Win a copy of Landrace Gardening this week in the Seeds and Breeding forum!
  • Post Reply Bookmark Topic Watch Topic
  • New Topic
permaculture forums growies critters building homesteading energy monies kitchen purity ungarbage community wilderness fiber arts art permaculture artisans regional education skip experiences global resources cider press projects digital market pie forums private forums all forums
this forum made possible by our volunteer staff, including ...
master stewards:
  • Anne Miller
  • Nicole Alderman
  • Pearl Sutton
  • r ranson
  • paul wheaton
  • Mike Haasl
  • Burra Maluca
master gardeners:
  • Greg Martin
  • jordan barton
  • Carla Burke
  • Leigh Tate
  • Jay Angler
  • John F Dean
  • Steve Thorn

Tincturing Fresh or Dried herbs: What is your preferred form of extract?

Posts: 20
Location: Greece
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
    Number of slices to send:
    Optional 'thank-you' note:
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator

The following information are from the book of Kerry Bone, Clinical guide to Blending Liquid Herbs. Maybe it's useful to someone...

IMHO I do like to create tinctures in fresh form rather than dried. But this is an article I stumbled upon recently who made me have a second thought about it. To make this short, this study suggests that the medicinal properties of a tinctured herb remain the same, no matter if it is in a dried or fresh form. You may see at the end of this post, a visual comparison between those two liquid extracts. He also suggests, that a dry herb must be our first choice when it comes to tincture a herb for better ratio reasons. I am copying this stuff so anyone, by chance, might benefit from this.
But I would love to hear your opinion! So, this is what Dr. Kerry Bone states:

"...In recent times, the use of tinctures made from the fresh plant has become popular among some herbalists. The belief is often that a fresh plant tincture better reflects the plant’s “vitality” or “energy” and therefore will be a more therapeutic preparation. Other practitioners believe that a fresh plant tincture will better preserve the delicate active components of the plant. On the other hand, the following observations need to be considered:

• The evidence from phytochemical analysis that fresh plant tinctures contain better levels of active components than do dried plant tinctures is generally lacking. In fact, fresh plant tinctures are usually prepared in a low-alcohol environment (see later discussion), which means that some less polar (more lipophilic) components may be only poorly extracted. Furthermore, the enzymatic activity of the plant material may not be inhibited in this low-alcohol environment, meaning that key phytochemicals may actually be decomposed during the maceration process. This fact was dramatically illustrated by Bauer, who found that cichoric acid in fresh plant preparations of Echinacea purpurea was largely decomposed by enzymatic activity.10 Therefore what can be found in the living Echinacea plant was not preserved in the fresh plant tincture.
• Fresh plant tinctures were never official. Although fresh plant preparations were included in homeopathic pharmacopeias (which is understandable, given the energetic considerations in homeopathy), they were never listed in conventional pharmacopeias other than a few entries for stabilized fresh juices known as succi (singular: succus). Hence the use of a wide range of fresh plant tinctures is travel into unknown territory.

• Because of the water content of fresh plant tinctures, making preparations that are stronger than a 1:5 on a dry- weight basis is difficult. This problem can be readily illustrated by the following example. A leafy, fresh plant material typically contains 80% moisture. Therefore 100 g of this material represents 20 g of dried herb. To make a 1:5 tincture, this 20-g equivalent of dried herb must be mixed with 100 ml of liquid menstruum. However, 80 ml of water already exists from the herb itself. Therefore to preserve the 1:5 ratio, only 20 ml of 96% ethanol can be added. This 20 ml of ethanol is not enough to physically extract the bulky 100 g of fresh plant material. However, what is probably just as detrimental is that the effective ethanol percentage is only 20% (20 ml of ethanol and 80 g [or ml] of water from the fresh plant). This amount is too low to extract lipophilic components and barely enough to preserve the tincture. Some authors suggest using multiple maceration to overcome this problem, whereby the resultant tincture is macerated with a new batch of fresh herb, but this only makes the situation worse, diluting the alcohol to below the level that canstabilize the final tincture.

In summary:
• 100 g of a fresh plant containing 80% moisture is macerated in 20 ml of solvent (alcohol-water).
• The dried herb weight is 20 g.
• The amount of liquid is 80 ml (moisture from the fresh plant)+20 ml (solvent)=100 ml.
• Hence the result is equivalent to a 1:5 tincture on a dry- weight basis (20-g dried herb:100-ml liquid).
• However, the result may be even weaker because of the enzymatic decomposition and the low effective ethanol percentage.
Clearly from the previous discussion, given that the water content of fresh leafy plant material varies from 75% to 90%, the only practical way to make a reliable fresh plant tincture is to work on an equivalent dried herb ratio of 1:10. (Perhaps a 1:5 ratio can be achieved for roots, barks, and seeds that contain less moisture.) However, because the use of 1:10 or even 1:5 tinctures makes therapeutic doses of most herbs difficult, the herbal practitioner who endorses pharmacologic dosing will generally find little advantage in using fresh plant tinctures. Some exceptions occur based on traditional use or instances when the herb is so potent that it is normally used as a tincture (e.g., poke root, Thuja), but these are few.From the previous discussion, a fresh plant tincture will never be as strong as will a 1:1 or 1:2 liquid extract, provided that:

a. The liquid extract has been made from carefully harvested and dried raw material of high quality.
b. The correct ethanol percentage was used to extract the dried herb.
c. No steps were used in manufacturing (e.g., exposure to high temperatures) that will damage the delicate active
component spectrum of the plant.
Dried plant preparations made in such a way will still preserve the “vitality” or “energy” of the original plant, which is embodied in its chemical complexity. Fig. 1-1 gives a visual comparison of a dried plant extract (A) with a fresh plant tincture (B) using a paper chromatography technique known as vertical capillary dynamolysis. Adherents to the anthroposophy movement believe this technique can demonstrate the “vitality” of a preparation under test.

Although the analysis of the chromatograms is subjective, the figure does show that a “vitality” to dried plant extracts exists.
Fig. 1-1 A visual comparison of a dried plant extract (A) and fresh plant tincture (B) obtained by a paper chromatography technique (vertical capillary dynamolysis). see at the end of this post!
Some practitioners use fresh plant preparations that are 1:3 or 1:5 (or even 1:10) based on fresh weight in the mistaken belief that they are using highly active preparations. However, a simple mathematical calculation shows that these practitioners are deceiving themselves. Taking a 1:5 fresh weight ratio as an example and assuming again that the herb contains 80% moisture, the following calculations can be made. If 100 g of fresh herb is macerated in 500 ml ofmenstruum, the dry-weight equivalent of herb is 20 g, and the total amount of liquid is 500 ml plus the 80 ml from the plant, which equals 580 ml. Hence the so-called 1:5 tincture is actually 1:29 on a dry-weight basis—completely unsuitable for therapeutic herbal doses."
author & pollinator
Posts: 184
Location: Roseburg, Oregon
  • Likes 3
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
    Number of slices to send:
    Optional 'thank-you' note:
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
Ultimately we want something that works clinically for what we are treating. There are some plants that work better fresh, but most plants will work dry.  It can depend on what we are using it for also. One plant will work dry for a specific situation and need to be used fresh for another situation.  I make tinctures from dry material if I can, as it is much easier to do, and yes, I can make it stronger as far as density of product.

One  issue that comes up with dried herbal tinctures is how old the dried product is. Some herbs will be fine if we make a dry tincture out of them immediately after drying, but if we wait 6 months, a lot is lost in quality.  Some herbs I find to be better made fresh but dry is ok, I just prefer them fresh. These are the tinctures I usually add both fresh and dry herb to.

If a product only works fresh clinically for me, fresh tincture is what I use and I don't bother to add dry to the tincture at all since the dry  is worthless in my opinion in some cases. Even though it is more work to make a fresh tincture or fresh oil, I do when I need to. Ultimately, if I can dry the plant and use it as a tea, that is the form I like best and it is the least expensive for people. However, teas have issues some times too for a variety of reasons.

Fresh plants are different than dried, just as fresh food is different. Making a dinner from food that sat in the refrigerator for a week or food that has been dried first (getting older on the shelf all the time) makes a difference. It is shown that nutrients are lost in storage and during shipment of food for a variety of reasons. Same happens with herbs. So, fresh or freshly dried is going to be best for most herbs just as with food, but not all. The better you store them, the longer a dried herb will last before tincturing it too. Often you are depending on someone else to have taken good care of the dried herb, keeping it in a cool room and out of the sunlight etc. There is a lot of poor quality dried herb on the market and it is best to grow and dry/process your own herbs.

Plants do have energetic qualities. Ultimately we all share the one eternal flame as our source, but we each, including the herbs have our own special vibration that spirit gave us. It is this energetic quality that we attempt to harness in homeopathics , flower essences and some tincture makers attempt to capture as well. The energy of the maker is infused into the product also.

I don't just look at known active components. There are countless examples of herbs that have been released as products on the market where they were sold by their most active components, only later to be found to not work as there were other unknown constituents not in the product that were in the whole herb. We know so little about what it is about  an herb that makes it work the way it does. We know even less about what we are. Ultimately, we all have to follow the path that works for us, gives us a life we find rewarding while on the path and gives us results that enrich our lives. Some people prefer eating packaged food, while others only want freshly prepared food.  Some foods are better eaten fresh such as a sugar snap pea or carrot while other such as a cannellini bean or brown rice cook are great as a dried food that is cooked up later. Some herbs such as Arnica, St. John's wort, Pasque flower, Echinacea purpurea, Bugleweed are examples of herbs I usually use fresh. There are herbs such as Garlic that should only be used fresh if for killing pathogens but can be used dry for other things. Even the herbs I mentioned that I used fresh would have some applications where you can use them dry, but I mostly use them fresh, so that is how I make the tincture. With the Ech purp, I add dry in at the last maceration as dry is useful as long as made from freshly dried root and not old root. Ech. angustifolia by the way will last a long time on the shelf, unlike Ech. purp. If they are made appropriately as tincture they are both great as tincture, but if you use them both as 6 month old dried root to make the tincture he E. purp will not be as good as the E. ang. as the E. purp does not last on the shelf as well.

Plants will share information with us if we show you we worthy. That has happened very few times in my life, but it has happened and this is the most profound data you can get. So, if you really want to know how to best utilize a plant, ask the plant. Show you are worthy by spending time with them, get to know them. Take care of them. Open your heart. Be open to what they share no matter what it is. Be thankful.
Posts: 44
Location: Medford, Oregon 8a, 21” precipitation. Clay soil.
rabbit books food preservation fiber arts medical herbs bee
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
    Number of slices to send:
    Optional 'thank-you' note:
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
The other thing to consider, especially if you will be storing your tinctures, is the water content of your herbs. It’s very hard to estimate what that will be, which can affect the water/alcohol balance and thus the shelf life of your tincture. If you want to be certain, dried is safer.
Posts: 3
Location: France
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
    Number of slices to send:
    Optional 'thank-you' note:
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
Dr. Tilgner,
Interesting info.
But I have always wondered...
God or Spirit as you called it, gave the ability to herbs to be stored for a long time when in dried form. Isn't this a sign that herbs work better as medicine when dried?
Maybe it is better for small batch extracts (which most do) to use dry herbs. They are more convenient, in a matter of quantities and time.
What do you thing?
My pie came with a little toothpic holding up this tiny ad:
Greenhouse of the Future ebook - now free for a while
    Bookmark Topic Watch Topic
  • New Topic