My Medicine: Tinctures

by / Saturday, 08 August 2015 / Published in Natural Medicine

Have you ever thought, “I wonder if there’s something natural that I can take for X (a symptom) or Y (my health concern) or Z (to improve my health)?” Well, you’ll likely be pleased to know…of course there is! The challenges are finding the right type of medicine for X, Y or Z and taking it in sufficient dosages in a bioavailable form (i.e. so your body absorbs it easily for use) to produce the desired effect.

Whenever I’m ill or not feeling my best, I typically will use an herbal tincture to address the concern. Tinctures are medicinal extractions of herbs. Alcohol is typically used to make tinctures though water, glycerin or other solvents may be used in some cases as well in order to pull out, or extract, specific natural compounds from the herbs. In the process, the compounds are extracted and preserved so the medicine may easily be administered when needed.

Interestingly, herbal tinctures have been used as medicine much longer than pharmaceutical agents. Tinctures, as well as other forms of plant medicines like tea and poultices, are quite popular in other parts of the world and have been incorporated into mainstream medicine in places like France, Germany, China and Japan. Plants originally renowned for addressing certain medical conditions were ideal for drug manufacturers to imitate. Many of the primary natural compounds (or constituents) in plants are either used or copied to make some pharmaceutical medications like aspirin, digoxin, and ephedrine to name a few.

In general, tinctures are extremely effective at gently prompting the body to correct an imbalance. The herbal medicine works with the body to produce a desired outcome. Some popular herbal tinctures are as follows:

Lemon Balm – Eases anxiety, helps settle nervous stomach, shortens cold sore duration
Cramp Bark – Eases muscle cramps
Milk Thistle – Improves liver and kidney function
Garlic – Helps fight infections, lowers blood pressure, blood sugar and cholesterol
Echinacea – Helps fight infections, decreases inflammation

Please be mindful that dosages of herbal tinctures are variable based on the characteristics of the plant and the way the tincture was produced. Some herbal tinctures that can cause dangerous reactions and are called “low dose herbs.” These medicines are so potent that only a few drops of the tincture are recommended for each dose. For this reason, it’s important to work with a licensed professional trained in using herbal medicines. There are limitless custom blends that can be formulated to address an individual’s specific health concern.  Finding an N.D. in your area may be the simple solution to address X, Y or Z naturally. Tell them I sent you and request a tincture!

References:
Brown, Donald. Herbal Prescriptions for Health, Rocklin, CA: Prima Health, 1996

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