulations, you have made your own super potent medicine! Now, you can either take your single herb tincture or you can combine different tinctures to make your own formulations! The dosing for your medicine depends on your physiology and which herb you’re planning on taking. You can book an appointment with me or speak with your healthcare provider to see which dose is best for you!

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