Making Tinctures
Answered by: Conrad Richter
Question from: Colleen Bourke
Posted on: January 26, 1999

I make Tincture of Feverfew and intend to tincture St Johnswort next year; maybe some others too, but I am not satisfied that I know the correct proportions (herb to menstruum) and percentage alcohol to use for different plants.

Can you recommmend a reference?

There is no reference that I know of that gives formulas herb by herb. John Lust, in his book, "The Herb Book" (available from Richters), gives the following general recipe:

"Combine 1 to 4 oz. powdered herb (the amount depending on the plant’s potency) with 8 to 12 oz. alcohol. Add water to make a 50% alcohol solution (you have to know what percent alcohol you started with). Let stand for two weeks, shaking once or twice a day; then strain and pour the liquid into a bottle suitable for storage."

Making tinctures is not an exact science: the final product depends on the experience of the maker to know that some herbs require more liquid than others. Generally, if experience suggests an alcoholic extract has too strong an effect then more liquid is used. Otherwise, it really doesn’t matter much whether you use more or less liquid because you can adjust the dose accordingly. What becomes more of a practical concern is whether there is enough liquid to adequately mix with and extract the powdered herb.

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