Mother Nature's Pharmacy
Hello all and welcome back. I hope you are having a great summer so far. The weather here on the coast has been great and my gardens are flourishing. I've been busy putting up produce like yellow squash, peas, and zucchini in the freezer for this winter. But veggies aren't the only thing I put up; I dry my herbs to fill my spice jars, and I also make tinctures.
What is a tincture you ask? A tincture is an extract, similar to vanilla extract you would use in baking. The difference with herbal extracts is that they are used for medicinal purposes. All of the herbs I grow in my garden have dual uses in that I cook with them, but I also can use them in home remedies if I choose to.
A tincture is made using the flowers, leaves, bark, and sometimes roots of the plant. These plant parts are soaked in grain alcohol for a duration to extract the desired properties in a concentrated form. Lavender for example not only smells great and is known for its calming effects, but did you know it has anti-fungal properties too? Thyme is a favorite to season dishes with, but in a tincture it's also good for coughs and bronchitis.
To make a tincture pick the parts of the plant you want to use and wash them thoroughly. You can use fresh or dried herbs, but I prefer to use freshly picked ones. Once washed and patted dry, pack them gently into a mason jar and then pour grain alcohol (190 proof vodka works as well) in until it is just covering them. Put your jar into a dark cupboard or cellar and let sit for a minimum of 4 weeks; the longer the better. You don't have to worry about mold growing as the alcohol keeps that and bacteria at bay.
Mother Nature has supplied us with so many things good for our bodies; and some of it is provided by her for free. I'm speaking of plantain leaves you probably have growing in your driveway, or the usnea lichen that grows in trees, both of which have medical uses.
Depending on what herb is used, tinctures can be taken orally or used topically. I urge you to do your own research when it comes to using herbs though in any manner. Some herbs should not be ingested. They are strong medicine and can possibly interfere with prescription drugs; they also have their own side effects and allergies to be aware of.
Whether it be vegetables or herbs you grow in your garden, I hope you have a great bounty this season. It's so satisfying to watch a garden grow and then reap the benefits of your work. But take some time out this busy summer and just sit by your garden. Listen closely and you will hear the breeze blowing through the leaves, the bees buzzing, and you will feel a calm wash over you. Thanks for stopping by and don't forget to stop and smell the zucchini flowers!
Information in this blog post has not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration, it is strictly for educational purposes. Products and herbs that are mentioned are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease. If you are pregnant, nursing, taking medication, or have a medical condition, consult your physician before using these products.