For many years I assumed what probably many people assume. Making tinctures is complicated. I couldn’t have been more wrong. It’s easy! And it’s far cheaper than buying them ready made and they last nearly forever.
When I was pregnant with Sahara I decided I wanted to take care of our bodies as naturally as possible. Synchronicity working the way it does, a friend gave me a copy of Susan Weed’s book, “The Childbearing Years”. As I flipped through the book I began to realize how simple the recipes were. So I organized a medicine making party at my house and, with the help of friends, made a whole collection of tinctures and teas. Since then I’ve been making medicine for myself, family and friends.
Herbs are a wonderful way to not only heal yourself and your family when illness strikes, but they are also great allies for preventing illness. I recommend starting with one or two herbal remedies you or your family use often. Echinacea is great as immune boosting support and one that is good to have in the apothecary when you feel a cold coming on or are in the depths of a cold. Chamomile and Lemon Balm are superb for babies, children and adults for relaxation, nervous system support, and digestion. Got a fussy baby? Chamomile and Lemon Balm! Rough day at work, feeling stressed and need to focus? Chamomile and Lemon Balm!
There are many wonderful books out there to get you on your way to learning about different herbs and how they can help. One of my favorites is Rosemary Gladstar’s “Family Herbal” as it provides herbal remedies for many common illnesses as well as instructions on how to make tinctures, teas and salves. If you are a parent, I can’t say enough wonderful things about Aviva Jill Romm’s book “Naturally Healthy Babies & Children”. This is my ‘go to’ book whenever I’m wanting to find a remedy for Sahara. This book also provides instructions on the making of tinctures, teas and salves.
To get you started, I will share with you the “Simpler’s Method” of making a homemade tincture, which Rosemary Gladstar advocates as do I. Once you start delving in and become more versed in the world of medicine making you can decide if you’d like to get out the scale and measure things out. In the meantime, give this recipe a whirl using any herb you’d like to tincture!
Here is a list of items to have on hand before you start:
1. Clean, wide-mouthed, mason jars with lids. Pint and quart sized jars are probably what you’ll use most, though if you start making larger batches you may find yourself using larger jars.
2. Clean, amber colored tincture bottles with droppers. You can usually find these at health food stores, herb stores, or you can wash out and re-use empties.
3. A fine meshed strainer. I like using a metal one that I can rinse out and use repeatedly. Others like using cheesecloth but I find that messy and wasteful.
4. Labels or packing tape & scrap paper to label your jars and dropper bottles.
5. A small funnel isn’t absolutely necessary but it can be helpful for filling small tincture bottles.
6. A coffee grinder (only used for herbs, not coffee) to chop herbs can be helpful. But if you’re buying herbs on-line (Mountain Rose Herbs is a good choice) or at a store they are probably already chopped.
Simpler’s Tincture Recipe
* 80 to 100 Proof alcohol such as vodka, gin or brandy OR you can also use Apple Cider Vinegar if you’d prefer to not use alcohol. This is called the menstruum and is what will be poured over your herbs.
* Herbs – start with 1/2 – 1 cup or an ounce of your favorites.
Step 1: Chop your herbs finely. Whenever possible use fresh herbs but dried herbs work well too. Place the herbs in a clean, dry jar.
Step 2: Pour in enough of the menstruum (alcohol or vinegar) to cover the herbs, and continue pouring until the liquid rises 2 or 3 inches above the herbs. The herbs need to be completely submersed. Cover with a tight fitting lid. Note: if you are using vinegar, warm it first. Label your jar with the name of the herb, the date it is made, the type of menstruum used, and where the herbs came from. For example, “Echinacea, Mountain Rose Herbs, Vodka/Vinegar, October 19, 2015”
Step 3: Place the jar in a warm location (the kitchen is a great spot) and let the herbs and the liquid soak (macerate) for 4-6 weeks. The longer the better! When possible, I like letting them sit from Full Moon to Full Moon or putting them in a sunny window to soak up sunshine love.
Step 4: Shake the bottle daily (or as close as you can get to daily). This prevents the herbs from packing down on the bottom of the jar. It also is an invitation for some of the old magic of medicine making to enter your world. Sing to your medicine! Encourage your little ones to shake the jar (they love this job) and thank the herbs for their healing abilities.
Step 5: Strain the herbs from the menstruum using a large stainless steel fine meshed strainer. Reserve the liquid, which is now potent tincture, and compost the herbs. Pour into amber tincture bottles and label. Yes, label your medicine! I will also sometimes note what the particular tincture is good for. For example, Echinacea for Immune Support, or, Chamomile for fussiness, restlessness, digestive upset. Store your bottles in a cool, dark location and they will keep almost indefinitely.
Step 6: Use your medicine! Herbal books will provide you with the proper dosage for each herb. For Echinacea, Chamomile, and Lemon Balm you can take a dropper full in a small glass of water a couple of times a day. Babies and children will not overdose on Chamomile and Lemon Balm and I’ve used it abundantly for fussiness and general irritability.
Have fun making medicine and be well