How to Make a Tincture

Making your first tincture can seem pretty scary, but it’s actually very easy! In this post, I’ll give you an easy to follow break down of the steps so you can make your own medicine at your kitchen table. 

Sounds pretty empowering, huh? That’s why I love plant medicine. It allows you to take control of your own health and wellness all while bringing out your creative side & reconnecting you to nature!

A tincture is also called a liquid herbal extract. It’s a concentrated form of plant medicine. This makes it a very easy way to take your medicine, especially if you’re not a tea person and drinking multiple cups of tea a day doesn’t sound realistic for you.

Sometimes herbs don’t taste very well but have great medicinal value. Making a tincture with such herbs would be a smart approach instead of forcing a cup of tea down. 

While the taste of the tincture may be unpleasant, because the dose is small this is less of an issue. If the tincture taste bothers you, you can dilute it in juice or water. I always recommend this to newbies! I personally just swig water right after, so that works too!

Besides being more convenient to take, the alcohol based extracts increase absorption of the herbs by about 30% while having a shelf life of 5+ years (glycerin and vinegar have a much shorter shelf life). 
 

Vocabulary:

Tincture: a liquid that contains the chemical properties of an herb

Menstruum: the liquid used to make a tincture

Extract: to draw out

Ballast/Marc: the plant material left over when making a tincture
 

Supplies needed:

•    Fresh or dried herb
•    A glass jar (at least pint size) with lid
•    Your menstruum of choice—vodka (at least 80 proof/40% alcohol), brandy, apple cider vinegar (better for extracting minerals), or food grade vegetable glycerin
•    DIY label
•    Straining cloth (I prefer muslin cloth)
•    Funnel
•    Bowl
•    Colored glass dropper bottle
 

How to make a tincture:

Place dried or fresh herb in your glass jar. If using fresh herb, chop up and fill to the top. If using dried herb, fill half way. 

Pour your menstruum of choice over the herbs and fill to the rim.

Stir out any air bubbles and tightly put the lid on the jar. 

Label with the name of the herb, type of menstruum used, and the date (trust me, you’ll never remember any unlabeled concoctions a month or so down the road)!

Store the jar in a cool/dry place, shaking daily (or as often as you can remember!) for at least four weeks. A dark cabinet or root cellar works well.  

After a month or more, strain through a cloth and compost/discard the ballast (i.e. spent herb). 

Pour tincture through a funnel into a colored glass dropper bottle or clean glass jars. A dark amber bottle will help extend the shelf life and prevent oxidation. 
 

Dosage:

The standard adult dose is about 1/2 to 1 teaspoon up to three times a day as needed.
 

Where to get herbs:

If you’re local, three of my favorite shops (and stockists) have a bulk herb section! 

•    The Prana House in downtown West Chester, PA
•    Harvest Market Natural Foods in Hockessin, DE
•    Palo Santo Wellness Boutique in Philly 

If you’d prefer to purchase herbs online, you can grab them here.

You can always grow your own herbs or wild-harvest/forage for them also! You’d be surprised how many medicinal weeds grow in your yard! Just make sure that you have identified them correctly, that they are far from a roadside, and haven’t been sprayed with chemicals. 
 

Arete Herb's selection of tinctures:

We have a line of herbal tinctures personally handcrafted by yours truly! We only use organic cane alcohol (gluten free!) and organically grown or ethically wild-harvested herbs. Our line has extracts specific for energy, sleep, memory, seasonal allergies, immunity, and digestive health. Check out our shop here!
 

Resources/book recommendations:

If you’re eager to deepen your knowledge on plant medicine making, two great books that I recommend are: 

  1. Making Plant Medicine by Richo Cech is a beginner friendly guide and uses a traditional/folk method. It is best for the newbie DIY-er!

  2. The Herbal Medicine-Maker’s Handbook: A Home Manual by James Green is much denser and for advanced DIY-ers. It is more sciencey, if that fascinates you!

What herbal tincture are you planning to make? Keep the conversation going by leaving your thoughts and questions on our blog post here!

Lauren Simko1 Comment