Herbal Tinctures

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Latest Edit: Hector 2014-3-13 (EDT)

See Also Naturopathic Therapies
See Also Botanical Medicine (Herbalism)


A tincture is made by macerating or percolating the plant material in a mixture of water and alcohol. The components extracted are determined by the ratio of alcohol to water used in the solvent. The strength of the tincture is usually given as the ratio of the solid herbal product used compared to the total volume of the solution. The most common range is between 1:3 and 1:5 (plant:total solution).[1]

A fluid extract is more concentrated than a tincture. They are prepared in a similar fashion to tinctures, but in an extract one unit of the preparation is equivalent to one unit of the original plant product. The terms tincture and extract are often used interchangeably.[1] To decrease the alcohol content found in tinctures or extracts you can boil off the alcohol.

Advantages:

  • Some constituents can only be extracted in alcohol
  • Often allows more constituents to be released making them very potent
  • Easily absorbed
  • Long shelf life
  • More concentrated than a tea. Thirty drops of an extract is roughly equivalent to one cup of tea.
  • Can often be used directly on the skin.

Disadvantages:

  • The main disadvantage is the alcohol content. There are only about fifteen drops of alcohol per cup, which can be evaporated off, if necessary, by placing the extract in a cup and pouring boiling water over it.
  • Taste can be a concern with some herbs.

Considerations:

  • For pediatrics, where alcohol is not desirable, glycerite is often used as the solvent.


Check out further information on botanical medicine and therapeutic forms of herbs.

References

  1. 1.0 1.1 Boon Heather, Smith Michael (2009) 55 Most Common Medicinal Herbs, Second Edition Institute of Naturopathic Medical Education and Research, CCNM.
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