Passing on what we learn
Green Magic, Nature’s Medicine
The best magic is green magic. Tinctures, or as I like to call them, potions, are very potent and they serve as yet another example that often your trip to the pharmacy is a waste of time. A lot of plants are easy to find and recognize, they are safe to us, have a lovely flavor and gathering herbs next to the forest on a beautiful morning is solely worth the effort.
Tinctures have been used to many centuries by various cultures all around the world. There are many ways to make tinctures, but I would like to share with you my own experience and knowledge about a good tincture. I have a small shelf of tiny bottles that have never failed to help a member of the community when needed, whether they had a headache, stomach ache or they were just feeling down.
One of my favorites herbs is St John’s-wort. This plant is not only beautiful and has a lovely, sweet scent, but I can never help but admire how its yellow flowers turn into a bloodred hue when you crush them or infuse them. The St John’s-wort tincture has several uses, but I mainly advise its usage for people who are feeling down and lethargic, sad and unmotivated. It raises your spirits and in fact even today it is the main ingredient of natural antidepressants. Another usage of this beautiful plant is for the ladies, drinking it regularly every month will make you feel better in some of the toughest days of the month (PMS!).
The reason why I chose to make St John’s-wort tinctures instead of simply dry the plant and make tea is because tinctures keep the essence and potency of the plant for a longer time and they are more effective. They are also easier to use, you can simply but a few drops of the tincture into some water and drink it. Another reason is that because of their sweet scent the St John’s-wort flowers attract a lot of insects, and unless you have a solar dryer you might have problems with moths and other unwanted creatures in your tea.
Make sure you collect the St John’s-wort plants tops in the morning, once the dew has dried. You should collect them from clean areas, never from the side of the road. There is not need to rinse them. By rinsing them you can lose a lot of their pollen and you also risk molding. Chop the freshly collected St John’s-wort tops and place them in a wide mouthed jar. Pack them in tightly, but only fill the jar half way. All you need to do after that is pour alcohol on top, all the way to the rim of the jar. This can be any type of strong alcohol, but not rubbing or medicinal alcohol. The best alcohol is homemade moonshine, 55 proof. I tried other types of alcohol, even grain alcohol, which I really cannot recommend, not only because it is very strong but also because of its flavor.
Once you poured the moonshine on top of the herbs, cap it tightly so the alcohol doesn’t evaporate. Place the jar in a dark place and shake it well twice a day. You can do this for about a month. At this point you should have a dark red liquid instead of the clear one. If you hold the jar up to the light it should be a beautiful crimson. Strain the liquid with several layers of cheesecloth and a sieve. I wouldn’t recommend putting the alcohol soaked herbs into your regular compost, but give it back to nature, dig a hole and cover it with earth, or save it for some other project.
Pour the liquid in a new jar and cap it. I use small potion bottles for this purpose and rubber corks, because they seal better. Remember that tinctures are much more potent than a tea or a simple infusion, therefore you need to be careful when you use them. A few drops, a teaspoon at most is sufficient. Enjoy this pure remedy of nature.