Tinctures are made by soaking an herb in alcohol. This encourages the active plant constituents to dissolve, giving tinctures a relatively stronger action than infusions or decoctions. They are convenient to use and last up to two years. Tinctures can be made using a jug and a jelly bag, instead of a wine press. Although mainly used in European, American, and Australian herbal medicine, tinctures play a part in most herbal traditions.
Tinctures are strong preparations, and it is essential to check the recommended dosage. Never use industrial alcohol, methylated spirits (methyl alcohol) or rubbing alcohol (isopropyl alcohol) in tinctures.
Alcoholic tinctures should sometimes be avoided, for example during pregnancy or a gastric inflammation. Adding 1 tsp (5 ml) of tincture to a small glass of almost boiling water and leaving it for 5 minutes allows the alcohol to evaporate. To make nonalcoholic tinctures, replace the alcohol with vinegar or glycerol.
Tinctures are made in different strengths, expressed as ratios. In this book, a 1:5 ratio (1 part herb to 5 parts alcohol) is used, unless otherwise stated.
200 g dried or 300 g fresh herb chopped into small pieces to 1 quart (1 liter) alcohol—vodka of 35–40% alcohol is ideal, although rum hides the taste of bitter or unpalatable herbs
Take 1 tsp (5 ml) 2 –3 times a day diluted in 1 tbsp plus 1 tsp (25 ml) of water or fruit juice.
Store in sterilized, dark glass bottles in a cool dark place for up to 2 years.
How to Prepare
- Place the herb in a large, clean glass jar and pour on the alcohol, ensuring that the herb is covered. Close and label the jar. Shake well for 1–2 minutes and store in a cool dark place for 10–14 days, shaking the jar every 1–2 days.
- Set up the wine press, placing a muslin or nylon mesh bag securely inside. Pour in the mixture and collect the liquid in the jug.
- Slowly close the wine press, extracting the remaining liquid from the herbs until no more drips appear. Discard the leftover herbs.
- Pour the tincture into clean, dark glass bottles using a funnel. When full, stopper with a cork or screw top and label the bottles.