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Tinctures - What are they and how do you use them?

What is a tincture?

Tinctures are liquid extracts made from herbs that you take by mouth. You put the recommended dose under the tongue for 10 seconds and then swallow the liquid.

Tinctures are extracted in alcohol. Any time an herbal constituent is extracted in anything other than alcohol, it is called an extract. These extract fluids can be vegetable glycerin or apple cider vinegar. Tinctures and extracts are easy and convenient to use. They are also easier to give to children as they have to take only small amounts (see Children's Dosage Guide for suggestions).

Because they are taken directly under the tongue, they enter the bloodstream much more directly than by any other means. This means that the action in the body is usually quicker. Some herbs will have an immediate effect, (such as those used to help one relax.)  Others are more nutritive and building in nature. Nutritive tinctures may take several weeks of continual use before best results are seen.

25 percent of the drugs prescribed worldwide are derived from plants? Of the 252 drugs in the World Health Organization’s essential medicine list, 11 percent are exclusively of plant origin.

Natural plant products have been used throughout human history for various purposes. In fact, written records of the use of herbal medicine date back more than 5,000 years, and for much of history, herbal medicine was the only medicine.

Herbal Amy tinctures are a great addition or alternative to herbal teas, capsules, and pills. They are fast acting and last for years when stored properly. We pride ourselves on selling the highest quality tinctures available. We use only the finest, highest quality herbs from reputable growers. 

Herbal Amy tinctures contain 40%-65% grain alcohol, rather than what has become the industry standard of 30% or less (watch out for companies that list it as 50 proof, that just means it contains 25% alcohol). Alcohol is what ensures that each tincture is completely sterile and free of any bacteria, spores, or microbes. We also use high quality dried plant material to maximize the concentration of the solutions and minimize the amounts of plant material floating in each tincture. Tinctures are extracted most often in alcohol because it is such a potent liquid. Alcohol draws out all of the medicinal qualities that are not extracted in a liquid base that is less potent, such as water, apple cider vinegar or vegetable glycerine. It takes something stronger, and alcohol is perfect.

Other suppliers claim to use large quantities of plant material, but they do not specify whether it is fresh or dry. Fresh plant material contains 80% or more water by weight. We exclusively use dried plant materials to ensure potency, purity, and reliability of strength. We are confident that we provide the highest quality tinctures available.

Our tinctures are stored in amber brown glass Boston Round bottles with glass droppers. Each bottle is sealed with perforated shrink bands to ensure the purity and quality of the product. Orders are shipped within 1-3 business days through USPS First Class. Please contact us if you have any questions or concerns.

 

Tea vs. Tincture?

Teas and tinctures are made from the same combination of herbs. Some people enjoy teas and enjoy the relaxing aspects of taking a time-out to drink a cup of tea.  Others may not care for tea or do not have time to brew and drink a cup of tea. For these people, a tincture is perfect.  Tinctures are also very convenient, as nothing needs to be brewed. You simply take the drops of tincture and you're done.  You can easily carry a bottle of tincture in your purse and have it available to you at all times. 

When you want an immediate response, such as herbal remedies for relaxation or sleep, a tincture may give you faster results.  For nutritive herbs, either a tea, a tincture or an extract.  It comes down to personal preference.

​Note: Two droppersful of tincture equals one 8 oz. cup of tea.

You may put the droppersful of tincture into a warm cup of water to make an instant tea!

What is a Tincture Dropperful?  How Do You Take a Tincture?  Why won't the glass tube fill all the way when I squeeze the dropper top?

​Tinctures are usually taken by the dropperful (also known as a squeeze). A dropperful is the amount of liquid that fills the glass tube of the dropper when the bulb on the dropper top 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 dropperful equals approximately 30 drops.

On all dropper tops, no matter how large or small of a tincture bottle it comes with, the bulb (the thing you squeeze) is the same size on them all. The bulb is what determines how much liquid fills the tube, not the length of the tube itself.

A standard suggested adult dosage for tinctures is 2 droppersful two to three times a day. For children under 12, please see our Children’s Dosage Guide for recommendations.

With this standard dosing suggestion (for adults) of two droppersful three times a day, tincture bottles typically last this long:

  • 1oz. tincture bottle will last about one week

  • 2oz. tincture bottle will last two weeks

  • 4oz. tincture bottle will typically last about a month.

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 fine to dilute the tincture in a small amount of water or juice. It may be flavored with lemon or honey to disguise the taste. You may also put the droppersful of tincture into a cup of warm or hot water for an instant cup of herbal tea. Heat your water first, before adding the herbs. NEVER Heat the herbs in a microwave, it may kill their healthful benefits.  Taking the tincture directly under the tongue and avoiding any liquids or foods for at least 15 minutes afterwards provides the best results.

Are Tinctures Safe for Pregnant or Nursing Women? How About Children and Babies?

Yes, many tinctures are fine for pregnant and nursing women, even the alcohol-based versions (depending on the herbs used). Please see our list of Herbs to Avoid During Pregnancy and Lactation. One dose of an alcohol-based tincture has approximately the same alcohol content as eating a very ripe banana. Herbal Amy does offer non-alcohol versions of our more popular varieties of our herbal tinctures. Non-alcohol tinctures are good for children, those with alcohol sensitivities, or for those who simply prefer a non-alcohol product. If you are pregnant or nursing, we invite you to see our list of Herbs to Avoid During Pregnancy and Lactation.

For babies, we recommend that nursing mothers take the tincture, which will then pass on to their babies through the breastmilk. The Children’s Dosage Guide outlines general dosage recommendations for children.

For some herbs, such as roots, barks, berries, and non-aromatic seeds, it takes a powerful liquid such as alcohol to extract the medicinal properties from the herb.  Extracting with a less-powerful liquid will only result in a less-effective product - really, a waste of your time and money.  This is why you will see some of Herbal Amy tinctures available only in an alcohol-base.

 

For those who prefer a non-alcohol product and there's not one available, you can put the drops of tincture into a small amount of hot water (the amount is not important), and this will dissipate the alcohol content, leaving only the herb matter behind.  (Be careful not to have your water so hot that you burn yourself though!  It doesn't have to be that hot!)

What is the Shelf Life of my Tinctures? How Should I Store Tinctures?  What are they made with?

​Tinctures are extracted most often in alcohol because it is such a potent liquid base. As mentioned before, some herbs simply will not release their medicinal qualities to a liquid base that is less potent, such as water, apple cider vinegar or vegetable glycerine. It takes something stronger, and alcohol is perfect.  It also acts as an effective preservative. Alcohol-based tinctures have a virtually unlimited shelf life if stored in a cool, dark location.  Refrigeration is not necessary.

Tinctures made from apple cider vinegar are wonderful, as the apple cider vinegar has wonderful health-building qualities of its own. They can be used as salad dressings, marinades or in foods, as well as for your regular tincture use. The shelf life of apple cider vinegar tinctures is very short - about a year or so if kept in a cool, dark cupboard or refrigerator (recommended). Apple cider vinegars are considered extracts.

Vegetable glycerine is also used to make extracts – these extracts are known as glycerites. They have a much longer shelf life than the apple cider vinegar - 3 to 5 years if stored in a cool, dark cupboard. Tinctures made of vegetable glycerine are wonderful for children. They have a sweet taste to them and can make even bad tasting herbs taste good! Glycerine does not have the extraction power that alcohol does, but it still does a fantastic job and results in a highly effective product. They are a great choice for children or for those who prefer a non-alcohol product.  

 

PLEASE NOTE:  As extracts have no alcohol content to them to act as a preservative, they can easily become contaminated and are at risk for growing mold.  To prevent this from happening, do NOT touch the glass dropper to any part of the mouth, do not let children suck on the glass dropper tube (which can break in their mouths as well), do not touch it with your hands, lay the dropper top on countertops or anything that might allow a microbe onto the glass tube and in turn, into the bottle, which can start growing mold.  Mold can be white or light grey in color and tends to float on top of the liquid or in the glass dropper tube.  If your glycerine-based tinctures become contaminated and have mold, do not use them.  Throw them away.  

Please see the article entitled Storage of Your Herbal Products for more details on storing and maintaining your herbs, to ensure their quality and freshness, and how to keep from contaminating your herbal product.

​Store your tinctures and all of your herbs in a cool, dark cupboard. This includes your cooking spices, which most people keep above a hot stove. Keeping them in a heated area can cause your herbs and spices to become weak more quickly. You may carry and keep tinctures in a purse or briefcase. 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.

The information provided has not been evaluated by the FDA and is not to be used as a substitute for advice from a medical professional. Please consult a licensed health care professional before deciding to take any of the aforementioned substances. It is important that they can look at your body type, diet, exercise regimen, and any other important details about your body to see which of these substances are right for you.