Tinctures are highly concentrated herbal infusions in which the menstrum can be a combination of water and alcohol, vinegar or glycerin. Tinctures are most often used internally for medicinal purposes. They can also be used topically, in such preparations as antimicrobial wound washes, mouthwashes, facial astringents, deodorant preparations and many other formulas. Tincturing with alcohol and water allows more active constituents to be extracted from an herb than does a water-based infusion. Tinctures are easy to use, and have the advantage of long shelf lives. They provide an optimal way to preserve an herb’s volatile properties. Some herbs, such as St. Johnswort, are medicinally potent only when tinctured fresh. Other herbs can be tinctured dried, especially roots, bark and seeds. However, I generally make my tinctures from fresh herbs, since this seems to yield the strongest tinctures. When the herb is fresh its life force is stronger than it is when dried. The Ingredients chapter indicates which herbs are best tinctured fresh to obtain their healing attributes. Following are instructions for the basic tincturing techniques.
Simple Tinctures are made using a single herb tinctured alone.
Compound Tinctures are made with two or more herbs tinctured together. The total herbal quantity used will remain the same, but it is made up of a combination rather than just a single herb.
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