Saturday, May 18, 2013

Health through Tinctures

I've always considered myself a naturalist. I prefer woods, fires, water and earth to anything man-made. The earth was made to provide everything we need in which to survive. Yes, even the animals for food. I could never be a vegetarian. Not because I disagree with them, but because I really prefer meat to veggies. Nothing beats a good piece of bacon!
However, when it comes to my health, I try to be as natural and earthy as possible.
I much prefer eating pineapple to soothe my tummy than taking a slimy pink muck that tastes like chalk.
Chamomile and Peppermint tinctures

And it is within this capacity my love of herbs came about. I've been studying them for a few years. I would *love* to be able to take an herbology course. However, they are expensive and usually only on the West coast.
So, I read. And I read a lot. I take in as many resources and references to herbs that I can at any given time, and not jumble to information around in my head. One does have to be careful with information on the interwebs, though. Not all of it is accurate or true.

I've ordered books on natural herbs and tinctures and home health. I would much rather take something all-natural I made myself, than pop a pill full of chemical-laden ingredients I know not what they do.

With this in mind- here are a couple tinctures I've made, and what they are used for. Feel free to make your own. They are simple, easy, natural and economical. Please keep in mind that some tinctures work faster than OTC pills, and that's because the OTC version are concentrated to work in a certain way. Herbal remedies, including tinctures, usually do take a bit longer to work. But in my experience, end up working better with less side effects. (There's no need to take a second pill to counteract the unwanted side-effects of the first pill when you use tinctures and natural remedies.)

A tincture is an herb steeped in a solution, usually grain alcohol, for a set amount of time and then used by dropperful to alleviate symptoms. Of course, symptoms could be reduced or eliminated altogether if a person eats the right foods and avoids the bad ones. But where's the fun in that all the time? (Side note- I do eat healthy, homemade foods and very little processed food. Processed is bad! Minimal processing is OK as a lot of food must be minimally processed, like cheese.)

Chamomile is a naturally calming herb usually found in teas. Most people use Chamomile to improve sleep, calm nerves, add to relaxation,  relieve headaches, reduce menstrual cramps, settle the stomach or even calm fussy babies.

You'll need:
A jar with a tight fitting lid. I use Mason jars.
Fresh herbs (or dried)
80 proof grain alcohol. I use vodka.

NOTE- If using fresh herbs, the above is all you need. If you choose to use dried herbs, you'll need boiling water to pour over the dried herbs to release the oils and essence of the herb.
NOTE-NOTE- I use 80 proof grain alcohol. Some herbalists use 100 proof. I find that using such a high proof damages the delicate leaves of herbs and their flowers.

Label the jar with the herb, and add the date equal to 6-weeks in the future.
Put fresh herbs into the jar. You'll need about 1 cup of herbs.
(If using dried herbs, pour about 1 cup boiling water over the herbs and let set about 5 minutes.)
Pour 1 cup alcohol over the herbs (yes, same amount of water if you're using dried herbs)
Cover tightly. Shake. Set in semi-dark location where you will remember to shake the jar every day (or at least every other day) until 6 weeks is up.
Using a second jar (preferably an amber or blue jar to keep light out), Label with the current date and name of herb tincture- then strain tincture through cheesecloth, paper towel or coffee filter into labelled dark jar.
Cap tightly.

The process is much the same for any herbal tincture you make. The basics are: you want enough alcohol to cover the herb fully. You don't want to pack the herb tightly. It should be able to move freely when shaken. Use boiling water to release a dried herbs oils. Label label label! and shake daily.

You can also make double and triple tinctures. You do this much the same way you made the original tincture, except you use the existing tincture as your alcohol base.

The basic dosage is 1 teaspoon for adults, one to three times a day.
For toddlers or children use 1/4 to 1/2 teaspoon.
For infants use a couple drops only, preferably on their gums.

The alcohol taste can be masked by adding to a beverage like hot tea. Some people prefer adding a pinch of sugar to the teaspoon to help mask the taste.

I also make Thyme tincture. It's awesome for acne! Proven better than OTC medications and creams.

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