Posted on 2 Comments

Herbal Tinctures South Africa

herbal tinctures

Herbal Tinctures South Africa

Herbal Tinctures are often overlooked as a method of administering herbal medicines – most people are not as familiar with their use as they are with teas and capsules.

Mankind has had a long and loving relationship with herbs. In the 5th century B.C., Hippocrates, the famous Greek physician, listed approximately 400 herbs in common use. Around 65 A.D., Pedanius Dioscorides, a Greek physician serving with the Roman army, wrote “De Materia Medica,” in which he described the medicinal uses of many herbs. Even today, it is considered one of the most influential herbal books.

Don’t let the words “herbal tinctures” intimidate you. Herbal Tinctures are just concentrated herbal extracts made with alcohol, which can be taken straight or diluted in tea or water. In short, it’s another way of extracting the active components from an herb, except you’re using alcohol instead of water, vinegar, or glycerin as the solvent.

Using alcohol as the base solvent will give the tincture a longer shelf life however you can use vegetable glycerin as a substitute. You can also use vinegar if you don’t want to use alcohol. The method is the same and apple cider vinegar or a good quality wine vinegar (either red or white) can be used. This is particularly nice with berries such as elderberry or hawthorn berry.

For children it is best to use a mixture of 50% vegetable glycerin and 50% filtered or spring water or straight up organic apple cider vinegar (ACV). If you use this method you must keep it in the fridge at all times both during and after making, because the preserving qualities of glycerin are lower than alcohol or vinegar. Technically speaking a tincture is made using alcohol, and if you substitute vegetable glycerin or Apple cider vinegar it is known as a herbal extract.

The soaking process extracts the active components of the herb or herbs. Alcohol is often the liquid of choice, as it can extract components, such as resins and alkaloids, that are not water-soluble.

People usually take tinctures orally by using a dropper to place the liquid under their tongue.

Depending on the types of herbs involved, tinctures can include various parts of the plant. Some of the most common parts in herbal tinctures include:

  • dried leaves
  • bark
  • berries
  • roots
  • fresh leaves

If you’ve ever bought tinctures from the store, I’d encourage you to try making your own, as they are very inexpensive and easy to put make.

How to Make an Herbal Tincture

First you’ll need your desired herbs. You can buy your dried herbs South Africa here at our online store here.

What you’ll need:

  • High-proof alcohol (at least 40%). Vodka, Gin or brandy works well.
  • Alternative to alcohol if necessary: high quality organic apple cider vinegar.
  • A herb of your choice.
  • A glass jar (At least 500ml) with a tight-fitting lid
  • Small, dark glass bottles for storing the tinctures. Cobalt or amber glass are great, and should have tight-fitting screw-on or snap-down lids. You can buy 50ml glass dropper bottles here.
  • A fine strainer.
  • Fine cheesecloth or muslin.
  • A bowl or glass measuring cup with a spout.
  • A small funnel.

DRIED LEAVES & FLOWERS
• Use finely cut herbal material.
• Only fill jar 1/2 to 3/4 with herb.
• Pour alcohol to the very top of the jar. Cover plants completely!

DRIED ROOTS, BARKS, BERRIES
• Use finely cut herbal material.
• Only fill jar 1/4 to 1/3 with dried roots, barks, or berries.
• Pour alcohol to the very top of the jar. Cover plants completely!
• Roots and berries will double in size when reconstituted!

Let’s start!

  1. Add your herbs to your jar.
  2. Fill your jar with the solvent of choice.
  3. Shake well, and allow to sit for about an hour. Add more alcohol (or other solvent) as needed. This will depend on how much alcohol the plant material absorbs. You want your solvent to completely cover the plant matter, and be within 10cm of the top of the jar for movement.
  4. Find a great spot to keep your processing tincture- a dark, cool closet in your kitchen will do. Shake your tincture a few times a week, especially if you are using powdered herbs.
  5. Allow your herbs to macerate (steep) in the liquid for six to eight weeks. I have left mine for a year before, and it’s still been just fine. However, your tincture should be ready within the six to eight week range.
  6. Strain out the herbal matter. Use a strainer and a layer or two of cheesecloth muslin. This ensures a nice clear tincture.
  7. Bottle up your tincture!
  8. This last step is perhaps the most important of all: labeling your creation! Date, amount of Herb/s used.

If at any time during the soaking process the alcohol has evaporated a bit and the herb is not totally submerged, be sure to top off the jar with more alcohol. Herbs exposed to air can introduce mold and bacteria into your tincture.

It’s worth mentioning that berries and bark will soak up more alcohol than dried leaves so keep this in mind when packing your herb of choice into your glass jar.

Below is a short video on how to make a peppermint herb tincture which can be used for upset stomach, indigestion, morning sickness, or motion sickness.

Here are a few other herbal tinctures to experiment with.

Breathe Well Tincture
1 part ginger root
1 part marshmallow root
1 part licorice root

Cleansing Tincture
2 parts nettle leaf
1 part dandelion leaf
1 part lemon balm leaf

Stress Tincture
2 parts dandelion root
2 parts ginseng
1 part astragalus root
½ part cardamom seeds

PMS Tincture
3 parts red raspberry leaf
1 part stinging nettle leaf
2 parts peppermint leaf
1 part ginger root

Sleep Tincture
1 part chamomile flowers
1 part lavender flowers

Mood Boost Tincture
2 parts lemon balm leaf
1 part passionflower
1 part ginger root