As your herb garden takes shape this spring, you may want to consider preparing some home remedies from your harvest. Herbal tinctures are usually prepared from fresh — as opposed to dried — plants. Depending on the herb, the medicinal parts can be the leaves, roots, flowers, or fruits of the plant. Even culinary herbs offer medicinal properties; for example, basil is a traditional remedy for coughs, digestive upset, and anxiety. In a few simple steps, you can prepare your own herbal tinctures with herbs from your own garden. Why not benefit from the blessings in your own backyard?
Things You’ll Need:
Glass pint or quart jar
Fresh herb to fill glass jar*
Cutting board and knife
Vodka, brandy, or apple cider vinegar
Labels and permanent marker
Dark colored glass dropper bottles with glass droppers (plastic ruins the herb’s medicinal properties)
Harvest the herb: The best time for harvest will depend on the herb. For example, basil leaves can be harvested anytime during the summer, while dandelion root is best in early spring or fall. Harvest enough of the herb to loosely fill the pint or quart jar. Sort through the plant material and discard any discolored plant material.
Chop the plant material: Using a knife and cutting board, coarsely chop the leaves, roots, or whatever part of the plant you will use for the tincture.
Fill the jar: Loosely fill the jar with the plant material. Fill the jar to the top with whichever liquid — vodka, brandy, or vinegar — you choose. To extract both alcohol- and water-soluble medicinal qualities, use 100-proof vodka. Vinegar will produce a less potent remedy. Using a wooden spoon handle, poke through the mixture, making sure there are no air pockets, which can promote spoilage. Also, make sure that plant material is completely covered by the liquid. Tightly cap the jar. If you use vinegar, protect a metal lid by placing wax paper between the lid and jar.
Label the jar: With a permanent marker, label the jar, noting the herb, date, and type of liquid.
Set aside: In a cool, dark place, let the mixture sit for at least 6 weeks.
Fill dropper bottles: After 6 weeks, strain and pour the tincture into glass dropper bottles. To maintain the tincture’s medicinal qualities, use dark glass, and make sure that the droppers are also made of glass. Label the dropper bottles.
*Caution: Before trying any natural remedy, make sure you talk to a doctor or trained, reputable herbalist. Some herbs cause allergic reactions, and others can be toxic in large dosages. Also consult a physician about possible drug interactions.