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Tincture Strengths Article

Tincture Strengths

Most standard tinctures are 1:5. This simply means that there is 1 part of herb to 5 parts of fluid, the fluid portion being a mixture of water and alcohol in the case of alcohol tinctures. The British Herbal Pharmacopeia bases most of its dosage guidelines around 1:5 tinctures.

Tinctures made from fresh herbs are usually 2:5; this slightly higher proportion of plant material compensates for the extra water content of fresh plants, but strength wise it is equivalent to a 1:5. Tinctures can also come in other strengths from 1:1 through to 1:10.

A 1:1 (or fluid extract or FE as they are sometimes known) is obviously a much stronger preparation and would require a smaller dosage accordingly. So for example, someone taking 2mls of a 1:5 tincture twice a day, would only require about 10 drops of a 1:1 tincture twice daily.

Preparation of fluid extracts (FEs) is ideally done using a column filtration method. It has to be said that the quality of commercially produced FEs varies considerably, and many are not made using this method.

The weight of herb can be worked out from the strength ratio. The 1:1 tincture represents 1 gm of herb per 1ml of fluid. So the weight of herb in Artemis tinctures can be expressed as follows:

  1:3  1ml = 0.34 gm of herb   50ml of tincture is 17gm or 1700 mg of herb.
  1:4  1ml = 0.25 gm of herb   50ml of tincture is 12.5gm or 1250 mg of herb.
  1:5  1ml = 0.20 gm of herb   50ml of tincture is 10gm or 1000 mg of herb.
However, this does not fully express the quality or strength of the preparation. Many Artemis tinctures are also decocted, infused and/or distilled too, which strengthens their effect. Strength of a product does not just entail the bulk quantity of herb that was used to make it; other factors of importance are:

Most professional practitioners mainly use 1:3s to 1:5s with great therapeutic success. FEs tend to be used were a very high dose is required or a practitioner wishes to cram more herbs into a prescription by using smaller amounts of FEs. However, for public use, Artemis 1:2s to 1:5s are ideal, and are in addition, mostly decocted, infused and distilled. This point must be emphasised, as really, these products should be priced at three or more times the price of an average OTC tincture due to the extra processes, care and attention and high quality ingredients that are used.

The next exciting step will be the addition of the herb ash to the tinctures of some of the high mineral containing herbs such as nettle, horsetail, and dandelion leaf. The usual tincture making process does not dissolve out much of these mineral constituents, whereas adding the ash (in which the herb is burned in a furnace at a very high temperature over a sustained period of time and then mixed into the tincture) increases the availability of essential constituents even though the actual tincture strength in terms of amount of herb to fluid will remain the same.

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