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A Practical Guide to Making Herbal Tinctures


| 2/2/2012 3:51:21 PM


ErinMcIntosh2Erin is the Communications Manager at Mountain Rose Herbs and a graduate of the Columbines School of Botanical Studies. She spends her days photographing flowers, creating herbal treats, and wildcrafting medicinal plants in the magnificent Oregon Cascades. 

Navigating the world of alternative herbal medicine can inspire a hungry fascination. Finding wellness through herbs often leads to an experience that's transformative and empowering. This experience can also bewilder our curious minds! We are lucky to have an incredible wealth of information about plant medicine at our fingertips today, but the beautiful complexity that comes with herbal healing makes learning the nuances a lifelong task. A sip of herbal tea or a dropperful of tincture can easily unlock the door to herbalism. Most of us begin our studies making these simple and effective preparations. However, basic concepts sometimes become muddied when juggling Latin binomial nomenclature, formulation considerations, physiological effects, historical research, and other pursuits within the art. The most common mix-ups arise from misused terminology. One term that tends to be applied to a variety of preparations is tincture. What is a tincture, is there any difference between a tincture and an extract, and is making herbal tinctures easy?

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All tinctures are extracts, but not all extracts are tinctures
 

Tinctures are concentrated herbal extracts that have alcohol as the solvent. If you are using water, vinegar, glycerin, or any menstruum (solvent) other than alcohol, your preparation is an extract—not a tincture. Although, there are exceptions to every rule and sometimes an acetum is defined as "a vinegar tincture" in the tomes. 

Herbal Tinctures 



The Folk Method 

Making tinctures is easy. I learned to make tinctures deep in the coniferous woods along green river banks that glitter throughout the Oregon Cascades. Unless you have some sort of handy-dandy collapsible scale contraption that fits in your pack, using the folk method is the way to go when making medicine in the forest! Simple, practical and efficient, this method allows you to estimate your herb measurements by eye. Here are a few important tincturing tips I learned during those years, while apprenticing with the Columbines School of Botanical Studies. 



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