Herb Basics: Timing Herbal Tinctures

A Place to Start

| July/August 2003

Many herbalists believe that tinctures — or liquid extracts — are more quickly assimilated by the body than other herb forms. But when you take tinctures can affect how well they work. In most cases, it’s best to take them between meals, when absorption isn’t slowed by food.

There are a few exceptions, however. It’s better to take bitter herbs just before meals to improve digestion and to take sleep-aid herbs before going to bed. The dosage and timing of some herbs, such as echinacea (Echinacea spp.), change depending upon what you’re treating.

Here are suggested timings for several herbal tinctures.

  • Barberry: Before meals
  • Gentian: Before meals
  • Ginseng: Between meals
  • Kava: Between meals
  • Milk Thistle: Between meals
  • Peppermint: After meals
  • St. John's Wort: Between meals
  • Valerian: Before Bed

Source: Gagnon, Daniel. Liquid Herbal Drops in Everyday Use. Santa Fe, New Mexico: Botanical Research and Education Institute, 1996.

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