How to make Tinctures
To make a Tincture; first, you need to decide upon which Herb Tincture is going to be useful to you, and until an individual becomes proficient in the use of herbs, a little exploration is required as to which herb is best for the requirement at hand.
Maybe the treatment of cuts, wounds, and grazes is required, therefore, after a little research, it’s been decided that Herbs that may be of use might be Yarrow (Achillea millefolium) and
Comfrey (Sympohytum officinale)
As certain herbs can be used to treat more than one illness or debilitation, it is recommended that Tinctures are made separately, using one herb per Tincture, bringing them together to treat different healing problems.
For instance, Yarrow can be used topically as well as orally, whereas Comfrey causes quite a lot of debate on whether or not it can be safely ingested. It’s always best to ere on the side of caution with any herb, if there is any doubt, then don’t do it!
I would, therefore, recommend that single Herb Tinctures are made and mixed together at the point of use.
I am going to introduce a herb that is rarely discussed in the subject of Healing Herbs. The Herb in question is ‘Horsetail’ Latin name being (Equisetum arvense), known by the gardening fraternity as the dreaded weed ‘Mares tail’.
Horsetail in the garden is an invasive, deep-rooted weed with very quick growing rhizomes that can be easily recognised by its upright, fir tree-like shoots that appear in summer. The problem with Horsetail in the garden is that its creeping rhizomes can go down as deep as 7 feet below the surface of the soil, making them difficult to remove by digging down. The rhizomes can travel a long way, even invading the next garden and the one after that ad infinitum.
Horsetails belong to a family of plants that were widespread in the Devonian period, about 350 million years ago. In that era, the plants were abundant, and they grew to the size of trees. The horsetails of today, though considerably smaller, are sometimes referred to as living fossils.
Horsetails do not flower therefore do not seed. Like ferns, they reproduce through the dispersal of spores.
But to the herbalist, Horsetail can be a useful addition to the Healing process, although it is necessary to ensure that the herb you think you have is the right one, especially with this herb, as there are others that may have a similar appearance yet could be poisonous. As it is, Horsetail comes with its own warning: Do not use where there is cardiac or renal dysfunction.
Having discussed the downside of Horsetail (Equisetum arvense) its uses are many to the Herbalist. It is an excellent genitor-urinary system astringent and can be used for such conditions as urethritis or cystitis, along with Haematuria (blood in the urine) that sometimes appears when urethritis or cystitis is experienced, is due to the silica content in Horsetail.
Horsetail has long been recognised as being a mild diuretic, its toning and astringent action makes it useful for the treatment of incontinence and bedwetting in children. It is particularly suited to metabolic or hormonal oedema (when an excess of watery fluid collects in the cavities or tissues of the body) especially during the menopause or where pre-menstrual conditions are experienced. Horsetail is also recommended for inflammation of the prostate gland. An excellent Herb for consideration in both the bladder functioning of both male and female.
Horsetail is a Herb to Heal can be most effectively used by making a Tincture as the Herb is available for only part of the year (the early summer)
Making a Tincture
A rule for making any Herbal Medication is to keep everything clean, otherwise, bacteria may enter the medication and spoil it, this is especially important when making Medications that will have a shelf life, such as Tinctures. Wash all equipment before use, wash hands well when necessary, and make sure that if you are using fresh herbs, they are clean from any soil and any insect life.
You will need:
2 ozs, or 60 grams of the ready prepared herb of choice
½ pint of alcohol of 60 proof or over.
A non-aluminum pan
A jug big enough to hold at least one pint
A bowl big enough to hold at least one pint
A half-pint jar with a tight-fitting lid (1/2 a pint is 284 ml)
Amber bottles complete with dropper (25ml bottles you will need around 8 to 10 bottles. 50ml bottles you will need around 5 bottles.
A fine strainer
A small funnel
- 2 ozs or 60 grams of chopped (or powdered) dried herbs – put into a jar that has a tight fitting lid. Be aware that dried herbs will reconstitute in the alcohol, so choose a jar big enough to allow for expansion.
(If you are using fresh herbs then the amounts are 8 oz. or 240 grams of fresh herbs)
- ½ pint or 250 ml of alcohol (between 60 and 100% proof, and vodka is recommended as the best)
Pour over the herbs and put the lid on tight.
- Keep the jar in a warm place for around 4 weeks, shaking the jar daily to help extract all of their constituents. (It is best to keep the jar out of direct sunlight, a nice warm kitchen should be fine).
- After the 4 weeks pour the herbs and alcohol mix into a jug, pouring through a double layer of muslin to extract the Tincture from the Herb, tie the top of the muslin and hang it up over the dish letting it drip until the muslin is cool enough to wring it out to get all the liquid out. This removes all herbal residue from the liquid, if you are left with any residue in the liquid then repeat the process of pouring through another double layer of muslin.
- Tinctures are best if kept in colored bottles, either amber or dark blue with a dropper on the top if possible to allow for accurate dosage. Dark coloured bottles are used to prevent light from spoiling the Tincture, too much light will not only lose the Tinctures colour, but its strength too may be weakened.
Amber bottles can easily be obtained online, and don't forget you will need a bottle with a dropper.
Pour your Tincture into amber coloured bottles using a funnel so you don’t lose any of the precious Tincture.
- Label your Tincture, remembering to put the date on the label to give you an idea of when they need to be discarded and a new batch made. It’s is best to keep your Tinctures in a dark place, on a shelf inside a cupboard is good. Tinctures should last at least 2 years depending on the proof of alcohol used, 100 proof makes the best preservative, but 80 proof is a good alternative, with 60 proof being good enough if that’s all that’s available.
Tinctures can be mixed with other tinctures or with Infusions or Decoctions, they can also be used to make ointments, liniments, creams, and other home-made Herbal Medications. Enjoy!