Wild in Wellness: Herbal Tinctures

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The words “tonics,” “tinctures” and “medicinal” are floating around blogs, health hubs and outdoor voices stores alike, but what do they actually do? And why on Earth should you purchase something called “spirit dust” to put in your morning java? Here’s the low-down.

Adaptogens are various natural substances that most importantly help balance the body’s stress levels. Mainly in the form of herbs, they are your natural ally in addressing persistent stress and fatigue. Helping to regulate important hormones, such as the adrenal glands, they can help to bring the body back to balance over a period of time. They can also offer other benefits such as boosting the immune system, increasing mental focus, balancing moods and helping manage a healthy weight.

Why are we loving adaptogenic herbs right now? Two words: WINTER + STRESS. When the temperature changes drastically, we more times than not find ourselves feeling run down with low energy and desperately attempting to ward off illness. With the help of a little herbal adaptogen tonic–thank you, nature–the body can better adapt to stress and get to the root of our energy crisis: adrenal imbalances. We’re only a sip away from fighting off infection and bacteria being thrown our way.

A tincture is an herbal preparation in which all the phytonutrients, minerals and essential oils of a plant are extracted into a solvent, such as alcohol, which extracts out the medicinal components from plants. Also, tinctures made with alcohol, for instance vodka, have a long shelf life. We’re talking seven to 10 years, if not longer. A long shelf life, a high potency of ingredients and being readily absorbable into the body? ‘Nuff said.

So, where to begin? Reishi mushrooms, ashwagandha, rhodiola, red ginseng and cordyceps. Have I lost you yet? There are a ton of herb mixtures out there and each hold varying properties, especially when combined. Here are some of my favorite adapotenic herbs to look for when choosing the right tinctures, or perhaps even making your own, which help to balance the body, reduce stress and ward off illness. Be sure to buy, or make, a tincture with a mixture of at least three herb combinations.

My top five favorite herbs and potential combinations are rhodiola, ashwagandha, Korean ginseng, licorice and schisandra. Some are based in alcohol and are simply used by squirting a dropper full directly into the mouth, while others can be mixed in hot water or tea to make a more medicinal bedtime beverage. Enjoy!

This article was originally published in RANGE Zine Issue Six.

xx Kate Hutcheson, BA. CNP. (Certified Nutritional Practitioner)