Consider starting with something gentle that will be nice to learn with. Some of my first tinctures were skullcap and lemon balm. These herbs aid in stress and are usually effective if taken multiple times daily over time. I find that trustworthy plants like these are great doorways into herbalism.
The best place to gather herbs from would be your own garden. If this is not possible be sure to find a trustworthy local herb shop or a bigger buyer likeMountain Rose who sells organic. It is best to tincture most herbs fresh, but dry works well too.
*** If the herbs are coming straight out of the garden you can gently wash the aerial parts, and definitely scrub the roots clean of any dirt residue.
THEN, chop and macerate.
Chop up the herb or root as small as possible. Once you think it is small enough, go smaller. The more surface area that is exposed during the maceration process, the stronger the medicine can be! For roots, dried herbs, and larger projects I will use a Vitamix. If you often have a small amount that can be easily ground, you may want to consider getting a coffee grinder to reserve for all your herbal endeavors.
Now you are ready to macerate, which basically means to let the plant sit in alcohol for a few weeks. This process pulls out all the healing constituents that make tinctures therapeutic!
For your menstrum (or solvent) you will need to use some sort of alcohol. Some people like to use glycerites which are sweeter, or apple cider vinegar. Traditionally brandy or some form of alcohol like vodka was used. When I do the standard method, which is a bit more complicated, I use grain alcohol that is nearly 100%!
Fill a jar all the way to the top with your herbs. Cover it with your brandy or alcohol of choice. Let the herbs macerate for one full lunar cycle. Starting medicines on the full moon can be quite magical! Label your jar with the ingredients and date, and store in indirect light. Shake the maceration daily with good intentions.
***Remember that you are powerful and the energy that you put forth and the intentions that you set will come through in the medicine.
FINALLY, strain and enjoy!
After a month (or longer) has passed, strain out your herbs with the muslin cloth. Squeeze out any remaining liquid that might be living in the herb. Compost the finished herb which is also known as mark. Pour the now tincture back into jar or into a dosage bottle with a custom label. You have now made your very first folk tincture!
Now you can make medicine from all the beautiful plants that grow around you. You will begin to discover that most of what you need is pretty close by. The St. John’s Wort on the highway, the kudzu on the pine trees, the wild oats dancing in the pasture, the dandelion in your lawn, all the plants are here waiting for you!
With love and healing light,