I love tintures. You throw some herbs in a jar and cover it with whatever menstruum you want, shake it for a month and when it’s done, you have a jar of wonderful medicine that can be added to tea, smoothies, juice, or in a little warm water. Various menstruums include alcohol in varying strengths, glycerine, and vinegar. I typically use grain alcohol when tincturing fresh herb to offset the water content, or I use 100 proof vodka. Brandy can also be used, as can 80 proof vodka, but I don’t use anything lower than 80 proof. I like to have at least 30% alcohol by volume in order that there’s enough alcohol to strip the constituents from the plant matter and to act as a preservative. 80 proof has 40% alcohol by volume, so it’s acceptable. Some people use rum and if it’s Bacardi 151, then you figure 75% alcohol content. Anything over 50% and you can dilute with glycerin or water to reach that level. Glycerin would sweeten it, so that’s always nice.
I use the same process each time, irrespective of the menstruum I use. I put enough chopped herb in a jar to fill it 2/3 of the way full. Then I pour the menstruum over the herb, covering it by an inch or so. I like it a little swishy when I shake the jar. The herb will soak up some of the menstruum and swell a bit, so check back and add more if necessary. I stir it up a bit before sealing with the lid using a skewer or a chopstick. You really want to make sure the menstruum reaches the herb. Some herbalists accomplish this by blending everything in a blender before returning it back to the jar for soaking. I’ve not done that because I like to see the herb in the jar, but it really makes sense to do it.
After 4 weeks of shaking daily, strain the mixture and bottle. I like to use 4 oz amber dropper bottles, otherwise I’m constantly refilling the bottles. Specialty Bottle has them at a resonable price.
So below I’ll add some tincture recipes, but I’ll leave out the process to save space and eliminate redundancy.
- 2 pts Black Cohosh root
- 2 pts Licorice root
- 2 pts Dong Quai root
- 2 pts St. John’s Wort
I use 100 proof alcohol for this.
- 1 pt oatstraw
- 2 pts fresh comfrey leaf – wilted
- 1 pt horsetail
100 proof vodka
Other single herb options
I’ve made some single herb tinctures which are great, including Lemon Balm, Mugwort, California Poppy, Horehound, Lobelia, Hawthorn Berry, and Nettle leaf. You can pretty much tincture anything. Motherwort is a favorite of this Crone Witch. White Willow bark is nice as well. Considering I can gather all but the nettle on my property, these tinctures hold a special significance. But I have a patch of nettle started, so in time, I’ll have enough of my own to harvest. So, the next time you want to kill a weed in your yard, ask yourself if it’s something that can heal. Odds are, it is. Dandelion is probably the best herb out there, so don’t kill them. Harvest the leaf during spring and summer and dig the roots during spring and fall.