Make an Herbal Tincture

Reader Contribution by Allison Martin

The editors of The Herb Companion magazine are here at the MOTHER EARTH NEWS FAIR sharing information about healing with herbs, and how to get started using herbs in your own life. K.C. Compton, editor-in-chief of the magazine, is speaking today at noon about natural ways to save money on medical bills. Yesterday, Associate Editor Gina DeBacker and I talked about herbal apothecary basics. Here are a few tips for getting started with tincture making:

What is a tincture? Basically, a tincture is an alcoholic extract. For our purposes, a tincture is plant extracts in alcohol.

How do you do it? I showed the audience a simple technique I learned from Steven Foster’s article on medicinal gardens. In a jar, cover plant material you wish to preserve, such as dried peppermint leaves (which is what we used in the demonstration), with 80 proof alcohol (we used vodka), leaving as little room at the top of the jar as possible (a mason jar works great). Place in a cool, dark location, like a kitchen cabinet, and shake twice daily. For a supple plant material like leaves, let sit for 2 days before straining the mixture into a bottle made of amber or cobalt glass to protect it from the sun.

When do you use it? Take a small amount of your tincture (an eye-dropper full) in tea or a glass of water. The peppermint tincture would be best after meals, since the antispasmodic properties can help ease digestion.