Alcohol vs. glycerine.


Date: Tue, 11 Jul 1995 12:37:01 -0700
From: Colette Gardiner <coletteg.EFN.ORG>
Subject: Re: Herbal Tinctures

Roni L. Evilla wrote:
> I regularly use herbal tinctures in my practice. Many of the ones I use are those that I have wildcrafted and made myself but as my knowledge grows I have included some herbs that do not grow locally and so I have used commercial tinctures from whole foods stores. So I would like to ask those experienced in the use of tinctures if they have noticed any difference in the effectiveness of tinctures based on what they are tinctured in. I always make tinctures with 100 proof grain alchohol but most of the commercially prepared are made from glycerine. I wonder if glycerine is absorbed as quickly. I personally dislike the flavor and consistency difference and have found that I personally respond better to the tincture made with alchohol. Has anyone else noticed this? It is important in my work that the tinctures I use get absorbed and work as quickly as possible.


As a tincture maker I find that glycerine does not extract as full a range of the chemical constituents as alcohol does. Also the shelf life seems to be shorter. It's important to keep in mind that every method you use to extract medicines has it's shortcomings as well as it's advantages.

Colette Gardiner

From: Rosamond Taylor <rustytay.ORCA.ES.WEDNET.EDU>

> I regularly use herbal tinctures in my practice. Many of the ones I use are

From "Herbal Preparations and Natural Therapies" by Debra St. Claire:

  • glycerin will extract the following - sugars, enzymes (dilute), glucosides, bitter compounds, saponins (dilute), and tannins
  • absolute alcohol will extract the following - alkaloids (some), glycosides, volatile oils, waxes, resins, fats, some tannins, balsam, sugars, and vitamins.

I am very much still a student, but it seems to me that you would use the solvent that will give you the healing properties that you need out of the plant. And for those that don't like the alcohol taste, or bite, the tincture can be mixed in hot water and left for a few minutes to evaporate most of the alcohol off. It has worked well for me, and my children.