Practical Skills: Tinctures

One of the best methods for administering a medicinal herb orally is the tincture. The two main advantages of the tincture is the density of the medicine and its self-life. As a tincture is made from grain alcohol it does not easily spoil, much like dried leaves, without the difficulty of having to keep them away from water.

The technique is simple. An amount of the dried herb is added to an amount of 100 proof alcohol. Typically a decent proportion is two ounces of herb per quart of alcohol. It is then mixed daily for two weeks before being strained with an unbleached cloth of natural fibers. The fluid is a tincture that can be ingested for medicinal use, but some are used topically. If the tincture is added to hot water and allowed to stand for five minutes the majority of the alcohol will have evaporated away before drinking, leaving only a cup of water and the medicine. Store all tinctures in glass containers away from sunlight. The proper dosage varies from herb to herb, but typically is not much more than a teaspoon or two. Remember that one of the main advantages of tinctures is how concentrated they are.
If you are unable to make your own 100 proof grain alcohol then your best bet is vodka. The reason being is that, by law, the only thing that goes into vodka is potato. This allows us greater control over the properties and ingredients in our medicine.

Some of the more popular tinctures:

Dandelion: promotes liver function
Burdock: promotes kidney function
Echinacea: stimulates your immune system

Do not take this article in preference to medical advice. These tinctures do not work the same way for everyone, and some can be dangerous if taken over too long a time. For instance, echinacea simulates the immune system in approximately 50% of people. After approximately two weeks of use the immune system is no longer stimulated, but is dependant on the echinacea for continuing to function at its usual level.

-Benjamin Shender



  1. June 24, 2006 at 4:33 pm

    […] Wild Ginger, not related to common ginger, grows low to the ground and if crushed will produce a ginger-like smell. The root and the leaves of this plant may be used to help the breaking of fevers and to help reduce the effects of menopause. It may also be used as a tincture, using the entire plant, to help with coughs. It is not an expectorant, but rather will break up the mucus, making it easier for you to breathe. […]

  2. Leonard said,

    January 29, 2007 at 2:06 pm

    I constantly hear, that alcohol in small amounts even is useful. It is the truth or an invention of alcoholics? WBR LeoP

  3. Ryann said,

    August 16, 2008 at 6:24 pm

    Just curious…could I use yarrow as a tincture, and if so, what effects would it have?

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