There are various ways to extract the nutrients and medicine from herbs. And there are various methods of administration.
First, let's look at some ways of extracting the nutrients and medicine from the herbs.
Water. This is the best extraction method for herbs. Teas, decoctions and infusions are all great ways to extract the 'good stuff' from herbs. The drawbacks of using water are these:
The shelf life isn't stable. You really need to make this fresh each day. Otherwise it gets kinda sour and if left very long, it can get really gross! (personal experience)
The other drawback is that so much of our water is contaminated with various pollutants, many of them added by our water departments across the country. (chlorine, fluoride, etc.)
Then there are tinctures.
There is the true tincture and what some call tinctures that really aren't. The real tinctures are made with alcohol. Usually vodka is used.
A quantity of vodka is poured over the dried herb. It is allowed to sit for some weeks and then strained off. The medicine is retained by the vodka (or other alcohol). This will have a very long shelf life! The drawback to this is that some people have sensitivities or aversions to the alcohol.
The "tincture" that is not really a tincture is actually a vinegar.
This would be prepared in the same method as an alcohol tincture except using vinegar. The shelf life is quite long for the vinegar as well. The drawbacks here are that it is not quite as shelf stable as the alcohol tincture, and that it is sour. However, the quantity used is so small that the sour, vinegar taste is pretty easy camouflaged.
Then there are glycerites. Sometimes, a person might call this a tincture as well, even though it is not a true tincture.
These are fun little "cousins" to tinctures. The process extraction process is the same. However, the glycerin combines the positives. Glycerin tends to be more shelf stable than vinegar and better than alcohol for children. It has a nice sweetness that helps to mask flavors of stronger herbs. The only drawback here is that it can be a little sticky.
In our next post, we will look at some other ways of administering herbal medicine.
Until next time....
Wishing you health,
Sara and the Ol' Farmhouse family