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herbal tinctures

image courtesy of botanical.com

I am creating a small line of herbal tinctures to sell on Etsy and Craft Is Art, so thought I’d share them here on this page.

Several years ago I became obsessed with TCM, Traditional Chinese Medicine.  I would spend hours and hours pouring over books about meridians, corresponding organs and symptoms that were attributed to certain stagnations and low “chi” or life force.

From there I began to study Ayurveda, or east Indian medicine.  I found it to be a softer, more easily accessible form of the Chinese lore.  I saw similarities and began to draw conclusions about how to mesh them together.

Finally, I began to research Celtic or western herbalism and found wonderful lore and healing practices within that system, so took some of it along with me on my learning journey.

What I have formulated in these tinctures is a combination of these three main modalities. 

From TCM, I have learned about the major organs and their correspondence to cold/hot, damp/dry, yin/yang.  From Ayurveda comes the trio of cold/damp Kapha, hot/dry Pitta, and cold/dry Vata.  From Celtic/western lore I have understood and realized the concept of the four elements and Quintessence.

So here they are, so far, in no particular order, with more to come.  As with my perfumes these tinctures are infused in cognac for at least 4-6 weeks; the ratio is at least 4:1 alcohol to dried herbs, with some even more concentrated.  Herbs are organic and wildcrafted, purchased from the incredible Mountain Rose Herbs.

Detox & Cleanse – Lymphatics & Blood:  burdock root, yellow rock root, gotu kola, safflower

~ Rebuild & Rejuvenate – Immune & Nervous Systems:  fo-ti, gotu kola, fennel seeds

~ Cooling Tonic – Clearing Heat, Liver:  blue vervain, burdock, yellow dock, dandelion root

~ Yin Booster – Nourish Water, Kidneys:  marshmallow root, Solomon’s seal, safflower

* * * * * * * *

 

Herbal medicine taken via alcohol has never been confined to a little dropper bottle.  The following is an excerpt from A Modern Herbal  by Mrs. M. Grieve, published in 1931 but the recipes are much older.

“Formerly every farmhouse inn had a brewing plant and brewhouse attached to the buildings, and all brewed their own beer till the large breweries were established and supplanted home-brewed beers.  Many of these farmhouses then began to brew their own ‘stingo’ from wayside herbs, employing old rustic recipes that had been carried down from generation to generation.  The true value of vegetable bitters and of herb beers have yet to be recognized by all sections of the community.  Workmen in puddling furnaces and potteries in the Midland and Northern counties find, however, that a tea made of tonic herbs is cheaper and less intoxicating than ordinary beer and patronize the herb beers freely, Dandelion Stout ranking as one of the favourites.  It is also made in Canada.

Dandelion is a good ingredient in many digestive or diet drinks.  A dinner drink may be made as follows:  Take 2 oz. each of dried Dandelion and Nettle herbs and 1 oz. of Yellow Dock.  Boil in 1 gallon of water for 15 minutes and then strain the liquor while hot on to 2 lb. of sugar, on the top of which is sprinkled 2 tablespoonsful of powdered Ginger.  Leave till milk-warm, then add boiled water gone cold to bring the quantity up to 2 gallons.  The temperature must then not be above 75° F.  Now dissolve 1/2 oz. solid yeast in a little of the liquid and stir into the bulk.  Allow to ferment 24 hours, skim and bottle, and it will be ready for use in a day or two.

A good, pleasant-tasting botanic beer is also made of the Nettle alone.  Quantities of the young fresh tops are boiled in a gallon of water, with the juice of two lemons, a teaspoonful of crushed ginger and 1 lb. of brown sugar.  Fresh yeast is floated on toast in the liquor, when cold, to ferment it, and when it is bottled the result is a specially wholesome sort of ginger beer.”

* * * * * * * *

 

image here and above - wikimedia

Above is an image of one of the first “apothecary” books, Materia Medica, by a man named Dioscorides, circa 1334.  The text is describing the medicinal properties of cumin and dill.

Making tinctures caused me to realize the historic practice of blending essential oils with high quality alcohol was not simply done randomly in Renaissance perfumery.  It was considered a form of medicine.

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