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Fresh vs. dried herb tincture strength.

So yesterday I talked to somebody (waves) who makes rather more tinctures than I do.
He asked, which do I think is better, fresh or dry? I said that there's no difference -- provided you use the correct herb:alcohol ratios and alcohol % for either. Correct being about 1:5 60 % for dried herb, and 1:2 95 % for fresh. Which is what he used, too, except for those herbs which you just can't cover with that :5 (or :2) of alcohol, like mullein flowers, or milky oats.

Then he said, yes, but you can get so much more herb into a 1:5 dried herb tincture than you can get into a 1:2 fresh herb tincture.

Hmmm, said I. How much fresh herb do you need to get how much dried herb? He said, 7 kg fresh for 1 kg dried, on average.

This got me counting:

You use 1 kg dried herb to 5 l 60 % alcohol (= 1:5 60 %):
that's equivalent to 7 kg fresh herb to that 5 l menstruum.

And you use 1 kg fresh herb to 2 l 95 % alcohol (= 1:2 95 %):
that's about 2.5 kg fresh herb to 5 l menstruum.

There's a distinct dichotomy there, seeing that I've been using fresh herb tinctures at the same dosages as dry herb tinctures. Dried herb tinctures should be much stronger: they use up more herb. I've found they aren't. Or at least, if they are, that's not noticable to mere mortals like me.

Why would that be? I know of two factors which might influence things in favor of fresh herb tinctures:

1) Alcohol pulls water + constituents out of your fresh herb by osmosis, leaving less than actives (cellulose, for instance) behind.
2) Fresh herb retains more vitality than dried.

Both fresh and dry herb tinctures end up containing about the same amounts of water + alcohol: there's water in the fresh herb, there's water in the 60 % alcohol.

I'll continue to use fresh herb tinctures at the same dosages as I use dry -- or at lower doses: some fresh herb tinctures require just a drop or three, where the dried one would require doses of 15-30 drops.

Herbs are weird.


I can't help but comment here. I just don't think (respecting differences of approach and all) saying that "dried herb tinctures are stronger because they conatin more herb" makes any sense. Certainly, there are herbs that dry well and even some that are better dried than fresh, but there are so many herbs where the fresh plant is superior in virtue that accounting dry preperations as better (on account of quantity) makes little sense to me at all.

An example: Black Cohosh. ~no~ comparison between the fresh and dried tincture.
Another: Basil. Would a much more concentrated tincture of dried Basil even touch the quality of fresh Basil? I don't think so.

I could go on. But then, I'm kind've a fresh plant tincture junkie, and I like using small doses, so don't grant a lot to assessments of efficacy based on quantity.

i know this is an old thread, but i have been pondering this a lot lately. Although i don't necessarily base efficacy on quantity and granted that many plants will often be better fresh, there are a number of plants that seem to dry and maintain their properties well. Given that, it seems that the dry tincture should be much stronger. Also, if this theory that dried works less well than fresh plants, why do many people use an equivalent amount of dried herb as fresh herb when making teas? Wouldn't we be using a lot more herb for dried teas? Any thoughts?

Depends on how you count things. It's 1 teaspoon dried or 2 teaspoons fresh herb to the cup (2.5 dl, give or take a bit). If you count 1 teaspoon dried as 7 tsp. fresh, then yes, you use more dried. If you count teaspoons, then yes, you use more fresh ...


In Zambia where Iam from for example, there is a practise of eating dried vegetables. Actually we tend to use less of dried vegetables by quantity as compared to fresh. In fact the dried vegetables expand upon cooking.... kind of like fresh and dried mushrooms- you would use less dried mushrooms by quantity.This however assumes that specific ingredients do not deteroirate as a fresh material dries- for example moringa powder seems to have greater concentration of almost all key nutrients in its leaf powder than fresh.If this were to be used to make tinctures, there would be a greater concentration of the nutrients in the dry than fresh no?


I just discovered this thread while Googling for something related and thought I would add something..I'm not an expert or anything but have an interest in this area. The efficacy of dried v fresh is something I was wondering about so I did a bit of research.. what people often overlook is that fresh plants contain a lot of biochemical components not present in dried herbs. It's a bit like comparing vitamin C tablets to fruit. Fruit for example contains flavonoids and other metabolites as well as enzymes. So in terms of bioavailability the vitamin C from fruit sources is far superior to that from pills. Coming back to herbs...once they're exposed to air and dried a lot of the "living" components and vitality must be lost. Plants are complex things and the health benefits or efficacy of the compounds in them may require some degree of synergy of all the components. Or as someone else posted, smaller doses may be more potent.

In addition to the vit.C comment, a main component why the fruit is 'healthier' than the pills is because the white part of the rind actually aids in the C absorbtion. Kind of like how calcium and vitamin D need eachother in order for the body to absorb calcium.

I don't pretend to know much at all about tinctures, but I do know teas. I have found that the oils and waters contained in fresh herbs and teas are more noticeably pungent and present than in their dried counterpart. It is certainly more efficient to produce, blend, package, ship and preserve herbs in their dried state, and the product is just as enjoyable; but just as the population of juicers and juice dieters will tell you: The longer your food is disconnected from the earth and the longer after cutting/crushing, the more complex states of certain minerals and elements have a chance to break down into a non-digestive or non-absorbable state. I would prefer every time to try tinctures, extractions, distillations and teas made from the freshest, greenest, wettest product. Hope this makes sense!