For my next several posts, I will be focusing on herbs to help manage stress and anxiety. The plant world is full of surprisingly effective remedies that do not come with the same risks and side-effects of typical anti-anxiety medications. I’ve found several that seem to work well, and I’m hoping others can benefit from this information.
There are many ways to use herbs, and the ideal preparations depend on a particular herb. Most of the herbs I’ll be discussing are recommended as infusions or tinctures. An infusion is basically a tea–you pour hot water over the herbs and steep for the recommended time. This is easy enough, but it’s not always possible or practical to boil water and steep something for 20 minutes or more.
Tinctures are my perfect solution. Prepared by steeping herbs in alcohol for several weeks, they are easy to use, easy to carry, fast-acting and long-lasting. Haha, I sound like a commercial but it’s true! Tinctures are highly concentrated, and recommended dosages are usually given in drops. That makes them easy to use sublingually, and that means they work quickly. I like that in an anxiety remedy.
The generally cited ratio of herb to alcohol is 1:1 or 1:2 for fresh herbs and 1:4 or 1:8 for dried. The alcohol needs to be high quality and at least 80 proof. Most people use vodka, but you can also use rum or brandy. I use Everclear grain alcohol. I also use a 1:2 ratio with dried herbs. The tinctures are stronger, but I use less….There are no hard and fast rules about this.
If you’d prefer an alcohol-free version, you can use food-grade vegetable glycerin or vinegar instead. I haven’t tried either, but I’ve heard that the vegetable glycerin is sweet which can improve the taste of the tincture. (I’ll admit, these are not the most pleasant tasting concoctions…) The drawback of using these instead of alcohol is a weaker product, since alcohol is more effective at drawing out all the good stuff.
The process is simple…
Half fill a clean mason jar (for 1:2 ratio) with dried herbs.
Fill jar to top with alcohol.
Close lid tightly.
Place jar in cool, dark place.
Shake jar twice daily or as often as you remember.
After 4-6 weeks (I wait six), strain herbs and store liquid in glass jar or container.
Tincture will keep for 3-5 years in a cool, dark storage space.
Remember that this formula results in a stronger tincture–you should alter the ratio according to your preferences and needs. The dosage will vary based on the herbs you’re using and reason you’re using them. If the taste is too much, you can mix them with your favorite beverage to mask the flavor.
I wanted to explain how to make tinctures because I’ve had great success using them. It made sense to explain the process before I begin my upcoming series, so you’ll have some ideas of what to do with the herbs you may be interested in. I hope you enjoy the series, and I’d love to hear about your experiences with herbs for stress and anxiety!