Many people refer to natural medicine as “alternative” healthcare. When they get sick they go to a licensed medical doctor first, and if they don’t achieve the results or relief they desire through modern medicine, they turn to a naturopath or other form of natural medicine as an”alternative”. In our family, we do things a little different – natural medicine, herbs, and good nutrition are our primary means of healthcare. When someone gets sick, we turn to our safe, trusted natural remedies first. In my opinion, it just doesn’t make sense to waste time or money on common ailments which we can safely and effectively treat at home. If a problem is persistent or life threatening, then by all means we go to the doctor and are thankful to have this high powered professional help. However, in most cases modern medicine is our “alternative”, and natural medicine and home remedies are what we turn to first.
One of the forms of natural or herbal medicine that we rely on most are homemade tinctures. Tinctures (also known as extracts) are concentrated, liquid forms of herbal medicine that are simple to make and easy to assimilate. Most tinctures use alcohol as the solvent because it offers the longest shelf life, and is by far the most effective at drawing out the medicinal and nutrient rich properties of the herb. You can also use vegetable glycerin to make an herbal extract or “glycerite”, but for now we’re going to focus on making a tincture using alcohol as the menstruum (solvent).
How To Make A Homemade Tincture:
Fill glass jar 1/2 full with dried, or 3/4 full with fresh herbal material.
Pour 100 proof vodka over the herbs, filling jar to just below the rim.
Seal the jar tightly with lid, label with date/ingredients, and store jar in a cool, dry, dark cabinet. Shake several times per week and check alcohol level to make sure herbs are fully submerged. If any of the alcohol has evaporated be sure to top off the jar with more vodka to ensure none of the herbs are exposed to air which can lead to mold and bacteria.
After 4-6 weeks, strain out all herbal material, and pour tincture into a dark amber glass bottle for storage. Be sure to label your tincture with the date and contents for future reference!
- Always store tinctures in a cool, dark place- the medicine cabinet is perfect!
- Tinctures properly made with at least 25% alcohol will last indefinitely! If you followed the directions above using 100 proof vodka, then your tincture contains 50% alcohol. (100 proof = 50% water, 50% alcohol)
- Don’t let the alcohol content in a tincture scare you away from reaping the many benefits of this powerful form of herbal medicine. Most over the counter cough syrups contain alcohol, the pure vanilla extract you use in your cooking contains alcohol, and the typical dosage of a tincture is just drops! Alcohol tinctures are safe for both children and pregnant women as long as the herbs used in the tincture are considered safe as well. One dose of an alcohol based tincture has approximately the same alcohol content of a very ripe banana.
- If preferred, you can easily evaporate the alcohol in a tincture by placing your dose in a hot liquid like tea or water before taking it.
- Tinctures can also be made using raw apple cider vinegar in place of alcohol using the same directions above. Vinegar does not draw out the herb’s properties as well as alcohol, but it is very inexpensive and works well as a gargle, and to fight fungal infections.
Tinctures are a great way to reap the benefits of natural herbal medicine. Check back soon in the coming weeks for some of my favorite tincture recipes, along with other natural and herbal remedies I’ll be sharing as part of a natural medicine cabinet post I’m working on!
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