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how to make tinctures

How to Make Tinctures: Skullcap Tincture

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Have you been wanting to learn how to make tinctures?

Making your own herbal tinctures can be a very simple and satisfying process.

Tinctures often come to mind first when people speak of herbal medicine.

They are indeed very handy and useful as a way of preserving the healing qualities of herbs for long periods of time.

In truth, I use very few tinctures for my family and myself these days. I prefer to add herbs to my food or drink them in teas, enjoying their continual nourishment when added to our diet.

When I thought about writing an article on how to make tinctures, I wanted to choose one that I actually do use.

The first idea that occurred to me was to write about skullcap tincture. This is the tincture I reach for in the middle of the night when I cannot sleep.

Sometimes my mind is just over-active at night, mulling over issues and problems that didn’t quite get solved during the day. One dropperful of skullcap tincture quiets my mind and helps me to fall back to sleep within about half an hour.

Skullcap (Scutellaria lateriflora)

Skullcap is a tonic for our nervous system. It can calm anxiety and irritability and also lift our spirits.

In Opening our Wild Hearts to the Healing Herbs, Gail Faith Edwards also writes that skullcap can be useful as a pain reliever and also in helping people with overcoming addictions.

I’ve been looking for an effective headache remedy and will reach for my skullcap next time someone in our family complains of a headache.

Skullcap can also be taken as a tea or infusion, but rarely do I want to get up in the middle of the night and make myself some tea. Having a tincture on my nightstand works really well for me.

So, how do you go about making a tincture from dried herbs?

If you have been wanting to know how to make tinctures, skullcap is a good one to start with. Especially if you resonate with its uses.

How to Make Tinctures

Well, you will need a ½ pint jar, ½ cup of dried skullcap leaves, and 100-proof vodka to fill your jar.

Do start with a small jar, since you don’t yet know how effective this tincture will be for you. Start with a small amount and experiment with it. If it works well, you can make a larger amount the next time.

Fill the jar ½ way with dried skullcap leaves.

Pour 100-proof vodka over the leaves until the jar is full.

Stir and cap your tincture in progress.

Label the jar “Skullcap (Scutellaria lateriflora) tincture,” with the date 6 weeks from now to decant it. Or just put today’s date, and that will help remind you when to decant.

Open and stir your skullcap tincture every day for the first week.

Allow the skullcap tincture to sit and infuse for 5 more weeks. Shaking the jar or stirring it every few days is a great idea. Keep the tincture out on the counter so you’ll be reminded to do so. However, make sure it is kept out of direct sunlight.


Strain the skullcap tincture into cheesecloth that is set into a strainer. Then, compost the leaves.

You can clean out the jar you were brewing it in, and pour your finished tincture in the same jar for storage. Store out of direct sunlight.

LABEL your jar “Skullcap (Scutellaria lateriflora) dried in 50% alc.”

Pour some into a tincture bottle for ease of use. LABEL the little bottle if that’s what you use. You can also use any bottle or jar and administer with a teaspoon.

That’s all there is to it. Reach for your tincture when you need to in the middle of the night, or if you’re going through a particularly stressful time in your life, you may want to take a dropperful of tincture 3 or 4 times a day – at mealtimes and just before bed.

It’s a great idea to put it in a little warm water when you are taking it. However, some folks just put it directly in their mouths.

The tincture will last for several years, so when the stress eases, simply tuck the bottle away in your medicine cabinet until you need to pull it out again.

Skullcap tincture is not a remedy we use with our kids personally. A good calming remedy for kids is another lesson for another time.

Kimberly Gallagher

Written by Kimberly Gallagher

Kimberly Gallagher, M.Ed., CCH is author of Aphrodisiac, the Herb Fairies book series and creator of the Wildcraft! board game. She is also co-founder and co-CEO of LearningHerbs. Kimberly is parent to two amazing grown kids and is passionate about sustainable living, cultural transformation, healthy cooking, and storytelling.

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