Back in early September, not long after we moved out here, I ordered a bunch of dried herbs, including Dandelion Root, Devil’s Claw Root, Feverfew, Peppermint, Oatstraw, and several others from Mountain Rose Herbs so that I could try out different herbal tinctures. Well, it’s been about 8 weeks so it was time for me to process those batches. Read on for more information on how to do it and what these herbs are used to treat.
First, all of the herbs have to first be drained through cheesecloth and then clarified (sometimes more than once) to remove plant dust and other impurities that are a natural part of the process. I use cheesecloth doubled over it’s important to keep my compostable bags nearby to put in the used, wet herbs. Although I don’t have a compost pile myself yet, we take our recycling and composting very seriously here in Washington and I love that I can send this goodness back out into the world to do some good via our trash service. (My compost pile is coming next summer, once I reconcile my personal issues with worms!)
First, I dump the herb and liquid on top of the cheesecloth and then squeeze, squeeze, squeeze to remove all of the liquids.
Then, I clarify the tincture by letting it seep through two layers of high-quality paper towels. (Coffee filters work, too.) This process can take a while, depending on which herb is being processed and how milky the raw tincture is at that point.
Once I’m done, each small batch is labeled and stored in a tight, dark compartment. I’ll eventually bottle these in small glass bottles with droppers.
Now, here’s an explanation of each herb I processed.
Peppermint & Peppermint-Ginger Rubbing Liniments – These are both for external use only, as they are made with rubbing alcohol instead of vodka. Both can be applied to the skin for sore muscles.
Ginger Root Tincture – This beautiful reddish tincture is used to treat nausea and other stomach ailments.
Marshmallow Root Tincture – Marshmallow has antibacterial properties, and can be used to treat cough and sore throat.
Alfalfa Leaf Tincture – The uses of alfalfa are many and varying, from treating arthritis to stomach bloat to being used as a blood cleanser. It’s high in nutrients and can also just be taken as a maintenance herb. I’m specifically hoping to use it to address arthritis in my knees.
Oatstraw Tincture – I admittedly bought Oatstraw because of my affinity for oats, and I love the light, wispy little cuts of plant that arrived in the bag. Oatstraw, however, can treat pancreas issues, normalize blood sugar, and improve a diminished libido. It can also be made into a tea!
Nettle Leaf Tincture – Nettle is a wonder of the natural world, full of nutrients and calcium. It provides the user with energy, as well. There is debate on if the tincture form is effective or if nettle is best used in tea form (or just to eat). I’m going to be making some nettle teas very soon and will report back!
Dandelion Root Tincture – Dandelion Root is used to aid in the digestive system, is high in vitamins and minerals, can help lower blood pressure, and the dried plant makes a great poultice.
Peppermint Leaf Tincture – Used for stomach issues and to treat inflammation, especially of the mouth.
Devil’s Claw Root Tincture – The most exotic of my herbs, this one comes in heavy, chunky pieces. It absorbs vodka like crazy and I had to start again with this one after it swelled to double its size and took over the entire jar, leaving no liquid to be found. It is used to treat joint pain.
Feverfew Tincture – Feverfew is a lovely plant, and it keeps on giving once it no longer blooming. It’s primary use is a natural migraine remedy.
Peppermint – Ginger Root Tincture – the powerful combination of Peppermint and Ginger together should make for a good all-around treatment for stomach ailments.
Together, look at what a beautiful picture these healing herbs make!
Now onto my next experiment – teas and infusions!
4 thoughts on “DIY: Processing my herbal apothecary”
I’m still buying my tinctures from my friend who is a master herbalist, but really need to begin making my own. We’ve been down with a stomach virus and could really use something for yucky stomachs.
Maybe my resolution for the new year should be making tinctures for my family.
You have so much patience! I’m fascinated by your determination here to make these remedies! 🙂
Haha, thank you! I actually have more to process this weekend!
They are beautiful! I highly recommend the nettle tea, although it can be pretty strong and earthy. I like to combine mine with something flavorful like peppermint in hot weather (cooling), or cinnamon and ginger in winter (warming). Have fun!