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medicinal herb tincture: tutorial

So, I had no idea until a friend explained to me that making homemade medicinal tinctures from the herbs in your garden is totally simple. This was a revelation, because I am tired of drying out herbs-processing them and storing them in jars--plus there are always so much that they don't all get used over the course of a year.

To make an herbal tincture that you will later consume (probably about 20-30 drops per dose) you will need:

Ball Jars (either pint or quart will work)

Large bottle of Everclear

Herb of Choice (chopped finely)

Wax paper and lids for jars

Stuff the clean jars with your chosen medicinal herb and pour Everclear over until it just covers the herbs. Cut a square of wax paper and place under the lid of jar so that the alcohol does not erode or rust the lid. This would let particles fall into your tincture=bad. Secure lids tightly and label your jars: Date of preparation, type of herb and part used, type of alcohol used and percentage.

Using Everclear is crucial if you would like to use fresh herbs-they already have some water content, but the alcohol will pull out the constituents of the medicinal properties of the plant. A lesser proof and percentage of alcohol means that this will not occur. Proof=1/2 of the percentage, for example 80 proof is 40% alcohol. Everclear is 190 proof- the best you can obtain for tinctures unless you have a source for grain alcohol. It seems obvious, but NEVER use rubbing alcohol=bad!!! You can use dried herbs for tinctures, but in my opinion, fresh is better.

Once your jar is prepared and labeled, store your working tincture in a cool, dark place. It is best if you shake the jars once a day to mix things up a bit inside the jar. Don't let them stagnate. You will then let them sit for a month or 6 weeks, at which point you will strain the tincture from the plant matter--squeezing all the alcohol from the plant (this is the most concentrated part).

Voila, you have a homemade tincture that cost you far less than if you had bought if from the health food store. Store the strained mixture in a dark or amber colored glass jar and take doses when you are feeling ill, tired, energy drained or whatever ailment you have chosen the correct herb for. It helps to do a little research about what you'd like to harvest ahead of time. It is also fun to prepare your tinctures under the auspices of a new moon!

For example:

Dandelion root stimulates and aids the liver in the elimination of toxins from the blood. Use dandelion for liver disorders, and gall bladder problem.

Use Echinacea to activate the immune system when fighting colds and flu, or almost any type of infection. You can use echinacea tincture whenever you feel your body is fighting an ailment.

Nettles are a tonic and general detoxifying remedy for the whole body, primarily for the lungs, stomach and urinary systems. Use nettles for allergies, asthma, eczema, urinary complaints and arthritic and rheumatic problems.

Gathering and Harvesting Herbs:

With a little effort you can find many useful herbs for tincturing growing near your home. If you want to obtain your herbs this way you will need to pay attention to these plants so that you can harvest them at the appropriate time. The general rule is to harvest the above ground portions of the plant when it is flowering and harvest roots when the above ground portions begin to die back.

If you would like to make an herbal tincture blend, I suggest making them separately and then combining them after their maturation. This way you have more control over ratios that you mix together.

My garden is growing like crazy right now as shown in the photos--now I have a purpose for all those unused herbs growing out there.

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3 Comments

    Great tips … I think I’ll try making the nettles and echinacea tinctures! I buy them in capsule form all the time from GNC and its so expensive!

    Comment by Jen | 07.24.10

    Beautiful garden and great tutorial! I have not made Echinacea tincture before but have heard that it is the root that is medicinal, not the leaves/flowers. Did you chop up the roots when preparing your tincture? I have tons of echinacea out back and would love to give it a try! :)

    Comment by tomoko | 07.26.10

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