This past summer I asked the question, "Can I provide myself medicine from foraging for plants instead of going to the drugstore down the street?" I take a handful of different medicines along the course of the year. It's all real basic stuff: Ibuprofen, antacid, athlete's foot spray and 24 hour allergy pills.
With "herbalist" recipes it's easy for people to roll their eyes and not give them much credit. I have a handful of books with plant identifications and the plant's medicine in them. It's easy to look at these books from a Boy Scout or survivalist point of view and view them as novelties, discrediting them for any "real life" situations. Using plants as medicine is new to me and I question a lot of stuff including, how to make medicine and does it work.
I have taking some chances and made medicine from a few different plants. It hasn't always been exactly the way I expected it to be, but I have been surprised to find results.
A tincture is basically a plant that you let soak in vodka for two weeks. There are some rules like: a certain amount of alcohol to a certain amount of plant material and a certain amount of time. I want things to be simple and I am exploring so I roughly followed those rules.
I read somewhere that dandelion helps with heartburn and I kept that in back of my mind until I was in a position to make medicine from it. With the dandelion root, I roughly chopped 1/4 pint of the roots and added 1/2 pint of alcohol and let it sit at least two weeks, strained and added to a dropper bottle.
I want to add one thing to that. You need to commit to buying good vodka. That is where the faith comes in. Good alcohol is expensive. Of course local/organic is the best but, you need to buy alcohol in a glass bottle. Alcohol in plastic takes things from the bottle and that's not good. I bought 100 prof in a glass bottle. Vodka is typically 80 prof and that is the minimum alcohol content for tinctures.
I found a glass dropper bottle at the co-op and put an ounce of the tincture in that. I have been using three droppers full in eight ounces of water to combat heartburn. The stuff taste pretty hardcore: strong alcohol and dandelion root, but it works and I made it!
Well, I keep on asking myself if I could distill my own alcohol- Isn't that illegal? I don't know the process, at all. If I could make some hack alcohol distiller to make tincture- I would. None the less this is a victory!