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Cold season is upon us and stocking up on herbs to make tinctures is a great way to be prepared for whatever comes our way. Tinctures are concentrated herbal extracts that are made by soaking herbs in alcohol or vinegar. They are a great way to preserve the medicinal properties of herbs and they are very easy to take. Glycerites are tinctures that are made with glycerin instead of alcohol or vinegar. Glycerin is a sweet, thick liquid that is derived from plants. A glycerite tincture is an excellent alternative for those who do not want to use alcohol or vinegar and is also safe for children.
Benefits of taking a tincture
Tinctures allow for the simple administration of natural health-boosting compounds. They are also very concentrated, so a little goes a long way. Tinctures can be taken orally or added to water, tea, or other beverages. They can also be used topically. The benefits of taking a tincture depend on the herb that is used. Some common benefits include:
- Immune system support
- Digestive support
- Stress relief
- Pain relief
- Anti-inflammatory properties
What is a Glycerite Tincture?
Most tinctures are made with alcohol or vinegar, but glycerites are tinctures that are made with glycerin instead. Glycerin is a clear, thick liquid that is derived from plants. It has a sweet taste and is often used in food and cosmetic products. Glycerin is an excellent alternative for those who do not want to use alcohol or vinegar. Glycerites are also safe for children and pets.
Glycerin tinctures are absorbed more slowly than other types of tinctures. Alcohol-based tinctures are quickly absorbed by the liver, while glycerin-based tincture absorption is slowed by about 30%. The main difference between these two types of tinctures is their effect on blood sugar. Alcohol-based tinctures can cause a spike in blood sugar, while glycerin-based tinctures do not.
Glycerite Tincture Benefits
Scientific studies suggest that glycerin may have some health benefits. One study found that glycerin can help to improve hydration and protect the skin from damage. Glycerin is also known to be an effective cough suppressant.
Glycerites are also thought to be more gentle on the stomach than alcohol-based tinctures. This makes them a good choice for those with sensitive stomachs or ulcers. Glycerites are also safe for children and pets.
Another benefit of glycerites is that they do not expire as quickly as other tinctures. Alcohol-based tinctures can start to degrade after about one year, while glycerites will last for two to three years.
How to Make a Glycerite Tincture
Making a glycerite tincture is very simple. All you need is a clean glass jar, a strainer, some herbs, and glycerin.
- A glass jar that is at least 16 ounces
- Water that has been heated to boiling point
- Vegetable Glycerine (Food grade)
- Dried Herbs
What to do:
- Only fill the jar 1/3 to 1/2 full with dried herbs. If you fill it half full, your tincture will be stronger. Packing the herbs down tightly is not necessary and may result in a weaker product.
- Pour boiling water over the herbs to wet them, but don’t soak them.
- Fill the rest of the jar (or the entire jar if not using hot water) with glycerite and stir with a clean spoon. NOTE: To keep the tincture viable, it should contain more than half of glycerine.
- Cover the jar with its lid. Allow 6-8 weeks for the herbs to steep in the tincture, shaking it occasionally. Remove the herbs from the tincture and store them in a cool, dry location.
Optional Heat Step:
- Fill the crock pot with water, covering 3/4 of the jar (but not the lid), and place a washcloth or silicon baking sheet at the bottom. Turn on to “keep warm” or the lowest setting.
- Keep the crock pot on this setting for a minimum of 24 hours, adding water as necessary (I’ve done it for up to 48 hours).
- After the tincture has cooled, strain it and use it as usual.
- If you use a glycerine tincture on natural plants, it might be beneficial, to begin with, a lower concentration and increase it gradually as the plant grows.
Popular glycerite tinctures and their purported uses:
- Chamomile (flower): has been known to be an effective calming agent against anxiety, healing wounds, and reducing inflammation according to research studies.
- Ginger (root) is effective for digestion and nausea and is also anti-inflammatory. It also has cancer-fighting properties.
- Lavender (flower): has a calming effect and can be helpful in treating anxiety, depression, and insomnia. It is also effective in healing wounds and burns.
- Peppermint (leaf): can be helpful in treating indigestion, nausea, and headaches. It is also an effective decongestant.
- St. John’s Wort (flowering tops): has a long history of use for treating depression and anxiety. It is also effective in healing wounds.
- Elderberry (fruit): is effective in treating colds, flu, and allergies. It is also full of antioxidants and has anti-inflammatory properties.
- Milk thistle (seed): is effective in treating liver disease and promoting detoxification.
- Dandelion (root): is effective in treating liver disease, indigestion, and bloating.
Side effects of taking tinctures
Tinctures are generally safe when used as directed. However, there are a few potential side effects that you should be aware of. Taking too much tincture can cause nausea and vomiting. If this occurs, stop taking the tincture and drink plenty of fluids. Some people may also experience diarrhea when taking a tincture.
Again, if this occurs, stop taking the tincture and drink plenty of fluids to avoid dehydration. If you are pregnant or breastfeeding, it is best to avoid taking tinctures unless they have been recommended by your healthcare provider.
As with any herbal product, it is possible to have an allergic reaction to a tincture. If you experience any symptoms of an allergic reaction, such as hives, swelling, or difficulty breathing, seek medical attention immediately.
- Tinctures are not regulated by the FDA and quality can vary from one manufacturer to the next. If you are taking a tincture for a specific health condition, it is important to choose a high-quality product from a reputable manufacturer.
- Tinctures can interact with other medications you are taking. If you are taking any medication, it is important to talk to your healthcare provider before taking a tincture.
- Do not give tinctures to children under the age of 18 unless they have been recommended by a healthcare provider.
- The dose of a tincture can vary depending on the condition being treated, the individual’s age and weight, and other factors. It is important to follow the instructions on the label or as directed by your healthcare provider
If you are interested in trying a glycerite tincture, there are many products available online and in natural health stores. Be sure to choose a high-quality product from a reputable manufacturer. You can also make your own glycerite tincture at home using the instructions above. There are many other herbs that can be used to make glycerite tinctures. This is just a small sampling of some of the most popular ones. Experiment and find the ones that work best for you.