Have you ever wandered the aisles of your favorite health food store and felt you jaw drop at some of the prices? Or have you ever wondered what is REALLY inside those little bottles and jars? I know I have and it’s made me wonder if I could create my own herbal apothecary. I mean, I want to know what EXACTLY is inside the products I use inside and outside my body.
Turns out you can create your own herbal apothecary and it’s not terribly hard either. There are many ways to create effective products right from your home garden. One of the first things most beginning herbalists learn how to make is tinctures.
Tinctures are alcoholic extracts of plants, they have a long history of use, and can easily be taken on the go.
The folk method of creating tinctures is a simple way to make tinctures without having to fuss over weighing the herbs or doing lots of math. I prefer using brandy or vodka when first starting out because their ratios of alcohol to water are appropriate for many herbs.
In the fall of 2015 I made a tincture with elderberries that helped me get though the winter without being really sick. So I decided last fall that I wanted to create a rose hip tincture. I get pneumonia almost every year and I had heard that a rose hip tincture would help with that if it hit plus, compared with oranges, rose hips contain 25 percent more iron, 20 to 40 percent more vitamin C, depending on variety, 28 percent more calcium and 25 times more vitamin A.*
I figured that if nothing else, I would get some extra vitamins in my rose hip tincture.
Now let’s get started!
Brandy or vodka
Muslin or cheese cloth
Amber dosage bottles
Liquid measuring cup
The first step to creating this tincture is to gather your herbs. You have a few options: you can harvest rose hips after the first good frost (if you are using rose hips from your own garden), purchase them dried locally, or order in bulk from a reliable source.
Chop the rose hips as small as possible, because the more herb chopped, the more surface area covered during the maceration (or extraction) process. Then fill your Mason jar about ¾ full of freshly chopped herb, and cover all the way to the top with alcohol.
Then, put the cap on it, sit it upright and label your jar. Write down the following on your label:
1. What kind of alcohol you used, and the percent of alcohol by volume.
2. Whether you used fresh or dried herb.
3. The common name and the Latin name of the plant used
4. The date you made the tincture.
Let the mixture macerate, shake the jar every day and store it in a cool dark cabinet. Make sure the herbs stay covered with alcohol, and add more if needed. This is a great time to put good energy into your herbal creation and visualize all the ways it’s going to help you once it’s finally ready.
After 4-6 weeks have passed, you can then press out your tincture. Don’t worry too much about the time, some folks wait as little as three weeks and some wait much longer. To start the pressing process, unscrew your Mason jar, put your muslin or cheese cloth over the top and then flip over the jar above a large bowl to drain out the liquid while separating the herb. Once all the liquid has gone into the bowl, you can then use both your hands to squeeze out any remaining liquid from the herb.
Next, pour that liquid (which is now your tincture) into a liquid measuring cup. Place your funnel in the mouth of your dosage bottle and carefully pour your liquid into it. The number of bottles you’ll need to store these tinctures in will depend on the amount initially created. You can also put the tincture back into the Mason jar until proper storage is found.
Lastly, make a label that replicates your first one for each dosage bottle filled. Store in a cool dark place and enjoy!
You can use this format with many of the medicinal herbs in your own home garden. Of course, it is important that you get to know the identity of the plants you’re working with first, and research the dosage and safety information from trusted sources. Each tea, tincture or herbal preparation created is an opportunity for you to take your health into your own hands. We hope this ritual empowers you as a growing herbalist and inspires you to establish an even deeper connection with the plants around you.
*We recommend that you consult with a qualified healthcare practitioner before using herbal products, particularly if you are pregnant, nursing, or on any medications.
*This statement has not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. This product is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease. For educational purposes only.