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How to Take an Herbal Tincture

Tinctures are one of the primary ways we use herbal medicine. In this article we’ll look at why we use tinctures, how to measure your dosing for tinctures, various ways you can take tincture, and more.

If you’re unfamiliar with tinctures, be sure to review our article What is an Herbal Tincture before continuing.

Why Tinctures?

Tinctures are arguably the easiest way to take herbs. You don't need to brew anything, you don't even need to have water with you. You just need your small bottle of tincture and you are good to go.

Because tinctures are alcohol-based extractions of plant constituents, they are very concentrated compared to tea or capsules. Tinctures are perfect for when you’re running errands, at the office, traveling or just don’t have the time to make herbal tea throughout the day.

How to Measure Dosing with Tinctures

Tinctures are really personal, and working with your herbalist, you can find the plants and dose that best fits your needs. It’s often best to start out with a lower dose of your herbal preparations and increase slowly if you are not finding the desired effect after a week or so.

If you are finding the desired effect at the original low dose you may experiment with decreasing your dose as you may be ‘low dose’ person. Each body will respond differently to herbs, so the most important thing is to check in with yourself on a daily basis to see how your symptoms are shifting.  Listen to your body and always talk with your herbalist if you feel like you need to change your herbs or your dosage.

How to Take a Tincture

Tinctures are usually taken by glass dropper, and this is how the dose is measured, too. Your herbalist will create a tincture that contains the herbs to address your health issues, and then will give you directions for how much to take and how often. If you’ve never taken a tincture before, here’s how I recommend taking an herbal tincture.

Direct Method

You can take tinctures directly by dropping the tincture (using the glass dropper) directly into your mouth. Aim for on top of or under your tongue, because herbs are absorbed into the bloodstream within seconds through the tissue in the mouth.

Herbal tinctures are often strong tasting, and because of the alcohol, you might feel a subtle heating  sensation. You will likely become accustomed to both the taste and the sensation over time. Don’t swallow the tincture immediately, as this can induce coughing. Keep on your tongue for a few seconds, then swallow as normal.

Dilution Method

If you find the herbs are too strong to take directly, you can dilute in some filtered water. Simply measure your dose into a 2-4 ounces of water and sip. This will help dilute the flavor, but will not dilute the efficacy.

The Dilution method is helpful if you keep forgetting to take your herbs, as you can add your total daily dose (as recommended by your herbalist) to a bottle of water, and sip it throughout the day. This mimics an almost time released effect since you will be getting small amounts of your herbs as the day goes on. 

The Bitters Exception

The only exception to the dilution method is digestive bitters, which need to be taken at full strength directly on top of the tongue to ensure they work efficiently.

How to Take an Herbal Tincture

Other Helpful Tincture Tips

Tinctures are a great way to take your herbs with you when you’re traveling. To be extra safe when going  through airports, you can rebottle your larger tinctures into 2-ounce bottles, which ensures you’re under TSA limits for liquid carry-ons of 3 ounces.  

You can also employ this method if you’d like to have your herbal formula in a few different places. Splitting a larger tincture into a few smaller bottles allows you to keep one at work, around the house, or in your bag. This is a great way to ensure you have them when you need them. Remember to ALWAYS label your new bottles with what’s inside because you will forget!