Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Lobelia Tincture

I know it's been a while since I last posted. It's summer and I get distracted.

I have been keeping myself busy preparing medicines and exploring my local environs. Most recently I have been harvesting lobelia, a somewhat controversial and immensely useful herb for asthma and bronchitis. It is also a profound emetic if you are not careful. Go here if you want to learn about the controversy around it because it is too big a discussion for me to undertake today.

Lobelia inflata is a small little woodland plant. Absolutely beautiful if you ask me. I mostly use it in asthma. I have also used it for its muscle relaxant properties and for quitting smoking (in combo with a few other herbs depending on the person).

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To make a fresh plant tincture of this or any other herb, measure by weight your fresh herb. Say you have 1 ounce, that is equal to 30 grams. Chop it up and put it in an appropriately sized glass jar. To make a standard 1:2  (weight to volume) tincture you will need twice as much alcohol as herb. The metric system is our friend here. 1 gram is equal to 1 mL. So for 30 grams of herb you will need 60 mLs of pure alcohol for your menstrum.* Choose a jar that is filled by your herb and menstrum. You don't want lots of airspace because the herb will float to the top and out of the alcohol. Lovingly shake the jar daily, or anytime you think of it. It will be ready in a month.

The 1:2 ratio works for most fresh plants (for dried herbs 1:5 is standard using a more dilute menstrum like vodka or brandy). Lobelia is a very strong herb and is used in drop doses (1-10 drops) so some people prefer a 1:4.

Kiva Rose has a fabulous write up on how to make tinctures. This is a great time to prepare herbal preparations for the fall and winter seasons. Choose herbs you like and will use this coming fall and winter. I particularly love having elderberry and ginger on hand.

I originally intended to write about the bounty of the summer season and clearly I have gotten off tract. I think tomorrow I shall have to write on elderberry and getting ready for fall.

*For your menstrum you want the strongest alcohol you can get. Pure grain alcohol (Everclear) is what I use. It is 95% alcohol, while vodka on the other hand is only 40%. The reason you want strong alcohol is because fresh plants are mostly water by weight and will dilute the alcohol which needs to be a certain strength to extract and preserve the herbal constituents.

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