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What are tinctures?

June 01, 2016 Jan . RSS Feed

Today we are talking about tinctures or plant multifunctional mixtures. - WWhat are tinctures, how are they prepared and what distinguishes them in use?
The term tincture is derived from the Latin word tingere: to colour. In general, a tincture can be understood as an alcoholic drug extract in liquid form. The diversity of nature and its complex interactions can be extracted in a tincture and thus made available in preserved form.
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The production of tinctures or also called "extracts" has been common practice for a long time. Traditionally, the "active ingredients" of medicinal plants are "extracted" in alcohol, i.e. in the mixture of plant and alcohol, the active ingredients pass into the alcohol. In most cases, ethanol is used as the alcohol. Just a few advantages of ethanol are that it can be mixed with water in any ratio, preserves the extract and has very good dissolving properties when extracting the active ingredients. In addition, the alcohol does not cause the cell membranes to swell, which is often the result of water extraction, and thus brings a much higher yield.
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In the production of tinctures, a basic distinction can be made between two processes: maceration and percolation. Maceration is a very simple process in which only the drug, in our case a plant, is poured into a vessel with the extraction liquid (ethanol). The ratio of drug and alcohol (extraction content), as well as the concentration of the alcohol, depends on the chosen drug. The duration of the extraction also depends on the individual plant and application. The extraction process can be supported by daily shaking of the mixture. Percolation, also called continuous extraction, differs essentially from maceration (standing extraction) in that the tincture is not prepared in a vessel over a longer period of time, but the alcohol is poured through a sieve with the crushed plant parts. A higher yield can be achieved with percolation, if necessary. With both methods it is important to always store the finished tincture protected from light and well sealed.
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In addition to the choice of extraction method, a further distinction can be made between tinctures from dry plants and fresh plant extracts. As both names already reveal, tinctures can be extracted from dried plants or alternatively made with fresh plants. Fresh plant extracts often still contain a fine fragrance and the aroma of the fresh plant. As far as the products of the processes are concerned, the tinctures can be preserved without chemical preservation or heating due to their alcohol content.
Tinctures are an old tried and tested method for preserving valuable medicinal plants. In the extraction process, the most important ingredients can be preserved and made available for a long period of time. Another advantage in the use of tinctures is the possibility of precise dosing through a dropper. In general, tinctures can be used internally and externally. Internally, they can be taken undiluted or diluted in water, tea or juice.
The product Pino Gordo, for example, is produced as a fresh plant extract. The advantage of this is that the valuable ingredients of the pollen can be preserved directly after harvesting and we do not need any industrial intermediate processing etc. during production. The result of the gentle processing should thus be noticeable.
The statements in this article refer primarily to the work of Ursel Bühring. Cf. Bühring, Ursel: "Praxis-Lehrbuch der modernen Heilpflanzenkunde, 2005." Sonntag Verlag, Stuttgart.


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