Herbal medicine has been skyrocketing popularity in recent years, but despite its wide appeal, it has largely overlooked the unique needs of men. Rosemary Gladstar’s Herbal Healing for Men (Storey, 2017) profiles 29 herbs with a run-down of their particular benefits for the male system and a variety of suggested uses and preparation tips. Gladstar, long celebrated for her wealth of herbal knowledge and inventive recipes, has customized dozens of simple and effective formulas for men.
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Tinctures are concentrated liquid extracts of herbs. Once prepared, they are taken simply by diluting the desired amount (usually a few drops) of the tincture in warm water, tea, or juice. Most tinctures are made with alcohol as the primary solvent or extractant. Though the amount of alcohol is very small, some people choose not to use alcohol-based tinctures for a variety of sound reasons. As an alternative, you can make effective tinctures using either vegetable glycerin or apple cider vinegar as the solvent, but they are not as strong as alcohol-based tinctures.
If they are stored in a cool, dark location, tinctures have a very long shelf life, lasting almost indefinitely. Because they are concentrated, follow the dosage chart on page 10 carefully.
While there are several methods for making tinctures, the traditional or simpler’s method is the one I prefer, especially for beginners, since it is easy and reliable. All that is required is the herbs, the solvent, and a jar with a tight-fitting lid.
Step 1. Chop your herbs finely, or mix the herbs with some of your chosen solvent (see step 2) and blend in a blender. I recommend using fresh herbs whenever possible because one of the advantages of tincturing is the ability to preserve the fresh attributes of the plant. But either fresh or dried herbs will work, and you can even use both in a single tincture.
Step 2. Place the chopped herbs in a clean, dry jar. Pour enough solvent over the herbs to cover them by 2 to 3 inches. If you’re using alcohol as your solvent, select one that is 80- to 100-proof alcohol, such as vodka, gin, or brandy. If you’re using vegetable glycerin, dilute it first with an equal amount of water (1 part water to 1 part vegetable glycerin). If you’re using vinegar, warm it before pouring it over the herbs to help facilitate the release of the herbs’ constituents. Cover the jar with a tight-fitting lid.
Step 3. Place the jar in a warm place and let the herbs and solvent macerate (soak) for 4 to 6 weeks. The longer the maceration time, the better. Shake the jar occasionally during this period. Shaking keeps the herbs from packing down on the bottom of the jar. It is also an invitation for some of the old magic to come back into medicine making: while you shake the jar, empower your herbal remedies with prayer, song, or just a simple thought of gratitude.
Step 4. At the end of the maceration period, strain the herbs from the solvent by pouring the mixture through a large stainless steel strainer lined with cheesecloth or muslin and placed over a large bowl or pitcher. Reserve the liquid, which is now a potent tincture, and compost the herbs.
Step 5. Rebottle and label. Labeling is more important than it seems. If you don’t label your tinctures with the date, the herbs, and the type of alcohol, you will, if you’re like most people, soon forget what’s in your tincture jar. Especially if you have more than one jar of tincture! So label, label, label...
Prostate Health Formula #1
This medicinal formula is an excellent remedy for a swollen, inflamed prostate. It can be prepared as a tea or tincture.
• 3 parts corn silk
• 2 parts nettle root
• 1 part cleavers
• 1 part uva ursi
As a tea: Prepare as an infusion. Drink 3 to 4 cups daily.
Prostate Health Formula #2
This is another excellent remedy for prostate inflammation or enlargement.
• 2 parts marshmallow root
• 1 part echinacea
• 1 part gravel root (a.k.a. joe-pye weed)
• 1 part saw palmetto (only if you’re tincturing)
• 1 part uva ursi
As a tea: Prepare as a decoction. Omit the saw palmetto from the decoction blend, though, because it tastes very unpleasant. Instead, use it in tincture form, adding 1/4 to 1/2 teaspoon of saw palmetto tincture to each cup of tea before drinking. This tea won’t taste good, but it will work!
More from Rosemary’s Herbal Healing for Men:• Healthy Energy Ball Recipe
• Men's Medicinal Herb Tea
Excerpted from Rosemary Gladstar’s Herbal Healing for Men © by Rosemary Gladstar. Used with permission from Storey Publishing.