Hanging Herbs


Herbal tinctures are made using fresh or dried plant material and a liquid base (called the menstruum), such as grain alcohol, vodka, brandy, apple cider vinegar or vegetable glycerin. Tinctures remain potent for many years. The small dropper bottles are convenient to carry. While teas and infusions can be a very effective way of taking herbs, there are some herbal compounds that can only be extracted with alcohol.

Choosing the solvent for tinctures

A simple and effective choice for homemade remedies is 100 proof vodka or pure grain alcohol if you can find it. (AKA everclear, or neutral grain spirit). You can substitute apple cider vinegar or vegetable glycerin, if you want to avoid alcohol altogether, but alcohol is a more effective solvent and has a longer shelf life: six months for the vinegar, several years for alcohol. *Never use rubbing, isopropyl or wood alcohol.

How to make herbal tinctures

Fresh: 1 part herb to 2 parts solvent

Dried: 1 part dried herb to 5 parts solvent (NOT powdered herb).

— If using fresh roots, pick through them, cut out any damaged parts, brush off well and gently wash the roots (don’t soak). If they’re particularly dirt-filled, you might want to let them dry overnight after the rinse.

— Coarsely chop the roots. If using a plant — then coarsely chop the stems and leaves as well. You can leave the flowers whole.

— Put your herbs (dried or fresh) in a clean, dry glass jar, with a tight-fitting lid and fill with the liquid of your choice: either vodka, organic apple cider vinegar or vegetable glycerin mix (mix 50 percent glycerin with 50 percent distilled water). *If using vinegar, heat it slightly before pouring. It should be warm, not hot.

— The herbs need to be completely immersed in liquid. Cap the jar tightly.

— You may need to add more vodka or vinegar over the next day or two as the herbs absorb and expand.

— Label your creation with the ingredients and date and store in a dark place for 2-8 weeks, shaking occasionally. Six weeks is optimal, but if you need to use some of the tincture before that time passes, do so after a minimum of two weeks. Cap and let sit the remaining time.

— Strain out the herbs, squeezing the saturated herbs dry and pour tincture into clean, dry bottles. Label with the date and ingredients used.

— Vinegar tinctures should be refrigerated after straining.


This varies from person to person. For an adult, two droppers of each herb, two to four times a day. (1 dropper = 20 drops, approximately.) A child would take half that amount two to four times a day. The tincture can be diluted in tea, juice or water. You can take these herbs when you feel your immune system is vulnerable or when you start to get sick. Take the herbs for a regular course a week to 10 days at least. Lessen the number of times per day as you near the end of the course.