Perhaps you have heard the word tincture but are not exactly sure what it is. A tincture is a very concentrated liquid of an herb that preserves the therapeutic properties of the herb to make it more effective. Tinctures are taken by mouth by the dropper full which usually equals 30 drops.
Tinctures are not difficult to make and are a highly valuable addition to your natural home medicine kit.
History of Herbal Tinctures
There was a point in history where much, if not all medicine was grown in the garden. Tinctures were common and used for a wide variety of ailments and have their ancient roots in cultures all over the world. However, after the process of alcohol distillation was discovered in Europe, they became widely popular. During the Victorian period, tinctures were readily available at the corner pharmacy and were the preferred method of delivering herbal medicine.
The use of tinctures in alternative health care practices is quite common today all over the world. Also, as more and more people discover the ease with which tinctures can be prepared at home, these are becoming a popular home DIY home remedy.
Basics of Tincture Making
No matter what type of tincture you are making, the process is relatively the same. Here is a list of the supplies you will need:
- Clean glass jar, pint size
- Consumable alcohol such as vodka or rum – must be 80 proof – can also use apple cider vinegar
- Clean spoon
- Small glass jar with dropper
- Herbs – you can grow your own or purchase at a health food store or Mountain Rose Herbs.
- Fill the clean glass jar about ½ full with dried herbs (be sure not to pack the herbs down)
- Pour boiling water over the herbs just to get them wet (this will draw out beneficial properties of the herbs).
- Fill the remaining part of the jar with alcohol or apple cider vinegar and stir with a clean spoon.
- Place the lid on the jar and store the jar in a cool and dry place.
- Shake the jar daily for at least three weeks but up to six months.
- Strain the liquid through a clean cheesecloth.
- Label your jar, so you know what is in it.
- Store the tincture in a clean glass jar in a cool location. If you use apple cider vinegar, store the tincture in the fridge and use within six months.
How To Take A Tincture
To take a tincture, it is best to put the drops directly under your tongue and avoid any liquid for fifteen minutes. This will get the herb directly into your bloodstream. You can also dilute a tincture with a little lemon or honey (this also helps to disguise the taste). You can also place a dropperful of a tincture in a cup of boiling water. This will give you an instant cup of herbal tea. Be sure to heat the water first before you add the tincture.
There are also some tinctures that are only recommended for external use. It is important that you pay attention to the best and safest method of application for tinctures.
Types of Tinctures & Their Medicinal Benefits
Here are a few tinctures that you can make at home and the conditions that they will help.
3 Tincture Recipes For Anxiety
We live in a rush-rush culture where everyone seems to be in a hurry to get somewhere or get something done. This type of environment often creates a state of chronic stress or anxiety. Anxiety can take a toll on both physical and mental health. Here are three effective tinctures that you can make at home to help relieve anxiety and promote calmness.
- Skullcap (Scutellaria lateriflora): If you experience anxiety with restlessness, muscle tension or even jaw clenching, skullcap may be an option for you.
This perennial mint is helpful for people who feel like they can’t relax unless they are walking or moving around, toss and turn in bed and feel like they are”climbing the walls.” Skullcap is especially effective as a tea or a tincture to reduce muscular tension and restlessness. Take 20-40 drops of the tincture a few times a day – especially before retiring.
- Passionflower (Passiflora incarnata): This herbaceous and woody vine produces a beautiful and intricate flower. Although used historically as a sleep aid, passionflower is also an effective stress buster. For people who are exhausted all the time and in a constant state of stress, passionflower tincture can help restore balance and energy.
The usual dosage is 20-40 drops for a 145-pound person. Add ten drops at a time if you don’t find some relief after twenty minutes.
- Kava kava (Piper methysticum): This ancient herb from the Pacific Islands is well-known for its anti-anxiety properties. It does have a much more hypnotic effect than either passionflower or skullcap. The taste is very interesting and creates a numb-like sensation in the mouth.
It should be noted that if you have liver issues you should not use kava kava.That being said, it is a highly effective anti-anxiety when used a few times a week.
Read Next: How To Relieve Anxiety with Essential Oils
2 Tincture Recipes To Relieve Pain
Although there are hundreds of plants that contain inflammation reducing and pain fighting properties, a few really stand out. Many tinctures are just as good or better at easing pain as over-the-counter or even prescription drugs.
Here are two herbs that are particularly effective at fighting pain and reducing inflammation when taken in tincture form.
- Wintergreen (Gaultheria procumbens): This tiny evergreen shrub is also known as teaberry, checkerberry, deerberry and boxberry and is in the heath family and closely related to cranberries, blueberries and huckleberries. The berries of this plant are edible and the leaves and used in teas, extracts, and cordials. Pure oil of wintergreen is methyl salicylate which has the same anti-inflammatory and anti-fever properties as acetyl salicylate (or aspirin). Native Americans used this herb for things such as rheumatoid and joint pain, headaches as well as general aches and pain. Its antiseptic properties are also useful to battle toothaches, muscle pain, sore throats and sore mouths.
Take 6-12 drops of wintergreen tincture in water or juice, under the tongue. Take three times daily as needed and store in a cool, dark place.
Note: People who are sensitive to aspirin should not use wintergreen nor should people who are on blood thinning medication or those who suffer from acid reflux.
- Arnica (Arnica Montana) – External Use Only
Arnica is a perennial plant that is found mostly in the mountainous regions of Canada, the northern United States, and Europe. Blooming in July and August, this flower produces a pretty bright yellow flower that resembles a daisy. For hundreds of years, the bloom of this plant has been used in a variety of alternative medicine applications. In Germany, it is very popular and used in over 100 drug preparations.
Some sports creams and rubs contain this flower and it is a popular natural pain killer amongst athletes and yogis. Although it is unclear how this herb is so effective, it clearly works to reduce the pain and inflammation of swelling of minor bruises, strains, and sprains.
Arnica tincture should be used externally only, and you must be very cautious not to get it in your nose, mouth or eyes. If you do, rinse out immediately with cold water.
Dilute arnica well before using on affected area. Use several times a day to reduce pain and swelling.
2 Tinctures To Help Beat Insomnia
Do you suffer from insomnia? If so, you are not alone. Millions of people suffer from both acute and chronic sleep problems. If you have problems falling asleep or wake up frequently during the night, you might want to try either of these herbal tinctures.
Sleep Mixture: This tincture is a combination of various herbs that work together to provide a sound night’s sleep.
- Two tablespoons dried yarrow flowers
- Two tablespoons dried catnip
- Two tablespoons chamomile flowers
- One tablespoon dried mint leaves
- One tablespoon dried hops flowers
- One tablespoon stevia leaf
- Boiling water
- 2 cups 80 proof vodka
- Glass quart jar with lid
- Combine all of the herbs in the glass jar.
- Pour the boiling water to cover them and mix well.
- Fill the rest of the way with vodka.
- Cap with an airtight lid and leave in a cool place for at least 2 and up to 8 weeks. Shake daily.
- Strain and put into small tincture bottles.
A usual dose is 2-3 dropper fulls for adults and 1 dropper full for kids over two. Add to some juice or water and take an hour before bedtime.
Fruity Sleep Blend: This blend is light and fruity but packs a potent punch. Note, this tincture uses food grade glycerin instead of vodka or vinegar.
- Two tablespoons hibiscus flowers
- One tablespoon lavender blossoms
- Three tablespoons catnip
- Three tablespoons chamomile
- Two tablespoons passion flower
- ½ cup water
- 1 cup food grade glycerin
- Pint jar with lid
- Slow cooker
- Add the herbs to the pint size jar
- Pour boiling water over the herbs to cover them ( push them down slightly with a spoon)
- Add the glycerin.
- Put the lid on the jar and place it in a slow cooker ( line the bottom with a dish towel)
- Pour water in until half of the jar is covered and turn the slow cooker on warm and cover
- Let the jar sit for about 24 hours
- Shake the jar a few times during the setting period.
- Remove the jar and strain liquid using a cheesecloth.
- Put liquid in a tincture jar and store in the fridge.
For adults, mix three dropper fulls in water or juice and drink before bedtime. For toddlers, use half a dropper full and for older kids 1 to 2 dropper fulls.
As with any herbal therapy, be sure that you check with a medical professional before using.
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