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How to Make Your Own Tinctures with Herbs

written by: Diana Cooper • edited by: Leigh A. Zaykoski • updated: 5/19/2011

Making tinctures can be fun and rewarding. Learn how to make herbal tinctures at home with these easy directions and know what typical dosages are used.

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    It is believed that making herbal tinctures capture the physical and spiritual essence of the plant. Tinctures, also referred to as extracts, are basically liquid herbs. They can be taken internally and/or used externally. Depending on the herbs used, they can rejuvenate the mind and body or help treat a number of problems, including the common cold and infected wounds.

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    What You Will Need

    Herbs (fresh or dried). If you don't grow your own, be sure to buy from a reputable source. Organic is best.

    Distilled water and alcohol. Different alcohols can be used. DO NOT use rubbing alcohol or wood alcohol. Everclear 190-proof is considered an excellent alcohol. Brandy, vodka and rum (80-100 proof) are other common alcohols used; rum is suggested when using bitter herbs.

    To make a nonalcoholic tincture, recommended for babies and children, replace the alcohol with distilled water or apple cider vinegar. Alcohol extracts more of the herb's helpful properties than vinegar or water.

    You will also need:

    • a wide-mouthed jar
    • a bowl
    • a strainer
    • a cheesecloth (unbleached)
    • a coffee filter
    • a funnel
    • small, dark-glass dropper bottles
    • labels
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    Generally, 8 ounces of dried herb (finely cut or powdered) or 10 ounces of fresh herb (chopped) is used per 1 quart of alcohol/water.

    • Making an Herbal Tincture at Home In the wide-mouthed jar, add the herb and a 50-50 mixture of water and alcohol. Make sure there is at least an inch of liquid above the herb.
    • Close the jar tightly and shake it for a few minutes. Write the date and type of herb on a label and place it on the jar. Wrap a dark colored towel around the jar or put it in a brown paper bag and place it in a warm, dark area where it will steep for at least two weeks. While the mixture is steeping, you will need to shake it for a few minutes every day, several times a day.
    • After steeping, strain the mixture into a bowl. Before discarding the moist herb in the strainer, squeeze it through a cheesecloth into the bowl to get as much liquid as possible. Next, strain the liquid from the bowl using a coffee filter back into the jar. This should capture all remaining particles.
    • For the last steps, transfer the liquid from the jar into the small, dark-glass dropper bottles using a funnel. Close the bottles tightly and place a label (with the date and type of herb) on each one. Store in a cool, airy place away from direct sunlight.

    Homemade herbal tinctures are usually good for two years.

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    Typical Doses

    For internal use, add 1 teaspoon of tincture to 1 cup of tea or juice. Take up to three times a day.

    For external use, add 1-2 teaspoons of tincture to 1 cup of warm or cold water. Soak a washcloth, piece of gauze or cotton ball in the mixture, wring it out and apply to the affected area. Do this two to three times a day. Do not use warm compresses on broken skin.

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    How To Make Herbal Tincture:

    How To Make Tinctures From Herbs:

    Uncommon Cures for Everyday Ailments (from the editors of Bottom Line/Health) 2006

    Photo by stitch witch / Flickr

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