Tag Archives: Tincture

Medicine Making


I’ve been a busy gal of late getting my medicines for winter ready.  For those of you who do not make your own or have no idea what I am talking about I have my tinctures started.  What is a tincture?  A tincture is an alcoholic extract (e.g. of leaves or other plant material) or solution of a non-volatile substance (e.g. of iodine, mercurochrome). To qualify as a tincture, the alcoholic extract is to have an ethanol percentage of at least 40-60% (80-120 proof) (sometimes a 90% (180 proof) pure liquid is even achieved).[1] In herbal medicine, alcoholic tinctures are often made with various concentrations of ethanol, 25% being the most common.(wikipedia.com).

Tinctures take roughly 6 weeks to make using the folk method of 1/2 jar of dried herb fill the rest with vodka.  So what do I have brewing you may ask… and why more importantly:

Valarian: One of the most useful relaxing nervines, valerian (Valeriana officinalis) is a perennial plant native to Europe and Asia. Valerian root tincture is an effective remedy for insomnia, reducing tension and nervousness, and for menstrual cramps.
An ancient, effective, and well recognized medicinal herb, Valerian has been used in medicine since at least the time of ancient Greece. Valerian has also been used for gastrointestinal spasms and distress, and attention deficit hyperactivity disorder.(http://www.localharvest.org/valerian-tincture-valeriana-officinalis-C3268)

Yarrow: Yarrow tincture in an indispensable part of our herbal medicine cabinet. It has been used traditionally as a wound healer, and antimicrobrial and anti-inflammatory herb. (http://www.localharvest.org/yarrow-tincture-C15288)

Calendula: The most notable use of calendula, however, is for its use externally on wounds, burns and abrasions – and especially for rejuvenating skin and helping the body to prevent and/or overcome abnormal skin growths. Scientific studies have shown that ointments made with calendula extract are particularly effective for healing wounds, including leg ulcers and other wounds that heal with difficulty. A recent study has shown efficacy for helping to heal surgical wounds after caesarian section. Another recent study showed that a naturopathic preparation containing calendula extract was effective in the management of ear pain associated with acute otitis media.

The flowers contain high concentrations of colorful orange xanthophylls, carotenoids and other flavonoids that are powerful antioxidants and the flavonoid extract has been shown scientifically to be effective against inflammation, fever and to stimulate bile flow for aiding digestion and cleansing the liver. The aqueous extract has also been shown to have an uterotonic effect. Studies done of the flowers of Egyptian Calendula officinalis L. conducted at the Kyoto Pharmaceutical University, Japan, found hypoglycemic and stomach protective properties for calendula flowers. The principal saponins inhibited an increase in serum glucose levels in glucose-loaded rats and prevented gastric lesions in rats. (http://www.localharvest.org/calendula-tincture-calendula-officinalis-C2682)

St. John’s Wort:  We are all aware of SJW effective use in treating anxiety, depression, irritability, fatigue and insomnia.  But it can do so much more!

It is a commonly used pain killer, and is useful as a topical treatment in treating wounds, bruises, herpes sores, varicous veins and burns, including sunburn. Also effective in easing pain of arthritus, sciatica, nerve pain, menstral cramps, hemorroids, and gout. In addition, has been known to help regulate menstrual cycle. (http://www.localharvest.org/st-johns-wort-alcohol-tincture-2-oz-C17543)

Chamomile: The beautiful fragrant Chamomile plant is a great sleep aid and mild sedative for children. It helps calm and cool a person down, and may help with occasional sleep issues. Use this tincture to ease a stomach ache due to over eating or flatulence. (http://www.localharvest.org/zzzs-please-sleep-aid-chamomile-tincture-C9903)

Beyond my tinctures I am also making homemade vanilla extract.  Who knew it was so easy!  I am currently extracting using vodka but may try other alcohols in the future.  I think I am going to try more extracts in the future too!  I took 3 whole vanilla beans and split them mostly in half keeping one end together.  Add 1 cup of alcohol (i used vodka but I have heard others using rum or brandy).  Put in a dark place and shake everyday for about 8 weeks.  Strain you and now you have homemade chemical free pure vanilla extract.  Total it cost me about $7.00 to make about 8 oz of extract which equals to about 87 cents an oz!




Echinacea Tincture


Wikipedia defines a tincture as: A tincture is an alcoholic extract (e.g. of leaves or other plant material) or solution of a non-volatile substance (e.g. of iodine, mercurochrome).  So what does that mean?  In my own words its drunk herbs.  I am kidding but not really.  A tincture often uses alcohol (80-100 proof), though sometime vinegar is used, to extract the benefits from the plant material.  In that lovely little jar above you can see a tincture hard at work.  It is in its first week of being a tincture and has 5 long more weeks to go.

I used Echinacea for this tincture.  Here’s a bit of information about this plant:

Latin Names: Echinacea purpurea, Echinacea angustifolia, Echinacea pallida

Common Names: Purple Coneflower, American Coneflower, Black Sampson, Comb Flower, Hedgehog, Indian Head, Rudbeckia, Sampson Head, Scurvy Root, Snakeroot

Properties: Antiseptic, Stimulates Immune System, mild anti-biotic, bacteriostatic, anti-viral, anti-fungal.

What are the benefits of this herb?  “Echinacea stimulates the overall activity of the cells responsible for fighting all kinds of infection. Unlike antibiotics, which directly attack bacteria, echinacea makes our own immune cells more efficient at attacking bacteria, viruses and abnormal cells, including cancer cells. It increases the number and activity of immune system cells including anti-tumor cells, promotes T-cell activation, stimulates new tissue growth for wound healing and reduces inflammation in arthritis and inflammatory skin conditions.”  Wow right?  I plan on using it when I need a boost in my immune system.  Living in the Midwest, winter can be an immune system nightmare as well as working with children and my husband and I do both!

So how do I make a tincture?  I went to my local health food store and got some dried and sifted Echinacea (not the powder) and filled a quart jar about 1/2 full.  Then I filled to the beginning of the rings with cheap 80 proof vodka.  Don’t get the good stuff go cheap and nasty on this one.  Stir well and top off with more vodka then cover.  I used wax paper since that is what I had on hand.  For the first week every time you walk by it shake it and add more vodka if needed.  After that first week put away for 5 more.  Then strain (you will get about 1/2 a jar of liquid), make sure you squeeze the herbs to get everything out.  Then it’s ready to use.  Tinctures last for a very long time.  Dosage rates depend on the herb and since I am not here to diagnose, treat or cure anything I can’t give you specifics.  Generally though it’s a dropper full (~40 drops) in a glass of water three times a day.  I have read in various places that it is good to take a break from your tincture every few weeks and then begin your regiment again.

My next tincture I am going to make is St. John’s Wort (very good for winter/cloudy times).

Happy Tincture making!