Echinacea tincture leftovers.

Subject: Re: Echinacea
From: Karen S Vaughan <>
Date: Sun, 9 Jan 2000 23:05:01 -0500

>I made a tincture with my echinacea root. (It's wonderful by the way) My question is: Is there any use left in the root after straining the tincture off it? Seems a shame to throw it out, but if all the medicinal properties are now in the tincture I guess it wouldn't hurt?

It depends somewhat on what proof alcohol you used. Echinacea has both water-soluble and high-alcohol soluble constituents. If you used low proof alcohol, you can extract the roots in grain alcohol and get out the isobutylamides and other high alcohol-requiring constituents. If you used high proof alcohol (over 150 proof), you can try decocting the roots, although certain polysaccharides may have been ruined. I prefer to use a two step process (water first) then combine them so that the alcohol percentage is under 30%.

Karen Vaughan
Email advice is not a substitute for medical treatment.

From: Pamela Quayle <>
Date: Mon, 10 Jan 2000 10:33:24 -0500

> I prefer to use a two step process (water first) then combine them so that the alcohol percentage is under 30%.

Karen, can you tell us more about how you do the two step process? Do you macerate the decoction after adding alcohol to 30%?

I have been wondering about doing two processes - decoction and high proof alcohol maceration, and then mixing to 30%. Do you think this process would capture the best of both types of extraction?


From: Kevin Chisholm <>
Date: Mon, 10 Jan 2000 12:23:41 -0400

Pamela Quayle wrote:
> Karen, can you tell us more about how you do the two step process? Do you macerate the decoction after adding alcohol to 30%?

If you don't already have a "working recipe" for such extractions, you can develop one somewhat as follows....

Some components are soluble in water, but not concentrated alcohol, while some are soluble in concentrated alcohol, but not water.

With a given plant, first do a water leach, to extract as much as possible of the water soluble components. Then add increasing amounts of alcohol to a portion of it, to see if the alcohol causes a precipitate. If there is no murkiness, or settlement, or precipitates, then you know you have no water soluble compounds which are precipitated by alcohol. You also know that there is nothing in the plant which would be precipitated by higher alcohol concentrations.

Then do a similar extraction with pure alcohol. Dilute a portion of it with water, to determine if there is a precipitate formed. If no precipitate is formed, then you know that water, or lower alcohol concentrations will not prevent leaching of the desired constituents.

If there is a precipitate from either test, then it may be that there is an optimal alcohol range for extraction: With too little alcohol, Component "X" will not dissolve, but with too little water, component "Y" will not dissolve.

(This is whats happening when one adds water to Pernod or Absinthe; the lowered alcohol content causes milkiness, as some of the dissioved components become insoluble. ) This "differential solubility" can be used to advantage...for example, leaching Wormwood with water only may extract only the bitters, but if you leach with an alcohol solution, you may extract the bad guys that give Absinthe a bad name.

Not dealt with here is the possibility that certain components may, or may not be degraded when subject to high alcohol concentrations.

Pam, your "two step leaching process" may indeed be a good one. Try it, and add the mixtures together in a measured fashion. You may find that if you add too much of the water leach product, you will cause a precipitate. If this is the case, then you could concentrate the water product a bit, so as to not exceed the critical water content.

Kindest regards,


Subject: Two-stage extraction processes
From: Susan Marynowski <sumar.GNV.IFAS.UFL.EDU>
Date: Fri, 14 Jan 2000 15:45:07 -0400

Karen and listmembers: I would like to revisit the two stage process that you were mentioning a few days ago in a discussion of extracting echinacea in both water and alchohol. I would also like more details,as some other list member requested, about your two-stage process. Do you start with a decoction first, and then put the material in hi-proof alcohol? Then do you combine the two products at the end?

I have heard of a two-stage process for extracting Usnea, which occurs widely here in Florida. Supposedly the water extraction part of the process is to "soften" or help make available the polysaccharides, which may actually be the active immune-enhancing principle, in addition to usnic
acids. But in the process described to me, the Usnea is simmered for about 10 minutes, then placed in the alcohol menstruum -- the water is not preserved as part of the product. Any comments?