Making a lemon balm tincture is a simple way to add a powerful tool to your natural medicine cabinet
The herb garden has been the most successful out of all our growing attempts this year. We’ve had SO much lemon balm, basil, lemongrass, and oregano that I’ve had to do a lot studying to find ways to use and preserve it all.
From lemon balm-ginger syrup to herbal salt, I’ve tried some amazing new things this year. Next up is attempting to make a lemon balm tincture. I’m also making an elderberry tincture because I had some dried berries left from last year and wanted to try something g different with them.
Why you should make tinctures
Many of you make teas or infuse olive oil (or similar) with herbs. But tinctures are a often overlooked, but powerful, option for using herbs, berries, etc. for natural remedies. An herbal tincture is a liquid extract made from herbs using alcohol, vegetable glycerine or even apple cider vinegar. Alcohol is primarily used because of how great it extracts the useful goodness from the plants more completely and because it offers an extremely long shelf life.
Teas vs tinctures
So what’s the difference between brewing a cup of tea or taking the time (6-sh weeks) to make an herbal tincture? Well, tinctures are MUCH more potent and concentrate. 1-2 droppers of an herbal tincture is about as powerful as 8 ounces of tea.
Well, alcohol is an excellent solvent for herbs. It extracts the compounds and active ingredients that aren’t water-soluble, such as essential oils, alkaloids and resins. Additionally, alcohol based tinctures are absorbed into our bloodstream quickly making them fast-acting. So, by placing a few drops under our tongue, it quickly enters the bloodstream and delivers its beneficial properties.
When we make things like elderberry syrup, the life span is limited. When we make an alcohol based tincture, it has a crazy long shelf life. In most cases, an alcohol tincture remains good and effective for at least 5 years.
I have a kiddo that can’t stand the way elderberry syrup tastes, but she can muddle through a few drops of a tincture. It’s helpful to have an option that not only packs a stronger punch, but stays good for an extra long period of time
Uses for your lemon balm tincture
We’ve talked a bit in previous posts about the benefits of lemon balm, but let’s take a moment to go over them again. Using just a small amount of your lemon balm tincture can offer a variety of benefits:
Lemon balm reduces anxious feelings. It can help you feel calmer and more focused.
Need better sleep? Because of its calming and relaxing properties, lemon balm can also aid in getting a solid’s night sleep
Lemon balm can improve focus–A study of young adults who took lemon balm internally found an improvement in mood and the ability to focus.
Chronic inflammation can support a variety of diseases and trigger pain in the body. Lemon balm can support healthy inflammatory levels throughout the body.
On top of everything else, lemon balm is packed with antioxidants. Antioxidants help protect the body from damage caused by free radicals.
Making a tincture is really simple, as you’ll see below. And while the instructions are for a lemon balm tincture, you can use many different herbs/plants with loads of beneficial qualities. Chamomile, lavender, dandelion root, ginger, thyme, oregano…. The list is practically endless. If you have a decent quality of a fresh herb, research what benefits a tincture of it would have. Conversely, if you’re looking for specific benefits, take some time to find out what plants will help you. This post from Mountain Rose Herbs gives a solid overview of how to make tinctures with a variety of plant materials
Lemon Balm Tincture
- dry, clean quart glass jar
- 2 cups fresh lemon balm leaves (Fresh lemon balm has a lot of volatile oils and aromatics, so fresh will be more potent than using dried.)
- 80proof vodka (or higher)
- Roughly chop your lemon balm. Place in glass jar and crush/mash bit with a wooden spoon to release more of the oils in the lemon balm.
- Cover them completely with the vodka. Generally you want one part of lemon balm to three parts alcohol. If you need to use dried lemon balm leaves, the proportion will be one part herb to five parts alcohol. You also need to check after the first few days to see if you need to add a bit more vodka. Dried herbs tend to absorb the liquid)
- Shake very well to combine the leaves with the alcohol. Close the jar and place in a dark cabinet for at about 6 weeks.
- Shake every few days. This will allow for better absorption of lemon balm’s active compounds in the alcohol.
- After 6 weeks, strain the leaves out using a muslin cloth or lined colander. Press leaves to be sure you get all the goodness out. Pour into a clean, dry, dark glass jar or bottle. It’s helpful to use a bottle with a dropper top if available. The tincture should last three to five years if stored in a dark, fresh, dry place.Adult dose is 1/4 teaspoon (approximately 1 dropper), as needed. You can mix with equal parts honey to improve the taste factor.