I use the simpler's method of tincturing healing herbs, perfect for homemade medicines for everday use or more serious applications. Tinctures are the liquid result of chopping plants up and steeping them in alcohol, which is, after water, the most common menstruum (in herbal terminology) used to extract the medicinal qualities and properties from the plants.
After harvesting or buying the fresh herb, tear or chop it up finely and place it in a clean glass jar to the top. Then pour 100-proof vodka over the plants (from a glass bottle please; alcohol breaks down plastic, and you don't need exogenous estrogens from the plastic in your herbal medicine).
Use a chop stick or small branch to push down the plants and poke holes throughout the plant material, to make sure the herbs are thoroughly saturated with the alcohol. Top up the jar with vodka several times over the next five minutes to make sure it is as full as possible, then screw the lid tightly on. Shake the jar if you like. Say a prayer, or sing a song. Give thanks for the good medicine that's coming.
Make a label that includes the common and botanical name of the plant, whether it's fresh or dry, the parts used, and the date you made the medicine. You can add anything else you may with to say about it, such as, "gathered on a sunny day in a field behind the barn." I like to include the phase and astrological sign that the moon was in. In some cases you should definitely specify "for external use only" or other warnings as appropriate. During the first week or two, open the lid and top it up with more alcohol as necessary to keep it full to the top, because the plants will continue to absorb the menstruum.
If you are making a dried-herb tincture, a general guideline is to fill your jar 20 -30 % full with the plant material, and then fill the jar the rest of the way (100%) with your chosen menstruum - vodka, brandy, or other alcohol.
Let tinctures sit for at least six weeks before using them. It's not necessary to shake them if you've torn or cut up the fresh plant material well, but you may choose to shake or twirl them from time to time, or sing to them, or hold them in silence, to help infuse them with your intentions and healing love and energy. If you have used dried herbs to make tincture, then I do recommend shaking them.
For decanting, get a beaker, measuring cup, or other pitcher large enough to hold the contents of your tincture bottle. It should ideally have a pour spout and a wide enough opening to work with easily, but if that's not available, a clear jar or bowl will work just fine. Carefully pour all the herbal liquid into the clear pitcher through a piece of cheesecloth on a strainer or sieve, or directly through a fine-mesh strainer. You may find it easier to set your strainer inside a funnel. After pouring, squeeze out the plant material to capture the strongest part of the medicine you've just made.
When you've squeezed out every drop that you possible can, pour the herbal tincture back into the original jar - it's pre-labeled! Or pour it into a new jar for use or storage (and don't forget to label).
Compost the plant material; this final give-away to the Earth completes the making of your medicine.
Easy Rose Hip Tincture
- Fresh Rose Hips - enough to fill a jar
- 100-proof vodka or brandy
- Wide-mouth glass jar of any size
Follow instructions above, mashing the rose hips before putting them in the bottle. Rose hips are often available on the bushes even in winter. Always leave plenty of berries for the birds, too.
Once you've made your tincture, be sure to share it across your social media and tag @robinrosebennett as I'd love to see what you've created.
Sign up for my free newsletter at WiseWomanHealingWays.com. You can find hundreds of healing recipes in, The Gift of Healing Herbs-Plant Medicines and Home Remedies for a Vibrantly Healthy Life and clear guidance on how to connect with Nature and your own true nature in Healing Magic, A Green Witch Guidebook to Conscious Living-10th Anniversary edition. My meditation CD's are available through CD Baby.