Tinctures and herbal extractions are made by soaking fresh or dried plant material in vodka for a period of about two weeks. The alcohol works to extract medicinal properties and preserve them for later use. Tinctures are quickly absorbed by the body and can be used internally and externally. Non-alcoholic tinctures can be made using vegetable glycerin. Both types of tinctures can be taken by mouth or used on the body. Never use rubbing alcohol to make tinctures.
Rosemary tincture - Photo by Janice Boling at Payne Mountain Farms
When treating children with alcohol based tinctures, the alcohol can be removed by adding a small amount of almost boiling water to one dose of tincture. As it cools, most of the alcohol will evaporate. Be careful when using heat around alcohol. Don't get burned!
Herbal extractions can also be made with wine (including brandy and cognac) or apple cider vinegar. Both wine and vinegar make excellent medicines for digestive and circulatory problems. Wine and vinegar infusions are great for taking by the spoonful during the winter months because of their warming actions.
This method of getting herbal properties into the body bypasses the digestive system and delivers a more potent medicine to the system. Sprays and under the tongue drops are especially useful in emergency situations. Also, small doses can be used repeatedly over a period of time to help regulate dosage. Sprays and drops should used in a clean mouth. Brush teeth, rinse well, and wait 10 minutes. Hold spray and drops in mouth for as long as possible before swallowing.
Use tinctures on tired, aching muscles for fast relief. Tinctures for external use, known as liniments, can be made with rubbing alcohol but be sure to label them correctly. Not for human consumption! Herbal liniments are for external use only because the rubbing alcohol is poisonous. Never take rubbing alcohol by mouth! Herbal liniments are safe for treating arthritis, gout, and other painful conditions when used on the skin. Choose heat inducing herbs like ginger, cloves, wintergreen, and myrrh. Rub aching joints with a saturated cotton ball or massage lightly with loving hands for best results.
* Never use rubbing alcohol in tinctures because it is toxic when taken internally. Rubbing alcohol is for external use only! Herbs work with other medicines to boost their potency so always consult with your healthcare provider before using any herbal remedy especially if pregnant, nursing, or taking other medicines.
"The only way to really learn about herbal medicine is to touch and smell herbs, taste them, use them daily, and grow them if possible. Herbal medicine is a way of life. It is not a quick fix." ... Janice Boling, herbalist, web designer, writer, photographer
* Note - the information on this website has not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration.
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