How to Make an Herbal Tincture


Tinctures are made from herbs  soaked in alcohol for a few weeks.

I make a variety of tinctures for myself, my family and my friends. I love the sense of self-sufficiency that comes out of making my own medicinals. There are a variety of opinions and methods for making tinctures. I’m going to share what I do.

The medicinal parts of plants are drawn out by both water and alcohol. By using 80 or 100 proof alcohol, you actually have a liquid that is part water and part alcohol – perfect for drawing out the medicinal constituents of the herb.

Making tinctures is simple:

  1.      Purchase good quality, organic herbs
  2.      Get a quart glass jar
  3.      Buy 80 or 100 proof alcohol (vodka is a standard)
  4.      Commit to shaking the mixture once or twice a day while the tincture is soaking.
  5.      Once the tincture is ready, you just strain it, saving the liquid, and store it.

Step by step instructions:

I am making a tincture of the herb Astragalus, also known as “Huang Qi” in Chinese. The part of the plant that is used is the root. I purchased my organic Astragalus root from the Crane Herb Company.

Here is the dried, cut astragalus:

Astragalus Dried

Dried and cut astragalus

Step 1. Put the dried herb into a glass jar:

Astragalus in jar

Step 2. Pour alcohol into the jar:

Pour alcohol into jar of astragalus

Step 3. Cover and label with herb and date:

Astragalus with alcohol

Make sure to label what’s in the jar and the date you made the tincture!

Step 4. Shake your mixture once or twice a day. Store this mixture in a cool, dark place.
haking astragalus

 

How long do you let the mixture soak?

Generally, for roots and barks, I give the tincture 6 weeks to soak and mix. For twigs and leaves, 4 weeks. The concept is that heavier parts of the plant need a longer time than the lighter parts. These times are my times, other herbalists will recommend longer or shorter times.

Step 5. Strain off the plant material – SAVE THE LIQUID – this is the medicinal product that will be used later.

Pour contents into strainer

Make sure you save the liquid!

Squeeze astragalus

Squeeze out all of the liquid from the material.

Finsih straining

Keep the liquid! This is your herbal tincture.

Step 6. Put the liquid tincture back into a clean glass jar and label it with the name of the herb and the date.

Finsihed tincture

Ready to use astragalus tincture.

 

Tinctures can be poured off into smaller bottles for easier use and transport. I put tinctures into 2oz. dropper bottles.

The usual dose of a tincture is 25-30 drops. This is an average dose for many types of herbs.

In order to know how much of an herb to use and what to use it for, consult a qualified herbalist, and take some training yourself.

References and Resources:

Introduction to Alternative Medicine – my online course that includes “Getting Started with Herbs.”

The Herbal Medicine Maker’s Handbook, by James Green is an excellent text for making all types of herbal products. Purchase The Herbal Medicine Maker’s Handbook  (affiliate link)

Purchase organic astragalus root (affiliate link)

About The Author

Cindy Black, L.Ac., LMT

Cindy Black is the Founder of Big Tree School of Natural Healing and the author of Meridian Massage, Pathways to Vitality. She is appreciated for her ability to make the complex accessible, fun, and practical.

11 Comments

  • Denise Borsheim

    Reply Reply April 8, 2010

    I love the simplicity and clarity of this blog–it makes be so confident & eager to make tinctures! Although I make aroma-therapeutic lotions & toners & things, I have been hesitant to try herbals, but I think this will be a very beneficial part of my practice!

    • Cindy Black

      Reply Reply December 27, 2011

      Take the plunge Denise and try! Making tinctures is very easy once you get the hang of it!

  • Michael

    Reply Reply October 21, 2013

    Would this work if I used astragalus root powder??

    • Cindy Black, L.Ac.

      Reply Reply October 21, 2013

      You can use the powder but it will be a bit of a challenge to separate it out from the finished tincture. Try using fine cheese cloth when you strain off the powder – it will be a longer process and require you to squeeze and wring it out, but it should still work. Let us know how it goes if you make the tincture with the powder.

  • kelly

    Reply Reply February 4, 2016

    Hi there,
    I live in South Florida…is it best to store the tincture in the fridge or juat in a dark cabinet?
    Thanks
    Key

    • Cindy Black, L.Ac., LMT

      Reply Reply February 5, 2016

      Hi Key,
      I keep my tinctures in a dark closet, even in warm climates, it is fine. The alcohol is a great preservative.

  • Joe

    Reply Reply February 16, 2016

    Thank you. I have been buying Astragalus at Whole Foods and my body has responded so well I enjoy taking it so much I am going to give it a go and make a batch of my own. Lets say for a small one pint jar how much root would you recommend would it be by weight or just fill jar 1/2 way? Also when you make root tinctures should the roots be washed first? I plan on buying herbs from Mountain Rose Herbs because they are organic. If I wanted to complement Astragalus do you have a suggestion? Should I tincture them together or mix the drops after? I have a lot of questions here so thank you very much for your time and for your help.

    • Cindy Black, L.Ac., LMT

      Reply Reply February 16, 2016

      Hi Joe,

      I’m glad you are going to make your own tinctures – that is the best!
      Definitely wash the roots well and chop them into small pieces. Fill whatever size jar you have with the chopped root – and then pour in alcohol. I always use organic herbs as well.

      In terms what to use to complement Astragalus – that always depends on what you are trying to achieve with the herbs. There are many possibilities.
      A great reference is the Herbal Medicine-Maker’s Handbook – here is a link to check that out http://astore.amazon.com/meridianmassage-20/detail/0895949903 You will learn about more herbs and more ways to work with them.

      Thanks for your great questions!

      • Joe

        Reply Reply May 5, 2016

        Cindy,

        Made my first batch of Astragalus and it turned out great. Thank you so much for your help.

        Joe

        • Cindy Black, L.Ac., LMT

          Reply Reply May 5, 2016

          Hi Joe,
          That is great news! You are on your way to many more tinctures!
          🙂

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