Last night at dinner, a friend asked if anyone could recommend a good, high-quality vodka—to make herbal tinctures with. This is how you know you hang out with too many hippies. [For the record, a bartender friend recommended The Russian Standard].
Tincture simply means “a medicine made by dissolving a drug in alcohol.” In the case of herbal tinctures, that “drug” is an herb or plant.
Herbal tinctures have been used for thousands of years as medicine—but that doesn’t make them any less powerful as a health tool today. Among their advantages?
“Their ability to preserve the active constituents, ease of use and their long shelf life,” according to Mountain Rose Herbs (a great place for buying bulk herbs and botanicals, fyi).
“From here we can effortlessly and conveniently add herbal extracts to our water, tea, juice, or they can be taken directly. This is a great way to administer the healing power of plants to our seemingly excited and aggravated lives.”
There are three main types of herbal tinctures:
Single herbal extracts: Manufactured from just one herb, these are often used as daily dietary supplements.
Combination herbal extracts: Tinctures manufactured with a combination of herbs and specifically formulated to assist with particular health issues.
Glycerites: Alcohol-free extracts manufactured with vegetable glycerine and best suited for children, animals and folks with alcohol intake sensitivities.
Making your own herbal tincture is quite easy:
- Place herbs in a sealed container with water and a 40 proof or higher spirit (such as Vodka).
- Let the container stand for two to three weeks, shaking occasionally.
That’s it! Here’s a video from Mountain Rose Herbs that explains it in more detail:
Herbal tinctures are different from herbal tisanes, which are made from steeping the leaves or petals of an herb in boiling water just long enough to release its active constituents. Tisanes are much more like teas; find out how to prepare tisanes for different ailments here.