Herbal extracts are liquid concoctions derived from herbs, prepared for obtaining the required elements of the plants. The liquids generally used for this purpose are alcohol and glycerin. The extracts made using alcohol are known as tinctures, whereas those using glycerin are called glycerites. Herbal extracts are generally considered to be more helpful, compared to capsules or pills made using identical herbs. Dried or fresh herbal matter is first macerated and stored in a solvent for a predefined amount of time, before filtering to finally get an extract that is full of the essentially desired components of the herbs. Extracts may also be obtained by using medicinal fungi.
Herbal extracts may be prepared using one herb only, or a number of herbs could be used to obtain an extract with specific properties. However, when you require more accurate results, it is recommended to use a mixture of different herbal extracts in a definite ratio. The label on the packaging of commercial extracts would specify the ratio of herbs to solvent. The normally expected ratio of solvent: herb is one: four. The ratio changes to one: one in the case of solvents and fresh herbs.
The advantages of using tincture instead of capsules are many. For one, they get absorbed and digested by the body more easily. Moreover, they have an extended shelf life, as alcohol acts as a preservative for the medicinal components. However, many people may be averse to the idea of consuming alcohol for whatever reasons. In their case, alcohol may be substituted by glycerites, which contain herbal extracts dissolved in a mixture of water and glycerin. Generally, such extracts, having a small shelf life, are meant for the use of children or pets.
Instructions for the making of herbal extracts at home are easily available. Many users wanting to prepare extracts at home prefer using vodka as an extracting agent because it contains alcohol plus water. This combination goes to ensure that the maximum possible number of elements is derived from the preferred plant. You should know that certain elements of the herb having medicinal value are soluble in alcohol, while others are soluble in water. Pure alcohol is not considered to be very helpful for certain extracts, and some volume of water may be added to the alcohol, in order to get the job done perfectly.
Instead of using a solvent, steam distillation is used for getting herbal distillates. These are produced along with essential oils. The essential oil gets separated from water, and it can be eliminated easily, leaving behind a sweet-smelling herbal distillate. Distillates are also known as essential water or floral water, and they are utilized for the purpose of aroma-therapy and taking care of the skin.
Medicinal herbs form an important constituent of alternative therapies. They are known to be in use since prehistoric times. They remained among the major methods of treatment of various illnesses till the beginning of the twentieth century. As procuring herbal extract in the form of capsules and pills is not difficult, there is a continued increase in the number of people using these products, not only getting an overall good feeling, but also for treating specific ailments.
Source by Karina Popa