Coming down with something?
Reaching for the right tincture could get you back on track, but it’s vital to choose wisely. To help you curate your stores like a medieval apothecary, I’ve compiled a list of the top 10 best tinctures to have on hand.
Each one serves a different purpose, and you can mix and match them depending on what’s ailing you. Read on to learn all about these powerful plant medicines, including how to use them and where to source reputable products.
Antimicrobial | Antipyretic | Antiseptic
Choose usnea tincture when you start to feel under the weather. This potent antibacterial extract fights off gram-positive bacteria like staphylococcus and streptococcus. It can also treat viral and fungal infections, showing particular efficacy against vaginitis, yeast infections, thrush, and HPV.
Usnea tincture helps reduce fever and swelling associated with common infections, battling illness and providing symptom relief at the same time.
How to Use
Take 1–2 ml up to four times daily for viral, fungal, and bacterial infections.
Begin taking usnea tincture at the onset of symptoms. While it is considered safe, it is a short-term treatment. There have been reports of liver toxicity with overuse, so start with the lowest dose and work your way up. Pregnant or breastfeeding women should always consult a doctor before use.
Anti-inflammatory | Analgesic | Regenerative
Comfrey is the perfect tincture to have on hand for common injuries. It stimulates tissue growth and promotes circulation, providing a helpful adjuvant therapy for broken bones and wound care. Its anti-inflammatory properties can ward off discomfort associated with rheumatic diseases, while its analgesic properties alleviate pain from sprains, strains, and bruising.
How to Use
Gently massage 1 ml into the skin up to five times daily for muscle aches, joint pain, and inflammation.
Comfrey can be controversial. Some believe you can use it internally, while others say Comfrey’s pyrrolizidine alkaloids render it toxic. It’s better to err on the side of caution unless you’re an experienced herbalist and only apply this tincture topically. If using it on wounds, do not put it directly onto broken skin. Instead, add one ml to an herbal salve and rub it gently over abrasions. You can use comfrey oil the same way.
Anti-inflammatory | Antioxidant
Curcumin tincture is a potent anti-inflammatory medicine derived from the colorful turmeric root. Extensive research indicates that it can relieve symptoms of arthritis, ulcerative colitis, dermatitis, and more. It is excellent for joint pain and muscle inflammation, and many studies demonstrate its efficacy against rheumatic diseases.
Curcumin tincture also contains a host of polyphenols and terpenes. These antioxidants regulate the immune system and protect the body against additional ailments, so this treatment is both preventative and curative.
How to Use
Take 1–4 ml up to three times daily for rheumatic pain, joint pain, and everyday muscle aches.
Curcumin tincture is considered safe to use daily, with some exceptions. It may exacerbate the effects of blood thinners and diabetes medication, so anyone taking these or other prescriptions should always ask a doctor before use.
Antioxidant | Antimicrobial | Antipyretic | Larvicidal | Anti-inflammatory
Clove tincture is one of the most antioxidant-rich extracts around. It packs a double punch of antimicrobial and anti-inflammatory compounds and is an excellent remedy for toothaches, mouth sores, and sore throats.
A dropperful of tincture can bring down fever and swelling similarly to acetaminophen (paracetamol), working like a charm to ease general pain and discomfort due to infection.
Surprisingly enough, it’s also a potent larvicidal. Diluting some tincture and sprinkling it on bug-infested or moldy areas can solve insect problems and make your house smell delicious.
How to Use
Take 1 ml up to three times daily for pain, fever, or infection.
To remove mold or kill insect eggs, dilute a dropper of tincture in water or add it to a premixed cleaning solution.
Clove tincture is generally considered safe, but there have been some reports of toxicity. It’s possible to overdose on it, and long-term use could have adverse effects we don’t know about. To mitigate potential harm, only use clove tincture as a short-term solution and always consult a doctor before use.
Adaptogen| Detoxicant | Antioxidant | Anti-inflammatory
Burdock root tincture decreases fatigue and enhances athletic performance, making it a great choice to start the day with. It also has a wide range of healing properties, acting as an antimicrobial to quell skin and mouth infections and as a detoxifying diuretic.
This extract has potent anti-inflammatory compounds that are particularly effective in treating discomfort due to osteoarthritis and diverticulitis. You can even include burdock tincture in homemade cough medicine to soothe general pain and bring down swelling.
Additionally, burdock root tincture stimulates circulation throughout the body and promotes muscle, organ, and skin health. It could also be great for after work, with one intriguing research study demonstrating its efficacy as an aphrodisiac.
How to Use
Take 2–4 ml up to three times daily to enhance performance and soothe general aches and pains.
For topical application, you can also mix burdock tincture into lotions, creams, and salves.
While burdock tincture is considered safe, its diuretic effects can potentially dehydrate the body. Monitor your disposition as you use it, and drink more water if necessary. Those taking any prescribed diuretics, diabetes medication, or blood thinners should avoid burdock tincture.
Analgesic | Anti-inflammatory
Willow bark tincture is one of the best natural painkillers around. It contains salicin, a chemical compound similar to salicylate — the main component in aspirin. Some research indicates that antioxidant activity of polyphenols and flavonoids also contributes to its efficacy. Willow bark is a particularly beneficial tincture for joint inflammation, lower back pain, and sports injuries.
How to Use
Take 2–4 ml up to four times daily for menstrual pain, headaches, and everyday muscle aches.
Take willow bark tincture at the onset of pain and cease using it when symptoms subside. It may take longer to kick in than aspirin, but exploratory studies have demonstrated it can be just as effective. Those who are allergic to aspirin or have liver problems should avoid taking willow bark tincture or ask a doctor before using it.
Analgesic | Antispasmodic| Demulcent | Antioxidant | Anti-inflammatory | Regenerative
Plantain tincture can treat a variety of common ailments, making it a must-have for any medieval medicine cabinet. Its high mucilage content and antimicrobial properties make it effective for soothing respiratory infections, while iridoids and flavonoids relax muscles to ease digestive distress.
Plantain tincture provides relief from constipation, cramps, and bloating. Its antioxidants and anti-inflammatory compounds fight stress and prevent organ damage, and it has proven especially effective for protecting the liver and healing the skin.
How to Use
Take 1–2 ml up to three times daily for respiratory infections and digestive issues.
You can also mix plantain tincture into a salve or ointment and apply it topically to accelerate wound healing and moisturize skin.
While plantain tincture may be safe to use daily in some cases, its mild laxative properties could cause dehydration. Always start with the lowest possible dosage and increase gradually, ceasing usage if you feel any adverse effects.
Sedative | Antispasmodic | Sleep aid
Valerian root tincture is perfect for winding down. It is a powerful relaxant, with evidence suggesting it can improve sleep quality and lessen the time we spend tossing and turning before drifting off. It also appears to have sedative and antispasmodic properties, acting as a mild muscle relaxer.
Valerian root is an approved herbal treatment listed in the German Commission E monographs. Well-known for its potency, it is commonly used for anxiety, stress, and sleep disorders in many European nations.
How to Use
Take 1–3 ml one hour before bed and an additional 1–2 ml right before bed.
Valerian root tincture is usually safe for long-term use. However, those who already take prescribed sedatives or sleep aids should avoid using it since it could exacerbate the effects of their current medication. Because it can cause sedation, you should never operate equipment, drive, or drink alcohol when you take valerian root tincture.
Antibacterial | Antibiotic | Antifungal | Anti-inflammatory
Goldenseal tincture contains natural antibacterial compounds that are effective at fighting off staph, strep, UTIs, herpes, and chlamydia. Its antiviral properties combat mouth diseases and respiratory infections, while its anti-inflammatory properties treat uncomfortable symptoms like swollen glands and sore muscles.
How to Use
Take 0.5–1 ml up to three times daily for respiratory, skin, and general infections.
Goldenseal is a potent medicinal tincture, but it does have contraindications. It could disrupt liver enzymes, affect the metabolism of other medications, and may even pose a risk of weight loss and premature birth. Always consult a doctor before using goldenseal tincture, and do not use it for longer than the duration of your symptoms.
Expectorant | Demulcent | Anti-inflammatory
Mullein is widely known as nature’s toilet paper, but there are plenty of other ways to use it. Mullein tea is common, but a tincture is more concentrated and may produce more substantial effects. Both tea and tincture contain antioxidant polysaccharides and act as a demulcent, coating the throat and soothing discomfort from respiratory infections.
Mullein tincture can also be used as an anti-diarrheal and may help calm the stomach. It has mild sedative, antibacterial, and antifungal compounds. Research indicates it could even combat pneumonia and tuberculosis.
How to Use
Take 1–3 ml up to four times daily for sore throat, upset stomach, coughs, colds, and congestion.
Mullein tincture is considered safe to use daily for as long as symptoms persist. There are no known contraindications, but research is lacking on this front. Pregnant and breastfeeding women should always consult a doctor before use.