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.
It’s 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.
None the less, 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?