How to Make Herbal Cannabis Tinctures at Home

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How to Make Herbal Cannabis Tinctures
December 14, 2020
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For centuries, ‘herbal’ remedies have been used to treat a variety of medical complaints and conditions.  The methods of administering the herbs and spices, and the conditions they treat are as numerous as the plants themselves.

From sleep remedies, antiinflammatory treatments, through antibacterial and immune system boosts, to digestion and erm…’potency’ enhancers, there is, seemingly, a herb or spice for every ailment.

What Herbs can be Used to Make a Tincture?

Herbs drying

In short, you can make a tincture out of almost any herb.  Selection of which herb you use depends on exactly what you are wanting to treat.  Examples of some common herbs and spices, with well established and accepted properties, include:

Turmeric:  

It has strong anti-inflammatory properties and is purportedly rich in anti-cancer capabilities.

Peppermint: 

This can aid digestion, help to relax the muscles of the digestive tract and reduce gut spasms.

Chamomile: 

A calming influence and a well established aid to sleep, it is also great for digestion.

Lavender: 

It is believed to have antiseptic and anti-inflammatory properties.  In addition, it may be useful in the treatment of anxiety, insomnia, depression, and restlessness.

Ginger: 

With a powerful anti-nausea influence, it is also anti-inflammatory with immune-system boosting properties.

Licorice:  

This spice possesses antimicrobial and antibacterial abilities and is a great digestive aid.

Lemon Balm: 

It can help in alleviating anxiety, melancholy, nervousness, insomnia, and generally uplift mood. It is also helpful for digestive upset, menstrual cramps, and menopause.

There are many, many more ingredients, properties and cures, and a brief internet search will reveal what a wide and encompassing world the ‘science’ and art of herbalism is.  

It is also possible to blend and mix a number of these herbal agents, to achieve a remedy with a specific set of effects. 

In fact, there is one ‘wonder-herb’ that can provide relief and treatment for almost all the ailments listed above!  That herb is, of course, cannabis.

Can I Make a Cannabis Tincture? 

There are numerous ways of administering herbal remedies; ointments and poultices to apply topically, incense and pouri for aromatherapy applications and oils, tonics and tinctures, for oral consumption. You can pretty much make any of these out of marijuana, although some will be less ‘wasteful’ than others.

Tinctures and tonics can be made from almost all herbs and spices, so it follows that cannabis can also be used.  The benefit of a tincture is that it can be dosed accurately, using a dropper, enabling micro dosing, throughout the day; when a level of background relief is required.

Cannabis is an incredibly powerful plant, with a wide range of medical marijuana uses and huge potential for the treatment of pain, inflammation, nausea, insomnia, anxiety, depression and even OCD, to name but a few of it’s benefits.  So you might consider making a tincture solely out of weed, instead of trying to blend a number of other herbs?  Or, maybe, add a specific herb to your cannabis plant material, for a bespoke tincture, tailored to your exact needs?

So, what is a Tincture?

A tincture may be a tonic, in some cases; a liquid that lifts, restores and invigorates.  Other tinctures may have a sedative, relaxing and calming effect.  The common link is the method of extracting the herbal remedies active ingredients.

A tincture is a herbal extraction where alcohol, vinegar or glycerine has been used to create a solution, or suspension

Today, we are going to look at how to make full-spectrum, herbal tinctures, at home.  ‘Full spectrum’ simply means that ALL the plant’s constituent, active ingredients are likely to be extracted, rather than a targeted extraction, that might only provide one if its elements.  In cannabis terms, CBD, THC, or CBG, for example.

What is the Difference Between a Tincture and Other Extractions?

Here is a list of a few different ways to extract the beneficial ingredients from herbs, plants and spices:

Infusion:  

We are all very familiar with ‘infusions’.  Perhaps the most common of all infusions is tea.  An infusion simply means that the plant is steeped in water, or maybe oil, to release their beneficial elements.

Decoction: 

This takes an infusion to the next level by actually boiling the plant, spice or herb in water.  Boiling water starts to break down the plant matter and help it release it’s soluble constituents more easily. A great method for hardier plants that need more ‘encouragement’ than a simple infusion.

Tincture: 

Typically, the plant that you’re using for medicinal benefits and a solution of alcohol, or alcohol and water  The alcohol saturates the plant matter and, over a period of weeks, the solvent qualities of the alcohol release the plant medicine, to form a solution or suspension.

Maceration: 

Is simply a softening of the ‘herb’ by soaking in a liquid, often oil.  Maceration is generally used for very delicate plants and berries, where the aim is to break down, but not liquify the cells. Often, the result is a pulpy solution of plant matter.

How to Make a Cannabis Tincture

As we said earlier, a tincture is a solution, or suspension, of plant solubles and extracts, made by soaking the plant material, or spice, in alcohol, vinegar, or a blend of each with water.  The mix of fluids used might depend on the reluctance of the plant to give up its goodies.  If you are to make a weed tincture, alcohol is the best liquid to use.

Cannabis Tincture on Plate

The reason to use alcohol to extract the good stuff from your weed is that most of the desired ingredients, such as cannabinoids, are not soluble in water.  It is, of course possible to dilute the solution at a later stage, but for the purpose of extracting the valuable cannabinoids, a strong, clear alcohol is best.  

If you want to avoid alcohol though, apple vinegar is a good alternative; although it will take longer to extract and you may wish to sweeten the resulting elixir?  Here is a simple marijuana tincture recipe.

Ingredients:

Vodka 40% ABV is best, but you can use 37.5%

Finely chopped or ground bud, or plant material of your choice.

A Mason jar, or similar.

Parchment paper

Funnel

Straining cloth (See below)

Dark glass bottles.

Directions:

If your weed is very fresh it might be best to dry it for a day or two, in a warm place, to reduce the water content and encourage it to soak up the alcohol, during the extraction process.

Finely chop your herbs and fill a preserving jar up to three quarters full of wonder-herb. 

Pour over enough vodka to cover your cannabis completely, plus a couple of inches above the grass.  If you are using well-dried weed, you may have to top up the level over the coming days, as it is absorbed.  

Using a canning lid will help to keep your bud submerged.  If your weed is exposed to air, it might start to develop mould or bacteria, especially if it has not been dried thoroughly first, and this is definitely not desirable and could ruin the entire tincture. 

Cover your jar with parchment paper, before securing the lid, tightly.  This will stop any degrading of the rubber seal, through constant contact with the spirit.

Leave your jar to infuse for 6 to 8 weeks in a kitchen cupboard. Shake it once or twice a day, to encourage a thorough extraction. The liquid will get darker throughout the process.

After at least 6 weeks, pour the fluid through a sieve and fill a jug. Now, filter the fluid in the jug through a very fine filter, or cloth.  Line a funnel with some Winemaker’s cloth; a perfect choice and readily available online.  Alternatively, several layers of muslin is a good second choice. Use the funnel to guide your extracted tincture into bottles. Squeeze the cloth filter, to ensure you get as much liquid as you can out of it.

If you want to dilute your tincture, you can add water at the jug stage and give it a good stir.

Dark glass bottles are best as it prevents sunlight from degrading the tincture and if they happen to be fitted with a dropper too…happy days!

Be sure to label your bottles! Do it before you try your tincture and don’t be tempted to have a toke, before you do it.  It’s easy to forget how old a tincture is, what quantity and what strain of bud you used.

Congratulations!  You now have your very own homemade cannabis tincture.

Herbal Tincture

How to Use a Cannabis Tincture

To use a tincture, fill a dropper or small syringe with the liquid and drip it into the mouth, just under the tongue. Hold the tincture in the mouth for a few seconds before swallowing.  You may want to rinse your mouth with water to get rid of any bitter taste.

The precise dosage a person should take depends on their tolerance levels.  If in any doubt, it is always best to start low and slow.  Start with a couple of drops and leave it for a couple of hours, before taking another dose.  Obviously, do not give cannabis tinctures to children.

Once you are used to the tincture and its effects, you may wish to consider adding it to food and drinks, but after the cooking stage, so that the heat from the cooking doesn’t destroy the cannabinoids.

What Strain of Cannabis is Best to Use in a Tincture?

Any strain of cannabis can be used in a tincture and it may be best to do some research into choosing your seeds, before selecting a particular strain.  

All our very high quality strains have different properties and characteristics; you may find that, depending on what results you are aiming for and what benefits you hope to derive, one strain is more suitable than another.

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