i admit that winter is hard on me. i try to embrace it as just part of the cycle of life, but cycle or not, it can really get to me. even as i write this i sit in front of a high intensity light, used to trick my mind into thinking that dawn is still happening earlier in the day and that it is summer. but this alone is not enough to stave off the difficult winter passage, and i also rely on daily doses of st. john’s wort tincture. if the st. john’s wort really works, i don’t know, but it doesn’t seem to hurt, and having some sort of ritual and taking some act gives one the sense that they have control over their condition, which might be what we really need to heal oneself.
those little bottles of tinctures are expensive, and while i have yet to start growing enough st. john’s wort to make my own tinctures, i can still save some serious scratch by making it myself from purchased dried herbs.
ma ordered online though richter’s a great source for herbs, but closer to home i recommend visiting nature’s products on conant, they have just about every herb you would want at very reasonable prices, and you get to keep your business local.
these herbs get ground a bit to add more surface area – but not so much that you create some sort of powder. i don’t recommend using the coffee grinder you use for coffee it will add some pretty strange flavors to coffee. as cheap as coffee grinders are – i think it’s worth it to have a second one for grinding spices and herbs. we use ours all the time – but we cook a lot from scratch and use a lot of whole spices that we need to grind.
with your dried herbs in place, the next step is to procure some alcohol to extract the herbal essence – in this case we use 100 proof vodka – and since this is just for making tinctures not martinis forgo the grey goose and go straight for detroit’s favorite
the guys at the liquor store were very curious as to what i was going to do with all this vodka on a sunday afternoon, and when i explained that i was making herbal tinctures, i think it just baffled them more. affordable it is, at i think i spent under 9 dollars for a 750 millilitre bottle. this also explains why i pick up so many empty half pints of mohawk in the neighborhood. i’m glad to see that so many of my neighbors are value shoppers. i find it curious that no native group has sued mohawk for use of the name, or at the very least sent a tersely worded letter.
we have vodka, we have herbs, now it’s pretty much just a matter of mixing the two. we use a 5 to 1 ratio so with our 100 grams of st. johns wort flowers we add 500 ml of alcohol.
combine the two in a canning jar, seal it, put a tag on it, and find a cool dark place for it to rest.
we stick the tinctures on the back of the toilet tank – this really grosses out co-worker sisterbear, which is surprising, cause i don’t think of her as being too squeamish. these need to be shaken twice a day, which is why i put them on the back of the toilet, i figure i have to visit the bathroom to brush my teeth first thing and last thing of the day, so i shake them then. you don’t have to put them in such a gross spot.
after a month they get strained and bottled.
decant the liquid off the top and pour it though a coffee filter – the more herby stuff at the bottom we put into a couple of layers of cheese cloth and then press the liquid out and then filter as well. combine all the liquid together and bottle preferably in amber glass bottles – cause they keep the herbs from degrading in sun light, but also cause it makes your house look like an apothecary, something ma and i both like. a great local source for these bottle is porter bottle company not all that cheap, but just down the road and really nice folks. this batch yields enough to make about 250 ml of st. john’s wort tincture – which would retail for something like 72 dollars. cost for making it at home = 8 dollars for herbs, about 6.50 for vodka for a total cost of 14.50. pretty amazing savings.
for more info on making herbal medicines i recommend richo cech’s making plant medicine.