For those of you who have been patiently waiting to learn how I made a Holy Basil/Tulsi Tincture, today is the day that you have been waiting for! Over the weekend, I completed the process for making an alcohol-based Holy Basil tincture. If you haven’t yet read my post about Holy Basil, feel free to check it out to learn more about this awesome super herb and its benefits.
Alcohol-based tinctures are very easy to make and they provide you with an extracted form of an herb that is convenient to carry. They can also be easily taken in water. My experiences thus far have primarily been limited to alcohol-based tincture making using fresh herbs that I have grown in my own garden, so that is the process that I am emphasizing here. For those who wish to avoid alcohol, you can also make glycerin-based tinctures, and even vinegar-based tinctures, but I have yet to try those methods myself.
The tincture making process is pretty simple:
1.) Chop up your fresh herbs and put them into a clean and dry glass jar with a tight-fitting lid. Mason jars work well for this, but you could certainly use any clean glass jar with a tight-fitting lid.
2.) Pour enough 80 to 100 proof alcohol (such as vodka, gin, brandy, or grain or grape alcohol) to cover the herbs by two to three inches.
3.) Cover the jar with a lid and store in a warm place for approximately 4-6 weeks. Shake daily to help infuse the herbs into the alcohol.
4.) After 4-6 weeks, strain off the spent herbs from the finished tincture and discard/compost the plants.
5.) Bottle your tincture as needed into a labeled dropper bottle.
The best scenario is to store your tinctures in a cool dark place, since ambient light can break down those super important medicinal compounds in the herbs that you want in the first place. My personal solution for this is to store my tinctures in a cupboard, and I make my own homemade “label sleeves” made from cut paper bags that I wrap around the jars and fasten with tape to help reduce the amount of light that they are exposed to.
According to Rosemary Gladstar, alcohol-based tinctures should stay good for many years, glycerin tinctures should stay good for about 2-3 years, and vinegar-based tinctures will keep for at least a year, and sometimes they will last even longer.
Dosages of tinctures are given in terms of drops or dropperfuls. While I cannot recommend specific dosages for specific herbal tinctures, I can give you a quick list of dropper dosage equivalents:
1 Dropperful (35 drops) = ¼ teaspoon = 1 mL
2 ½ Dropperfuls (88 drops) = ½ teaspoon = 2.5 mL
5 Dropperfuls (175 drops) = 1 teaspoon = 5 mL
One of the trickiest parts to tincture making that I have encountered is how to keep from spilling them (and losing some of your work) when you are pouring the liquid tincture from one container to another. I have to admit that I have not yet figured out a foolproof method for doing this, but using funnels sure does help a lot. I use two different sized funnels that I have at home: one that has a very skinny end to allow for the tincture to be poured directly into the dropper bottle, and a larger one with a wide end that came with my canning kit that helps me to pour tinctures from one jar to another. I also place a clean bowl underneath the dropper bottle as I am pouring tincture into it to hopefully catch spills. This is not always 100% effective, however, and is more of an art form than anything else.
My recommendation is to use organic alcohol for making your tinctures, if you can find it. It certainly doesn’t have to be a top of the line brand (unless you want to spend that kind of money), but you are making herbal remedies here, and I presume that one of your health and wellness goals is to reduce your exposure to chemicals. I also prefer to use organic alcohol for these purposes due to the use of GMO crops in many conventional products.
I purchased my dropper bottles from Mountain Rose Herbs, but I’m sure that you could buy them elsewhere as well, including some natural food stores.
You might also explore making your own herbal tincture formulas using several different complementary herbs. As I always recommend, please do your own research to determine which herbs work well together and which ones are right for your personal use. Also, please consult with a health practitioner about which herbs may or may not be right for you if you have any particular health concerns, are taking any medications, or are pregnant or nursing.
Holy Basil/Tulsi and Lemongrass harvested from the garden, along with my herb clippers.
Chopping up the Holy Basil.
|The Holy Basil in its new mason jar “home” for the next six weeks and the organic vodka that I used to make the tinctures.|
|Filling the jar with enough vodka to cover the herbs. Some leaves did float, but they settled down some after a couple of days.|
|Cutting up the lemongrass with kitchen shears. I found that my herb clippers weren’t working too well on these thick and course blades of grass, so I took out the heavy artillery and switched to cutting the lemongrass with my kitchen shears.|
Ready to infuse for six weeks…
|My Jiaogulan (Gynostemma) plant that I have growing in a pot. I am uncertain as to whether this plant from Asia would become invasive in my garden, so I keep it in a pot.|
|Cutting up the Jiaogulan for the tincturing process.|
|Everything that I need to complete my tincture making process after the three tinctures have been sitting for about six weeks (except for the larger canning funnel). Note that the third jar label should read “Jiaogulan” instead of “Jiaojuglan.”|
|The Holy Basil tincture with the spent herbs.|
|Ready to pour the Holy Basil tincture into the jar and strain the spent plant material with a fine mesh stainless steel strainer.|
|Pouring the finished tincture back into its original jar after removing all plant materials.|
|Ready to pour the tincture into the dropper bottle…|
|The finished Holy Basil tincture.|