Sometimes walking down the pharmacy aisle can be as scarry as Dorothy entering the haunted forest along the yellow brick road. We’re not exactly Glinda, the Good Witch, but we may be able to clear up some of your anxiety about using extracts & tinctures & teas, oh my!
What is an Extract
An herbal extract is the essence of an herb in liquid form. Technically it’s a purified substance that you take out of a compound substance. To create an extract, you can use alcohol, glycerin, vinegar or water and even oil.
What’s a Tincture
All tinctures are extracts, but extracts are not necessarily tinctures. All tinctures use alcohol as a solvent — something that draws out the medicinal qualities in the herb. If you use any other solvent it isn’t a tincture. Herbal tinctures are usually the strongest use of fresh herbs and can be stored and used for one year and until the next fresh harvest. The fresher the herb, the stronger the medicinal qualities.
There are a lot of how to videos out there on the internet, but basically for every cup of packed herbs you add three cups of alcohol. Vodka or 190 proof pure alcohol. Some people use rum. Never use isopropyl, rubbing, or wood alcohol.
Oh my, this is getting confusing again — you’d think we just ran through the field of poison poppies! Just read it S-L-O-W-L-Y.
- Tinctures are more powerful and last longer than dried herbs.
- It is much cheaper than buying ready made herbal products. You can make about a quart of your own tincture for the price of a few ounces of tincture at retail stores.
- You can control the quality of the product you are making by starting with herbs you collect yourself or purchase through a reputable source. You are also ensured of the purity of the final product.
- You can make special combination formulas.
- There is something to be said about getting involved in your own health. Some herbalists say that you benefit by absorbing some of the herb through the skin and from the aroma.
Make Your Own – DIY
Mountain Rose Herbs is a renowned source of herbs, tinctures, extracts and teas, including a video on how to make your own herbal tinctures. Annie’s Remedies website recommends several herbs for menopause including alfalfa, black cohosh and dong quai which act similarly to human estrogen but in a weaker manner, kind of like the Cowardly Lion.
Medicinal Herby by Rosemary Gladstar
Medicinal Herbs by Rosemary Gladstar teaches beginners how to grow and use their own medicinal herbs. You won’t find any munchkins in her garden, however.
Now that we’ve reached Oz and are about to sail back home in our hot air balloon, we hope you will try some of these products for your menopausal symptoms or read some of the books so that you don’t think we are just full of hot air.