Harvesting wild or cultivated herbs and berries to make your own tinctures for medicinal purposes fulfill a basic human desire to find allies for health.
Native Americans and old-school Americans have long used tinctures for preserving health and vitality to promote long life.
A special bond exists between herbalists of all ages and those who feel the call to experience these colorful and aromatic potions and elixirs.
This guide tells you what you need to know to create your own herbal home remedies.
A good way to find out more about creating effective herbal products is to visit herb shops, natural foods markets, and even pharmacies to smell and taste their products, feel the texture, and observe the coloring.
A salve maker who has made thousands of jars of calendula salve or a tincture maker who has created thousands of bottles of echinacea both know how to make a product that tastes good, looks good, and works well.
And soon, you will too!
Grain alcohol is absolutely the best solvent and delivery system to carry an herb’s active properties into the bloodstream.
Vodka is the most effective distilled liquor for making tinctures or alcoholic herbal extracts.
For home use, tinctures and elixirs can be made with 100-proof vodka, which is the most widely available.
Keep in mind that 100-proof vodka actually contains a little less than 50 percent ethanol by volume.
And 80-proof vodka contains a little less than 40 percent.
Some herbalists say that pure grain alcohol is even better than vodka, which is distilled from corn.
Pure grain alcohol is 190-proof, or a little less than 95 percent pure alcohol.
The reason it’s not 100-percent pure is because absolutely pure alcohol always pulls some moisture from the air, and the solution stabilizes at 95 percent.
Other kinds of alcoholic beveraages such as rum and brandy aren’t ideal because they already contain coloring pigments, flavoring compounds, sugars, and other components.
Tinctures are made by adding whole fresh herbs or grinding up dry or fresh herbs in a solvent of alcohol and water or glycerin.
Tinctures have several advantages over other types of herbal products.
My usual process for making a tincture is as follows:
Herbalists choose some herbs and berries over and over again for use in making tinctures.
These herbs are usually more potent in tincture form than in teas!
Fresh or dried elderberries: These are great flavoring berries to add to your elderberry tinctures. The berries and flowers of elderberry are packed with antioxidants and vitamins that may boost your immune system. They can help tame inflammation, lessen stress, and help protect your heart, too. Some experts recommend elderberry to help prevent and ease cold and flu symptoms.
Fresh or dried blueberries: These are also great flavoring berries to add to your blueberry tinctures. Many studies have suggested that increasing consumption of plant foods such as blueberries decreases the risk of obesity, diabetes, heart disease, and overall mortality. Plant foods such as blueberries may also promote hair and skin health, increased energy, and overall lower weight.
Fresh or dried goldenrod herb:
Orange peel, stevia, and licorice: These are great flavoring herbs to add to any of your tinctures. Orange tincture eases digestive discomforts, helps relieve gas pains, and has a mildly calming effect. Stevia helps you manage an out-of-control sweet tooth. Licorice soothes your stomach and digestive tract.
Ginkgo: It’s used to improve memory, enhance mental function, and increase circulation to your legs.
Milk thistle: Made from the seeds, milk thistle tincture has a protective and rebuilding effect on your liver.
Valerian: It’s probably the most popular herb for inducting sleep and relaxation.
Kava: This herb helps to relax your muscles and improve sleep.
American ginseng: It counteracts stress and helps support adrenal function.
Goldenseal/barberry fruit: Goldenseal is popular for easing infections of the sinuses, bladder, intestines, and respiratory tract. Goldenseal is endangered in some States because of overharvesting. For this reason, use only 10-to-20 percent goldenseal along with 80-to 90-percent barberry root, Oregon grape root, or coptis root (a Chinese herb). These herbs all have the same active principles as goldenseal.
Ginger: This hot, spicy tincture helps to ease an upset stomach and promotes good digestion.
Dong quai: One of the most popular herbs of all time, dong quai has a general strengthening effect on your energy and helps build healthy blood. For women, dong quai has a building effect on the uterus.
St. John’s wort: This a a popular herb for lifting your mood and helping to ease mild to moderate depression.
Calendula: This is a popular herb for healing wounds, digestive and immune system, hydrate and nourish dry skin, slow development of wrinkles, reduce scarring.
Rural Money Tip: I highly recommend growing at least some or all of these berries and herbs particularly “goldenseal”.
Whether to use fresh herbs or dry ones is a debate that rages on among herbalists.
Some including me contend that a number of herbs are more potent when tinctured fresh.
This claim has been disproven by laboratory tests.
Most herbs make a more potent extract when extracted or tinctured freshly dried. Freshly dried means that the plants are harvested at the peak of perfection (in full flower, in the fall for roots, and so on), and then carefully dried in the shade. If these herbs are tinctured within two to three weeks of drying and are kept away from heat and light, they can be called freshly dried.
You can find exceptions, however, sensitive herbs such as chickweed, gotu kola, cleavers, and the roots of Echinacea angustifolia) are best when tinctured fresh, not freshly dried.
For tincturing fresh, undried herbs, add the plant material to the solvent (vodka or grain alcohol) and blend well until you have only about 1/2 to 1 inch of clear liquid over the settled solid material.
To achieve this affect, fill the jar with solvent not leaving any head space preferably.
Image by Ulleo
*MEDICAL DISCLAIMER–The Content is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition and/or treatment.RuralMoney.com