Herbal tinctures are a form of plant medicine used by Western herbalists. Whether you're a clinically trained herbalist, a folk, community, or family herbalist, tinctures are easy to make, easy to use, and effective.
My formal herbal training so far has been based in aromatherapy (Western) and Ayurvedic herbalism (Eastern). Ayurveda differs from Western herbalism in that it usually requires rather large doses of bitter or otherwise not very palatable herbs. (If you can get Americans to swallow several grams of powdered herbs in hot water a few times a day, it's a small miracle. Let's face it, we're wimps.) I usually put powdered Ayurvedic herbs, such as Triphala, Shatavari, and Dashmula, into capsules with my capsule filling machine.
Large doses can make sense because most herbs are gentle and subtle compared to a tiny pharmaceutical pill. And sometimes a pharmaceutical option is what we need. But for all the times when it's not, we can use plant medicine, along with other modalities, to work with our bodies and nurture them back to balance.
When it comes to Western herbalism, tinctures are an easy way to take medicine. Just put the drops in water and drink. My number one tincture, my favorite plant ally, is St. John's Wort. Depression runs in my family, and it's something that's always with me, along with its friend, anxiety. Sometimes it's just a small shadow in the corner and sometimes it threatens to take over. But it's always been something I address in natural ways.
And before I talk about St. John's Wort any further, if you're thinking of trying it, make sure you read this article that lists side effects as well as contraindications with many pharmaceuticals. Educate yourself about your own health and always check with your health care professional before taking any new drugs, herbal or otherwise.
St. John's Wort may reduce the symptoms of mild to moderate depression, anxiety, PMS, menopause, ADHD, can improve sleep, and more. My experience with it has been excellent, but I don't take any pharmaceuticals and was aware to look out for possible side effects when I started taking it. (I never experienced any side effects.)
OK, so how do you make a tincture? Here you go!
Easy Tincture Recipe
1 clean pint mason jar with lid
bulk dried St. John's Wort or other bulk dried herb
vodka or other flavorless alcohol
Label or tape
Fill the jar 1/3 to 1/2 full of dried herbs. Cover with vodka and screw on the lid. Label and date the jar and put it on a dark, dry shelf. Check it every day or so, giving it a gentle shake, topping up the jar with more vodka so the herbs stay covered.
Let it sit for 4-6 weeks, shaking every once in a while, then strain through cheesecloth into a clean jar or into clean dropper bottles. Label and date the jar or bottles.
Health Disclaimer: Any statements or claims about the possible health benefits of herbs, essential oils, flower essences, or other plant medicine I write about on my blog have not been evaluated by the FDA and are not intended to diagnose, treat, prevent, or cure any disease or condition. The words in this post are my own opinions, based on my own experiences. Please see your health care professional before you take any supplement and if you need medical treatment of any kind.