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A Tinker’s Tincture
BY HEATHER SCHLEGEL
EXCERPTED FROM JACARÉ NO.1

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A Note to Fellow Tinkers: To our knowledge, these recipes have not killed anyone yet. However, if you tinker, you do so at your own risk. We cannot be held responsible for the results of your experimentations. Caveat tinker!

As a continual experimenter I became interested in tinctures. A tincture is the essence of one or more herbs distilled in alcohol, usually 60–80 proof vodka. The tinctures are personalized depending on the need. They are a kind of medicine, and people interested in an alternative to modern medicine find some remedies in tinctures.

Almost any herb can be used for a tincture. Careful research is essential as well as a good reason to make one. I'll go through the basic recipe here and then give a sample one that I made with very good results.

Basic Tincture Recipe
4 oz. dried herbs (or 8 oz. fresh herbs, or even a mixture of the two)
500–700mL 60–80 proof vodka
clear, hermetically sealed bottle or jar
cheesecloth and bowl
dark glass bottle
a warm place
time

Put the herbs in the jar, add the vodka, seal. Label the jar with the ingredients and date. Place in a warm, dark accessible place. Shake the mixture in the jar for about a minute twice a day for two to three weeks. The longer you keep it in the jar, the stronger your tincture will be. Drain liquid by straining it through the cheesecloth and into the bowl. Pour it into the dark bottle and put it in the refrigerator. Label this container so you don't forget what it is and mistake it for wine. Record the start and end date and what herbs you used. Take in small doses-either from a dropper or a small shot glass.

Some tinctures taste very bad. The one below is very effective, but tastes awful. Remember: tinctures are medicines.

This is a tincture I created to help me relax and deal with the stress of living in a big city. I used skullcap (an herbal relaxer and strengthener), passion flower (another relaxer), and valerian (a very strong nervine). These three herbs work very well together. I would not suggest combining more than three or four different herbs per tincture. Two to three herbs blended give synergetic effects.

2 oz. valerian
1 oz. passion flower
1 oz. skullcap

Here are some herbs I take on a regular basis — either daily or as needed. Most of these are easy to find in vitamin pill form.

Ginseng: For vitality and energy. It is best to take ginseng for a few weeks and let it build up in your system. When you first try ginseng you may immediately feel like you have more energy.

Gingko Biloba: For added memory and more brain power overall. Take it when you study.

Echinacia: As a general heal-all. This herb is good when combined with other herbs to fight infections.

Goldenseal: Good for detoxifying your body. Also tremendously helpful for any healing that has to do with sinuses or mucus membranes. For colds, a mixture of echinacia and goldenseal is effective. Treat the herbs as you would an antibiotic and take steadily for 10 days. Other tips for fighting colds: Cut out cheese from your diet and of course add as many fresh fruits as possible.

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