In my practice I like to combine Western Herbal treatment ideas with the energetics of Tibetan Medicine. I carry a large stock of herbs each with their own unique balance of properties and I blend tinctures for individual patients.
Tinctures concentrate the essence of herbs so that smaller doses can be used compared to aqueous solutions. Whilst fresh infusions or decoctions are lovely, tinctures are more convenient to take and help patients to stick to their treatment programme. I make my own tinctures and for the most part these are made with herbs that I have either grown or wildcrafted myself.
I should explain that tinctures are the result of macerating a herb in a mixture of water and a solvent, in my case I use high grade neutral food grade ethanol, which is 98% alcohol. The proportions of water and alcohol are adapted to each individual herb and the medicinal constituents which will be extracted. The aqueous portion extracts the water soluble constituents, and the alcohol takes care of the oil soluble components. If you get the balance right, and use high quality raw material, you will end up with a concentrated bottle of healing vibrancy bursting with all the active ingredients which were in the fresh plant.
The process of tincturing is straight forward. I macerate the herbs in preserving jars, and leave them in a dark place for three weeks, agitating them daily to ensure maximum extraction of the medicinal ingredients. At the end of that time the fluid is drained and the herb residue is pressed using a wine press to get every last bit of goodness out. The resulting liquid is filtered, bottled and labelled. The details of each batch are carefully recorded in my log book.
As my practice gets busier the work of growing, gathering and tincturing herbs becomes more time consuming. In business development terms it would probably be sensible to delegate this aspect of the practice to responsible wholesalers who will despatch stock to me quickly and reliably when I need it. There is a bit of a problem with that plan though because it was my love of herbs which drove me to became a herbalist.
Herbalists have long understood that the scent, taste and form of a plant helps to indicate the actions that it will bring to the body. For example living Agrimony exudes a heady lemony aromatic scent which can so quickly be lost if it is not processed with care, and you only have to brush against a living marshmallow leaf to understand that it has soothing demulcent properties.
Working only with bought in dried herbs or ready made tinctures may be efficient but it would remove a direct connection with the living plants which I cherish so much. This is why I believe that making tinctures myself not only preserves the vibrancy of the herbs but it preserves the vibrancy of my practice.
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