astragalus root tincture

chandistarNovember 28, 2007


I'm new here and to herbalism. I recently split a pkg of astragalus root and was hoping to make a tincture. Is this a good idea? What else can I do with the roots. I've made tea and put them in soup. I'm not sure I'm doing it right though. THanks


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fatamorgana2121(Zone 5/6)

This should provide lots of reading and answers:


Here is a link that might be useful: TCM Astragalus

    Bookmark   November 28, 2007 at 3:46PM
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A couple months ago, I created an astragalus decoction that so far has worked quite well. Basically, you place about a 1/4lb of roots into a quart of water in a two-quart saucepan, and simmer it gently until the total volume is about half of that, or one pint of decoction. Press it out if you have a press (or squeeze it through cheesecloth, maybe in a potato rice if you have one), and measure the result. Add enough alcohol (vodka) to bring the total percentage to ~25%, and bottle the result.

I use 1/4 teaspoon in a glass of water every four hours or so if I feel a cold coming on.

Good luck!

    Bookmark   November 29, 2007 at 3:13PM
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Thanks buddingherbalist!

This may sound dumb but how do you measure the vodka to total 25%? I have no idea.

    Bookmark   November 30, 2007 at 11:12AM
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Not a dumb question at all; just a bit of algebra. (You remember algebra. "Jimmy's taking algebra in school! Say something in Algebra, Jimmy!" ;-) )

(By the way, the rule of thumb is if you're over 22% total alcohol by volume, you're okay, based on all I've read. I just added a little margin for comfort, and to account for measuring inaccuracies, when I said 25%.)

Taking the scenario I gave above as an example, you'd have 16 ounces of decoction, consisting of only water (and plant compounds, of course). Rather than go into the formulas, just go by this:

Start by measuring the amount you have, and apply one of these models:

* If you can get 95% pure ethanol to preserve with ("Everclear" is the brand in my local liquor store), then just add a little more than one third as much 95% ethanol as the decoction. For our example, this is (16*0.33)/0.95 = ~5.5oz Everclear. That will bring the total to 21.5oz, of which 5.5 ounces is alcohol, or
-> ((5.5oz * 0.95) / 21.5oz) * 100 = ~27% alcohol

* If you can only get 100 proof vodka (~50% alcohol), then use roughly an equal amount of vodka as decoction. That will make three parts water, and one part alcohol, or 25% alcohol.
-> ((16oz * 0.5) / 32oz) * 100 = 25% alcohol

* If you can only get 80-proof vodka, then you'll need to add about 1-1/2 times as much vodka as decoction. In our example, this would be (16*1.5) = ~24oz vodka. Then you'll have a total of 16oz + 24oz = ~40oz. The percentage of alcohol in that case would be:
-> ((24oz * 0.4) / 40oz) * 100 = ~24% alcohol

A couple of notes are in order here:

1. As you can see, the cost of the endeavor goes up substantially with the lower-concentration vodkas! Even though Everclear is more expensive by the ounce, in the end it's much less expensive, since you use much less of it. Even 151 rum (~75% alcohol) is probably less expensive in the end, if you can get that. (Use about half as much 151 rum as the volume of the decoction to get 25% total alcohol by volume, or 16oz decoction + 8oz rum, (to get 6oz alcohol).)

2. The lower concentration sources of alcohol also mean that you'd be taking potentially a lot more of the overall preparation, and more alcohol, to get a given amount of active plant components. Best to use the most concentrated alcohol you can get. If you must use 50% or 40% vodka to preserve with, you'll probably want to increase the dosage to 1/2 teaspoon every three or four hours.

And BTW, some herbalists recommend that you soak the herb overnight in cold water before beginning the simmering and reduction process, to get the most out of it. I did, and as I said, the resulting medicine seems to work quite well.

Please let us know how you make out in the end!


    Bookmark   November 30, 2007 at 4:21PM
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Hello BH,
I know how to make an astragulas tincture from alcohol, however since my grandson will be using it as well, I'd like to make it from cider vinegar. Do you happen to know the process for this?

    Bookmark   August 8, 2009 at 7:44PM
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