Make Your Own Tinctures

7 Mar
Erin’s Meadow Herb Farm has resumed classes after a brief winter break and I couldn’t be happier.   You know those places that you visit and immediately start planning your next trip there?  Erin’s Herb Farm is like that for me.  Whenever I go, I leave excited, relaxed and with an armload of herbs.
A few weekends ago I went to a tincture making workshop at the farm.  An herbal tincture, according to Make Your Place, a fabulous book about sustainable nesting skills by Raleigh Briggs, is “basically a combination of an herb and an appropriate solvent that is allowed to keep for several weeks.  The result is a highly concentrated solution that captures the healing properties of the plant.”
For this class, we used vodka as our alcohol and read through recipes for problems ranging from headaches to mild depression and each created two tinctures to take home with us.
To make a tincture, you simply add a mixture of herbs to a jar, fill the jar with alcohol until it fully submerges to herbs, and then let the mixtures sit for 2-3 weeks, shaking periodically to distribute the herbs.  After 2-3 weeks, the solution is adequately infused and you can strain it using a coffee filter into a tinted glass jar, preferably with an eye-dropper top.  You can then use the tincture to treat the ailment for which it was created, taking anywhere from 3-15 drops three times a day.
I chose to make a mild depression tincture since it included St. John’s Wort, which is good for mid-winter blues and a Detox tincture because really, couldn’t we all use a good detox?

Mild Depression Tincture

  • 4 parts St. John’s Wort (promotes good mood)
  • 3 parts Peppermint (stimulant, aids digestion)
  • 3 parts Rosemary (good for memory and promotes absorption)
  • 3 parts Ginkgo (good for memory and circulation)
  • 2 parts Lemon Balm (stimulant)

Detox Tincture

  • 3 parts Dandelion (a diuretic, high in potassium)
  • 2 parts Milk Thistle (promotes good liver function)
  • 2 parts Burdock Root (blood purifier)
  • 1/2 part Red Pepper (stimulant and digestive aid)

I’ll admit that the tinctures don’t taste very good– they are medicine, after all.  You can take them with tea to disguise the taste or just grin and bear it.

I’m intrigued because it seems to me that tinctures are basically the same thing as bitters (which were used medicinally long before they were ever added to cocktails).  I’m already making plans for my own strawberry and black pepper bitters…

For more recipes like this one, check out the Apothecary page.


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