Why Liquid Herbs? The Benefits and How to Take Them
By Katolen Yardley, MNIMH – Medical Herbalist
November 11, 2016
Author of the "Good Living Guide to Natural and Herbal Remedies"
There is such a wonderful array of benefits and ways to use of liquid herbs. It’s enough to excite any herbal medicine enthusiast.
Liquid Herbs 101
Herbs in liquid are generally called tinctures, or sometimes liquid extracts, and are traditionally blended by macerating plant material using a certain percentage of water and alcohol (known collectively as the menstrum). The percentage of alcohol varies for each herb depending upon the unique chemical constituents to be pulled from the plant matrix into the liquid.
Tincture is also an umbrella term which can include macerations of plant material in non alcoholic menstrums such as vegetable glycerine, vinegars or combinations of both; however most often the term “tinctures” is associated with blends created from an alcoholic maceration.
Liquid herbs, a.k.a tinctures, are most often taken internally through oral administration and offer immediate absorption into the bloodstream while requiring very little energy from the digestive tract to break down and absorb herbal contents from a capsule or a tablet also containing fillers.
Some of the benefits of liquid herbs:
- Oral administration is a great way of providing medicine to a youngster as the dosage can be easily adjusted
- When the medicine or its therapeutic activity warrants, it can also be added into other recipes including salves, water based creams, lotions or syrups, or other medicine making recipes
- Many plants offer an array of medicinal actions in and on the body. Selective herbs provide antiseptic, emollient and vulnerary properties when applied topically and directly to the surface of the skin.
- Tinctures can be used for their chemical constituents, nutrients including vitamins and minerals and be used to maintain and re-establish whole body health and for the treatment and prevention of specific health issues
- Clinical studies now confirm that liquid herbs can be used to assist in the functioning of organ systems in the body assisting conditions such as fluid retention, aiding removal of waste material and toxins, reduce inflammation, support digestion as well as enhance immunity, endocrine or hormonal function; thus assisting the body in self regulating its own function to minimise dis-ease.
- Tinctures are convenient. They arecompact in size and fit easily in a backpack or purse for day time use or kept by the bedside for administration in the evening.
- Tinctures and liquid extracts are potent as there is a full spectrum of chemical constituents from a plant which are pulled into the menstrum.
- Tinctures can be used as a single medicine or taken in combination offering synergistic benefit to the body.
- As compared to pharmaceutical patented medicine there are minimal adverse / side effects.
The best way to administer
Liquid extracts and tinctures are ideally best diluted in warm water –as the warmth facilitates the delivery into the body and can help improve circulation. Placing tinctures immediately under the tongue can be done- but often at the cost of burning the sensitive tissues – diluted in warm water is preferred. Liquid herbs can also be diluted into juice, a smoothie or herbal tea.
For those individuals who might be sensitive or have any concerns about the alcohol content; simply boil water, measure the needed dose of tincture into a glass and pour boiling water over the tincture and cool down to room temperature; the majority of alcohol will evaporate. When storing these plant liquids, keep away from direct sunlight and heat and keep the lid securely fastened,
Extraction is a critical consideration
When considering the various methods of extraction of plant constituents on the market, alcohol extraction offers one of the highest delivery systems of a wide assortment of chemical components in the plants. It also avoids using toxic solvents such as propylene glycol which is both harmful to both the environment and to the body). Alcohol can extract and stabilize many of the more stubborn chemical constituents found in a plant such as: lipids, resins, and many alkaloids and the preservative properties inhibit many enzymatic reactions and ensure an extended shelf life. Alcohol also offers antimicrobial properties so thereby providing a secondary benefit for using plants topically and internally.
Be sure to consider and include a liquid herbal solution in your natural health and wellness routine. Talk to your local independent health and wellness store or a natural health expert to learn more.