Alcohol in Herbal Tinctures and the hot water trick

The following information is provided by Saint Francis Herb Farm.

 

The amount of alcohol taken in an average dose of tincture, you'll be surprised to learn, is about the same as what you'd find in an overly ripe banana!

 

Should one desire, however, the alcohol in a tincture can be almost completely removed by simply adding the required drops to some water that has been brought to a boil. Because alcohol evaporates very easily, almost all of the alcohol will be removed by this method without harm to the medicinal properties of the tinctured herbs. The resulting mixture can be taken as soon as it cools enough to be consumed.

 

Q. Your tinctures contain alcohol. Where does the alcohol come from? Is it gluten free?

A. Not only is the alcohol in our tinctures indispensable for extracting the active ingredients of an herb, it is also needed to stabilize and preserve them. If ingested in the form of a raw herb without the benefit of an extractant like alcohol, these active ingredients would be rendered less bioavailable and hard for the body to assimilate.Most of our finished tinctures contain between 30 and 50 percent alcohol, depending on the plant and which part is being used. Typically, resin-containing materials (e.g. propolis, myrrh) require more alcohol for the process of extraction—up to 95 percent in some instances.

 

As well as limiting microbial activity, alcohol has, moreover, the ability to inhibit enzymatic or hydrolytic reactions in plant extracts. In addition,with its circulatory stimulant and vasodilating properties, it plays the role of a dispersive carrying agent and helps convey the active ingredients of a herb to wherever they are needed within the body. Beyond that, it has been scientifically proven that small amounts of alcohol actually enhance the immune system and its defenses.

 

To give you a concrete example of the amount of alcohol we’re dealing with, the suggested dosage of our Ashwagandha Tincture calls for 2.66 ml 3 times daily, rendering a daily total of about 8 ml of tincture. Since the tincture consists of 45% alcohol, this gives a daily alcohol intake of 3.6 ml. A typical shot of liquor amounts to 44.4 ml of total liquid. If, as is standard, the beverage is 40% alcohol, this amounts to 17.76 ml of alcohol in one drink. Hence, it would take almost five days of ingesting the maximum daily dose of ashwagandha to achieve the equivalent of one alcoholic drink.

 

To give you a further basis of comparison and context, researchers at Indiana University found that a standard glass of orange juice contained between 0.2 and 0.5% alcohol. Thus, at 0.5% alcohol, an average 10 ounce glass of orange juice has 1.5 ml of alcohol. In other words, a full daily dose of Ashwagandha Tincture has as much alcohol, roughly, as two and a half glasses of orange juice.Should a person wish, however, the alcohol in a tincture can be almost completely removed by simply adding the required drops to a cupful of water that has been brought to a boil for 10 minutes or so. Because alcohol evaporates very easily, almost all of the alcohol will be removed by this method with minimal degradation of the medicinal properties of the tinctured herbs. The resulting mixture can be taken as soon as it cools enough to be consumed.

 

At the beginning of November, 2014, however, as part of our ongoing commitment to painstaking product improvement, we began using Certified Organic alcohol from cane sugar exclusively. Because we tend to make many of our tinctures in large batches in the fall after the end of summer and harvest, it will take several months for this Certified Organic alcohol to cycle through to all our products as they make their way onto store and dispensary shelves.

 

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