Making your own herbal tinctures

This post is part of our regular series on small ways you can incorporate healthful changes into your daily life.  We’re hoping that this will include everything from small ways to lead a healthier lifestyle to additional ways to incorporate herbs in your life.

Making your own tinctures is basically the same process as making a pot of tea.  Instead of steeping your herb (or herbs) of choice in hot water to extract the medicinal properties, you would use a high proof alcohol instead.  If you want to make a non-alcohol based tincture you do have options (glycerine or a vinegar such as apple cider vinegar), but for simplicity’s sake in this example we will just talk about an alcohol-based tincture.  In some cases, you might need to do some preparation to the herbs you plan on using, but for the most part using fresh or dried herbs in the natural state is just fine.

There are a couple of positives to making your own herbal tinctures.  First, you know the source of the ingredients, you can control the purity of the tincture, and you can make specialized herbal combinations that may be difficult to find in a store.

What you will need:

  • Your choice of fresh or dried herbs
  • A minimum of 80 to 100 proof vodka or rum. The higher the proof, the more effective the extraction process will be.
  • Canisters with a wide mouth.  For home use, wide mouth mason jars are effective.
  • Cheese cloth, muslin, or a fine mesh strainer

Add to the jar your choice of herbs, then cover the herbs with an inch or two of additional alcohol then seal tightly and store in a cool, dark area.  You’ll want to shake or agitate the jar regularly to mix the herbal solution.  Let the tincture sit for at least two weeks.  The longer the herbs steep, the more potent the tincture will become.  Once it’s ready, take the cheese cloth or strainer and pour the liquid through into another jar.  Squeeze the excess liquid from the herbs, then store in a cool, dark place.  Alcohol-based tinctures will last indefinitely, but in some cases may lessen in potency over time.

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