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alcohol + herbs = ancient medicine

2010/06/10

My first introduction to combining plants/flowers with fine quality alcohol was making herbal tinctures.  I love shaking up the mason jar and watching all the roots, twigs and leaves swim around as they incubate for a month or so in the amber liquid that is cognac.

It was in this early stage of my independent study of herbalism, aromatherapy and Asian healing modalities that I learned of the medicinal value of alcohol.  In Ayurvedic and Chinese medicines, herbal wine, and wine infused with herbs, is one of the most potent potions in a healer’s practice.  And in Europe and the British Isles, indigenous cultures always used beer, mead and  barleywine infused with herbs for medicinal purposes.  Alcohol literally extracts, or draws out, the vital properties from the plant cells in a way that no other liquid can.

At one point I was making my own wine and infusing it with herbs during various stages of the fermentation process.  None of it was palatable, except maybe the Astragalus Root in Pinot Noir… but it was a great learning experience.

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