Q. What is the difference between a tincture and a tea?
A. A tincture is usually an alcohol-based liquid extract of an herb that is soaked over several weeks. The alcohol in tinctures serves as the primary extractor and is quite effective of extracting the medicinal properties of the herb(s). It also acts as a preservative and helps tinctures last for several years. Alcohol-based tinctures are usually more potent than teas. Tincture doses are often given in drops, droppers, teaspoons, or milliliters. They are usually more fast-acting and concentrated than teas.
Teas are infused or decocted liquid extracts of herbs using hot water. Teas are made in a matter of minutes and also extract some of the medicinal properties of herbs. Herbs usually are more slow-acting and less concentrated than other forms of herbal remedies.
Q. What kind of supplies will I need for tonight’s workshop?
We’ll be making two tinctures, Echinacea and Goldenseal, as well as an elderberry cold & flu syrup.
Here’s a list of the items I’ll be using during the workshop:
1. Scissors for plant cutting
2. Two medium-sized mason jars and one large mason jar
3. 100 proof Vodka or Everclear (for non-alcoholic based tinctures you can use distilled water or distilled white vinegar)
4. Two small glass bottles with medicine droppers
5. Cheesecloth for straining
6. Labels and permanent marker
7. Three sandwich bags
Herbs and plants needed (Fresh herbs are preferable):
1. 4 oz. of Echinacea (tincture)
2. 4 oz. of Goldenseal (tincture)
3. 2 oz. of Elderberry (syrup)
4. Ginger Root or Cinnamon sticks (syrup)
5. Licorice root (optional, syrup)
6. 1 cup of local, raw honey (syrup)
Q. What is the recommended dosage for the tinctures and elderberry syrup?
I am not a qualified physician, so I would suggest consulting your doctor or a qualified naturapath for dosages. Since everyone is unique and can have different constitutions, ailments, etc., it is important to look at each person individually when it comes to herbs. There is a multitude of conversations about appropriate dosage for herbal tinctures. One good idea is to start the person out with a smaller amount and increasing only as necessary. A lot of resources state the standard rate of dosage to be 5-15 drops 3-5 times daily. The Doctor’s Book of Herbal Remedies recommends 1 teaspoon (5 milliliters or about 100 drops) of Echinacea tincture 5 times a day or 2 teaspoons (10 milliliters or about 200 drops) of Goldenseal tincture three times a day between meals. According to Beneficial Botanicals, 1 teaspoon equals about 100 drops. Be cautious with children dosages.
To determine the correct dose, you need to consider the size of the child, the ailment, the power of the herb you intend to use, and the adult dosage.
Young’s Rule: for determining dosage uses the child’s age divided by child’s age plus 12 (child’s age/ child’s age+12). This will give you the fraction of the adult dose suitable for children. For example, a 4-yr old’s dosage would be: 4/12+4= 4/16th=1/4 of the adult dose.
Clark’s Rule: Divide the child’s weight by 150 to get an approximate fraction of the adult dose. The child’s dose= (the child’s age/ 15o lbs). For example, a 50 lb. child’s dosage would be: 100/150= .66 or about 2/3 of adult dosage.
Q. Where can I find resources for the side effects and contraindications of herbs and supplements?
A. I usually use WebMD for researching side effects and contraindications. They have a great library of information. Of course, again, always consult your doctor if you have questions about side effects. Some herbs can adversely affect medications, prescription drugs, etc. so you always want to equip yourself with all the information before taking any medicine (conventional or alternative).