My love of herbalism has been passed down from my great-great grandmother, who was a medicine woman and healer for many years. My mother didn't really pick up on it until I was 10 or so, and I'll never forget the times when she'd take me foraging in the woods for edible plants and flowers. We would then take them home and turn them into soaps, jellies, and Tinctures.
Mom's Elderberry Tincture is the one I remember the most because she would make my brother and I drink it whenever we felt sick. We hated the taste of it back then, but it always made us feel better.
I was too young to appreciate it at the time, but I now know that Tinctures are an incredible tool for any budding herbalist and healer to have.
Tinctures are liquid extracts made from herbs, fruit, and some flowers by soaking them in alcohol.
Alcohol is the most common because it helps draw out the healing properties of the herb and preserves it for future use. However, if you don't particularly like alcohol (or can't use it for medical reasons), there are a few other options for your Tincture. You can also use food-grade Vegetable Glycerine or some organic Apple Cider Vinegar for a non-alcoholic version.
But alcohol is usually the easiest way to go since it pulls out both the water based and oil based properties of the herb. Personally, I like to use Vodka because it's strong, tasteless, and cheap.
Tinctures can be made with a variety of herbs, both fresh and dried, and will last for several years if stored in a cool, dry space. That way, you can have herbs on hand whenever you need them.
But why use Tinctures? Well, there's several good reasons. Tinctures:
Are easier to use than teas or capsules
Don't have to be prepared multiple times a day
Are the only way to get fresh-plant medicine once the plant is gone
Are super concentrated, so you'd take less of a tincture than you would a tea
Improve the herb's shelf life
Can be transported in dropper bottles for easy access throughout the day.
To make a Tincture of your own, you will need:
A clean, airtight jar or bottle
Dried or fresh herbs
Vodka, Brandy, Vegetable Glycerine, or Apple Cider Vinegar
Fill your jar about halfway with the herbs (more or less depending on how strong you want it). Cover with the alcohol or other liquid, make sure the lid is on tight, and let sit for 2-6 weeks, shaking occasionally. Strain out the herb and keep stored in a cool, dry place.
Using a Tincture is almost as easy as making it. You can take a few drops straight from the bottle, or, if you don't have dropper bottles (like me), you can use about a Teaspoon at a time. Another option is to take two droppers full (about a tablespoon) and add it to a cup of boiling water. This will make an instant tea that is safe for the whole family because the boiling water nullifies the alcohol.