Tinctures are liquid extracts made from herbs. They are usually extracted in alcohol, but they can also be extracted in vegetable glycerine or apple cider vinegar. Tinctures are easy and convenient to use. Because they are taken directly under the tongue, they enter the bloodstream much more directly than by any other means, therefore the action in the body is usually quicker.
What is a "dropper full", and how much should I take?
Tinctures are usually taken by the dropper full. A dropper full is the amount of liquid that fills the glass tube of the dropper when the bulb on the dropper tip is squeezed and released. The liquid may fill the glass tube only a small portion of the way, but that is considered a “dropperful”. A dropper full equals approximately 30 drops. The blub of all dropper tops (the thing you squeeze), no matter how large the tincture bottle it comes with, is a standard size. The bulb is what determines how much liquid fills the tube, not the length of the tube itself.
To take a tincture, it is best to take the drops directly under the tongue. This gets the herb directly into the bloodstream. If necessary, it is acceptable to dilute the tincture in a small amount of water or juice to drink. It may be flavored with lemon or honey to disguise the taste. You may also put the dropper full of tincture into a cup of warm or hot water for an instant cup of herbal tea. Heat your water first, before adding the tincture liquid. Heating the tincture in a microwave may kill or weaken the herbs healthful benefits.
What is the shelf life of my tinctures and how should I store them?
Tinctures are extracted most often in alcohol because it is such a potent solvent. Some herbs simply will not release their medicinal qualities to a solvent that is less potent, such as water, apple cider vinegar or vegetable glycerine. It takes something stronger, and alcohol is perfect, as it also acts as an effective preservative. Alcohol-based tinctures have a virtually unlimited shelf life if stored in a cool, dark location.
Store your tinctures and all of your herbs in a cool, dark cupboard. You may carry and keep tinctures in a purse or briefcase, but be sure not to leave your tinctures in a hot area for long periods of time, such as in a car, as heat can negatively impact the quality of your herbal products.