Learn How to Make Tinctures

Elizabeth Heck
A free video tutorial from Elizabeth Heck
Top Qualified Herbalism Instructor on Udemy
4.5 instructor rating • 15 courses • 77,812 students

Lecture description

Learn how to make tinctures including details of the simple method to information regarding standardization. We will go through all of the step-by-step instructions so that you can make a variety of tinctures with confidence.

Learn more from the full course

Herbalism :: Introduction & Medicine Making [Certificate]

Take charge of your health by learning to use herbal medicine that you make yourself. It's easy, effective and safe.

02:00:10 of on-demand video • Updated April 2020

  • Create highly effective tinctures, vinegar extracts and glycerites.
  • Perfect healing herbal-infused oils for topical applications.
  • Brew several different types of beneficial medicinal tea.
  • Craft professional looking salves with outstanding medicinal value.
  • Benefit from healing poultices and compresses.
  • Enjoy great tasting medicinal honeys and syrups.
English Herbalism: Introduction and Medicine Making Making your tincture could not be simpler. First you need a sterilized jar that is completely dry. I like ones with a real wide mouth on them and that have a tight sealing lid. Check inside the lid to make sure there isn't a cardboard ring in it. You're going to want to remove that. So to begin with, we're going to chop up the herb. Here I'm making a motherwort tincture and motherwort is one of my favorite tinctures. It has so many wonderful uses. It's really wonderful for heart strengthening and gladdening the heart, especially when there is anxiety involved. Motherwort is a wonderful relaxing herb, great to take when you're experiencing a lot of stress, and who doesn't have that these days. It's also a really great herb for menopausal symptoms so it has a lot of different uses. I really always like to keep some motherwort tincture on hand. What I'm doing is cutting up the herb in small pieces. Some people really finely cut their herb. You can certainly do that but I find I get a really good quality just by cutting it up as I'm doing here. I'm going to fill this jar until it is almost full to the top and then I'm going to pour in my menstruum. In this case I am using alcohol and I'm going to be pouring that over the herb until it is completely covered. I don't want any air to touch the herbs. I want the alcohol to completely cover the top of that. The jar should be as full as possible with the least amount of air in there. This will help prevent oxygen from getting in there and possibly spoiling the tincture. Now I have just talked about the very simple way of making tinctures and this is how I like to make my herbal medicine and it's the same way I cook. I don't tend to measure things very well and you really don't need to it does not need to be complicated. But some people do like to measure everything out and in that case there are two types of different measurements, one for fresh and one for dried herbs. For fresh herbs, regardless of the menstruum that you're using, you're going to want a 1 to 2 ratio by weight. What this means is one part herbs in grams to two parts of the menstruum and milliliters. And that should give you a really good quality tincture. Again make sure that the herbs are completely covered by the liquid by the menstuum. If you're going to be using dried herbs there is a bit more liquid that will be necessary. So you will use one part herbs in grams to five parts of the menstruum in milliliters. When using dried herbs, you're going to want to shake that bottle a little bit more. It tends to really settle out at the bottom. You'll find that when you pour the menstruum over the dried herbs that they really expand. It's quite surprising. That's why you need so much more liquid. You don't need to shake the herbs every day. In fact it's not absolutely necessary to shake them at all but it really does help to prevent the herbs from becoming real solid at the bottom and really helps to energize your herbs and mix up that menstruum with the herbs real nicely. I would like to mention here a little bit about standardization, because you will probably hear that term from time to time. Since pharmacists tend to criticize herbalists that herbs can vary from product to product, some herbalists have attempted to adopt some sort of standardization by measuring precisely and also precisely standardizing the amount of alcohol to the water ratio. And in order to do this you really need to standardize the alcohol to water ratio based on each and every specific herb because different herbs have different amounts of water within them just naturally. So some attempts have been made to do this but there really is no official standardization. And really in reality there is no way to truly standardize without extracting specific constituents. So for example some pharmaceutical companies, which is really like making drugs, will take a particular constituent out of the plant and standardize just to that one particular constituent. But plants have hundreds of different constituents in them and each plant is a whole plant. Herbs really work their best as whole entities not isolated compounds or constituents that are removed on their own. That's really when you can start seeing side effects happening. Really plants are best when all of the different compounds and constituents work together. Another issue with standardization, and the reason why it really isn't possible is that herbs vary on all different kinds of factors. The herbs can be different based on the time of day they're collected, whether it's morning or late day. Herbs change during the course of the year and they also change with environmental conditions. It's a very rainy year, a very dry year, a very cold year, very warm year. All of those different plant constituents do vary from time to time with the seasonal patterns and the weather patterns. There are so many variables that it just really is not possible to standardize. So I believe that you will find you can make really good quality tinctures just by using the methods that we've talked about here. Some of your tinctures may turn out a little bit stronger than others. The variation will not be that great and you will find that you will make very good, exceptional quality which I believe is standardized quite enough. So we don't really need to go to the pharmacologists way of standardizing their drugs and their pharmaceuticals. Now that we have our tincture made, as I said before, we're going to let this sit for four to six weeks in a warm dark place. And again you can shake it daily if you like or once or twice during that time. If you don't, again don't worry too much about it. You'll know when your herbs are done when they really take on a nice rich color and they taste and smell like that herb that you've been extracting. Once you're pretty confident that your herb is done you're going to go ahead and strain the herb. I do this using a strainer and some cheese cloth. I do fold the cheese cloth over twice or sometimes four times if the particles are real small that I want to strain out. You want it to be porous enough for the liquid to go through but you want to keep the herb from going into your final bottle. So strain this into another sterilised jar. Again, I really like a wide mouth jar with a tight fitting lid. Make sure you squeeze out all the remaining liquid from that herb. There are lots of really great constituents left in there so you want to make sure you get all of that goodness into your jar. You will let this sit for a day or so and just see if any particles fall to the bottom. If you've strained it really well you shouldn't have any what they call sludge at the bottom or any sort of residue falling down to the bottom. If you do, go ahead and strain it a second time and if the herb that you used was really fine and there's a lot of particles in there you can actually use something that is a lot less porous such as a coffee filter works really good. Once you have this in your final bottle, you're going to want to make sure that you seal that tightly and always make sure to label your herbs. You want to label what herb you used, what menstruum you used and the date that you made it. Be sure to store this in a cool dark dry place. That will make your tincture last quite a bit longer. I'm also going to briefly show you making a tincture with roots. It's real similar to what we just did with the motherwort but you will want to chop up the roots such as I'm doing here. You can either grate the roots or you can peel them. Some people like to make them real fine. I find that just chopping up into these small chunks works just great. I get really wonderful beautiful rich tinctures out of them. This is burdock which is one of my favorites. It's a biannual which means it lives for two years. You want to collect the roots in the fall of the first year or the spring of the second year. Burdock is one of those wonderful backyard medicinal plants that a lot of us see growing around us. It's very common and it has so many amazing uses. It's really great for cleansing the body to help eliminate waste materials and toxins. It does this by being a blood purifier and also is really a great liver tonic. For both of these reasons, it is really good for all different types of skin diseases. Burdock also has anti-tumor effects and can help control blood sugar. Again it's one of those that I always have on my shelf. In addition to burdock tincture, I put burdock in my food. It's kind of like cooking with carrot. It's actually really delicious, somewhat sweet, wonderful. As you can see here, I am putting the burdock in the jar and filling it with alcohol. I am completely covering the chopped roots just like I did with the motherwort herb and I'm going to do the same thing. I'm going to seal this tightly and let it sit for four to six weeks, shaking it occasionally. Then I'm going to strain it, similar that I did with the with the motherwort. You don't have to squeeze the roots out quite as much. They don't seem to absorb as much liquid as with an herb. You can try squeezing it a little bit, but you won't get much additional out of it. And again you can take a look the next day to see if anything has precipitated out that is sitting down at the bottom of the tincture that you want to remove. If so you can strain a second time. Again seal it tightly. Label it and store it properly. You'll want to store your tinctures in the smallest jar possible. This will keep a lot of the oxygen out of the jar and extend the shelf life of your herb. So as you use more of your herb, you can eventually poured into a smaller bottle. I also like to pour my tinctures into these small dropper bottles which makes it really easy to use. You can just simply put some drops under the tongue or put some drops into some juice or tea or coffee. It makes it really easy to administer your tincture. For dosages, it depends on whether it is a chronic, ongoing long-term condition or whether it's more of an acute, short-term condition. For adults, for a long-term ongoing condition, I would use 30 drops each time. I would do that two or three times a day. For more acute conditions, such as for a fever, you will want to take smaller more frequent doses every half hour. For children, you'll want to administer three to five drops, two or three times a day. It's best to take your tinctures before bedtime and also between meals. It just helps the tincture to absorb better. Also remember that more is not better. One large single dose is actually less effective. So adhere to these protocols for the best possible benefits.