In today's post, I'm going to share something I have been working on for the last several weeks — my homemade herbal tinctures! So first things first, what exactly are tinctures? Tinctures are herbal extracts that use something beyond water as a solvent. I first got interested in herbal tinctures when I wanted something to help strenghten my heart health and ease my daily anxiety. I wanted to do this without taking perscription medicine or over the counter drugs composed with weird chemicals and produced in huge, unpersonal factories. I've always been weary of medicine and didn't even like to take Tylenol as a kid. It always seemed unnatural to me. Thus began my search for natural healing remedies.
I started ordering tinctures from Botanical shops on Etsy and following apothecary artists on Instagram. My first purchase was a small 1 oz Motherwort tincture. Motherwort's benefits were off the charts. Not only is Motherwort used for treating heart conditions, including irregular heartbeat, fast heartbeat, and heart symptoms due to anxiety, but it also has the ability to sooth muscles, ease spasms, and help with cramping. Even if these claims have not been scientifically proven and could be ascribed to the placebo effect, it couldn't hurt to give it a go right? What I found was my stress and anxiety did subside after taking several drops every morning. While I can't attest that the herbs were 100% to credit, I can tell you that by waking up each morning and giving myself attention (by taking several drops of the potion), and setting my intent to remain calm and connected to my inner strength, my days changed for the better. There is something about deciding you want to make a change and giving yourself daily love that really does wonders.
As my interest progressed and I watched my inspirational apothecary Instagram herbalists post beautiful pictures of the plants they used for potions as well as techniques for making natural medicines, I decided I wanted to try it myself. After all, what better way to give attention to my health and body than to make it from scratch. I planted a mini herb garden early this summer, and began researching a good place to start. I found that the easiest and cheapest way to make potions was through the folk method. The folk method uses no measurement, only eyeballing the correct amount by ratios. It's super easy to make your own herbal tinctures, so I want to share what I've learned. The fun part is researching and deciding what herbs you want to use based on your own needs.
- Canning jars
- Fresh herbs (may use dried herbs as well - just skip steps 1-4)
- Pyrex measuring cup
- Amber glass dropper bottle(s)
- Gather a basket full of fresh herbs. Research the herbs you want to use in your tincture as some are better than others for this process. I chose Bee Balm and Lemon Balm from my garden. Bee Balm is good for aiding digestion while Lemon Balm is used to reduce stress and promote sleep. I figured the two together would compose a perfect before bed infusion.
- Rinse your leaves in the sink to remove dirt and gently dry them with a towel.
- Place your clean herbs on a cutting board and remove any leaves that are brown or starting to rot.
- Finely chop the herbs to release the juices for a stronger potion.
- Fill a glass jar 1/2 way full with the chopped herbs.
- Pour alcohol (I used vodka) to the very top of the jar. Use 40%-50% (80-100 proof vodka) for fresh herbs that are not super juicy and a higher proof (up to 190) for herbs that do contain more moisture. Higher percentage alcohols extract more of the plant juices but are harsher on the palette. Cover the plants completely leaving no if very little air in the jar. You want to make sure the plant is completely submerged or else mold and bacteria can be introduced into your mixture.
- Store your tincture in a cool, dry, dark place such as a cabinet or closet for 6-8 weeks. Make sure to label your jar with the date it was created so you don't lose track. Check several times to give it a good shake and to check the alcohol level. If the alcohol has evaporated exposing the herb to air, make sure to re-cover it with more alcohol to prevent bacteria from getting in.
6 - 8 Weeks Later
- Now it's time to create your potion! Take your cheesecloth and drape it over your glass pyrex measuring cup. Gently pour the contents of your canning jar into the center of the cheesecloth. Squeeze and twist to get as much liquid as you can out of the substance. You may have to do this in several batches depending on how much you made.
- Next, remove the excess alcohol. I like to remove as much of the vodka from the solution as I can now that the extraction has taken place. This step is optional, however, I find that it creates a better tasting blend if I replace some of the alcohol with warm water and honey. This is done by evaporating some of the alcohol from the solution. To achieve this, place the pyrex cup in a saucepan full of cold water. Bring the water to a boil and then turn off the heat immediately. Leave the pyrex container in the water for a few hours with no lid to let the alcohol slowly evaporate. This process may be repeated more than once.
Once the potion is cooled, fill the pyrex container back to it's original starting point of liquid with warm water and honey to taste.
Lastly, pour the liquid into amber glass dropper bottles. Make labels including the common name, Latin name (because that just looks cool), ingredients, dosage, date, and any other relevant information you want to include.
I am giving away four 1 ounce bottles of Motherwort tinctures that I just made. Check out my Instagram page for more details.
CANNING JARS by Ball Jar
ORGANIC HERBS by Mountain Rose Herbs
VODKA by Prairie Vodka Spirits
CHEESECLOTH by Regency Wraps
MEASURING CUP by Pyrex
AMBER GLASS DROPPER BOTTLES by Vivaplex
LABELS by Nardo Visgo
LA ABEJA HERBS
WOODEN SPOON HERBS