Thursday, December 15, 2011

Tincturing By the Folk Method

Malva neglecta
By early December those roots we harvested before the ground had frozen should be fully dried and ready for tincturing. Such extraction of medicinal constituents in alcohol and water can be done simply (folk method) for family and friends or by using standardized ratios (weight-to-volume method) for sharing outside the home. For this first tincture recipe, I’m going to use the folk method for one of my favorite roots, common mallow (Malva neglecta). You’ll find this plant’s ruffled whorls and pink-striped flowers at untrimmed edges of the yard and garden. The soothing and moistening effects for the lungs and colon are similar to it’s harder to find cousin marshmallow (Althaea officinalis).

  1. Any medicinal plant, fresh or dried, root or aerial parts, can be extracted as tea or tincture, although some herbal remedies are stronger when extracted in alcohol and others in water. In general, aromatic plants are best extracted as tea or low alcohol tincture whereas oily plants are more potent in 50% or greater alcohol;
  2. Apple cider vinegar can be used instead of vodka for those who prefer no alcohol;
  3. Other late fall root options include dandelion from the yard for digestion and bowel function, valerian from the garden for sleep, burdock from the edge of fields for metabolism, and wild yam from the woods for hormonal balance.

MALLOW ROOT TINCTURE (Malva neglecta)  – an anti-inflammatory emollient (soothing moistener) for sore throats, painful coughs, gastritis, peptic ulcers, colitis, and hemorrhoids.

Dried mallow roots
       1. Pull up and scrub 5-10 mallow roots (easiest after a rain);
2. Place these thin roots on a flat screen or tie them together by the stems and hang to dry in a warm room or sunny window for at least 1 week. Thicker roots (>1/4 inch) need to be cut into 1/2 inch or less rounds to allow drying without molding;
3. Coarsely chop the dried roots and place them in a wide-mouthed glass bottle or jar with an airproof lid;
4. Completely cover the chopped roots with vodka (100 proof = 50%);
5. Close the lid tightly to keep out air, using a layer of wax paper under the lid if not snug;
6. Place in a warm dark room for a least two weeks, swirling the bottle or jar daily;
Pressing after straining
 7. Strain off the liquid through unbleached cheesecloth into a storage bottle, wringing the cheesecloth to press out as much tincture as possible;
8. Label the bottle with the genus and species, date, and  tincture method (i.e. Malva neglecta root, 11/21/11, folk method in 50% vodka) and store in a cool dark place;
9. Dispense into a dropper bottle when needed, taking 1-2 droppers 3-4 times a day.

DOCTOR'S NOTE: Specific plant identification to genus and species is essential to avoid poisoning with internal use of herbal medicines - see my December 12 post on Identifying Medicinal Plants.

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