By Cat Gina Cole
Today in my herbal journal from 2010 are notes about teaching an herbal class and I find some very good things to consider when using herbs. First up is the question Why use tincture over tea? A great question. The answer depends on the why. There are times when sitting down with a comforting tea is all that is needed. So many of the teas are for relaxation. The combination of aroma, heat, taste, and affect triggers all the cues for calming someone. Their effectiveness for medicine comes sometime later as an individual digests the tea, like teas for an upset stomach.
Tinctures, on the other hand, are medicinal much sooner. This is due to the carrier used in the tincture. If alcohol is used, it travels through the system much faster than tea. Add to that the concentration of the herb, the parts per million in a tincture versus a tea, and you get an extra medicinal/ affect impact much sooner.
A note on brewing teas: If you have dried or fresh leaves, let the water boil first and then put the herb in, turn down the heat, and let it steep, then you strain and drink. If you are using stems, bark, or seeds to make tea, you will want to bruise it first to help the release then let them boil for a few moments before steeping. They are much tougher and take a bit longer to get the constituents extracted.
Another consideration when using a tea versus a tincture is dosing strength. Tinctures are much stronger, so a person’s health needs to be known well if you are using them for medicinal reasons. Tea has such a low concentration of constituents and that is why typically drinking a cup of almost any tea is considered harmless. This is not so in tinctures because of their concentration.
In magic, it is typically fresh, dried, or powdered herbs that are used and concentration is not a concern. I support the use of herbs for anything you would normally buy something over the counter to treat. Herbs can enhance but not replace Western Medicine for more severe ailments. Herbs can be used in addition to traditional medicine to support and enhance treatment.
Remember to research what you are using to find out their actions if using several cups of strong tea or a tincture. You would not want to accidentally raise someone’s blood pressure (or your own) if there is an issue with high blood pressure or something worse. So experiment and enjoy safely on your herbal journey. The next post will be about the herb Datura, so stay tuned!
Cat Gina Cole is a Herditary Witch and author of Psychic Skills for Magic and Witchcraft (Llewellyn, 2022). She is the founder of The Coven of the Rising Phoenix and Staff Coordinator for “Green Egg Magazine.” You can reach her at www.catginacole.com