Herbs are natural and potent agents that can positively aid the body, fight disease and the symptoms of aging.  They have a remarkable history of increasing the healing power of the human body and maintaining good health when properly used.  

 

What is an Herbal Tincture?

Tinctures or herbal extracts, are concentrated herbal preparations where the medicinal qualities of an herb have been extracted into a liquid form. The most common liquids used for the extraction process are a combination of water and grain alcohol. Tincture can either contain a single herb or a combination of several complimentary herbs. 

 

Lycium (Goji) Herbal TinctureTinctures versus Capsules

There is a significant advantage in using herbal tinctures as opposed to capsules since it could take 20 capsules to equal a dose of 1 ½ teaspoon or 75 drops of tincture. Capsules can take from 20 - 30 minutes or more just for the system to break it down so the body can start assimilate the content. Although tinctures can often have a bitter taste, they are absorbed with your saliva within 1-4 minutes and into your bloodstream. Vaping is even quicker. 

It is interesting that there are only a handful of herbal tincture manufacturers in North America, but hundreds of companies manufacturing herbal capsules. Why? The simple answer is money. Most large corporations are interested in creating products in large volumes, in the shortest time, for the lowest cost and the highest selling price.

While tinctures are far superior because they contain more of the active herbal ingredients and are more easily absorbed by the body, the process of developing them can take 6-8 weeks. That makes them unattractive to companies that are looking for cost efficiency and great profit margins!  Most people aren't aware of the differences in products, so the manufacturing companies have been able to market herbal capsules cheaply and very profitably.

 

How are Tinctures Made?

The highest quality herbal tinctures begin by using premium quality, organic herbs.  The active ingredients are drawn from the plant by submersing them in a precise solution of purified water and grain alcohol. No heat is used in the extraction process, which preserves the volatile oils and healing properties of the plants. Alcohol is an important part of the extraction process and serves as a preservative. When the process is finished, the solution is filtered and bottled.

Conventional tinctures have an alcohol content between 25 - 55%.. When tinctures are consumed through hot beverages or vaping, the alcohol quickly evaporates. This can be important for people that are allergic to alcohol.

 

Why Alcohol?

Occasionally a few people have a physical, emotional or spiritual reason for avoiding alcohol.  They should be aware that:

  • Vaping e-liquid with a tincture added will vaporize the alcohol.
  • Adding the tincture to a boiling hot beverage such as tea or coffee will cause the alcohol to evaporate with seconds.

There are several important reasons for using grain alcohol:Green Tea Herbal Tincture

  • The alcohol helps the herbs assimilate quickly into your body because it makes the mouth's mucous membranes more permeable. This means the herbal constituents can pass into the bloodstream more efficiently and bypass the digestive system.
  • It dissolves and extracts certain important phytochemicals, plant chemicals that are necessary for the formula to be effective.
  • The alcohol preserves the herbal formula, giving it an almost indefinite shelf-life (over 5 years).
  • The amount of alcohol per dose is so insignificant; there is more alcohol in some mouthwashes. The amount of alcohol in the average dose of tincture is equal to the amount of alcohol in a ripe banana. This dosage has been tested on people, who are alcohol sensitive with NO adverse reactions.

 

How to Use:

Start with a low dosage and increase gradually. Listen to your body and if you experience any adverse symptoms discontinue. Tinctures are not addictive, are more easily absorbed and actually cost a fraction of the price compared to taking a similar dose with capsules.

Herbal medicines can be an integral part of the healthcare and healing practices, but as with any active ingredient, there are some people that should not take them because of age, pre-existing conditions, possible drug interactions or pregnancy. Read the research and cautions and consult your doctor before using.

 

References:

Encyclopedia of Natural Healing, Alive Books
Culpeper's Medicine, Graeme Tobyn
How Natural Remedies Work, Jo Serrentino
Herbal Healing, Michael Hallowell
Herbs & Things, Jeanne Rose
Klaus Ferlow, HMH (Honorary Master Herbalist, Dominion Herbal College, Burnaby, B.C. est. 1926)

 

This information is offered for its educational value and should not be used in the diagnosis, treatment, or prevention of disease. Any attempt to diagnose and treat illness should come under the direction of your health care practitioner.