While commercially prepared tinctures can cost $4 an ounce or more, making Echinacea tincture from leaves is easy and effective. Echinacea is a popular herbal supplement used superficially for the treatment of skin injuries and to internally rev up your immune system.
What Is Echinacea?
Echinacea, also known as the American coneflower, is a common herb with many benefits. Three species of Echinacea, Echinacea angustifolia, Echinacea pallida, and Echinacea purpurea, are used medicinally. Native Americans recommend taking Echinacea to enhance the immune system and minimize symptoms of colds. All parts of the plant can be consumed, and the Echinacea plant can be either dried or pressed fresh to expel juice.
What Is a Tincture?
A tincture is a liquid derivative of a fresh herb or other natural plant substance, often used as a dietary supplement or medicinal treatment. Alcohol, glycerin, or vinegar is used to stabilize the chemical compounds in the herb, making it potent for up to two years. It's easy to find commercially prepared tinctures from a naturopath or homeopath, but because Echinacea is so easy to grow, making Echinacea tincture from leaves is simple and involves just a few commonly found ingredients.
For making an Echinacea tincture, you'll need:
- Fresh or dried Echinacea leaves (add the root, too, if you have it, as the root is believed to contain the most intense illness-fighting properties)
- Glass, air-tight canning jar
- Alcohol (brandy, vodka, and rum are all recommended, as long as it is at least 25 percent alcohol)
- Cheesecloth for straining
- Dark brown glass eyedropper bottle for storing and dispensing your tincture
- Chop fresh Echinacea leaves (and roots, if available) into small pieces. If using dried Echinacea, crumble the leaves.
- Place the leaves in an air-tight glass canning jar and add enough alcohol to cover the plant material.
- Store the jar in a dark place to steep for at least two weeks, shaking the jar to stir every two to three days. The plant material may absorb the liquid, so add enough additional alcohol to cover the plants as needed.
- After two weeks or more, the alcohol will be dark brown. Place the cheesecloth in a sieve and pour the contents of the can through, pressing down on the plant material to extract all liquid.
- Discard the sediment and leftover plant material. Store the liquid in a labeled and dated, dark brown glass eyedropper bottle. The tincture should last up to two years.
The exact recommended dosage of your tincture will vary, depending on the strength of your preparation, how long you allowed it to steep, whether you made it from fresh or dried plant material, and whether or not you added the Echinacea roots or used only the leaves. However, a general guideline for an adult is one dropper, two to three times a day, for up to a week. If your symptoms persist, consult a healthcare professional for advice.
Important Precautions for Making Echinacea Tincture from Leaves
While studies have shown that Echinacea is safe for pregnant women and children, please consult with your doctor or naturopath before treating any condition. Also, though rare, some individuals can exhibit allergies or experience side effects. If you suffer from asthma, hay fever, or other weed allergies, you may want to avoid consuming Echinacea.
- Initial Author: Lain Ehmann