Tinctures have been used for hundreds of years to distill and preserve the essence of medicinal herbs. Occasionally used for culinary purposes, the vast majority of tinctures (which are plant chemicals isolated and preserved in alcohol) are found in the herbalist’s medicine cabinet. There are various tinctures labeled for specific health concerns, and those that are formulated for general purposes. Herbal medicine, and specifically tinctures, are a form of alternative medicine medicine with a longstanding history in all corners of Eastern and Western cultures.
So why would you choose a tincture instead of a whole herb? After all, whole herbs are alive, and can be grown right in your garden or kitchen. Of course, there’s nothing wrong with using whole herbs freshly snipped, but there are several advantages to using tinctures that just can’t be beat.
Here’s our best argument for using tinctures instead of whole herbs.
Tinctures are Concentrated
Typically a tincture is produced by submerging a large amount of herbal plant matter in a relatively small amount of high proof, usually grain alcohol. Left to sit for a predetermined amount of time, the medicinal chemicals that grow naturally in these healing herbs are dissolved into the alcohol, thus being transferred from leaf and stem to the surrounding liquid.
As you might have guessed, this makes tinctures (potentially) much more potent than whole herbs, meaning that you have to consume a whole lot less to feel the effect. Most tinctures call for doses of 20 drops or so, which is convenient for most of us. Because this tiny dose is almost guaranteed to pack a punch, most of us find it more convenient to make a habit of tincture consumption than to regularly eat, drink, or otherwise prepare whole herbs. As with most aspects of herbalism, consistency is key, and tinctures make consistency a breeze.
There is simply no faster way to absorb the healing properties of an herb than to put a tincture drop under your tongue. This tissue is among the body’s most absorptive, so you’ll be sure to get the most out of your herbal discipline if you ingest the tincture this way. Of course, some tinctures are bitter due to their herbal payload, and grain alcohol isn’t palatable to most of us anyway. However, even if you want to put your tincture into tea, water, or what-have-you, you’ll still digest the liquid faster than you would a whole herb.
One of the main reasons tinctures were created was to preserve herbal harvests. Dry herbs won’t last forever. Tinctures remove the plant material that breaks down over time, preserving the essential medicinal compounds. Also, tinctures have a small form factor that works in favor of long term storage. Of course, there’s room in your herbal practice for both if you prefer, but if you were to choose only one, we’d recommend tinctures over whole herbs any day of the week.
Tinctures are easy to make on your own. Now that spring is just a matter of weeks from bringing our gardens into bloom once more, why not start to plan out your 2021 herb garden. You’ll be able to preserve the best of your harvest using simple tincture-making methods that can be learned anywhere online. If you’re ready to start building your tincture library but it’s still too cold to garden, why not stock up on Immune Tincture by Nutritional Frontiers and Milk Thistle Tincture by Genestra. These tinctures could have a positive effect on your immune system and liver/antioxidant response, respectively, and they’ll open up your mind to a whole new world of herbal tinctures.