A tincture is a concentrated liquid extract of an herb. Tinctures are a quick and simple way to take in herbs and are usually consumed in a small amount of juice or water due to their strong taste.
Traditionally tinctures are started on the new moon and pressed on the full moon. It is said that the gravitational pull of the moon will draw out the medicinal properties of the plant making the tincture stronger. Making tinctures with the waxing and waning of the moon is a way to honor and connect with the energy of the earth. Many herbalists still practice this tradition today.
Tinctures are made by placing herbs in a jar and covering them with a solvent known as a menstruum. Alcohol, vegetable glycerin, and vinegar are all solvents. The menstruum is used to draw out the active constituents of the plant.
A tincture can be made following the standardized method or using the traditional simpler’s method. In the standardized method, all ingredients are weighed and measured, whereas the simpler’s method is less precise. Simpler was once a term used to refer to herbalists who worked with only a few plants at a time. In this method, ingredients are measured in parts and the herbalist decides what unit of measurement that part will be- ounce, tablespoon, teaspoon, etc. Whatever unit of measure is being used as the part must be used consistently throughout the process.
When using the simpler’s method to extract a single herb, a jar will be filled with the herb and the menstruum will be poured in until the herb is fully covered. There is no measuring involved. The standardized method requires the herbalist to weigh the herb and prepare the menstruum at the correct ratio for that particular plant. Both methods are effective, but at Matriarch Herbs we use the standardized method for the sake of consistency.
Regardless of which method the herbalist chooses to use, once the herb and menstruum are in the jar, the process is the same. The jar is sealed, tucked away in a cool, dark place, and allowed to macerate for usually a minimum of six weeks. Every herbalist has their number of days they feel is just right. Every day the jar is given a few shakes to incorporate the herb and menstruum. Shaking the jar also allows the herbalist to infuse the herbs with healing intentions and lots of love, making the medicine that much more potent. It’s important to find an herbalist you connect with, since it’s their hands that will be making your medicine.
Once maceration is complete the herb is pressed and the liquid extract is bottled. The plant material that is leftover after the extract has been pressed is called the marc. Tinctures are a convenient way for busy moms to take herbs without any fuss and because they are so concentrated, only a dropperful or two per day is needed to receive the benefits.
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