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A tincture is a concentrated herbal extract prepared with alcohol which can be kept for long periods of time. The alcohol acts as a preservative, and its final concentration in the tincture should not be less than about 30% — hence, for home preparation, spirits such as brandy, vodka, gin or rum are normally employed. Because of its concentrated strength only small doses of a tincture are required, and it is a particularly useful form of preparation where herbs are to be taken over an extended period of time.
A tincture is prepared by combining 100 grams of powdered or finely cut dried herbs with 500 ml of alcohol such as brandy, vodka, gin or rum. Kept in a sealed bottle and shaken daily, the herbs are left to extract for about two weeks. The mixture is then strained through a fine cloth or filter. The herbal residue is discarded and the liquid bottled, preferably in dark glass.
The amount of tincture to be taken in a single dose varies from just a few drops to around two teaspoons. Generally speaking, where the dose for dried herbs prepared as an infusion or decoction is given as, say, '2-5 grams', the equivalent dose for a tincture would be 2-5 ml (a half to one teaspoonful). In other words the dose for dried herbs in grams is converted to milliliters for a tincture.
The amount of alcohol consumed in this way is quite small and does not present a problem to most people. But if the use of alcohol must be restricted even at this level, the extract may be prepared with vinegar instead.
Tinctures normally have a storage life of several years. Administered orally, they are usually taken in diluted form, the required dose added to a small glass of water. Sometimes used externally, they may be diluted to form a mouthwash, skin lotion or compress.
Tinctures should not be confused with fluid extracts. These are highly concentrated commercial preparations requiring precise dosage and are several times more potent than tinctures.

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