Have you ever wondered how the makers of popular Tinctures differ in their potency? There is no simple answer to this, but the answer lies in their choice of herbs, and how those choices affect the potency of the end result. Not all herbal combinations are created equal, and the differences among them can mean the difference between a good remedy and a great one, or simply the difference between an excellent herbal remedy and one that fails to do anything for you. Understanding how potency differences among herbs influences the strength of a remedy can help you choose the right herbal remedy for your particular condition, and avoid wasting time and money on herbal remedies that don’t work.
The first factor that impacts potency is the method of preparation. While there are many common methods of preparing tinctures, they are not all equally potent. For instance, when you prepare an infusion, such as ginger ale, you have the tincture itself and the alcohol in the alcohol change its nature from a de-acetylated (meaning it’s fast) substance into a more stable form that will maintain its potency over time.
The tincture, also called the essential oil, is then bottled and sold as a concentrated beverage, or sometimes as a soap or potpourri. When tincture is made into a drink or other form, the alcohol is not changed (becomes a less potent substance), and the tincture is left with a lower potency than it was when it was harvested. The same factor applies to hemp tincture made from hemp seeds, hemp vinegars, and other similar extracts, which are usually much more potent than any other way of preparation.
Another factor that influences potency is the way the tincture is harvested from the plant. A lot of herbalists, as well as cooks and herbalists who specialize in creating tea, create teas from wild herbs rather than from standardized plants. This practice has been going on for hundreds of years and has been used to determine what qualifies as a quality tincture, how much should be harvested, and how herbs are prepared for consumption. Wild herbs tend to have greater potency than plants that have been processed (such as those in a standardized seed extract), and there are always inherent risks associated with the consumption of uncooked or unprocessed herbs.
There are also ways how potency differences among tinctures are determined for medicinal purposes. Most of these involve boiling the tincture, but some herbologists believe that even boiling the herb in an acidic solution can alter the concentration of the tincture enough to render it less effective. For example, parsley, thyme, and Rosemary are all sensitive to being cooked in acidic juices, and they should never be included in any kind of powdered herb preparation. They should only be included in a tea that has been specifically formulated to include them as a base herb.