Nasturtium tincture is an easy to make herbal remedy right from your garden. These edible flowers are also medicinal, and nasturtium tincture is valued for it’s antibacterial, anti-fungal, antiviral and anti-inflammatory properties. It has been used to treat has been used to treat bronchitis and sinus infections, as well as help prevent recurrent UTIs.
It’s easy to make at home with just a few simple ingredients!
Nasturtiums are fun annual flowers that brighten up every corner of the garden. They’re easy to grow, even in containers, and they’ll decorate your yard with bright colors all season long.
Many people know that nasturtiums are edible flowers, and they’ll pick them for a peppery addition to salads. Beyond the flowers, the whole plant is edible (and delicious). The leaves are often made into nasturtium pesto, and all manner of other nasturtium recipes.
They’re not just edible, nasturtiums are also medicinal flowers!
The “peppery” flavor in the flowers gives a hint at how they’re used, since they’re a naturally anti-microbial and expectorant. They’re used to treat sinus infections and bronchitis in the upper respiratory tract, as well as UTIs down in the digestive tract.
Their anti-inflammatory properties mean they’re good for the all around body aches from the flu as well, beyond just their respiratory and anti-viral uses.
Nasturtiums are also used topically on minor wounds as a disinfectant, and on minor fungal issues (especially on the nails and feet).
While there are many medicinal uses of nastutriums, one of the easiest and best tested preparations involves making a simple nasturtium tincture.
(Always consult your doctor or a clinical herbalist before trying any new herbal remedy, as there’s always the possibility of unintended consequences, allergic reaction, or interactions with other medication. If you’re harvesting wild plant material, make sure you’re 100% confident in your identification and consult multiple sources for your ID. The following is based on my research and experience, but I don’t claim to have any certifications that would qualify me to advise you on your health. Please do your own research and always verify with multiple reputable sources.)
Benefits of Nasturtium Tincture
Nasturtium is packed with vitamin C, a powerful antioxidant, so it’s already a great contender for defending your body against colds and the flu. On top of that, nasturtium has natural antibacterial, anti-fungal, and antiviral properties to help fight off what ails you when flu season rolls around.
Taken as a tincture in combination with other antibacterial herbs, nasturtium has been shown to have a similar efficacy as antibiotics that are typically taken for bronchitis and acute sinusitis. Similarly, these same antibacterial properties have been proven to be effective when treating other types of infections.
Nasturtiums have such strong antibacterial properties partly because of their high concentrations of limonene, a volatile oil found in most parts of the plant. Limonene is a powerful antimicrobial agent and makes nasturtium (and other plants containing this oil) a bacteria-fighting force to be reckoned with!
When combined with horseradish extract, nasturtium extract has been shown to have a preventative effect on patients who suffer from recurrent lower urinary tract infections (it’s important to note that this study looked at a specific product containing nasturtium and horseradish, so precise amounts might have to be replicated to achieve the same results). To make your own herbal remedies for urinary tract infections and because of the potential seriousness of a UTI, I would highly suggest signing up for an herbal medicine course from Herbal Academy, a trusted source for all things related to herbalism.
Nasturtium extract has also been shown to anti-inflammatory properties by blocking the lipopolysaccharide (LPS) induced inflammatory response that occurs naturally in our bodies via the immune system. Soothing inflammation has a wide range of effects, from relieving cold and flu symptoms to calming an upset stomach.
Cautions: If you have kidney damage, avoid nasturtium altogether.
How to Make Nasturtium Tincture
To make a Nasturtium tincture, you’ll need the following ingredients and equipment:
- Fresh nasturtium flowers (enough to fill a jar)
- Vodka (or any other palatable alcohol that’s at least 80 proof/40 percent)**
- One-pint mason jar with lid (amber glass is ideal, but as long as you keep the tincture away from light at all times it won’t make a difference)
- Fine mesh sieve
- Amber glass tincture bottles (with dropper)
*Never use isopropyl/rubbing alcohol for tinctures (or any other remedy you plan on ingesting). Even in small amounts, this type of alcohol is toxic and meant for external applications only.
**If you’re avoiding alcohol, consider making a herbal infused vinegar, or an alcohol free herbal glycerite.
To make the nasturtium tincture, fill a pint jar with fresh nasturtium flowers. Generally, nasturtiums grow quickly and easily, so they’re not a high spray crop…but do be sure they haven’t been sprayed with anything.
They don’t need to be packed tightly, just a loosely packed jar of flowers will do.
Cover the nasturtium flowers with vodka, or whichever alcohol you’ve chosen, and seal the jar with its lid.
Keep the developing tincture in a cool, dark place and give the jar a gentle shake every few days (or whenever you remember).
After about 4 to 6 weeks, it’s time to strain and bottle the tincture.
To do this, you’ll need to line a funnel and a fine mesh strainer (or a piece of cheesecloth). Carefully strain the tincture into another jar, and then use the funnel to bottle the tincture into small amber glass tincture bottles. Squeeze the flowers to get every last bit of tincture out.
Label the bottles and store in a cool dark place. Tinctures generally maintain potency for 1-2 years.
For more information on the general process, I’d suggest reading this guide to making herbal tinctures at home.
Nasturtium Tincture Dosage
For an exact dosage specific to your body and needs, I’d suggest consulting a clinical herbalist.
Generally, the dosage for tinctures is 1 to 2 droppers full (5ml each) taken 2 to 3 times per day, or as needed.
For colds and flu, nasturtium can be combined with expectorant herbs like elecampane and thyme to help break up congestion and drive off sinus and respiratory infections.
The studies around nasturtium tinctures for UTI’s all involved combining the flowers with fresh horseradish root to make the tincture, so that’s a good choice if you’re trying to use it to prevent UTIs.
Given that, nasturtium flowers might be a good addition to a homemade fire cider, as fire cider almost always includes horseradish and other antimicrobial plants/herbs. If you’re not familiar with fire cider, it’s a type of herbal oxymel, which is a mixture of herbs infused in vinegar and honey.
A herbal infused honey is also a good choice, and would work well with both nasturtium and horseradish for UTI’s, or for a mixture of respiratory herbs to use as a simple honey cough syrup.
If you’re interested in the science behind combining herbs to enhance their effectiveness, I’d recommend taking this online course in Mastering Herbal Formulations from the Herbal Academy. It covers the science of blending herbs into homemade formulations in detail.
Nasturtium tincture is valued for it's antibacterial, anti-fungal, antiviral and anti-inflammatory properties. It has been used to treat has been used to treat bronchitis and sinus infections, as well as help prevent recurrent UTIs.
- Fresh or dried nasturtium flowers
- Vodka or other high-proof alcohol (*see notes for making a glycerine tincture)
- Pint mason jar (or any other jar with a tight-fitting lid)
- Dark amber dropper bottles
- Adhesive label or masking tape (for labeling tincture)
- Fill a clean, empty mason jar with nasturtium flowers.
- Cover the fresh or dried nasturtium with alcohol, making sure the contents of the jar are completely covered.
- Screw the lid on tightly and gently shake the contents of the jar. Place in a cool, dry location away from light, allowing the extraction to occur over the next 6 to 8 weeks.
- Give the contents of the jar a gentle shake every couple of days.
- Keep an eye on the alcohol level, adding more alcohol to cover the plant material if needed.
- Once the tincture is ready to be decanted, line a funnel with cheesecloth and place the tip of the funnel into the neck of a dark amber glass bottle. Pour the solvent and the nasturtium flowers into the cheesecloth-lined funnel, pressing to make sure all of the liquid makes into the bottle.
- Label the tincture with its contents, date of production, recommended dosages, and suggested usages. Store in a cool, dry area away from light.
*To make an alcohol-free glycerine tincture (glycerite): cover dried plant material completely with a preparation of 3 parts food grade glycerin to 1 part distilled water (instead of alcohol). If using fresh nasturtium, use all glycerine and skip the water. As the glycerite tincture develops, it will need to be shaken every day. Proceed following the same directions as if making an alcohol-based tincture.
Disclaimer on Homemade Herbal Remedies
I’ve been foraging wild medicines and treating my family with herbal remedies for the past 20 years, but I’m self-taught. Be aware that I am not a clinical herbalist, and this is based on my own research and personal experience using medicinal plants. I do not claim to have the experience that’d qualify me to advise you on your health, and I’m only providing this as a reference to encourage a broader interest in medicinal plants.
Please use this as a jumping-off point, but always do your own research and verify anything you read with multiple sources.
It’s always possible to have an adverse reaction to any medicinal herb, and plenty of people are allergic to even gentle herbs like chamomile. Always consult your doctor or a certified herbalist before trying any new medicinal plant. Often, they can have unintended reactions in combination with other herbs and supplements, and many herbs have side effects even when they are effective for their intended purpose.
If you are seriously interested in herbal medicine, I’d suggest investing in a course in herbal medicine, and I’d recommend any of the online courses put out by the Herbal Academy of New England. Specifically, the introduction to herbal medicine course and the family herbalist group of courses.
They also have a mushroom course, covering both medicinal and edible mushrooms, and a Botany and Wildcrafting Course. I’ve taken both and they’re informative, inspiring, and artfully presented.
Interested in making other homemade herbal tinctures?
- Yarrow Tincture
- Chickweed Tincture
- Elderberry Tincture
- Dandelion Tincture
- Burdock Tincture
- Echinacea Tincture
Herbal Medicine Making
Herbal medicines don’t stop at tinctures! Learn how to make more homemade medicine…
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