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Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Making a Double Lemon Balm Tincture


So many of you have probably not only heard of tinctures, but have already made plenty of your own.  I have made them in the past, (I mean MANY moons ago...) and have recently been making them again.  I stopped making them because life got busy.  However, seeing how easy and inexpensive they are to make and use, it seems silly not to make them.  In this post I will show you how to easily double tincture whatever herb or root you are using.  I found this technique last winter when I was researching on You Tube on how to tincture again.  It makes so much sense, I had to try it myself.



I am using Lemon Balm AND I am tincturing it fresh.  I've dried it before and it tastes like pretty much nothing.  This is one of those herbs that don't hold on to their essential oils very well.  Lemon Balm itself is a calming tonic herb.  It was generally used to help promote an overall sense of well-being.  It's also soothing and sedative, which is why I'm making some!  I plan on using it before going to bed and for those stressful days.  I normally use Valerian to help relax, but that stuff makes me VERY sleepy (not good during the day) and I'm figuring that making a tincture formula will help me regulate how much I need as opposed to using an herb in a capsule.


On to tincturing!  Get your Vodka, and make it at least 80 -100 proof for the best extractive qualities.  I have mine ready to pour...


It's a pretty simple process.  Gather your lemon balm, making sure to use the uppermost leaves for the best quality and pack it tightly into a clean, dry, sterile jar.  I am using the ever popular canning jar, pint size to be exact.  Make sure to macerate or crush the leaves as much as possible to get those essential oils flowing...


Fill to the top with your vodka, label and cap.  Make sure all the leaves are covered.  I usually add more vodka after a day because the leaves absorb some of the liquid.


On my label, I put the date of when the tincture is done.  It's usually four weeks.  You can put both start and finish date if you want.  I sometimes let it go a little longer.  When it's done, you will need to strain your tincture into a clean jar or container.  Notice the leaf color change?



Here's a single tincture of lemon balm. I love the nice amber color.  This is fine to bottle and use right now, BUT we are going to do this again...!



Now, simply follow the first steps again, and add the first tincture to the fresh lemon balm leaves. 


Here we go with Round #2...top off with more fresh vodka if your tincture doesn't cover the leaves you have in the jar.


Label for four weeks...



Then strain, you know the drill and this is what you get...can you tell which one is the double tincture??!!!


Single tincture on the left...Double tincture on the right.  Amazing!

Well, there you have it.  A double tinctured lemon balm.  You can of course, do a triple tincture but I doubt the color will show up much darker on camera.  I will definitely triple tincture next summer when my lemon balm is in full swing.  To make more of a concentrate for the same amount of tincture is a great idea AND I'm glad I fell across this little jewel of information on You Tube. 

Remember too that you can use this technique for all your tinctures; just always start with fresh material.  It could be pricey if you are buying the plant material, but if you have your own, like echinacea, valerian, chamomile, peppermint, elderberry...you get the idea.  The cost is minimal.  (Don't forget to pin this so you can save the "how-to's" for later!)

What's your favorite tincture to make for your herbal medicine cabinet?  Blessings everyone!

(Want another great use for Lemon Balm?  Check out this post, Tea-licious with Lemon Balm.)


 
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53 comments:

  1. Wow, this is very interesting! I have a lot of lemon balm in my garden so I really want to try this. I am new to tinctures so thanks for sharing this post!

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    1. So glad you like...you may like to check out my post, "Tea-licious with Lemon Balm" for a great summer tea recipe too. Blessings!

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    2. I am looking how to make an ginger extract to use for arthritis in hands. Nancy would you recommend it the same as lemon balm extract? Is there a special way to do it? I would appreciate an answer :))
      My lemon balm extract is almost done;)

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  2. Thanks for reminding me I have lemon balm growing in the garden! Thinking of adding catnip as well.

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    1. Catnip would be really good too. I kept mine simple because I didn't want to fall asleep during the day! I only grew catnip once because the neighborhood cats decimated it in herb beds. Have you been able to grow it in a container?

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    2. Just in case you aren't aware, Lemon Balm is quite aggressive and will take over your garden, you may want to keep it in a pot! I learned this the hard way LOL.

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  3. Lemon balm tincture is a favorite but I never thought of doing twice. Thanks for the inspiration. I'll have to wait till next spring to try it out because everything has slowed down now.

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    1. I really liked the idea of double and triple tincturing too. Makes so much sense and once you grow lemon balm, there's lots to go around! Thanks for reading... :)

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  4. Thanks, I've added this to my lemon balm board :)

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    1. Your welcome...I'm following your Pinterest board...thanks!! :)

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  5. You've just educated me. Honestly never heard of this process before, thanks for sharing it - you learn something every day.

    First time follower via GFC through wednesday hop.

    Hope you can pay my blog a visit sometime :)

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    1. Thanks for stopping by Michelle...will definitely give your blog a visit! Blessings! Nancy

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  6. Hi Nancy! You left such a lovely comment on my blog, I'm glad you found my dry skin info useful ^^
    Excuse my ignorance, but what are tinctures used for exactly? I know they're used medicinally but not their specific purpose.
    I don't have many herbs but the neighbours do and they're always leaving me bags full of them on my doorstep ^^ I'd love to do more with them other than spice food or drink them as infusions. xx

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    1. That's a great question. Tinctures are a concentrated method of getting herbal medicine into your system a bit faster. I like them because it's much less liquid than an infusion and easier to take. You are basically making a concentrate from the herbs and using a half dropper full in a 4 oz cup of water to drink. I use less water so I can just drink it quickly. The alcohol is able to draw the medicinal qualities of the herbs into the liquid and because it's alcohol it will penetrate into your liver bringing the medicinal qualities with it. If you look up into my post, you'll see I use lemon balm for its calming and sedative properties...I also am making a liver tincture to help cleanse my liver from dried herbs I purchased from the The Bulk Herb Store. Hope this helps! It's great you are interested in making some, they are so easy to make and really do make a difference! Blessings, Nancy

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    2. This is fantastic, easy to make. Do u know if stevia extract can be dan this way with out cooking it? I use lemon balm for years but as tea. Now I find the way to make it easy. Sometimes I do not feel like making the tea. U say a half of dropper. can u translate it to teasspoons. Where do u buy dark bottles with droppers? Thank you so much for the tutorial:))

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    3. Hi Danuta. I have never made Stevia extract this way but have read onlne how others have done this. You could make a small batch to see how you liked it. I may try and make a glycerine stevia tincture this winter.
      A half of a dropper of tincture may be a half of a teaspoon...I'm not sure of the measurements. I generally use two full dropperfuls of tincture and that may be roughly a teaspoon. I bought these jars a long time ago but you can find them online at Mountain Rose Herbs. Have a great day!

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    4. what herbs do youvuse in your liver tincture?

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  7. Very interesting - I have never tried to make a tincture before.

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    1. They are super easy and convenient to use. I would buy them for our two young sons (those were made with glycerin though...non-alcoholic) and it was so easy to sneak them into their other teas and drinks. It always good to try making one and seeing how it works out for you. Thanks for stopping by! :)

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  8. I'm seeing alot of posts lately about tinctures and I love that! Skipping the medicine aisle at the grocery store would not bother me a bit! :)

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    1. For sure...making some of our own remedies has been a huge help! :)

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  9. This is a great way to use lemon balm. By the way, I hung lemon balm and mint leaves to dry. Combined them, to make a herbal tea - it is wonderful. And the lemon balm comes through strong...not missing at all.

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    1. That's good to know. A dehydrator can "overdry" if I'm not monitoring it...It's good you can hang it to dry. Thanks!

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  10. I love it, but heres the stupid question, How do you use it, do you use it in drops in tea maybe or wot.... Roberta x

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    1. Great question. For lemon balm, I take one or two dropperfuls up to 3X a day. A dropper full is approximately 30 drops and two dropperfulls equals one 8 oz cup of tea. Since lemon balm is a tonic nerve and safe to use, it's an ideal tincture to begin making tinctures with and a very easy and inexpensive plant to grow. I put my dropperfuls in a small amount of water and drink it fast...(like 2-3 oz). It takes me forever to drink tea and this way I can feel the benefits of the tincture much faster. Hope this helps! Here's a link for more info. I found on tinctures...http://herblore.com/service/index.php?pg=article_tinctures

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  11. I have a question, I am trying to learn about tincturing, and am growing lemon balm in the garden now. How do I know when it the time is right to harvest and use for tinctures?

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    1. That's a great question Shauna. I harvest as there is nice green growth on the plants. I only use the top 1/3 or 1/4 of the plant tips. Check out my other post on "Tealicious with Lemon Balm" to see the harvest. I always tincture the leaves before the plants flower for the best tincture. If you regularly prune your plants, you should have a constant supply of lemon balm leaves! :)

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  12. Thanks for that post! I make a double infused lemon balm oil. Im definitely going to try this!

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    1. Lemon balm oil? That sounds really interesting...what do you use it for? :)

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    2. I use olive oil infusions for salads, Bruechetta and body butter.

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  13. Wondered if you could tell me how much dried lemon balm to add to a quart jar. Can you add too much? I will be growing my own beginning this year but until then I have to use dried. Also, I've heard it's good for migraines. Any thoughts or comments on that? Can I add willow bark to the tincture?
    Thank you so much for this tutorial. I love it!

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    1. Hi Renee. I have never used dry leaves but I would think the more you can add the better. I would just make sure that all the dried leaves are thoroughly covered by the alcohol. I do fight migraines but mine are related to tension headaches. I primarily use lemon balm if I'm feeling anxious or stressed and as a preventative. I also use it before sleeping. I would think that you could try it at the very beginning stages of a migraine if you know your triggers and see if it helps. I have found lemon balm to be very calming and have noticed a difference after taking it.
      I would think you could add willow bark to the tincture or you may want to tincture it separately and combine the liquids in a glass to see if they work well in combination for you. I have heard herbalists say that it's a good idea to try herbs singly to see how each one works on and for you. You can them combine what you have an idea of how they affect and help you.

      Hope this helps...blessings!

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  14. Hi,
    Please can you tell me how much lemon balm you use? I also suffer with tension migraines and could do with something to help me relax!
    Thanks xox

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    1. Thanks for asking Debbie. I don't measure out an exact amount of leaves but rather fill the jar you will be using with leaves mashed down until it's about 3/4 filled. The more leaves the stronger the tincture. I fill it about 3/4 filled so the liquid will be sure to cover the leaves as they expand a bit. I prefer to make the tincture very strong so it increases its effectiveness. I hope this helps answer your question.

      I also use lemon balm together with valerian capsules (or tincture if you want) to help with tension. A rice bag heated on the tense area also helps me too. :)

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  15. Hi Nancy,
    I have another question for you. I got my lemon balm plant and have gotten my first cutting off of it. I made my tincture with vegetable glycerin because I want to share it with my 8 year old. I heard that the glycerin doesn't absorb the essential oils as well as alcohol so I thought it would be a good idea to run it through my Magic Bullet. I had already put it in the glycerin and it really mashed it. I know I'll have to strain it through a cheese cloth before I can tincture it again. Should I run it through the Bullet when I tincture it the second time or will pulverizing it mess it up. Should I not do it at all when I tincture? I really want to get the most essential oils out of it that I can. I sure appreciate all that you do for all of us!
    Renee'

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    1. Hi Renee. I have never made a tincture from glycerine although I did use them extensively when our guys were little ones. I would think it would be good to break up your plant material in order to tincture but if they are macerated too much it sounds like it would be difficult to filter it out of your end product. I would think I would "chew" the leaves up a bit but not too much the second time around. Hope this helps. I also included a link to another post about glycerin tinctures for you to check out their info...
      http://www.modernalternativemama.com/blog/2012/01/16/monday-health-wellness-how-to-make-a-glycerin-tincture/#.UeR9j6xcV_A

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  16. I followed your link and emailed her a question. Waiting for an answer. I noticed she said glycerin should be cut with filtered water so that was helpful.(in case anyone else uses glycerine) Thank you for your help again. On a side note it is fun to see how our passions influence our children. Our dog who we believe is suffering from an internal yeast infection, which means he needs to stay away from shampoos with oatmeal in them as it feeds the yeast, came back from grooming very itchy. Maddie says she believes they used a vegetable glycerin based shampoo. LOL Pretty astute for a kid. She must be listening to her mama. Thank you again for all of your help.

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    1. That's awesome! It's great to know how you're passing on valuable info to your kids too...keep up the great work!

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  17. Hi Nancy,
    This may be a silly question, but I can assume that the tincture will last a long time due to the alcohol, but we all know what they say about assuming..lol Do you have any idea what the shelf life is of tinctures?

    Thanks for the recipe:)
    Petra

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    1. That's a great question! I generally use mine up in a year, but depending on the plant material, I have read that they are good from 2-5 years. I have some lemon balm tincture over 10 years old that I found and it was still good or ok to take, but the efficacy of the plant materials will break down over time. So, it's better to make the amount of tincture you may be planning on using within a year or two. Tinctures made from roots, bark and seeds may have a longer effective shelf life. Hope this helps!

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    2. Thanks for the info. It is really helpful to know these things. Appreciate it. I have a lemon balm plant yet to be harvested. I bought it knowing it's supposed to be good for you, but had not thought past perhaps making a tea at best. I am so glad I found this recipe to be able to get more mileage out of the harvest. Thanks again!

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  18. How can one make a non-alcoholic tincture? As a recovering person, I can't use these!

    Judy

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    1. If you look up through the comments, I posted a link as a reply to another question on glycerin tinctures... :)

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  19. I made it two jars, this is the best idea ever. It is sometimes tough to get to make and drink tea :)) . I made also stevia extract but is not as sweet as the store one. Thank you the Melissa aka Lemon Balm. :)

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  20. I read somewhere that with alcohol tinctures you can add the dosage to really hot water to evaporate the alcohol so you can use it while breast feeding or for the kids have you ever heard of doing this? If so is it just like boiling water and how long should I let it sit for?

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    1. From what I have read, the alcohol will not completely evaporate off by using this method It would still contain the alcohol. Plus, I would think that the boiling water could possibly destroy the herbal benefits in lemon balm as this tincture is never heated. I always used glycerin tinctures for our kids (ot teas) and they seemed to work fine. Hope this helps!

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  21. is it possible to get side effects from tintures ? considering that it is vodka .

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    1. Using alcohol in such small quantities (such as a dropperful or two) would not bring on any side effects. I have been taking it this way for years without any repercussions and I am sensitive to alcohol. You may want to try a commercial tincture first and see how comfortable you feel about it. You can also look into glycerin tinctures or herbal teas if an alcohol tincture doesn't work out for you. For me they are simply convenient.

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  22. okay , can you use alcohol tinctures as an ingredient for making body butters?

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    1. I am not sure. If the recipe calls for liquid, you may be able to put a few drops of tincture instead of water. It may add a fragrance but not sure what the health benefits would be.

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  23. I've made lemon balm oil for years using olive oil. I use the technique you described above. I allow mine to sit in a sunny window for 6 weeks and strain. I have used it on bruechetta and strain salads in place of any raw recipe. I will also chew the leaves or put them in my salads. I will try the tinture. I have also used my oil in my whipped bbody butters. My Rosemary and Thyme are also made into oil infusions and used in my body shrubs.

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