Post 233 How to Take Tinctures & Extracts

Post 233

How to Take Tinctures & Extracts


The following material is instruction for basic supplementation of all general tinctures and extracts. To compound your product and increase your strength of it, see the Post 234 “Extracts- How to Compound & Strengthen Your Product

First thing to understand about making these products;  Your product is as good as anything you purchase in a store, maybe even better because you ARE quality control. The reason tinctures and extracts cost what they do is not just the plant material base cost but it is the time required to make a superior product. Before you decide making your own product is the right thing for you, realize that it is going to take 6 weeks to make the average high quality, fully extracted, end product. You will find information out on the internet that says 1 month or even two weeks, but if you want the best product, simply decide to just use the 6 week method. This is for leaves, twigs, bark, and berries of average size. If you are however going to make a ginseng extract, it is not uncommon to allow 3 full months, sometimes even longer, to capture the full array of compounds out of the material. Ginseng is usually dense, or thicker in depth so longer is best, unlike a rosehip berry- which although larger than an elderberry, it is still a berry and the alcohol will permeate well in the 6 week time period. When using vinegar, water or glycerin, the time is usually 4 weeks mostly because the shelf life is more limited, especially with water which is a very short window. Think of making your products like an art, take your time and enjoy the process. Just as making tea, the process is part of the experience.  A proper mental attitude somehow yields a better more effective product which I cannot explain. 

How many drops of tincture should I take, and how often:
Tinctures are a concentrate of the herb prepared. It is a way to preserve the plant for the long term. Simply put, the shelf life of your tincture is based upon what liquid you extract the herb with;

  • Water. 5-6 days refrigerated
  • Vinegar. 6 months
  • Vegetable Glycerin. 1 year
  • Alcohol. Variable
    • 40 Proof- 1 year
    • 80 Proof- 3 years
    • 100 Proof- 5 years
    • Grain Alcohol- considered decades, possibly indefinite (this is alcohol such as EverClear)

When using a concentrate such as described in this material, you will need to reduce how much you take as a dose. 1/4 to 1 teaspoon is an average dose. The purpose of the plants prepared is what determines the dose and the frequency of use. The following is a guide but there are still variations. Common sense is always essential;

  • Tonic: overall benefits for the whole body. Specific to wellness
  • Tincture: extraction of the plant material with anything other than water. You can use alcohol, vinegar, vegetable glycerin, etc. — anything other than water. Benefits of tinctures can be a bit less effective than extracts but it provides a way to take an herb also without the use of alcohol if needed; this is particularly important for those with alcohol allergies when using alcohol is just not an option.
  • Extract: any alcohol extraction. The shelf life again is based on Proof of the alcohol used. Alcohol has always been considered the highest extraction of value from the plant material as well as the longest shelf life. For long term storage or for food storage plans, using Everclear is recommended. This has the highest extraction of compounds and shelf life is considered to be decades if needed. Preparing the plants as an extract is the most potent end result but ALL recommended solvents using vegetable glycerin or vinegar, even water if prepared fresh daily are good.
  • Bitters: this is a little different in use;  A number of drops of Bitters is taken 15 minutes before each meal to promote improved digestion and reduce gassiness. When taking Bitters, use full strength directly in the mouth. The bitterness signals your digestion to prepare for food and get to work, just ahead of the expected meal.

Getting Results

This is such a good question;  “how long before I get results”.

Again there are variables of time based on the purpose and type of the plant taken. This is just a guide;

  • Today: the tonic type herbs are immediate in the day you take them. These plants are generally combined with either remedy or adaptogenic plants which gives the client immediate relief in some degree while supporting a longer term recovery from illness or discomfort
  • Standard: take a set number of drops each day with as little as 1 time and as much as 3 times. This is used for basic problems that are an issue but not in the caliber of disease. Such as inflammation. This is an ongoing problem that is variable. Taken as needed.
  • 1 or 2 months: This is for issues in need of remedy, hence the term Remedy. Remedies that time, usually at least 2 months. To take in higher doses requires a short break periodically. Continue taking the product in this level until you receive expected results. Alternating one remedy formulation for another is fine, but the level of dosing remains constant and therapeutic. Therapeutic dosing is a bit more complicated  and should include specific diet and habits to complement your expected results.
  • Describing Therapeutic dosing; take the higher amount of drops in each dose, averaging 3 times daily spread out with 4-6 hours between applications. Stop after 30 days. Take a 1-2 week break and then repeat as deemed needed. During the 1-2 week break, it is suggested to alternate with an adaptogen or tonic formulation. This then supports overall wellness and builds strength into expected outcome. Two months is considered a good time window to yield results. These are more serious problems which of course do take more time and ongoing use will be needed. For the use of a better work, I refer this as a “Cycle”. For a therapeutic Cycle, take the product as described for 1 month, take a break of 1-2 weeks, and then another month. After this Cycle, re-evaluate your situation and decide whether or not to repeat. This is especially how to work with acute problems or issues that need a remedy.

Methods for How to Take Tinctures and Extracts

Different ways for different reasons;

  • Under the tongue– such as Bitters. This is fast and immediate
  • In the mouth– this is also fast and immediate but includes any of these preparations
  • In liquid; this includes anything you want to use such as plain water, sparkling water, tea, coffee, etc. Even broth. Remember though, heat plays a role.
  • In hot liquid; Be sure it is not too hot, let it cool just slightly, then add the drops. Within 5 minutes, alcohol dissipates away. For those who want to use an Extract made of alcohol but who also do not want the alcohol, this is an option. You just need to allow a few minutes prior to taking it. I do not recommend this method for alcoholics because even though the alcohol has dissipated, just the scent can be a risk.

Common Dosing Guide For Standard Tinctures

By Drops

5 drops 1-3 times daily

25-30 drops 1-3 times daily

About 45 drops 1-3 times daily

Acute issue;  this varies (used for problems such a headache, injury, acute anxiety attack, a specific event, such a labor, etc)

By Dropper

When you squeeze the dropper bulb once it will fill approximately 1/2 of the way in the tube. This is a dose when using a 1 oz. bottle. A single dose is 1-2 or sometimes referred to as a squirt. A squirt is one-pump, again that fills the dropper tube about halfway. For general use this works just fine. One squirt = about 25-30 drops if you are counting drops to administer. For an acute issue, you may just take for example, 3 squirts. This is more than 45 drops but is used for a specific problem, let’s say a headache.  You wouldn’t take your product this way all of the time but for a specific use such as this, it is fine. Again, common sense is always necessary when it comes to natural medicines. Some herbs in higher amounts for example, are toxic. Bearing in mind what you taking, whether a tonic, remedy, or immediate single application, it is important to understand what you taking. Taking 3 squirts of a passion flower & leaf tincture or extract is okay but taking the same dose of poke weed, a catalyst, is not recommended.


Words of Caution and Common Sense

Because the rules and instructions for herbal medicine are variable, it is always recommended to follow the professional advice you have been given. If you are using a product without professional advice, follow the directions on the manufacturer’s package.

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