How do you know whether you need a tea or a tincture for your herbal medicine? Which is best? Is one more potent than the other?
First of all, teas and tinctures are both excellent ways to get herbal medicine into your body. Which one you select has to do with several factors: what constituent of the plant you are interested in, what your daily routine is like, whether you are at home or traveling, how much of the herb you need, and others.
Tea is excellent for extracting medicinal constituents of plants that are water soluble (seems obvious, right?), like minerals, inulin and other prebiotics and carbohydrates, and mucilage from demulcent herbs (think slippery elm).
Also, tea can be very soothing and yummy! Making a cup of tea can be a ritual in itself, imparting benefits beyond just the medicinal qualities of the plants. It is an opportunity to slow down, take a deep breath, and be grateful for your life. Making tea can connect you with the natural world while helping to build a relationship with healing plants. (Growing the plant is another excellent way to get to know your herbal allies!)
For me, making tea is a tangible reminder that I am part of nature and that I can rely on my plant friends to support my daily health. Some plants, however, don't taste great, or I might want to take them three times a day (which, even for me, is a bit more tea than I want on a hot summer day). In many instances, a tincture is best.
A tincture is an alcohol extract of the herbal medicine (glycerine and vinegar can also be used). When I make my own, I put dried plant matter (either leaves, stems, roots, and/or flowers) into a mason jar and cover the herb with 100 proof vodka. This is a high enough alcohol content (50%) to extract all the beneficial constituents I want from the plant in about a month. Then I strain out the plant material and what I'm left with is the alcohol and extracted herbal medicine.
Tinctures are great when you need a high dose of medicine, are traveling and want to take a small bottle with you rather than a bunch of loose tea, and when you want those constituents that are better extracted with alcohol than water (resins, essential oils). And when the herbal medicine doesn't taste great, it's best to get it over with quickly!
To take a tincture, you simply put however many drops is called for (could be a few drops to 30 or even 60 drops, depending on the herb and purpose of taking it) in a mug or cup with about an ounce of boiling water. The hot water helps some of the alcohol evaporate and also dilutes the alcohol so it is easier to take.
Again, teas and tinctures are both great, but it will depend on your specific purpose of taking the herbal medicine and which plant you are taking that will determine which one is best for you. Schedule a Personal Health Consultation or Quick Consult with me if you have any questions on which is best for you.
To your health,