A TINCTURE is an alcoholic extract of a herb or a solution of a non-volatile substance like iodine. To qualify as a tincture, the ethanol percentage of the alcoholic extract needs to be at least 40%. The most common forms of alcohol used for making tinctures are rum and vodka, but purer forms of ethanol with a higher percentage are also frequently preferred.
RATIONALE FOR MAKING A TINCTURE
In current times, when everything is available on the counter or on order, there can still be some rationale for someone wanting to prepare his own tinctures. First, making a tincture is a simple process that does not consume too much of space, time or energy. Second, it allows you to be sure about the purity and potency of the tincture. Lastly, it allows you to develop a hobby that also helps you in maintaining your own health. As a bonus, you save money as the cost of making a tincture yourself is usually far less compared to buying it from a pharmacist.
Historically, tinctures became popular because they preserved the potency of herbs and other substances which were extracted. The potency of a tincture remained unchanged for a longer period compared to dries herbs or water based concoctions. In addition, tinctures remained stable over the years, were easy to prepare, contained high concentrations of medicine and were easy to carry and use.
ITEMS REQUIRED FOR MAKING A TINCTURE
– Dried or fresh herbs in powdered or cut form. For one litre of liquid, you would need around 200 gm of dried or 300 gm of fresh herb plant.
– Alcohol, preferably 80 -100 proof vodka or rum.
– Wide-mouthed glass jars with lids.
– Unbleached cheesecloth or muslin.
– Labels and markers.
STEP BY STEP APPROACH FOR PREPARING A TINCTURE
Step 0 : PLAN & PREPARE – It takes a minimum of two weeks to prepare a tincture, as extraction of the medicinal extracts from the herb is a slow process. Some prefer to carry it on for a longer period up to six months. You should clearly draw your time table with your overall schedules in mind. Decide the quantity that you wish to prepare and the potency of the extract. Then get all the items that you may need.
Step 1 : If you are using a dried herb, place the whole piece in the glass jar. If you are using a fresh root, then wash it, clean it and chop it before placing it in the jar. Now slowly pour alcohol in to the jar till the herbs are entirely covered. Now add another two inches of alcohol.
Step 2 : Tightly seal the jar so as to prevent any evaporation or leaking of alcohol. Place the jar in a dark area. Alternatively, put it inside a paper bag and keep it in a dark place.
Step 3 : Shake the jar at least once every day.
Step 4 : On completion of the time for which you have planned the extraction, pour the tincture through a cheesecloth into another jar or dark colored tincture bottle. Then take out the saturated herbs and squeeze them to get the last drop of the extract from them until no more drips appear.
Step 5 : Tightly close the container with a cap and place a label on it immediately to avoid a mix up.
Your tincture is ready for consumption. Normal dose is 15 to 30 drops or one teaspoon in water taken once to three times a day, depending upon the medicine and the need for its consumption.
TIPS ON PREPARING TINCTURES
– For bitter herbs, it is preferable to use rum as it helps hide their bitter taste.
– You can also use a wine press to extract liquid from the herbs.
– A combination of several herbs can sometimes be combined into a tincture formula.
– Tinctures can last up for years when stored in a tightly closed container.