How to Make an Herbal Tincture

Herb Garden SignMake your own herbal remedies!

Tinctures can be made at home in just a few weeks.

I make a variety of tinctures for myself, my family and my friends. I love the sense of self-sufficiency that comes out of making my own medicinals. There are a variety of opinions and methods for making tinctures. I’m going to share what I do.

Getting the medicinal qualities of the herb

The medicinal parts of plants are drawn out by both water and alcohol. By using 80 or 100 proof alcohol, you actually have a liquid that is part water and part alcohol – perfect for drawing out the medicinal constituents of the herb.

Making tinctures is simple:

  1.      Purchase good quality, organic herbs
  2.      Get a one-quart glass jar
  3.      Buy 80 or 100 proof alcohol (vodka is a standard)
  4.      Commit to shaking the mixture once or twice a day while the tincture is soaking.
  5.      Once the tincture is ready, you just strain it, saving the liquid, and store it easy!

Step by step instructions:

I am making a tincture of the herb Astragalus, also known as “Huang Qi” in Chinese. The part of the plant that is used is the root. I purchased my organic Astragalus root from the Starwest Botanicals.
Here is the dried, cut astragalus:

Astragalus Dried

Dried and cut astragalus

Step 1. Put the dried herb into a clean glass jar:

Astragalus in jar

Step 2. Pour alcohol into the jar:

Pour alcohol into jar of astragalus

Step 3. Cover and label with herb and date:

Astragalus with alcohol

Make sure to label what’s in the jar and the date you made the tincture!

Step 4. Shake your mixture once or twice a day. Store this mixture in a cool, dark place.
haking astragalus

How long do you let the mixture soak?

For roots and barks, I soak everything for 6 weeks.
For twigs and leaves, 4 weeks.
The concept is that heavier parts of the plant need a longer time than the lighter parts. These times are my times, other herbalists will recommend longer or shorter times.
Step 5. Strain off the plant material – SAVE THE LIQUID – this is the medicinal product that will be used later.

Pour contents into strainer

Make sure you save the liquid!

Squeeze astragalus

Squeeze out all of the liquid from the material.

Finsih straining

Keep the liquid! This is your herbal tincture.

Step 6. Put the liquid tincture back into a clean glass jar and label it with the name of the herb and the date.
Finsihed tincture

Ready to use astragalus tincture.

Tinctures can be poured off into smaller bottles for easier use and transport. I put tinctures into 2oz. dropper bottles.

What is the dose of herbal tinctures?

The usual dose of a tincture is 25-30 drops two times a day as needed.
This is an average dose for many types of herbs.
In order to know how much of an herb to use and what to use it for, consult a qualified herbalist.
References and Resources:

The Herbal Medicine Maker’s Handbook, by James Green, is an excellent text for making all types of herbal products.
Organic Herb Supplier:
Starwest Botanicals
Organic Astragalus Root

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Cindy Black

Cindy Black is the Founder of Big Tree School of Natural Healing and the author of Meridian Massage, Pathways to Vitality. She is appreciated for her ability to make the complex accessible, fun, and practical.


  1. Roel on July 17, 2021 at 3:36 am

    Thank you so much for this page and for the information presented in such a concise and helpful format, not to mention your clear joie-de-vivre/tongue-in-cheek which I much appreciate. I will be making my first tincture today with ACV as I don’t have alcohol around. I will use a 5:1 ratio with Angelicae sinensis as per examine ( Whilst I do not believe in the religious-like aspects of TCM (am a strong believer in Jesus), I do not reject any science based or practical experience that TCM may hold. I was wondering; can one start taking the tincture from day 1 even though it’s not ready yet? Also love the idea of shopping up the pieces manually on a cutting board, I was for sure going to use a mixer and ruin the herbs with too much heat 🙂 Thank you again.

    • Cindy Black on July 18, 2021 at 10:00 pm

      The herb must mix within the alcohol or other extraction liquid for a period of time in order for the medicinal qualities to become absorbed in the liquid. If you take the tincture from day 1 you will not be getting the full medicinal components, and therefore no benefit. Also, as you take away the liquid you will reduce the total amount of the final product and disrupt the ratio of plant material to liquid. I would highly recommend waiting the allotted time. You may be able to purchase a few ounces of the tincture for use while you are waiting for yours.

      Thanks for your interest and for writing.
      Good luck with your tinctures – stay with it, it is worth the wait

  2. Anita Carrieri on April 7, 2021 at 8:48 am

    Hi Cindy
    Can I use the dried/fresh leaves or fresh roots to make an effective tincture. I have a quite a lot of astragalus boeticus growing. The tincture would be perfect for these covid times! I’m in southern Italy where the dried seeds were once used to make coffee. I pulled a fair amount up to put on the compost for nitrogen until I recently researched its medicinal properties
    Your advice would be much appreciated. Anita

    • Cindy Black on April 7, 2021 at 9:12 am

      Hi Anita,
      The roots are used for medicinal tinctures, I am not sure about the leaves.
      The astragalus I use is astragalus membranaceus.
      I don’t have experience with the one you are growing. I have researched it a bit but haven’t come up with any clear medicinal advice. I would ask around your area for an experienced herbalist who can give you the best advice.
      I hope this helps!
      Yay for composting

      • Anita Carrieri on April 7, 2021 at 9:36 am

        Thank you Cindy for your swift reply. European bureaucracy has virtually destroyed herbalism. I’ll ask a few older folk.
        Thank you

  3. Jon on April 22, 2020 at 3:28 am

    Hi Cindy,

    I am about ready to bottle my first batch of tinctures. I used a coffee/spice grinder and ground many of the herbs into a powder. I did not pay attention to the spice maximum fill line on my grinder. I filled the grinder up 3 times what was recommended for spices. I also may have over heated some of the herbs by grinding them too long. Some beginner’s mistakes. Will the tinctures still be worth taking? I’m not sure how much over heating the herbs affects their potency.


    • Cindy Black on April 22, 2020 at 7:13 am

      Hi Jon,
      Ah, the joys of learning by experience! 🙂
      I am not sure how the heat may have affected the herbs. You could experiment by making another batch of the same herbs but with less heat/grinding and then compare the two.

      I too have “challenged” a few grinders with herbs! I chop them with a kitchen knife now – it takes a little longer but gives me time to really experience the plants, which I enjoy very much.
      Keep going and let us know how it goes.
      Thanks for writing!
      – Cindy

  4. Kathy on January 2, 2018 at 12:30 pm

    Is there an alternative to using the alcohol? Wonderful, well written article. Thank you.

    • Cindy Black on January 2, 2018 at 3:55 pm

      Hi Kathy,
      Yes – you can use apple cider vinegar or vegetable glycerin. Also, to get rid of some of the alcohol, you can squirt the tincture into hot water, let it steam off, then drink it. Some people say that gets rid of all the alcohol, but I don’t think it does. Experiment and choose whichever works best for you.
      James Green goes over these alternatives in his fab book listed above.
      Thanks for your great question!

  5. Joe on February 16, 2016 at 2:24 am

    Thank you. I have been buying Astragalus at Whole Foods and my body has responded so well I enjoy taking it so much I am going to give it a go and make a batch of my own. Lets say for a small one pint jar how much root would you recommend would it be by weight or just fill jar 1/2 way? Also when you make root tinctures should the roots be washed first? I plan on buying herbs from Mountain Rose Herbs because they are organic. If I wanted to complement Astragalus do you have a suggestion? Should I tincture them together or mix the drops after? I have a lot of questions here so thank you very much for your time and for your help.

    • Cindy Black, L.Ac., LMT on February 16, 2016 at 10:40 am

      Hi Joe,
      I’m glad you are going to make your own tinctures – that is the best!
      Definitely wash the roots well and chop them into small pieces. Fill whatever size jar you have with the chopped root – and then pour in alcohol. I always use organic herbs as well.
      In terms what to use to complement Astragalus – that always depends on what you are trying to achieve with the herbs. There are many possibilities.
      A great reference is the Herbal Medicine-Maker’s Handbook – here is a link to check that out You will learn about more herbs and more ways to work with them.
      Thanks for your great questions!

      • Joe on May 5, 2016 at 2:14 am

        Made my first batch of Astragalus and it turned out great. Thank you so much for your help.

        • Cindy Black, L.Ac., LMT on May 5, 2016 at 8:05 am

          Hi Joe,
          That is great news! You are on your way to many more tinctures!

  6. kelly on February 4, 2016 at 10:08 pm

    Hi there,
    I live in South Florida…is it best to store the tincture in the fridge or juat in a dark cabinet?

    • Cindy Black, L.Ac., LMT on February 5, 2016 at 9:12 am

      Hi Key,
      I keep my tinctures in a dark closet, even in warm climates, it is fine. The alcohol is a great preservative.

      • Anais on April 23, 2020 at 2:49 am

        Hello.. What rato of herb to alcohol should I aim for? Gm to ml?
        Thank you!!

        • Cindy Black on April 23, 2020 at 7:47 am

          Hi Anais,
          My method is very much that of a layperson 🙂

          I fill my jar (whatever size) with the herbs (I pack the jar with herb material) and then add the alcohol to the top. That is roughly a 1:1 ratio of herb material to alcohol.

          Shake the jar every couple of days and then strain out the tincture after 6-8 weeks. 6 weeks for leaves or flowers or very finely grated plant material. I soak roots and tougher stems for 8 weeks.

          Once you make a few tinctures you will see how wonderful and simple it is to make your own medicinals.

  7. Michael on October 21, 2013 at 5:08 pm

    Would this work if I used astragalus root powder??

    • Cindy Black, L.Ac. on October 21, 2013 at 5:19 pm

      You can use the powder but it will be a bit of a challenge to separate it out from the finished tincture. Try using fine cheese cloth when you strain off the powder – it will be a longer process and require you to squeeze and wring it out, but it should still work. Let us know how it goes if you make the tincture with the powder.

  8. Denise Borsheim on April 8, 2010 at 3:42 pm

    I love the simplicity and clarity of this blog–it makes be so confident & eager to make tinctures! Although I make aroma-therapeutic lotions & toners & things, I have been hesitant to try herbals, but I think this will be a very beneficial part of my practice!

    • Cindy Black on December 27, 2011 at 5:34 pm

      Take the plunge Denise and try! Making tinctures is very easy once you get the hang of it!

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