Foraging for Gumweed and Feverfew along the Pacific Coast of Vancouver Island and picking Mullein from my garden has become a favorite activity. Picking the flowers, leaves and digging the roots to make remedies is a creative passion! It is also a way to connect with the live ingredients that go into the healing remedies I will have on hand to take for acute and preventive care. I believe that handling the plants that one will take as a tincture will increase the benefits of it. One immediate benefit is the cost. It is cheaper to make tinctures than it is to buy them. For more on plants foraged from one’s backyard and along the Pacific Northwest visit Inventory of a Backyard Forager.
A tincture is a remedy that has integrated the healing properties of fresh plants preserving and concentrating these qualities in liquid form. I believe, tinctures can be effective and that energetically they are more in alignment with our own bodies electrical system.
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- Sterilized Mason or recycled jars & lids (any size)
- Sterilized 1 oz. or 1/2 oz. bottles & lids or droppers
- Plant material; leaves, flowers or roots
- Vodka (80% higher alcohol content) or apple cider vinegar
- Cheesecloth or filters
I personally do not combine flowers or leaves with the roots in tinctures or combine plants. I purchase Vodka with a highest grade of alcohol content (80 and above) or use apple cider vinegar to pour over the plant material in the mason jar.
Steps for Creating Tinctures
Step #1 – Picking Fresh Ingredients
In making my tinctures, I use fresh ingredients making this a seasonal activity. I pick the flowers and leaves throughout the growing season. Occasionally I dig the roots ensuring it doesn’t negatively affect the patch that is growing by leaving a greater amount growing than I take. Read more backyard garden plant ideas. Dry plant materials can be used as well. Here are a few popular plants:
Step #2 – Process
Use sterilized dry Mason jars and fill them 3/4’s full with the fresh flowers, leaves, or roots individually or a combination of leaves and flowers. Remember the size of jar will determine the amount of material and liquid needed.
Pour enough liquid to cover the plant material and fill the jar remembering it reduces the amount of oxygen in the jar. This is important to stop the material from molding. To begin with the plant material expands while it absorbs the liquid before it shrinks.
Step #3 – Setting
Some suggest letting this sit for 5 to 6 weeks in a sunny window before filtering and decanting. Jostle the jars each day to provide some liquid movement through the plant materials.
I have set it mine in a sunny window and one that gets the early morning sun and not the bright full day sun. I prefer to set it in the early morning sun.
Step #4 – Filtering
Use cheesecloth and/or a coffee filter to strain the plant material and pour the liquid into a sterilized mason jar and/or 1 oz and 1/2 oz bottles with droppers. On occasion you may have to strain more than once to remove any fine dust like material.
Step #5 – Storing
Store the alcohol based tincture in a cool cupboard and the apple cider vinegar in the fridge. The alcohol based tincture can be kept and used for a few years. The apple cider vinegar has a shorter life of 3 to 6 months.
Adults – 5 to 10 drops or 1/2 to 1 teaspoon – 3 times a day
Children – 1/2 the adult dosage
*Alcohol tinctures can be added to hot water to evaporate the alcohol before drinking
The Herbal Medicine-Maker’s Handbook – A Home Manual by Author
The Modern Herbal Dispensatory: A Medicine-Making Guide by North Atlantic Books, 2016, by
Traditional uses and properties of herbs are for educational purposes only. This information is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease. Every attempt has been made for accuracy, but none is guaranteed. Any serious health concerns or if you are pregnant, you should always check with your health care practitioner before self-administering herbs.