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There's a reason that alcohol tinctures are so popular.

That reason being, alcohol + water absorbs most of the actives that we want out of a plant.

Your usual tincture is made either from fresh herb + 95 % alcohol; there, the water is in the plant. Or it's made from dried herb + 50-60 % alcohol; there, the water is in the liquid.
Either way, you get both alcohol- and watersoluble constituents out of the herb. (British tinctures are far weaker in alcohol, though.)

Here's a handy list for what constituents are pulled out into what kinds of liquids:

Alcohol: everything except minerals and trace elements. Mucilage is absorbed but is then split into simple carbs - so there's no mucilaginous action. Unless you do British-strength tinctures, which means very little alcohol to a lot of water.

Water: everything except resins.

Vinegar: minerals, trace elements, alkaloids

Glycerites: some minerals and trace elements, some alkaloids, some acids, some mucilage

Oil: oils, resins.

Syrup: oils, resins, sugars, mucilage.

If you have problems with alcohol you should substitute teas for your tinctures. They're not as handy (as in, you can't just take a cuppa while waiting for your bus), but you can always make a batch in the morning and carry a bottle of herbal tea with you.

You can also eat the plants as is; it's not all that practical for flowers and leaf, but it's easy to keep a tiny jar of dried root bits with you and just chew on a piece now and then.

Glycerites are nice and all that, but they're not even half as good as real live alcohol tinctures.

King's Dispensatory lists 6 vinegars, 12 glycerites, 29 powders, 34 infusions and decoctions, 52 syrups, and 97 tinctures (not counting the extracts).

I'm sure I've forgotten one or the other menstruum (= liquid) and one or the other set of constituents pulled out into the ones I've listed. Feel free to add your comments.


yup, VINEGAR!!
Great for pulling out the minerals from mineral rich herbs...nettles, yellow dock...etc etc...

:) also tasty on salads!

> Glycerites: some minerals and trace elements, some alkaloids, some acids, some mucilage

but real good for tannins

(perhaps the only thing its "real" good for...)

hm... glycerites are good for tannins? So... if i wanted to extract tannins (specifically, oenothein A and B from epilobium), i would be better off extracting them using a glycerin than alcohol? (are there alcohol-glycerin tinctures, and would that make any sense?)

Darcey: vinegar, check. Easy to overlook, I grant you...
Alex: I think of Epilobium as a tea herb, but then, I find the taste of glycerites disgusting.

As for not taking a cuppa while waiting for the bus, do you not have reusable plastic or stainless steel "go mugs" in Finland? Or are they utilzied most frequently by North American coffee addicts? They are ubiquitous here, and very handy for transporting your daily doses of medicinal tea, so that is not an excuse for missing doses! :)

Infinite thanks Henriette, for sharing your knowledge and providing this venue, as well as your other sites! Finally getting a chance to read thru it. Can't help but wonder though, with all you have on the go, do you actually sleep?

Dunno, the ones I've seen all have a hole at the top, which makes them less than useful for a "on the bus" scenario. As in, all your stuff covered in, say, coffee, or tea, or whatever.