Many herbal tinctures are made using alcohol as a base. The alcohol is used to extract and preserve the medicinal properties of herbs, but does not have to be consumed with the medicine. If you would like to prepare an alcohol-free version of the tincture for children or patients who cannot tolerate alcohol, follow these instructions.
- To remove 65% of the alcohol in 5 minutes, pour a small amount of boiling water over the herbs. Alcohol boils at 180 degrees Fahrenheit, 32 degrees lower than the boiling point of water, and will evaporate first. Tinctures prepared in this way remain good for five days if refrigerated, or two days otherwise.
- To remove 95% of the alcohol, simmer each dose for 5-8 minutes in 1/3 cup water. Non-metallic pots (such as glass pyrex) are best to prevent oxidation or adverse chemical reactions. Use very low gas flame. Tinctures prepared in this way remain good for five days if refrigerated, or two days otherwise.
For young children, add the entire daily dose to 2 oz or ½ cup of boiling water to evaporate the alcohol, then add 3 oz of fruit juice or cereal with honey, maple syrup, or raw sugar to mask the taste. Total daily amount may be divided into 2-6 individual doses. The doses that are not being consumed right away should be used within 24 hours, so as not to weaken their effects.
For a stronger and more rapid effect, the formulas should be taken on an empty stomach. For those with more sensitive stomachs, doses should be taken with food or after meals (this moderates the herbs’ effects and rate of absorption).
For babies less than or as old as one year, and for children between the ages of one and four, frequency of dosage is more important than quantity. The herbs should be given each time the child would ordinarily nurse, drink, or eat. For children between five-years-old and twelve-years-old, regularity and timing are also critical factors: the herbs should be taken shortly after awakening, before or after regular meals, and at bedtime. In general, it is easiest to administer medicine to children as part of their morning, mealtime, or evening ritual. For small children and for those averse to strange tastes, the extracts may be squirted into the back of the throat where there are fewer taste buds and it is easy to trigger the swallowing reflex. The herbs need not be refrigerated, as they have a long shelf life when kept tightly capped and out of direct light. No medicine should be given chilled from the refrigerator, but rather warmed or at room temperature. The extracts may also be mixed with room temperature fruit juice, milk, cereal, and mashed fruits or vegetables to facilitate ingestion and further mask their taste. However, when the herbs become diluted by more than small quantities of foods or liquids, the overall dosage or frequency may need to increase in order to obtain the expected effects, unless a very slow and moderate action is desired.