In western herbal medicine, tinctures are used nearly as ubiquitously as tea, but remain relatively obscure. Unlike tea, a herbal tincture is generally a much more concentrated solution made of a water-alcohol extract of a plant.
Many of the medicinal constituents found in plants are poorly extracted in water but are well extracted in alcohol, these constituents include essential oils, resins, balsams and many alkaloids. For this reason, alcohol is considered an excellent choice as a food-grade solvent which effectively extracts those numerous medicinal constituents found in plants. Alcohol also acts as a great preservative, maximizing the shelf life and potency of plant medicines.
There are several ways to prepare a herbal tincture, the simplest and longest used method is called a maceration. In this process, a plant is covered fully by a water-alcohol solution and allowed to infuse (macerate) for a length of time ranging from 10 days to 6 weeks. After this period, the majority of the plant constituents will have been extracted from the plant and can be separated by filtering the herbal solution from the remaining fibrous material.
Tinctures are a highly effective and a relatively easy means of delivering herbal medicine. They are best stored in airtight, light resistant containers which is why they often dispensed in amber glass bottles. A good liquid herbal extract should optimally preserve the aroma, taste and biological activity of the herb from which it is made. Tinctures can be taken in a variety of ways: placed directly in the mouth, diluted with water, tea or juice, added to food or smoothies, etc. The bottle will also have either a dropper or small cup to measure the recommended dose.
A tincture wouldn’t be appropriate for those who are sensitive or allergic to alcohol. The alcohol content could possibly aggravate inflammatory digestive and skin conditions. One could use tea, capsules, a glycerite or apple cider vinegar tincture as an alternative form of taking herbal medicines. We at Euphoria Natural Health offer a wide range of herbal tinctures which we customize and compound according to each individual’s needs. Our naturopathic doctors offer free 15-minute consultations to anyone curious about whether herbal remedies are right for them. Book online or call 604-390-4455 to book an initial consultation.