What the heck are tinctures, anyway? They’re the cute little vials you see lining the shelves of hip herbal apothecaries—even some natural food stores stock them. Used for hundreds of years by herbalists, doctors of Chinese medicine, and Ayurveda practitioners, they’re potent plant-based, holistic remedies to support both physical and emotional health, from coughs and constipation to mood and sexual mojo. In short: “A tincture is basically an alcohol extract of an herb,” explains Rosalee de la Forȇt, a clinical herbalist and author of Alchemy of Herbs.
What Makes Them So Powerful?
Herbs are packed with protective plant compounds, active ingredients like polyphenols, alkaloids, resins, terpenoids, and flavonoids that have potent antioxidant, anti-inflammatory and healing effects. Alcohol extracts the beneficial properties of the herb, so you’re left with a concentrated liquid infused with healing components. Like herbal teas, tinctures can be made from an array of herbs, but they’re way more potent. They’re like herbal tea—on crack.
“Also a tincture is very fast acting because the body metabolizes alcohol very quickly, so when you take a tincture you can expect to feel the result fairly immediately—in under 10 minutes,” says de la Forêt.
They’re also convenient: Keep it in your pocket, your purse, or desk drawer at work and put a few drops directly in your mouth or mixed with water.
Sure, you can buy the plant-based healers, but they don’t come cheap. Just one ounce can cost upwards of $12. Not only is doing it yourself dramatically cheaper, you control the ingredients. “When you make your own tincture, you can see that the herbs you’re using are quality, with strong scents and strong visuals,” says de la Forêt. But even more than that, making your own medicine can be fun.