A simple and effective way to preserve the medicinal quality of a wild medicinal plant is to make a tincture using the plant and a food-safe alcohol. Tinctures are more powerful and last longer than dried herbs, and you can even make your own combination formulas.

You’ll need three things to make your own tinctures–a strong alcohol, the dried plants, and plenty of time for soaking. Vodka is an affordable and common alcohol that can absorb and preserve the active compounds that you wish to keep, but the best choice is a high-proof product called Everclear, which is almost pure alcohol. This may be hard to find, though: It’s not legal to purchase or possess in some areas.

Select a glass jar (preferably wide-mouth) with a tight fitting lid. Cut, crush, chop or otherwise break up the dried plant material that you wish to use and then pack it tightly into the jar. Pour enough alcohol over the plant material to cover it slightly, and put the lid on it. Let the jar sit in a cool, dark place for six weeks, but shake the jar once every day. Avoid letting sunlight hit your jar, as it can have a negative effect on the tincture-making process. Pour off the alcohol, and that’s your tincture. Easy, right?
Peppermint Tincture**_: Add 5 to 10 drops of peppermint tincture to a glass of water or other beverage, and drink slowly to relieve upset stomach. It’s good for indigestion, colic, and hangover; aromatherapists use it to improve concentration and diminish depression.

Burdock Tincture: This tincture helps your liver and kidneys function better, and it can be of great help for gout and skin disorders, and as a general tonic. Add 5 to 10 drops to water and drink once or twice daily.

Blackberry Root Tincture: Dried blackberry roots can be made into a tincture that helps to gently dry up diarrhea. Start off with 10 drops every few hours, and continue until the symptoms abate.

Tincture Do’s
– Use strong alcohol. This keeps the plant material from rotting, and it strips out the useful medicinal compounds of the plant.

– Strain the plant material from the alcohol with a piece of cheesecloth lying in a strainer, over a bowl. Wring out the plant stuff to get every drop of tincture you can.

– Pour your finished tincture into dark-colored bottles, preferably with an “eye dropper” in the cap.

– Keep your tincture in a cool, dark place for up to one year.

Tincture Don’ts
– Pregnant or nursing women, anyone with gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD), or anyone with liver disease should avoid ingesting peppermint tincture or other strong peppermint products.

– Never use rubbing alcohol or anything with methanol as an ingredient. All tinctures should be made from food/beverage-grade alcohols.

Ever made a tincture or used one medicinally? Tell us about your experience by leaving a comment.