Rabbit tobacco is one of my favorite herbs for the cold & flu season. I’ve already written about Rabbit Tobacco a good bit here on the blog: how to ID it and how I use it. I mostly think of it as a great congestion remedy. But I recently saw herbalist Darryl Patton talking about how he really likes Rabbit Tobacco as a tincture for viruses. Huh! I’m always up for a new use for an herb I already like.
So I decided to test it out, and share how EASY it is to create a very simple tincture. And I’m going to bust a common myth about tinctures too at the end of this post.
Why Make a Tincture?
Tinctures are plant extracts made with strong alcohol. Not the tastiest things out there, but the substrate pulls out the strong medicinal properties of the herb so well that you really usually only use a tiny amount. They’re so very potent! That’s one reason I like to make tinctures: they are concentrated herbal power.
The other reason is that a tincture has a very long shelf life. They can last for years…far outlasting dried herbal matter.
All you need is the herb that you plan to use, a small jar with a non-metal lid, and a good 80 proof alcohol. I like to use rum. I started out using vodka, but as another friend said, “It makes my tinctures nastier than they need to be.” So true! So choose a non-nasty, or at least a lesser nasty tasting alcohol.
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To Make a Tincture
Start by taking your dried herb, and filling your jar a little more than halfway full. Since I’m just testing this out, and since I usually can find a fair amount of rabbit tobacco each year, I’m just going to make up a little pint jar. Some people make tinctures by the quart.
Why not fill the jar all the way with herbs? Dried herbs especially usually swell up a good bit once you add the alcohol.
Next, pour in your rum.
You want the level to be just above the plant matter.
Now, it’s really a great idea to use dark glass containers for tinctures to help preserve the potency, but I’ll just stick this jar in a dark place. It’ll only hold the tincture for the first few months anyway before I strain it off into a dark glass dropper bottle. (Amazon Prime affiliate link) Like this.
I already stuck a label on it to get it ready. I like to cover the label with a piece of clear packing tape to make it more waterproof. And because I’m a messy, messy pourer.
Once your jar is filled, put the lid on tightly. If you only have metal lids, you can always put plastic wrap over the jar before putting the lid on. This will prevent the alcohol from rusting out the lid.
That’s it! You’re done!
I like to place it in a dark spot to steep, and check on it the next day to add a bit more rum if the herbs are sticking up above the liquid.
A Tincture Myth
There is a myth going around that you should only use a tincture after it’s steeped for 6-8 weeks. While it’s true that the longer you let it sit, the more potent it becomes, it’s NOT true that a younger tincture is of no value.
Just to show you, I took another photo of my tincture just 4 days after making it. Notice that the rum started out crystal clear in the above photo…
and now it’s definitely picked up the color and scent of the rabbit tobacco. I’d feel comfortable using it right now, and in fact, I DID use a bit because I was starting to feel a little under the weather. I can definitely taste the herbs already, and it’s good stuff! But I’ll keep it steeping for several more weeks or months to maximize the strength.
Using Rabbit Tobacco Tincture
With tinctures, dosage amounts vary depending on the plant you’ve used, and with the person taking it.
Herbalist Darryl Patton suggests a good general guideline for using Rabbit Tobacco tincture as 30 drops (1/2 teaspoon) 3x a day with meals. He also mentions that the tincture is his choice for viruses, but he prefers decoctions (teas or steams) for shutting down mucous producing cells and to take advantage of the drying actions of rabbit tobacco. You can read more of Darryl’s writing on Rabbit Tobacco here.
I plan to use this tincture when we’re fighting a virus, and I’ll still use the tea and steam method for upper respiratory infections and gunky coughs.
What’s your favorite tincture to make and use?
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