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29th May 2024

What Is A Tincture?

What is a tincture?

What is a Tincture?

Have you ever witnessed someone apply a few drops of a mysterious liquid to the back of their tongue from a small bottle, or pop a few drops into their drink in a cafe? The probability is that you were watching the administration of a tincture. If you happen to be a fan of natural health, you may be curious to learn more about what tinctures are and what they can do. Read on!

How is a Tincture Made?

In the language of chemistry, a tincture is a solution which uses alcohol and water as a solvent. Herbs with medical properties, including leaves, roots, bark, berries, and resins such as propolis and myrrh, are soaked in the solution to allow the alcohol to extract active nutrients, concentrating them as a liquid. Here’s what makes tinctures fascinating:

  • Due to their high concentration, you only need very small amounts to reap the benefits.
  • Thanks to the preserving power of alcohol, tinctures have a long shelf life.
  • The liquid form allows for quicker absorption into your system compared to pills or capsules.

The alcohol used to extract the active ingredients from herbs is termed ethanol and is the same kind of high-proof alcohol that forms the basis for drinks such as gin and vodka.

Leaves, roots, bark, berries, and resins are soaked in of alcohol and water to extract the active nutrients.

Origin of Tinctures

It is thought that the first use of alcohol for extracting and preserving natural medicines dates to ancient Egypt. The practice was believed to have been adopted by the physicians and alchemists of Persia and Arabia, but the wider use of tinctures is most probably down to the apothecaries of the late medieval period. The first recorded description of the process and use of tinctures was written by Albertus Magnus, a 13th Century German theologian and scientist.

Common Uses of Tinctures

Tinctures are popular in herbal medicine due to their potency and ease of use. Many people who choose to follow a natural health regime find tinctures helpful to boost their immune system, relieve pain, or improve sleep. They are effective for a wide range of specific issues including:

  • Helping with sleep and insomnia
  • Hormonal problems
  • Improving libido
  • Boosting immunity
  • Anti-inflammatory
  • Easing muscular pain and spasms
  • Mood boosting
  • Anti-depressants
  • Diuretic
  • Anti-spasmodic
  • Boosting circulation
  • Gastrointestinal support
  • Anti-microbial
  • Anti-diabetic

Benefits are often noticed within a day of using a tincture, but more pronounced effects are usually experienced within one to two weeks of taking them.

Tinctures may be used topically, so applied directly onto the skin or mixed with creams to help problems such as eczema, fungal infections, varicose veins, spider veins, and bruises. They can also be used for oral conditions such as mouth ulcers and infections.

In natural health practices they are often used in aromatherapy and other holistic therapies.

The Benefits of Using Tinctures

Tinctures are easy to take. Just a few drops of the solution in water, juice, smoothie, tea, or tisane can do the trick. They deliver a very potent dose of the extract compared to other herbal preparations.

Because tinctures are liquid they are absorbed very quickly by the body, making them an effective and speedy way to add vitamins and minerals as dietary supplements.

Because tinctures are liquid they are absorbed quickly by the body.

What the Scientists Say

Some of the most well-known herbs used for tinctures have been the subject of scientific studies. The following herbs are amongst those whose effectiveness has been researched and validated by clinical trials and studies:

Agnus Castus

A clinical review dated May 2003 highlights the herb’s properties which help hormonal imbalance, PMS and regulation of the menstrual cycle.


The dried flowers contain compounds which account for chamomile’s reputation for being a calming herb. It is also known to reduce inflammation, ease muscle spasms, reduce insomnia and ease gastrointestinal disorders. A scientific report published in 2010 states that the main compounds extracted from chamomile flowers may be unstable unless preserved in an alcohol-based tincture.


Known to have expectorant properties and research has found it to be beneficial for use in cases of respiratory infection.


In a report published by the National Library of Medicine 2022, hops were acknowledged for their anti-inflammatory and antimicrobial properties. They were also found to have sedative, diuretic, digestive and progestogenic properties.

Milk Thistle

Known as a powerful antioxidant. Scientists have found that this is due to its detoxifying action and is the reason it is beneficial for liver problems.


Famed for its power to enhance libido, support urinary tract health, and reduce swelling. Recent reports provide scientific support for the health benefits of these mushrooms, prized for centuries by both Chinese and Ayurvedic practices.

Tribulous Terrestris

During the past twenty years extensive research has been carried out to validate the biological activity and pharmacology of Tribulous terrestris. Today it is widely used as a health supplement for a variety of health issues as well as a testosterone boosting agent.

Valerian Root

Used to help promote sleep, reduce anxiety, PMS, and headaches. Results of a research study was published in January 2024. The study concluded that overall sleep quality, sleep latency, sleep efficiency, and total sleep time were significantly improved. Due to its sleep-inducing effect, valerian should not be taken along-side alcohol or sedative medication.

Our Range of Tinctures

We supply a range of tinctures in blue glass dropper bottles to keep them protected from the light and to preserve their shelf life.

View the range here.

Supplement place range of tinctures.

Things to Watch Out for

Alcohol Content

Alcohol is generally considered to be the best solvent for making tinctures due to its ability to extract a wide range of properties from herbs of all kinds. However, for anyone wishing or needing to avoid alcohol, the typical base of most tinctures could be a concern. Alternative liquids may be used as solvents, such as vinegar, honey, and glycerine. The liquids produced using these solvents are not usually termed as tinctures but are known as glycerites, vinegars and oxymels (where honey and vinegar are blended).

Dosage Control

As tinctures are highly concentrated, care should be taken to follow the recommended dose as it can be easy to take too much.

Medical Advice

If you are looking to enhance your wellness routine by harnessing the benefits of nature in the form of tinctures, it is important, as with any supplement, that if you have underlying health conditions or are pregnant, you should consult with your doctor or healthcare worker before starting any new treatment.

Our Promise

When it comes to keeping you informed on health and nutrition, we’re here for you and aim to help where we can. If you would like to discuss any aspect of using natural supplements, or would find advice helpful, please feel free to contact us on 01297 553932.

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Our long-established, family-run business sells the highest quality supplements with no unnecessary fillers or additives, so you can be confident you're getting clean, natural products at fair prices. Available worldwide.

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