I love to make simple medicines for my family! The less that we rely on western medicine, the more we start to take control of our own health, and ultimately our own bodies. One type of medicine that I am going to show you how to make today is a herbal tincture. I have made a few of these already- Usnea tincture in a previous blog post that you can read all about here .
So , what is a herbal tincture? Good question!
A tincture is a concentrated form of herbal medicine prepared with alcohol as a solvent to extract out the medicinal compounds from fresh or dried plant material. Many people think tinctures are extracts are the same thing, however, a tincture is different from an extract due to the solvent used. Herbal extracts use glycerin or apple cider vinegar, and even honey. For the most stable long lasting shelf life, You should use alcohol. Alcohol also is best for extracting the most compounds and constituents from a plant. That being said, some people will still prefer glycerin ( especially for children, as it is sweet) or ACV- especially those who are unable to use alcohol due to various health or personal reasons. Use what is best for you !
Tinctures can be used for a variety of things, they are mainly used with a dropper under the tongue, for the most effective way to get a medicine into your bloodstream. Tinctures can also be ingested and even used topically. My usnea tincture is used under the tongue during a cold or flu, but then also used topically for an infected cut. Make sure to research what you are making, why you are making it and what you ill be using it for.
What about the Proof?
In the Usnea tincture I made previously, I used 190 proof Everclear, and this tincture certainly does its job, from fighting off infection, to stopping a respiratory illness dead in its tracks, which what I was looking for with that medicine. Usnea does not have much in terms of water soluble properties, so that is why I needed the higher proof for that particular tincture. For most herbs, you will need to extract the water and alcohol soluble properties in order to have a well rounded and balanced medicine. Using 80 to 100 proof, you will get the best of both worlds in your finished product. With a 100 proof alcohol, you will be getting 50% water and 50% alcohol which makes it PERFECT. With 190 proof, you are treading on potentially dangerous ground, as you will get an almost pharmaceutical grade tincture, with almost no water content which opens up the possibility of having an unwanted reaction to your tincture. So for MOST herbs, opt for 80 to 100 proof.
So I want to start by saying, MAKING TINCTURES DOESN'T HAVE TO BE HARD OR ELABORATE. Just think about your ancestors who made and used their own medicines. Simple stuff, that is effective!
As I mentioned earlier, use 80 to 100 proof. I was not able to find 100 proof ( 50%) , so I opted for 80. Very mild taste , no smell, and not super expensive. Dont go for the cheapest brand, or you will get a tincture that is really hard on your pallet. Dont use anything below 80 proof, the problems come when you use anything below 80- then you have to deal with too much water content, especially if you are using fresh herbs which will make the shelf life and efficacy of your tinctures unstable. With 80 or more, your tinctures can last for a few years!
What you need now:
-80 to 100 proof alcohol
-glass mason jars ( I am using 1 pint jars)
-fresh or dried plant material ( I am going to experiment using both today)
-parchment paper or paper coffee filter
When they are ready to bottle:
- amber colored tincture bottles or dropper bottle to store your tinctures when they are complete
The tinctures I have decided to make today are Wormwood and Prickly lettuce tinctures. Wormwood tincture is used to help with digestive problems such as loss of appetite, upset stomach, gall bladder disease, and intestinal spasms. Wormwood is also used for fever, liver disease, depression, muscle pain, memory loss and worm infections; as a tonic, and to stimulate sweating. It is also great if you want to have some pretty crazy dreams at night!
Prickly lettuce is used for a sleep aid, pain killer and sedative effects. Wild and prickly lettuce should be a must have for every preppers toolkit.
If you want to learn more about how to make lettuce opium from prickly or wild lettuce, then click on the link toe directed to my previous blog post !
For my wormwood tincture, I am going to use dried, since that Is what I have right now. My wormwood is fresh harvested about a week ago. For dried plant material, you are getting a more concentrated punch, so you do not need to fill the whole jar. Depending how strong you want the tincture, use 1/2 cup to 1 cup of dried for 1 pint jar. I was going to use a full quart sized jar, but I did this last time and ended up with too much tincture for what I need. So this time I am using smaller ones. This way I ca also make several types of tinctures with the same bottle of vodka.
Next step- Fill your jar with your alcohol ! So easy eh ? Many people will think they must fill the jar almost full of plants, but you dont need to do that. You have to leave room for your liquid, otherwise you will end up with a very concentrated tiny amount of tincture. Leave room for your alcohol!
There you have it, 1 pint sized jar of wormwood tincture!
Next is my prickly lettuce. I am making this specifically for pain relief. Headaches, and sore joints is what I deal with sometimes, and I would like to get off the Advil- so that i can be off all western medications completely. Yup, tats the extent of the medications I take. Advil. Go ahead and laugh it up!
I am using fresh and dried, so for the fresh, use a freshly harvested plant, I harvested about 30 plants for drying, and I will use about 5 small plants for this tincture. My large guys will be dried and stored.
Chop the plant into small pieces, you can use the entire plant, root to flowers. Its best to use plants that have not gone to seed, as I mentioned in my previous post, as the plant focuses on the seeds , it stats to loose its potency. The plants that I have harvested, some have seeds, and some are still working on it. If you dont find plants that haven't gone to seed, DONT WORRY ABOUT IT ! Use them anyways, you will still make a rocking tincture. Part of what makes a good medicine is the energy and good vibes that go into it, so don't stress out, or overthink it. A few of my plants flowers poofed up while waiting ti be tinctured because I left them for a few hours while I got busy with my kids. I did not worry to much about it, I simply shook the seeds off to flow freely in my yard and went on with it. No stress!
Fill up your jar with the plant pieces, leaving enough space from the top. Do not pack your herbs in the jar! Leave room for your alcohol. Once they are in the jar, pour in the vodka.
Here is my dried version of prickly lettuce tincture. Use the same as before, 1/2 to 1 cup of dried plant for my 1 pint sized jar.
Pour in the vodka!
There you have it ! 3 pint sized jars of herbal tinctures!
The only thing that I forgot to do in these pictures, is put the coffee filter on the tops before screwing the lids on. I have found that if you dont put something there, your tincture might cause the metal screw lid to rust and this is going to leach into your final product. When I make apple cider vinegar hair rinses, I always get rust leakage on my coffee filter. Lucky it soaks onto my filter instead of into my rinse, and I just change it up when it gets really soaked. I am not sure if this is going to happen with the vodka, but just to play it safe, I am going to use the coffee filter. I would be pretty upset if I waited 6 weeks just to end up with a tincture full of metal!
So the next step to your tincture, is to leave it in a dark, cool space, and just let it sit. 4 to 6 weeks is pretty standard, but you can leave a bit longer. I have heard of some people forgetting their tinctures and finding them a year later, and the tincture still being 100% use-able- just really super potent. I am going to leave mine for 6 weeks.
The final step is to LABEL your creations. Make sure to label them with a DATE so you know when it was made. It just makes it so much easier to keep track of them. I label mine with the date, the proof, and the plant material. You can even get technical and put the ratios, and this for my own personal use is not something I am going to get to much into, in fact numbers really bore the crap and confuse me! (uugh math) So, if you really want to learn more about ratios, and how to label them, you can click on this fabulous link here .
.So there you have it! A whole blog, completely uncomplicated and easy peasy lemon squeezy- about how to make your very own medicinal tinctures right at home from plants that you can find in your own backyard. The reason why I wanted to write a blog, outlining how easy it is, is because I have spend hours looking up information when I first started to make tinctures, and I found that so much of the information out there, seemed very elaborate, and it doesn't have to be! I wanted to bring you a piece of information that cut to the chase and just showed you how easy it can be, and teach you how not to be stressed out when making it. It really doesn't have to be hard. Keep in mind, there are always precautions to take, and research to be done, and information to know especially regarding the dosages and interactions with other medications when you are making any type of herbal medicines. Plant medicine is powerful and you must make sure to do your due diligence in regards to what plant you are using. However, the art of making it, doesn't have to be too difficult.
When it comes to your dosages, you cant really be sure how much to take, because everyone bodies react the same. What might work for me, might make someone else feel like shit. You can start off small with dosages and see how it works for you, and then work your way up or down, depending how something made you feel. You have to learn how to be really in-tuned with your body, and really get to know your body , and get to know the plants you are working with. This is way you can really get to know how each plant works for you.
I hope that you really enjoyed my blog today, and have learned a bit more about making fantastic tinctures for your family. Remember that you are your own person, in charge of your own health ! I am going to update this blog later on, ( in 6 weeks, to show you what my tincture looks like, and how to strain it out and bottle it! Thank you for reading , and if you have any questions, you can always ask in the comments, or send me a direct message.
Please make sure to do your own research when making tinctures, herbal remedies, or medicines. This blog post is meant for educational purposes only, and the information therein is limited to my own personal experiences with my family, and is not meant to treat, diagnose, cure any disease or illness. Please make sure to consult your doctor or trusted health care practitioner if you are feeling unwell, and consult with them prior to making, or using and herbal remedy. Again, this blog post is for EDUCATIONAL PURPOSES ONLY.