(Health Secrets) There is an economical approach to using herbs: simply make herbal tinctures at home! If purchasing herbs to make your own tinctures gets more difficult because of the ever increasing restrictions on herbal remedies, you don’t need much space to grow your own. Those restrictions have started in Europe and have spread to Canada and the US. So start now to be prepared for future hard times when tyranny against health freedom again raises its ugly head.
Getting to know herbs
Both Chinese and India’s Ayurvedic medicines have used herbs for centuries. So have North American Indians and South American indigenous groups. If the correct herbs are selected, almost any ailment can be cured over time. It’s wise to approach the herbal remedy learning curve incrementally, by consulting knowledgeable individuals that you may find in health food stores selling herbs and herbal tinctures.
Then there are herbalists’ brains to pick and books by them to read. You will probably find that they prescribe mostly teas or decoctions, a much more labor intensive way to do herbs than making tinctures.
It’s important to distinguish herb types as well. Most herbs have tonic effects and can and should be taken consistently for long periods to support organs or organ system. Others are medicinal and should be taken until a cure has been affected and then stopped. There are also general herbs that can be used either way.
Some herbs are adaptogenic, which means they adjust their benefits to meet your specific needs. For example, if your immune system over reacts, an adaptogenic herb will slow things down. If your immune system weakens, that same herb will boost its strength. Nature can be clever, even wise.
There are books by herbal experts such as Ron Teeguarden who writes for the average consumer. Teeguarden specializes in Chinese herbalism. Or try the writings of Dr. John Christopher, whose expertise with European and American herbs is legendary. Another good source, especially if you wish to grow your own herbs, is Ingrid Naiman. Their sites are linked in the sources section at the bottom of this article.
Advantages of tinctures
Making decoctions on a regular basis is labor intensive, and so is the making and consuming of several teas a day. The herbal extracts in capsules and tablets are not as absorbable as liquids. The solution for this dilemma is making tinctures.
When you make a tincture, you can make up a large portion at one time. By ingesting a dropper full or two of the potion daily, that large container will last a year or so. The shelf life is maintained by the alcohol used for the extraction process, and this extraction process is much healthier than the chemical solvents used in the production of commercially prepared extracts. Herbal tinctures made with alcohol can last up to 50 years without losing potency.
Using a tincture is a great way to ingest an herbal extract. Herbs are easily absorbed by the body in this form. Alcohol is half of the liquid used to extract and preserve the herbs, and alcohol is able to extract many more phytonutrients than water alone can do. Alcohol also helps permeate membranes in your mouth and body to allow those phytonutrients direct access into your blood stream, bypassing your digestive system.
The amount of alcohol in a tincture is not enough to cause an alcohol reaction when a dropper or two is taken. However, if it is important to exclude alcohol, you can squirt a dropper full or two into hot water, hot enough to brew tea, and let it set until it’s cool enough to drink. A good deal of the alcohol will have evaporated.
Buying supplies to make herbal tinctures
Get yourself a mason jar or jars, then find a bag or bags of your herb choices. Usually, a one pound bag goes for around twelve dollars on line. Make sure the herbs are organic or wild harvested to avoid getting herbs that have been irradiated. It’s been a trend lately to irradiate herbs to kill off parasites and pathogens. But irradiation kills the nutrients and alters herbs enough to make them toxic. Bureaucratic health authorities seem to consider herbs as merely taste enhancers and of little value.
The liquid used to extract and preserve the tincture is a combination of distilled water and grain alcohol. The mixture should be half distilled water and half grain alcohol, though some prefer a ratio of 60% distilled water to 40% grain alcohol. A popular grain alcohol brand is Everclear. It is 95 percent pure grain alcohol or 190 proof. Some simply purchase a quart of high quality vodka that’s at least 80 proof.
Putting it together
Put your herbs into the mason jar not quite half way filling it. A little less if the herb particles are small. They’ll expand. Create your grain alcohol mixture and water to a ratio near 50/50 but no less than 40/60 in a glass container. Then pour that mixture into the mason jar until it’s full of herbs and liquid with just enough space under the lid to allow for mixing by gently shaking the jar.
Screw the top on and place the jar in a cool dark space. Then allow the solution to season for two to four weeks with a gentle shaking or swirling once every day. Don’t try to mix the solution by taking the lid off and stirring. Simply gently shake, rock, or swirl the jar with the lid on. Though some say two weeks seasoning is enough, four weeks is probably better.
Herbalists advise that if you start using the extract before four weeks, simply leave what hasn’t been tapped yet with the herbs remaining, and shake or swirl daily. The mother jar should remain in that same space while you pour into one, two, or four ounce bottles with glass eyedroppers as needed. You can leave everything intact in the mother jar for as long as it exists, or remove the herbs after four weeks.
You will find that good commercial herbal extracts sell for hefty prices. some even more. But it won’t cost you much for the materials you will need to put together a supply that will last a year or more if you make it yourself. Any medicinal herbs, such as elderberry for flu and colds, that are used as needed for short periods will last for several years and be ready to use anytime.
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