Mother Tincture is an herbal remedy, very common in Phytotherapy, which allows to enclose in a liquid form the healing properties of plants, to preserve them for a long time, facilitate the absorption of active ingredients and improve the convenience of use.
We offer you a selection of mother tinctures most used in phytotherapy, with detailed description of the properties; botanical characteristics of the plant, from which it is extracted, information on the part used where the active ingredients are located, the balsamic time for harvesting, the therapeutic use and the preparation procedure.
What is meant by mother tincture
Mother tincture (TM) is a hydroalcoholic extraction, obtained by cold maceration of fresh plant material, in a solution of water and alcohol. This preparation represents the starting point of other herbal and galenic preparations: for this reason it is called “mother” and can be obtained from all herbs and medicinal plants.
Mother tinctures are used in phytotherapy for the treatment of different ailments and are obtained by letting the commonly used part (leaves, flowers, roots, bark, seeds, resins) slowly macerate, in order to extract and preserve its properties. Therefore, from each plant species a specific mother tincture can be obtained, with the same activities as the vegetable part used.
These hydroalcoholic solutions have a higher concentration of active ingredients, compared to herbal teas, as with the infusion or decoction, in which the solvent is water, only the water-soluble active ingredients are extracted. In fact, thanks to the extractive properties of alcohol, it is also possible to obtain those active ingredients that are not soluble in water, such as essential oils.
Effects and properties of the mother tincture
The mother tincture is not a homeopathic product,but it is an extract of herbal type, as it contains unaltered the phytocomplex of the plant, that is, the set of its active ingredients. The effects change in relation to the plant that was used for the preparation, because the properties and indications of use are the same as those of the plant species from which it derives.
Being a type of liquid extraction, the absorption by the body is almost immediate and for this reason all the main plants are present in this form.
Drug and balsamic time
The“drug”is the part of the plant in which the active ingredients reside, which give it therapeutic activities. The concept of drugs has unfortunately been negatively altered in our day, so in the common sense we mean the narcotic substance; while in phytotherapy it designates the raw material used in herbal preparations.
The mother tincture has the synergistic action of the active ingredients that contribute to obtaining a certain effect. The main drugs can therefore be represented by: whole plant (roots, stem and leaves), aerial part (stem and leaves), roots; leaves, flowers,seeds, fruits, bark, resins.
The presence and concentration of active ingredients in a drug depends on the vegetative phase of the plant, so the collection of plants must be carried out according to the species,its vegetative cycle (period in which the plant grows, reproduces, matures and goes into a state of rest) and the part we need. For this reason the drug is harvested in a very specific period called “balsamic time“. In most cases if the drug consists of leaves or flowers, the best time for harvesting normally coincides at the time of flowering (better at the beginning); when the drug corresponds to the roots or rhizomes it is necessary to take advantage of the vegetative rest period, which usually takes place in the winter period.
Preparation of the mother tincture
After choosing the drug and having collected it in its precise balsamic time, it must be put to macerate, still fresh, in the solvent. In the mother tinctures the solvent, as we have said, consists of alcohol, suitably reduced in alcohol content, by means of a table that shows the dilution parameters, in order to lower the alcohol volume to the desired degree. The average alcohol content used for the hydroalcoholic solution is 50 degrees (50% alcohol and 50% water by volume) with variations, depending on the type of drug and the active ingredient, from 20 degrees (20% alcohol by volume) to 80 degrees (80%).
Pure food alcohol is used at 95 °(the one for the preparation of liqueurs), and mixed with distilled water until it reaches the appropriate alcohol content for the drug, on which we intervene: leaves, roots, barks, seeds have a different consistency and fabrics, so from time to time a more or less high alcohol content will be needed.
There are various methods of extraction, but generally in the preparation of mother tinctures a dosage of 10:1 (or 5:1) is used, that is, 10 parts of hydroalcoholic solution for one part of the drug; therefore in a 10 to 1 ratio 100 grams of solution will be mixed with 10 grams of the drug. It is then left to macerate cold for at least 3 weeks,providing to shake regularly, in a glass jar in the dark. After about 21 days, the macerate thus obtained is first subjected to filtering,then through the squeezing procedure it is placed at rest for at least two days, in a place completely in the dark, protected from direct light.
The operation is conducted in such a way as to obtain an amount by weight of mother tincture ten times greater than the weight of the dehydrated fresh plant (1:10). Through this process, the active ingredients are extracted, eliminating the unwanted components from the drug and obtaining a more practical and stable form.
Mother tinctures and their use
The intake of mother tinctures, due to their liquid form, is first of all of immediate absorption, compared to tablets or capsules. They should be taken in drops (from 20 to 120 drops a day), diluted in half a glass of water and generally drunk between meals. However, the dosage and the time of intake depend on the therapeutic activity of the chosen plant, while the recommended period of use is about 2 months.