Herbal Tinctures

Preparing your herbal tinctures is easy, rewarding, and a relatively simple way to create high-quality, affordable medicine. If you were good at chemistry, you might remember some of this, but if you are like me and need a refresher, no worries, I got you covered.

A solvent is a substance that dissolves a solute, resulting in a solution.

• In tincture making, the solvent is called the menstruum.

• The solutes are the medicinal constituents within the plant.

• The solution is the finished tincture.

The solvent, or the menstruum, is the liquid that’s extracting, or pulling out, the medicinal compounds (solutes) from the plant. In tincture making, the solvent is most typically alcohol. 

The alcohol extracts the medicinal qualities (solutes) from the herb, resulting in a tincture (solution). For example, when you prepare a teacup, water is the solvent (it extracts the aroma, flavor, and medicinal constituents from the plant material), and the tea is the solution.

Types of Solvents (Menstruums) Used in Tincture Making

• Ethanol (alcohol)

• Vinegar

• Glycerine, or glycerin

For prolonged shelf life, I would use organic alcohol from corn, grapes, or cane sugar. Or, like many others, they use 100% proof vodka. You can also try brandy, gin, and other types of alcohol. If you’re using fresh plant material (herbs that haven’t been dried) for your tinctures, higher alcohol levels are recommended (such as 100 proof or higher), as the fresh juices in the plant material will dilute the alcohol into a lower alcohol tincture, with a shorter shelf life.

In the United States, “proof” is expressed as two times the alcohol by volume (alcohol percentage).

For instance, 100-proof vodka is 50% alcohol and 50% of water.

Vinegar Tinctures:

Like many people would like to avoid alcohol, either because children or other personal reasons, may consume the tincture. Perhaps the taste of alcohol is unpleasant to you, or alcohol consumption is against your principles. Or perhaps alcoholic spirits are not available legally in your community.

Making a tincture is pretty simple,

Step 1: Fill a sanitized glass jar with dried herbs and apple cider vinegar

Step 2: Seal label and store jar in a cool dark place (cabinet or garage)

Step 3: Shake every day for two weeks.

Step 4: Strain and store the solution in a stopper

Step 5: Store in a cool dark place

Pros and Cons:

Pros: Safe for children, No conflict with morals, and Works well with hot drinks,

Cons: Shorter life span and Less potent

Tips:

· Use raw apple cider vinegar if at all possible. If not available, use apple cider vinegar that still contains the mother—the beneficial bacteria that allows for fermentation.

· Do not use white vinegar.

· Use dry herbs only, not fresh.

· Vinegar tinctures have a one-year shelf life. After this time, discard the old tincture and create a fresh tincture.

Alcohol will extract about 90-95% of what you want from an herb. Vinegar will extract about 15-20% and glycerin only about 5-10%

Ratio (Put on your thinking cap):

Alcohol proof into alcohol percentage

To change alcohol proof to a percentage, take the proof and divide it in half. This gives you the percentage of alcohol, minus this number from 100, the amount of water. For example, 160 proof is 80% ethanol and 20% water.

160÷2=80 (percentage of alcohol)

100-80=20 (percentage of water)

The Ratio

Herb weight: Menstruum volume (i.e., 1:2, 1:5)

This is always a relationship of weight to volume (herb weight: liquid volume). Note on metric and imperial (American)systems.

30 grams is about 1 ounce (weight)

30 milliliters is equal to about 1 fluid ounce

1000 milliliters is equal to one liter, which is about 1 quart

Example:

Tincture 18 oz of fresh Echinacea root in 95% ethanol at 1:2; Starting with 95% ethanol.

This example doesn’t need an ethanol conversion number as the formula asks for 95% ethanol, which is what you have.

Tincturing 1:2 in 95%

18×2=36

Final ratio 18:36

Tincture 18 oz. Echinacea root in 36 oz of 95% ethanol.

Dosage:

The average dose for an American-made tincture is generally 30-60 drops (this is an approximation but will significantly vary according to the plant, herbalist, and situation. Some very potent herbs should only be taken in drop doses; the dropperful takes even diluted drop doses and other very mild herbs.

Facts:

Vinegar and glycerin are two substitutes for alcohol as a tincture menstruum.

Vinegar does not dissolve plant constituents and alcohol, but it is tolerable by most people, including alcoholics, and helps regulate the acid/alkaline balance in our bodies.

Vinegar tinctures are reported to have a shelf life of 2 -3 years if stored in a cool, dark place, although the properties will begin to deteriorate after 6 months in most cases.

Vinegar extracts sugars, tannins, vitamins, some minerals, glycosides, and bitter compounds.

Warm the vinegar first before using, to facilitate the release of plant constituents.

Glycerin is diluted 1:4 with water to make tinctures. It is suitable for the mucus membrane linings in our bodies.

Although glycerine will dissolve sugars, enzymes, glucosides, bitter compounds, saponins, and tannins, it will not dissolve resinous or oily components, alkaloids, or salts.

Glycerine is sweet, which makes it an excellent menstruum to use when making tinctures for children.

Purchase only 100% vegetable glycerin for your tincture making.

When taking an alcohol-based tincture, the alcohol per dose is so insignificant that you are getting more drink when using most mouthwashes.

The amount of alcohol in the average dose of tincture is equal to the amount of alcohol in a ripe banana.

While the dosage is different, alcohol tinctured herbs are safe for infants, children, and pregnant women.

A tincture dose is SAFE for anyone in a 12 step program or Alcoholics Anonymous.

Alcohol vs. Glycerine Tinctures – The Herbal Toad. https://theherbaltoad.com/blog/alcohol-vs-glycerine-tinctures/

Popular Herbs To Tincture:

Turmeric

Echinacea

Milk Thistle

Ashwagandha

Valerian

Astragalus

California Poppy

Gingko

Comfrey

Feverfew

Chaste Tree

Shepherds Purse

White Willow

Always remember I am not a doctor so always consult with one before changing your diet. Feel free to ask questions.

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