Plant Medicine: Making Herbs Simple

Herbal remedy making has never been easier. Follow along and learn to make powerful herbal plant medicine.

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Plant Addicts

Hi everyone! My name is Wendy and I'm an herbalist, writer, mother of 3 humans and many 4 leggeds. I grew up in the Midwest with a Grandmother who encouraged me to play with plants. Doesn't every little girl pretend to make medicine when they were little? Well, I thought we all did. However, I didn't see my life path as being an herbalist or talking about plants and herbs like an addict. So, yes, my name is Wendy, and I am a plant addict.

I not so secretly hope to inspire you to become one, too! In my first post here, I want to teach you the proper methods of making tinctures so that you will have the best medicine possible because I firmly believe that plants can heal anything.

Making natural remedies at home has become increasingly popular. With pharmaceuticals skyrocketing in price, denied access to healthcare being a major concern, and side effects of drugs that are scary, choosing to create remedies at home is an empowering decision. Understanding the different methods of tincture making is the first step in creating medicine that heals.

A tincture or extract, is simply an alcohol or non-alcohol based liquid medicine that uses a cold infusion process. Cold infusion means that no heat is applied when making the medicine. Heat can destroy the medicinal properties of the chosen plant, so tinctures are a good choice when trying to maintain the integrity of your plant medicine.

Not every plant has the same properties. Some plants make great alcohol based tinctures because they are alcohol soluble. Other plants do not. With plants that are not alcohol soluble, you’d want to use a vinegar, glycerin, or make an infusion.

Plants that are known to have a high amount of Vitamin B are not alcohol soluble. Alcohol will destroy the B vitamins that give the herb it’s energetics. Ginseng is a good example. Ginseng alcohol tinctures are completely worthless. Alcohol destroys the chains that make ginseng amazing. So when utilizing ginseng as medicine, you’d want to choose a water based solvent like in a hot water infusion, apple cider vinegar, or glycerin based tincture.

Even more confusing, some plants have different soluble values for different properties! Stinging nettles is a good example. Stinging nettles make a great hot infusion and is water soluble (tea) and is also a powerful alcohol soluble based tincture. Both methods access different healing agents! When you combine both methods together for allergy relief, you’ll have a powerhouse of stinging nettles medicine than when only using one method. Add dried stinging nettles supplements, and you’ve increased the stinging nettles even more. Making sense?

I prefer to make my stinging nettle tinctures with fresh stinging nettles, but dried nettles are still a good choice when fresh nettles are not available.

To make a tincture, you simply place your alcohol soluble clean herbs, roots, spices of choice in a clean jar (about half full) and fully cover with the appropriate solvent, then shake daily until done. At minimum, I leave my tincture for 2 weeks.

A lot of herbalists will say that tinctures will lose their medicinal value after 2 years of sitting on a shelf, but that isn’t true if it is alcohol based.

Alcohol is a natural preservative and will keep alcohol soluble tinctures for years.

However, if you use vinegar to make a water soluble tincture, it will lose its medicinal value after a year. When making a vinegar based tincture, do not let metal touch the solution in any way. Or you’ll have one of the most disgusting science experiments you’ve ever seen! (This is a great thing to do with kids to show them chemical reactions. It is not dangerous, just gross.)

If all you have are metal lids for your jars and you need a vinegar based tincture, use a plastic wrap and be careful not to tear it when you screw your lid on. I’ve done this successfully many times in a pinch. I eventually invested in some BPA free plastic lids that fit on all my mason jars (available in your canning section in most stores).

Tincture Solvents

Apple Cider Vinegar
Or any alcohol that does not have sugar added like rum, etc.

Sugar disrupts the immune function and should never be included in herbal medicine making. It would defeat the purpose of creating a remedy.

I hope everyone is out harvesting some Spring growth and stocking up on herbal remedies for the coming year.


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