Friday, September 18, 2009

How to make an herbal tincture

Okay, I'll be talking alot about herbs from here on out, so you'll want to know how to do this.

The reason I make my own tinctures is that it saves me ALOT of money. Here an example:
I use Red Raspberry leaf tincture every day. I would spend approx $320 per year if I bought the tinctures to use...by making them myself, I spend approx $7.00. Totally worth it! I've got the leaves in the backyard!

Step 1: Determine how much tincture you are going to need per year.
Tinctures last indefinitely if make with alcohol, but if you are like me, try to stick to a stash that you'll use in about a year. Anymore than that will just take up space in your medicine cabinet.
Here's some info you might need to know.

1 dropperful is usually a dose. If you use more than that, figure accordingly.

There are approx 40 dropperfuls in 1 oz.
There are 8 oz in 1 cup
There are 16 oz in a pint
There are 32 oz in a quart
There are 128 oz in a gallon

Step 2: Determine your extracting source.
A tincture is simply an herb that is extracted by alcohol, vinegar or glycerin.
Vinegar does not extract all substances of the herb and glycerin is worse, so I use only alcohol as it extracts everything from oils to minerals.
Start by choosing the right alcohol. You'll want 80-100 proof vodka or rum. Rum has a naturally sweet taste, and it's easier to go down, but it's harder to find a high alcohol content unless you want to pay big bucks. I usually use an 80 proof vodka which is easily available and cheap.

Step 3: Herb source
When I am going to make a tincture, I find that most of the herbs that I need are in my backyard. Red raspberry leaves, black berry leaves, mullein leaves, dandelion roots, st john's wort, echanatia....look for them outside or find someone who has an herb garden. Fresh is better.
However if you can't find a fresh source, you can order almost any herb by the pound by going to http://herbalcom.com. They are the best prices that I have ever found and I use them for all of my bulk herbs and spices.

Step 4: Gather your herbs
Once you have determined how much tincture you need, you will need to find a bottle that is big enough for that amount. Fill the bottle half full of the herb. lightly bruise and/or crush the herb to make it easier for extracting. and replace back into the bottle.

Step 5. Poor Alcohol
Poor the exact amount of alcohol needed for your tincture requirement over the herb. Make sure that it is completely covering the herb, but make sure that there is headspace in the jar.

Step 6. Shaking
For the next 2-6 weeks (the longer the herb steeps, the more potent the tincture will be), shake your herb bottle everyday and put it in a dark place. Shaking is very important. If you miss a day, don't worry - just give it a good swirl the next day to compensate.

Step 7. Herb removal
once your herbs are done steeping, strain out and reserve all of the liquid. Put your herbs in a cheesecloth and squeeze every last drop out of them into the reserved liquid. Discard the herb.
Your tincture should have taken on the smell and color of the herb.

Kind of a lengthy process, but it is worth it. I try to do alot of herbs at one time. I determine the end date on my calendar and mark it so that I don't have to guess when to remove the herbs.

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