Making Your Own Herbal Medicine: Tinctures and Infusions

| 7/28/2015 4:10:00 PM

Red Clover Blossom Harvest 

Want to make your own herbal medicines, but not sure where to start? Tinctures (alcohol extracts) and infusions (concentrated teas) are my favorite ways to take herbs internally– after eating them as food, of course! Both methods involve soaking plant material, whether leaves, flowers, roots or seeds, in a liquid.

Which liquid is preferable depends on what you’re trying to get out of the plant — that is, the type of constituents you’re going for. Tinctures are often used for acute or specific concerns, while water-based infusions, when made part of your regular diet, just like “an apple a day,” gently strengthen the body.

Remember that knowing how to make herbal medicines doesn’t mean you know how or when to use them. If you do have possibly serious concerns, don’t hesitate to consult a health professional.

All About Making Tinctures

Alcohol-based extracts are quick and convenient: they are appropriate for acute ailments and first-aid situations. And they have a shelf life of three to five years or more.

Plant constituents that dissolve easily into alcohol include (as their name suggests) alkaloids. Plants with important alkaloids also frequently have other constituents that dissolve more easily into water. For this reason, I tincture plants in equal parts alcohol and water. That is what is meant by “100 proof” alcohol: 50 percent alcohol and 50 percent water.

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