Herbal tinctures are surprisingly easy to make for your own use. The herb is left to macerate (stand) in alcohol for a couple of weeks and the active principles of the herb are absorbed and preserved by the alcohol. This is the best method for extracting all the active principles of the herb:
First fill a jar three-quarters full of the herb (a bottling jar would do). Cover with a high percentage alcohol such as vodka or brandy. Check the next day to see if you need to add more alcohol, the herbs may have expanded. Keep shaking the bottle daily and after two weeks strain off the liquid and store in a sterilised dark bottle. The tincture will keep for 2 years.
A typical dose is one teaspoon three times a day a day in water.
If you wish to avoid ingesting the alcohol put a teaspoon of the tincture into hot water before taking it and the alcohol will evaporate. Some herbs such as rosemary can be macerated in cider vinegar to produce a herbal vinegar. For children you could macerate in a solution of equal parts water and glycerol
If you are using dry herbs use 100g of the herb to 500ml of alcohol. In this case the alcohol need only be 25% in strength. Fresh herbs double the quantity of herb and have use a stronger alcohol. A tincture is usual described with a ratio i.e. 1:5 meaning one part herb to 5 parts alcohol. To find out the exact ratio appropriate for the herb you are using Bartram’s Encyclopedia of Herbal Medicine is very good.
If you want to follow biodynamic principles make on the new moon and press on the full moon.
If you are taking other medicines that might not be compatible or if you feel unconfident about dosages or any other aspect of herbalism there is a herbal advice line on 0906 8020117. They charge by the minute and will tell you their charges if you ring them.
If you would like to learn more there are courses in practical herbalism run by Nathan Hughes BSc PGDip MNIMH HYPERLINK "http://www.herbcourses.org.uk" www.herbcourses.org.uk.
To find out more about herbalism generally contact the National Institute of Medical Herbalists 01392 4260222 HYPERLINK "http://www.nimh.org.uk" www.nimh.org.uk
You can buy muslin and funnels from us to strain the macerated herb when bottling your tincture. A square of muslin for 50p and funnels either 50p small or 70p large.