Why choose tinctures?
It's no secret we love tinctures. But some of you may be wondering why. They don’t taste great, but that’s because they are medicines. They aren't made to taste great. They are made to be effective. We’re going to do a deep dive into the benefits of tinctures, because there are so many reasons we truly believe in them.
What is a tincture?
First off, lets start by breaking down what a tincture is.
A tincture is an alcohol based botanical extraction. That means that we use alcohol to extract the medicinal compounds of the botanicals. We only use food grade pure grain alcohol to ensure a high quality product. The medicine is then delivered in liquid form. To be classified as a tincture the liquid needs to have at least 50% alcohol in it. There are some weaker alcohol-based extractions that are around 20% alcohol; however, those are classified as a liquid extract.
Natural Preservation & Shelf Life
Alcohol is a natural preservative. Think of a bottle of whiskey or other spirits that will stay fresh years after opening. Because of alcohol's natural preservative properties, tinctures can have a very long shelf life of 10 years while remaining clean without artificial ingredients.
Should I be concerned about the alcohol content?
The amount of alcohol content in an average dose is about the same amount of alcohol you would find in a ripe piece of fruit, so it is very safe amount. For people still concerned about the alcohol content you can add the dose to hot water or tea. The heat will allow the alcohol to evaporate off while the medicinal properties remain in the water.
Alcohol's Effectiveness & Potency
Alcohol is an excellent solvent for herbs because it effectively extracts the compounds and active ingredients that aren’t water-soluble such as essential oils, alkaloids, and resins. There are many beneficial active constituents in various plants that are not extractable via other solvents like water, glycerin, and vinegar and so you often get a more potent tincture because it contains a wide range of active compounds. Due to the effectiveness of alcohol as a solvent you also get a very concentrated and potent dose. This way you only need a small amount of tincture to get a potent dose. The alcohol will also keep the medicinal compounds active for much longer whereas teas and capsules will oxidize after a couple years and lose their potency.
Ease of use
Many people appreciate how easy a tincture is to take. Although they don’t taste great, many people readily adapt to the flavor and can take their tinctures sublingually (under the tongue). This makes them much more convenient than making a tea and may be easier than swallowing a capsule.
Because of the liquid nature of a tincture it also makes them easy to adjust and measure your dose to suit your needs.
Every tincture contains a ratio on the label such as a 1:5, 1:3 or 3:5. The first number represents the amount of medicine in grams and the second number represents the amount of the tincture in milliliters.
So in a 1:5 tincture, 1 g of herb is in 5 ml of liquid. In a 3:5 tincture, 3 g of herb is in 5 ml of liquid.
Using this ratio you can easily adjust to your needs. So if you want to take 500 mg of a 1:5 tincture you would take 2.5 ml.
What’s so special about tinctures is the way they are absorbed. Most medicines must go through the digestive system to be absorbed. Tinctures have the unique ability to be absorbed through the mucous membranes (your mouth, throat, and stomach lining) which allows the medicine to be absorbed straight into the blood system. This process is extremely fast. Sometimes you can start to feel effects in as little as 5 minutes!
Compare this to capsules or teas. They need to be swallowed, broken down by the stomach, and then absorbed once they reach the intestines. This process can take anywhere from 30 minutes to 2 hours depending on the speed of your digestive system and how much food you have in your stomach.
The way tinctures are absorbed also offers superior bioavailability, meaning the ability of the body to absorb the medicinal compounds. Digestion is an imperfect process. As such, when you digest a capsule or a tea, not all of the medicine is absorbed. This is especially true for people who have digestive issues. Tinctures, especially when held under the tongue before swallowing, allow for absorption to start the moment you taste it. Because of this you’re going to get superior bioavailability with a tincture.
Tasting your medicine
This brings us to another important topic when it comes to tinctures: the taste! This is the most often cited reason for people choosing a different form of herbal medicine. The taste of the herb and the alcohol can be intense. There are however important benefits to tasting your medicine. When you taste the medicine your body starts to stimulate your digestive processes and prepares the body to better absorb it.
We’ve also found that many people grow accustomed to the taste overtime. We have had several different customers report that over time they’ve even grown to enjoy the taste.
So although the taste might be intense, we think its worth tasting!
How to take a tincture
There are several different ways you can take a tincture depending on your preference.
If you’re looking for the best absorption, place your dose directly under your tongue and hold it there for 10-30 seconds before swallowing. You can also add a little bit of water to cut the intensity of the alcohol.
You can also dilute your dose in water and swallow quickly. For the best tasting method, place your dose in orange juice which does a fantastic job at masking the taste.
Another option is to place your dose in tea or hot water to help the alcohol to evaporate off, without effecting the medicinal quality. Feel free to add honey or lemon to improve the flavor as you see fit.
How they are made
Tinctures are made through a process called maceration. It involves soaking the plant material in alcohol to extract the medicinal compounds. Using the desired ratio, such as a 1:5, we add 1 part plant material to 5 parts alcohol. For example, if you wanted to make 1:5 of Reishi Mushroom you could combine 100g Reishi to 500ml of water. After letting this sit for a determined period of time such as a month, you then strain the plant material out leaving the alcohol extraction which is now a tincture.
We want to hear from you
What are your favorite reasons for choosing tinctures? How do you prefer to take your tinctures? Let us know your thoughts in the comments below!