Learn: Making Tinctures

While I’ve always been fascinated by nature and just walking around in it, I’ve decided to take on a new approach to how I enjoy it. In the past couple of years, I’ve done a little reading here and there on wild edibles and medicines in my home state (Iowa). This past summer, I took it to a new level and was on the search for medicines to stock up over the winter.

Last winter, not only did I suffer from seasonal depression, but my immune system decided to give up on me. I felt like I was sick all the time.

Though I’m definitely still a newbie at the practice, I’m content with the outcome. I’ve created stress-relieving tinctures, wound-healing salves, and cold-be-gone medicines.

My first project of the summer was making a tincture with bee balm (monarda). Bee balm, like most herbs, is said to have many healing properties. Congestion, sore throats, headaches, stress, anxiety, etc etc etc.

In other words… Bee balm tincture = magical potion.

So here’s what I did to create this.
Heads up – By no means will this be an exact recipe. I’m not a very exact person, but I do know my precariousness led to pretty great results. 🙂

  1. Find bee balm. In Iowa, it blooms in June, and it’s EVERYWHERE. Ditches, nature reserves, just everywhere. I try to avoid taking it from ditches or anywhere where I think it could have been easily sprayed with whatever nastiness they’re spraying on the crops of corn and soybeans.
  2. Take clippings. You can use the leaves and the flower (possibly the stem too? but not sure on this entirely), so you may as well take as much of the plant as possible, but leave some stem and the root for future growth.
  3. Dry. I hang herbs upside-down in small bunches in well-ventilated areas without too much sunlight. I generally leave them up for 3-4 days. Here’s what they will look like after drying:

    balm.jpg

  4. Next, I took all of the leaves and flowers off of the stems and put them in a large jar. You can use any size jar – it just depends on how much of the plant you have. You want to fill the jar about 3/4 of the way.

    balm1.jpg

  5. And then… You fill the jar with vodka! Well, I used vodka. You can use whatever alcohol you want, but I read that clear liquors are best. You definitely want it to be 80 proof or over though.

    balm3.jpg

  6. Then, you put a lid on it and put it in a dark place for 6-8 weeks where it will start creating magic. (As far as I know, it won’t hurt it to leave for longer than 8 weeks.)
  7. I let mine sit for six weeks, and then I bottled it. You’re supposed to strain it with a cheesecloth to get out all the gunky plant material, but I didn’t have one. I fashioned a handy dandy tool involving paper towels and a strainer. It worked. 🙂
    My intention was to give these out as gifts as well as keep some for myself, so I ordered small brown glass bottles with droppers on Amazon.

    Ta-da! The finished product. I think I had about 12 of these bottles.
    tincture

    Though the tincture has many uses, I have been using mine for stress headaches and anxiety. It soothes me and eases the pain in minutes.

    What are your favorite herbs and how do you use them? Feel free to share any knowledge below. ❤

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