Tinctures are a convenient way to take your herbal medicines. They’re ready to use, just pop a few drops into your mouth or a glass of water and you’re done. The problem is…tinctures are expensive.
A simple echinacea tincture sells for $8 to $12 an ounce. If you plan ahead a few months before for flu season, you can make your own echinacea tincture for as little as $1 an ounce.
Benefits of Echinacea Tincture
Echinacea Angustifolia tincture is widely known for promoting a healthy immune response. There are dozens if not hundreds of studies to back this up, bosting some pretty impressive stats.
Researchers are the University of Connecticut found that taking echinacea cuts the chances of catching a cold by 58%, and if you do get sick, echinacea can reduce the average duration of sickness by almost a day and a half.
Its general purpose infection-fighting powers are showing promise in the treatment of a number of infectious diseases, including herpes, malaria, syphilis and urinary tract infections.
Echinacea was used by Native Americans as a natural all-purpose pain reliever, to treat everything from headaches to snake bites.
Other studies show that echinacea is a potent anti-inflammatory, which may contribute to the treatment of numerous condition
Echinacea Tincture Dosage
How much echinacea tincture do you take? Recommendations vary widely. Most herbalists recommend taking a dropper full, which is 25 to 30 drops of tincture, three times per day.
Herbalist Susan Weed, the Author of the best-selling Wise Woman Herbal, recommends a more specific dosage based on weight. She prescribes 1 drop for every 2 pounds of body weight.
For most children, that amounts to no more than a dropper full, and she admits that she often rounds to a full dropper full for children 25 to 50 pounds.
For adults and older children, she suggests an echinacea tincture dosage as follows:
50 to 100 pounds: 2 droppers full
100 to 150 pounds: 3 droppers full
150 to 200 pounds: 4 droppers full
200 to 250 pounds: 5 droppers full
When sick or experiencing acute symptoms, the full dosage can be administered every 1 to 2 hours. If you catch it before you’re really sick, every 3 to 4 hours should be sufficient.
Nonetheless, for an average 150-pound adult, that’s a lot of echinacea tincture over the course of 2 to 3 days. After that, she suggests tapering off to more occasional doses for a week or two to strengthen your immune system and prevent a relapse.
With those tincture dosage recommendations, how much echinacea tincture do you need to fight off a cold?
A dropper full is roughly 25 to 30 drops, and there are just under 100 drops to a teaspoon or around 600 drops to an ounce.
If you’re taking 3 to 4 droppers full, or roughly a teaspoon, every one to two hours, that’s a full one-ounce bottle in 6 to 12 hours.
Echinacea Tincture Blends
One of the benefits of making your own echinacea tincture is that you can create your own custom blend. We tend to make an echinacea and elderberry tincture blend, because they have complementary effects, but also because elderberries help mask the harsh flavor of echinacea.
That means the medicine goes down easier, so we’re more likely to actually take it.
Other common echinacea tincture blends include:
- Rose Hips
- Oregon Grape
Echinacea Tincture Side Effects
WebMD rates echinacea as “likely safe” for most applications. With any medicine, there’s always the potential for an allergic reaction, but such reactions are rare.
The main caution is for persons with autoimmune issues. Since echinacea interacts with the immune system and can stimulate a response, it could cause issues if you already have an abnormally functioning immune system. Specifically, if you have an overactive immune system this could make things worse.
How to Make an Echinacea Tincture
The most simple way to make an echinacea tincture is to use the folk herbalist method. Start with a clean mason jar, and fill it about halfway with dried echinacea. If you have fresh plant material, fill the jar 2/3 of the way full.
Echinacea is easy to grow from seed (seeds available here), but it shouldn’t be harvested for the first 3 years as it establishes. We often buy bulk echinacea online. A pound of dried herb sells for about $20 and is enough to make about a gallon of tincture. We tend to make part of it into a tincture and save the rest for tea.
Once you’ve added the herb to a mason jar, simply cover it with alcohol.
Add a neutral spirit with around 40% alcohol (80 proof). Vodka is a good choice, but really any alcohol will work. Some people suggest using straight grain alcohol that’s near 100%, but that’s actually not a good idea.
The super high alcohol content isn’t actually the best way to extract herbal medicines unless you’re dealing with a particularly resilient resin.
For simple herbal leaves, flowers and roots stick to around 40% alcohol for best results.
I like to use a mid-shelf vodka because it makes the resulting tincture more palatable. If you choose the cheapest liquor money can buy, remember that you’re going to have to drink it. A better suggestion is to choose the cheapest liquor you’d actually voluntarily drink.
Fill the jar to within a half-inch of the top, making sure that you completely submerge all the herbal material.
Put a lid on the jar and give it a quick shake. Store the jar in a cool dark place for at least a month, shaking anytime you remember.
After 1 to 3 months of infusing, it’s time to filter the echinacea tincture.
Use a fine-mesh strainer or cheesecloth to filter the herbal material from the alcohol. You should be left with a dark amber-colored liquid with a strong earthy smell.
Echinacea tincture has a bit of harshness to it, so it’s best to take it mixed with water or juice.
Store your echinacea tincture out of direct sunlight, preferably in amber-colored glass bottles. Amber-colored tincture bottles are reusable and convenient for dosing. You can buy a dozen 2-ounce amber bottles for less than the cost of a single 1 ounce prepared echinacea tincture.
They’re also small enough that they can be taken on a trip and even in carry-on plane baggage. I tend to get sick most when I’m traveling, so having a portable immune booster is a big plus.
What do you think? Are you ready to try making your own echinacea tincture?
What parts of the echinacea plant do you use? Recipe doesn’t say. Root, flower, leaves?
For tinctures, you can use every part of the plant.
What part of the plant do you use for the tincture?
You can use the entire plant for any tincture.
Wow. Very cool. So everything from the flowers to the leaves, stem and roots then? Thats awesome. Would you suggest not harvesting the roots so that it will grow back? Or are the roots important for the tinctures? Thanks!
Yes, the roots are a very important part of the medicine. You don’t have to harvest all of the root. You can dig up the plant, carefully harvest part of the root and leave the rest so that the plant can continue to grow.
John here, Thanks for the dosage info. I actually made two batches of Echinacea tincture, one with Apple cider vinegar for my sister’s kids, and one with captain Morgan spiced rum, as I don’t drink and dispise the smell of vodka.
LOVE the idea of using spiced rum! I don’t like vodka either, so this sounds like an excellent option. Thank you for sharing, John.
It’s always fun to play with different options, isn’t it?
Can you make echinacea tincture from water successfully as I want to make it for people who don’t drink alcohol.
The only way to make a tincture is to use alcohol. There are other preparations that do not require alcohol but a tincture is an alcohol extract and therefore must have alcohol.
No, but you can use glycerin to extract the good stuff from the plants. It’s technically not a tincture. It’s a glycerite, but it’s a liquid that you can use the same way as a tincture.
Does it matter the kind of echinacea? I know hat it’s know for being the purple cone flower, but it also comes in many other varieties like Cheyenne Spirits and Pow Wow White. Will harvesting a blend effect the potency or benefits of your tinctures? Would it be more beneficial to keep the different varieties separated and or only harvest the purple cone flower for medicinal purposes ? Thank you for your time .
Echinacea angustifolia, Echinacea pallida, and Echinacea purpurea are the varieties that are most commonly used in herbal medicine.
Can you substitute ACV f
No. Only high proof liquors like vodka, gin, etc. will draw out the plant’s medicinal juices.
John, how did the apple cider vinegar batch turn out? Is it just as good as the vodka??
I have an Hollunder Tree it is full of flowers but the flowers fall off it does not set any fluid, I also keep some flowers for tea
Please advise me
Thanking you Helmut
I had to google that trying to translate, but from what I found, you have an elderberry bush that sets flowers but never forms fruit. There are lots of reasons that could happen. Many are self-sterile, and won’t set fruit unless there’s a different strain nearby for pollination. Lack of pollinators could be a problem, as could lack of water while they’re trying to set fruit. Search for “Elderberry won’t set fruit” and you’ll get lots of potential reasons and can work out what might be the problem in your case.
Thank you for the quick response, i is very hot here at present no much rain last year I had some success with the berries also what can I use as an insect on the fowers?
Native bees usually pollinate them here, but lacking those, a very soft paintbrush dusted over the top, moving pollen from one plant to the next. Good luck!
Can i reuse the echinacea after straining?
The alcohol draws most of the nutrients out of the herb, so I’m not sure what you could reuse it for besides compost.
Can you use fresh flowers for the tincture?
Definitely. If you’re using fresh flowers, fill your jar 2/3 of the way full.
Hi! I’m really enjoying learning from your website! You’ve got a lot of very good info here. I just wanted to know, if I were to make this tincture at home with my plants, would I just use the leaves (dried) or is it a combination of leaves/seedhead/roots? Thanks so much!
You can use all the parts of the plant for tincture making.
What part of the echinacea plant is used? By the photo you used it looks like the leaves. Thank you for sharing your knowledge.
You can use every part of the plant for making tinctures.
Can I still harvest from a new plant I started this year from seeds? I’m moving in the fall but wanted to harvest whatever echinacea that grows. Will there be a potency issue?
It isn’t recommended to harvest the leaves or flower until at least the second year and the roots the third year.
thank you so much
Hi! Thanks for all the great info. I live in a subdivision and have horrible soil but am working on it with my compost. Right now, I am purchasing most of my stuff online. I have echinacea powder. Could you advise me on how to use it in your recipes and how much to use? Thanks!
I have never used the powdered herb for a tincture before. It is recommended to use the cut and sifted herb in order to get the maximum strength in your tincture.
Is only the purple flower used or does any colour work just the same? And the roots of coloured flowers, the same, or not? (ps-I’m Canadian so colour is spelled correctly, for me.lol)
There are nine distinct species of echinacea. E.Augustifolia, E. Pallida and E. Purpurea are the three most common types that are used medicinally. E. Augustifolia tends to be have the strongest properties between the three.
Do you need to chop the flowers, they seem very compact to leave whole.
Chopping the flowers will give you more surface area for the alcohol to extract from. If you are purchasing the herb online, it is most likely already chopped.
When making a tincture with the fresh herb in the comfrey section you mention that the leaves will cause the oil to spoil if you use fresh leaves and leave in oil for 4 to 6 weeks. However, you do not say the same thing about echinacea tincture. Why? Is there a property in it that will not spoil the oil? I have fresh and want to make it. Would like to be clear.
I think you’re looking at two different things, and refering to my post on comfrey salve. Fresh leaves (with water in them), will cause OIL to spoil, so you have to change up the process a bit when making a salve. This is a tincture, which is made with alcohol (not oil), and the alcohol already contains a good bit a water (since it’s not pure grain alcohol). You can use fresh herbs just fine. That precaution was for salves, which otherwise are only oil and wax, and added water leads to rancidity.
Any tips on adding elderberry to the tincture? Maybe just put 1/3cup into this combo and continue with the same process? Thank you!
I make them mixed all the time, and I generally do 2 parts of elderberry to 1 part echinacea, largely because elderberry tastes a heck of a lot better. That mix goes down smooth, whereas echinacea alone is extremely medicinal. I do keep straight echinacea around for when I really want it strong, but I reach for the elderberry based one first. Elderberry tincture is more or less the same process: https://practicalselfreliance.com/elderberry-tincture/
How long is the shelf life once you make it?
The standard recommended shelf life for tinctures is anywhere from 3 to 5 years.
Greetings, and thank you for all the wonderful information.
I made some tincture last year with vodka and recently found a jar in the back of the cabinet that had not been filtered and was still packed with plant. Do you think it is still good?
Thank you in advance. Peace and many smiles to all!
I would strain it out and if it looks, smells and tastes ok then it is probably fine.
Thank you for a great site and information. I don’t have any elderberries, would it work to use mint leaves with the flowers?
This recipe is actually for echinacea tincture so you don’t need elderberries at all.
Does it matter what size mason jar you use? Is one any better than another–
You can use any size jar that you like as long as you have enough plant material to fill it 1/2 full if using dried and 2/3 if using fresh.
I was wondering if I should substitute the vodka for glycerin to give to my children?
That’s totally up to you. Some people do and some people aren’t too worried about it since it is a very small amount, probably not much more than what they would be getting in over the counter cough syrups and such. You can totally make a tincture with gylcerin though.
This is such amazing info! I just purchased amber Mason jars and droppers. I plan to use organic cut and sifted Echinacea Angustifolia herb and organic dried Elderberries (both from Frontier Co-op, on AMZ). While I’m targeting a variety of the noted benefits, my largest hope is that the tincture will aid in joint inflammation, both related to injury and arthritis. I know that general echinacea supplements defer to immunity support/lack of long-term use, so I wanted to ask about the combo recipe above, again, for inflammation, and what your recommendation might be for that use. Also, regarding the dosage recommendations based on weight (from Susan Weed), were they related to colds or as a daily intake? No rush, based on the recipe, it’s going to be a few months before I have any tincture…which brings me to my final question. In your article, you say that after 1 – 3 months of infusing, it’s time to filter the tincture. How do you know? Is there a visual or olfactory catalyst that lets you know whether it should be 4, 8, 12 weeks? Also, should the jar not be opened until you have a visual queue (e.g., by breaking the airtight seal, do you disrupt the process)?
I am brand new at this so please forgive what I assume are rookie questions and thank you very much for sharing your knowledge!
Lets see if I can get to all of your questions here…
I haven’t used echinacea as an anti-inflammatory, more for general immune support. It is supposed to be an anti-inflammatory herb, I just personally haven’t tried to use it for that yet.
When I’ve had periodic bouts of inflammation for various reasons over the years, the things that have helped me the most are burdock (when it’s more of a lymphatic or systemic inflammation), and turmeric/ginger for joint type inflammation and comfrey/arnica for muscle type issues. That’s just my experience though.
The dosage there is for acute issues, as in illness you’re trying to nip in the bud right when you start to get sick. Beyond that, “Nonetheless, for an average 150-pound adult, that’s a lot of echinacea tincture over the course of 2 to 3 days. After that, she suggests tapering off to more occasional doses for a week or two to strengthen your immune system and prevent a relapse.”
So beyond acute issues, more like a couple times a week (rather than every 3-4 hours) is more appropriate.
Dosages can really vary based on person though, so you may want to talk to a clinical herbalist about your specific case. (I am not a clinical herbalist.)
The infusion time is a general guideline, and the actual time can vary without really impacting the tincture too much. At a minimum, you want 4 weeks to fully infuse. I usually let them go 6-8 weeks, as that’s my habit and it seems to work well. Longer is fine too, and if you forget them for many months no harm will come to it. (other than, eventually after about 18 months to 2 years they start to degrade and lose potency, but that’s a long time to forget it in the cupboard).
There’s no real visual signal, as after about a week or so the tincture should already be a dark brown and that’s it’s final color. Smell is similar, and after a week or two it’ll smell as it will when it’s finished. You can open it anytime you want, it won’t disrupt the process at all. Feel free to check in on it, and make sure to top it off with alcohol if the herbs suck up the liquid and they’re over the liquid line.
Hope this helps!
Can you add to the jar? So while it’s sitting for the 6 weeks been I add more flowers since they grow at different rates or no? Also for kids- it’s Acv better to use or glycerine?
So I can use the flowers fresh and dried flowers together or choose one option?
You can use fresh or dried but I don’t know if I would do both together. You can add to it as you go or you could just make a few smaller batches and then add them all together once they’re finished. Different menstruums extract different constituents from the herbs. Glycerine will extract tannins, some minerals, trace minerals, alkaloids, and acids and Vinegar will extract alkaloids, minerals, and trace minerals. Vinegars are typically used more for nutritional purposes and alcohol and glycerine are used more for medicinal purposes. I personally don’t have a problem with using alcohol as a tincture for children because the amount that they are getting is very small and you’re getting a lot more medicinal benefit but it’s obviously a personal choice.
I have some of this in the garden. I should make this.
If I wanted to make a blend and add some of the other suggestions like elderberry flowers or fresh ginger, would I add them to the alcohol with the fresh or dried echinacea? Or should the additional ingredients be added later?
Thank you for your time!!
If you are wanting to tincture them, then you would want to add them at the same time. An alternative to this is to tincture them all separately and then mix the individual tinctures at the end. This allows you to have individual tinctures that can be used for other purposes as well.
I made a batch of tincture with dried echinacea augustifolia root purchased from a trusted source and vodka. It came out very dark brown not the pleasing amber I am used to with store bought or in your pics. Smells and looks fine. Any thoughts? Thank you for for this wonderful information. Glad I stumbled on your blog. I have had amazing success with resolving infections with echinacea a. tinctures which are no longer available–everything is mixed now. I am growing my own plants too. Thank you!
I would say that as long as your echinacea is from a trusted source, you should be fine as long as nothing else seems off.
Thank you for your help. I am new and just starting to make tinctures and growing the medicinal plants too. I would like to make a tincture with first year plants. Whats the liability of not waiting until year 2 or 3?
I understand your urgency to harvest the echinacea but it’s super important to allow the plant time to become established so that it is strong enough to withstand the harvest without harming the plant. You can always purchase the dried herb online in the meantime.
I found a jar of tincture unfiltered from 2017. Vodka base. Throw it out?
It’s totally up to you, depending on its condition. I personally would probably throw it out and make new.
I am making augustfolia Echineacia roots tincture. It’s only been a week and the jar looks green, like pond scum green. Is this normal? I read that it is supposed to be dark amber color.
I’m not sure what would be causing it to turn green. Can you tell me exactly how you prepared the tincture?
I put echinecia root in clean sterile jar and poured organic vodka over it and pit on lid and stored in cupboard. I’ve made ginger, tumeric tinctures this same way. I shake every day. The roots are green in color but I was just surprised at how it looks after a week. The herbe on the bottom of one jar looks cloudy.
I have never seen green echinacea roots before. That would definitely explain the green tincture color but I would be a little concerned about the roots being green.
Sulakshna (Suly) Rivas
Morning. Suly here.
If I want to make turmeric and Ginger tinctures.
My grandma has stomach problems and pain….
Well she’s 88.
You said I can make them
Separate and the I can mix as I make the bottles?
I just want to
Make sure I don’t mess up. This would be my 1st attempt.
Yes, you can definitely make separate tinctures and then mix them together as you bottle them. I actually prefer this method because you have more flexibility in your formulas.