Tinctures are concentrated herbal extracts in liquid form that have alcohol as the solvent. Although generally if any other solvent is used, such as water, vinegar, or glycerin, it is considered an extract rather than a tincture. There are exceptions to the rule – vinegar and vegetable glycerine tinctures are also effective options. However, some herbs (roots, berries, barks, non-aromatic seeds) require the strength of alcohol to extract the medicinal properties.

Tinctures are extremely convenient and easy to use, as they are taken orally either straight or in teas. The preferred method is often taking the tincture straight (directly under your tongue by dropper), as this allows the tincture to enter your bloodstream faster and can produce quick results. For those that do not like drinking tea, don’t have the time to brew a cup, or are looking for fast results, straight tinctures are perfect. Less than a minute and you are done!

Of course, the time it takes to see results varies depending on the herb. While some herbs have immediate effects, others may take weeks of continual use before the results are noticeable.

Tincture teas are a different, popular way of taking an herbal tincture. Many people enjoy the flavors, and the act of sitting down and relaxing with a warm cup of tea can be very therapeutic and relaxing. Tinctures can be added to a warm cup of water to make an instant cup of tea. The tincture may also be diluted with a small amount of juice, or flavored with lemon or honey if necessary. Two droppersful of tincture is equal to one 8 oz. cup of tea.

Here’s the good news: one dose of alcohol-based tincture is equal in alcohol content to a very ripe banana, making tinctures safe for potentially everyone, including those who are pregnant or nursing, children, and babies. Non-alcoholic options are offered as well. Please be sure you are aware of the herbs that are discouraged for pregnant and lactating mothers.

For adults, the standard suggested dosage is two full droppers two to three times daily. For children under 12, weight and height must be taken into consideration to determine a dosage. Suggested dosage charts for children can be found online. For babies under 6 months, tinctures should only be administered through breastfeeding.

Remember – regardless of the size of the tincture bottle or dropper tube, the bulb determines the dosage amount and is the same size on every bottle.

Alcohol-based tinctures have an unlimited shelf life and do not require refrigeration if stored in a cool, dark location. Tinctures that are vegetable glycerine-based do not need to be refrigerated and can last from 3-5 years. Vinegar-based tinctures are recommended to be refrigerated, and can last up to a year. They can also be stored in a cool, dark cupboard.