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Why and Wherefores of Medicinal Tinctures

Updated: May 15

Once when I was feeling under the weather, not in the mood of concocting any remedy, I opened my medicinal cupboard and guess what did I find? Medicinal tinctures! One of the most effective quick fix remedies are medicinal tinctures.

What exactly are medicinal tinctures? Medicinal tinctures are liquid extracts of herbs or botanical ingredients that are traditionally used in medicine. By steeping plant materials in a solvent, typically alcohol, the active constituents of the plant material can be extracted and concentrated. This allows for a more efficient and effective delivery of the medicinal properties. The alcohol in tinctures help stabilize and preserve the active compounds, ensuring that the medicinal properties of the herbs remain intact over time. Moreover, tinctures are quickly absorbed into the bloodstream because of the alcohol that is, usually, used as a base, giving faster relief when we are sick.

Tinctures can be easily customized to combine the benefits of multiple herbs or plant materials. This allows practitioners or individuals to tailor blends to address specific health concerns. The choice of solvent depends on the desired properties of the tincture, the nature of the plant material, and individual preferences. Alcohol is often favored for its ability to extract a wide range of compounds efficiently, its long shelf life, and its ability to act as a preservative. However, for those who cannot or prefer not to consume alcohol, other alternatives for tincture base are available. These are glycerin, vinegar, vegetable glycerine-water mixture and oil. Glycerine based tinctures are often used for children. Vinegar, particularly, apple cider vinegar tinctures are used to extract a different variety compared to alcohol tincures but shelf life is lower. Some tinctures use a combination of vegetable glycerin and water as a solvent. This can extract a broader range of compounds compared to using glycerin alone. A combination of vegetable glycerin and water as a solvent can extract a broader range of compounds compared to using glycerin alone. While certain plant materials, especially those containing fat-soluble compounds, can be used to make oil-based tinctures. Common oils include olive oil and coconut oil. These tinctures are not as concentrated as alcohol-based ones and are primarily used for extracting lipid-soluble compounds.

The images below show preparation of medicinal herbal tincture of usnea (lichen), dried orange rind, dried rosehips, dehydrated nettle leaves, blue butterfly pea powder, reishi mushrooms, rehmania root and echinacea root that I started on a new moon using one of the best Icelandic vodkas.

Preparation of alcohol based medicinal tincture

Ingredients and Materials:

Dried herbs or plant material: Choose high-quality, dried herbs. The amount will depend on the specific herb and the desired potency of the tincture.

High-proof alcohol: Use a high-proof alcohol like vodka. The alcohol content should be at least 40-60% to ensure efficient extraction.

Glass jar with a tight-fitting lid: Choose a jar size that accommodates the amount of plant material and alcohol you are using.

Labels and marker: Clearly label the jar with the name of the herb, the date of preparation, and the alcohol percentage.

Cheesecloth or fine mesh strainer: For straining the plant material from the liquid.

Miron glass or amber glass dropper bottles: These are used for storing and dispensing the finished tincture.


a) Prepare the Herbs:

Ensure the herbs are thoroughly dried to prevent mold growth.

If using roots or hard plant parts, chop or grind them to increase surface area and improve extraction.

b) Measure Ingredients:

Measure the amount of dried herbs and alcohol needed. A common ratio is 1 part dried herb to 5 parts alcohol, but this can vary based on the herb and desired potency.

c) Combine Ingredients:

Place the dried herbs in the glass jar.

Pour the alcohol over the herbs, making sure they are completely submerged. Ensure there's some space at the top of the jar to allow for expansion.

d) Seal and Shake:

Seal the jar tightly and shake it well to ensure the herbs are thoroughly soaked in the alcohol.

e) Maceration:

Store the jar in a cool, dark place for an extended period (usually 4-6 weeks). This allows the alcohol to extract the medicinal compounds from the herbs. Shake the jar daily to promote thorough extraction.

f) Strain the Tincture:

After the maceration period, strain the tincture using cheesecloth or a fine mesh strainer to separate the liquid from the plant material. Squeeze the herbs to extract any remaining liquid.

g) Bottle the Tincture:

Pour the strained liquid into a miron glass or amber glass dropper bottles for storage. Label each bottle with the name of the herb, alcohol percentage, and date of preparation.

h) Store Properly:

Store the finished tincture in a cool, dark place. The miron/amber glass helps protect the tincture from the damaging harmful spectrum of light.

Sending healing vibes 🙌

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