Tinctures: Do It Yourself Herbal Medicine

As my fingers strike the keys, my throat burns, it feels like a small match as been lit between my tonsils. My temples pulsate to the tempo of my typing. I'm in trouble. I've got something resembling a cross between a sinus infection and a cold. Luckily, I've got an antidote. As cold and flu season looms ominously before us, I have been busy in my kitchen preparing herbal tinctures.

I rely on tinctures as both preventative medicine and as my first line of defense against colds and minor upsets.

Over the next few weeks, I'll be posting a series of tincture recipes that you can make in your kitchen.


What is a tincture?

A tincture is a herbal infusion, where fresh or dried herbs are blended with either alcohol or (in the case of this recipe) apple cider vinegar. The result is a liquid medicine taken usually by the teaspoonful.

Tinctures date back to the Egyptian times where formulas for cordial infusions were found and preserved. Tinctures were used prevalently in Medieval Europe and are a part of traditional Chinese, Indian (Ayurvedic) and African herbal medicine.

I first encountered the making of tinctures during my Ayurvedic studies. Tincture making is empowering and surprisingly easy.

Here is my recipe for an apple cider vinegar based tincture to combat coughs-

Cough Tincture

Handful of fresh basil

1 tablespoon of dried anise seed

1 clove of ginger

apple cider vinegar


Wash and chop the fresh basil on a cutting board then place the cuttings inside a clean mason jar.

Wash and chop your ginger and ad the slices to the mason jar along with the anise seed.

Pour your apple cider vinegar over the herbs until they are covered.

Affix the lid tightly and shake vigorously.

Store the mason jar in the fridge for two weeks shaking daily.

After two weeks, you'll be ready to strain the liquid using a cheesecloth or strainer into amber or cobalt bottles.

Store your tincture in the refrigerator and use within six months.

For adults 1 tspn when needed. For children 1/2 tspn when needed.  For toddlers 1/4 tspn when needed.

*This recipe uses apple cider vinegar so that it is safe for children and pregnant women. You may substitute 80 proof vodka.