How To Make Herbal Tinctures (Wellness Wednesday)

Herbal tinctures are a form of plant medicine used by Western herbalists. Whether you’re a clinically trained herbalist, a folk, community, or family herbalist, tinctures are easy to make, easy to use, and effective.

My formal herbal training so far has been based in aromatherapy (Western) and Ayurvedic herbalism (Eastern). Ayurveda differs from Western herbalism in that it usually requires rather large doses of bitter or otherwise not very palatable herbs. (If you can get Americans to swallow several grams of powdered herbs in hot water a few times a day, it’s a small miracle. Let’s face it, we’re wimps.) I usually put powdered Ayurvedic herbs, such as Triphala, Shatavari, and Dashmula, into capsules with my capsule-filling machine.

Large doses can make sense because most herbs are gentle and subtle compared to a tiny pharmaceutical pill. And sometimes a pharmaceutical option is what we need. But for all the times when it’s not, we can use plant medicine, along with other modalities, to work with our bodies and nurture them back to balance.

When it comes to Western herbalism, tinctures are an easy way to take medicine. Just put the drops in water and drink. My number one tincture, my favorite plant ally, is St. John’s Wort. Depression runs in my family, and it’s something that’s always with me, along with its friend, anxiety. Sometimes it’s just a small shadow in the corner and sometimes it threatens to take over. But it’s always been something I address in natural ways.

And before I talk about St. John’s Wort any further, if you’re thinking of trying it, make sure you read this article that lists side effects as well as contraindications with many pharmaceuticals. Educate yourself about your own health and always check with your health care professional before taking any new drugs, herbal or otherwise.

St. John’s Wort may reduce the symptoms of mild to moderate depression, anxiety, PMS, menopause, ADHD, can improve sleep, and more. My experience with it has been excellent, but I don’t take any pharmaceuticals and was aware to look out for possible side effects when I started taking it. (I never experienced any side effects.)

OK, so how do you make a tincture? Here you go!

Easy Tincture Recipe

1 clean pint mason jar with lid

bulk dried St. John’s Wort or other bulk dried herb

vodka or other flavorless alcohol

Label or tape

Fill the jar 1/3 to 1/2 full of dried herbs. Cover with vodka and screw on the lid. Label and date the jar and put it on a dark, dry shelf. Check it every day or so, giving it a gentle shake, topping up the jar with more vodka so the herbs stay covered. Let it sit for 4-6 weeks, shaking every once in a while, then strain through cheesecloth into a clean jar or into clean dropper bottles. Label and date the jar or bottles.

Health Disclaimer: Any statements or claims about the possible health benefits of herbs, essential oils, flower essences, or other plant medicine I write about on my blog have not been evaluated by the FDA and are not intended to diagnose, treat, prevent, or cure any disease or condition. The words in this post are my own opinions, based on my own experiences. Please see your health care professional before you take any supplement and if you need medical treatment of any kind.

We Are The Brennans, (A Book Review)

We Are The Brennans by Tracey Lange is the story of an Irish-American family trying to stay close and take care of one another despite what life throws their way. It reminded me of the late, beloved Maeve Binchy’s family dramas.

After an accident in LA, their sister, Sunday, returns to the family home in New York, where her father and brothers all live together. Coming home means Sunday has to rub shoulders with her ex-fiancé, who works with her brother Denny. Sunday slowly heals from her accident and begins to help out at the family pub.

As she sorts out her feelings for her ex, Kale, and works through what made her leave so suddenly five years earlier, dark family secrets begin to find the light of day.

Someone wants revenge on their family–someone who knows things that could ruin them. The Brennans will either face the painful truth and it will tear them apart or they will band together, stronger than ever.

If you like novels about families and the secrets they keep, you’ll enjoy reading We Are The Brennans.

*I received a free ARC of We Are The Brennans from Celadon Books in exchange for my honest review.

The Temple House Vanishing (A Book Review)

*This post contains Amazon affiliate links. If you click through and make a purchase, I will receive a small compensation at no extra cost to you. This helps keep my blog ad-free.

I first heard about The Temple House Vanishing by Rachel Donohue from a recent R.J. Julia newsletter in which she shared her bookstore staff’s favorite pics. It sounded like a book I’d like to read, so I ordered it right away. And it was satisfyingly what I was hoping for: dark, heavily atmospheric, reminding me of Rebecca by Daphne du Maurier, except this story is set in Ireland in the 1990s and is about the madness of adolescent obsession.

Lonely Louisa comes to Temple House, a private Catholic school run by nuns. She’s a scholarship student, so is ostracized and bullied by anyone who is anyone at the school. With her parents’ recent divorce, Louisa feels angry, conflicted, and lost, like she belongs nowhere.

She meets Victoria, a pretentious, sophisticated, seemingly confident girl who appears to have a special relationship with Mr. Lavelle, the gorgeous young art teacher. Intent on impressing Victoria and Mr. Lavelle, Louisa attempts to fit in, with her writing, her literary choices, and her conversation all tailored to please.

Jealousy among Mr. Lavelle’s favorites builds tension that leads to a public declaration of love by one student that sends the school into a spin. And shortly after, Mr. Lavelle and Louisa vanish into the mist one night never to be heard of again.

Twenty-five years later, a journalist who used to live on Louisa’s street decides to uncover the truth. Did Mr. Lavelle and Louisa really run away together? Is there more to the story that Victoria’s been keeping back all these years? The journalist begins digging and asking questions and finds a story darker and more disturbing than anyone imagined.

If you like dark, mysterious, atmospheric tales set by the seaside, you will enjoy The Temple House Vanishing.

The Night Hawks ( A Book Review)

This post contains Amazon affiliate links. If you click through and make a purchase, I will receive a small compensation at no extra cost to you. This helps keep my blog ad-free.

Have you read any of Elly Griffiths’ Ruth Galloway mysteries? They’re set in modern-day Norfolk, England, where Ruth is an archeologist who is often called out to help with DCI Nelson’s investigations.

In The Night Hawks, local metal detector enthusiasts find a body while they’re looking for treasure. It turns out to be a young man who lived nearby. And surprise–it’s murder! Bodies pile up as Nelson’s investigating progresses. Much seems to revolve around Black Dog Farm, a lonely, dark place with a horrific past. As Nelson gets closer to uncovering who the murderer is, he puts more people than himself in danger.

What I appreciated about this book in the series was the characters of police inspector Judy and her partner, Cathbad, who are also friends and neighbors of Ruth. They add interest and depth to the story, in the way that Louise Penny’s characters do. The ongoing conflicting elements of Ruth and Nelson’s relationship adds tension and I wonder how long they’ll let the current situation continue.

If you’re a British mystery fan, I recommend The Night Hawks as well all of the rest of the series.

I was given a free egalley of The Night Hawks in exchange for an honest review.

The Maidens (A Book Review)

This post contains Amazon affiliate links. If you click through and make a purchase, I will receive a small compensation at no extra cost to you. This helps keep my blog ad-free.

Alex Michaelides’ new novel, The Maidens has all the right qualities of a good British mystery which made it hard to put down. The majority of this dark, atmospheric story takes place at the University of Cambridge and is woven around Greek mythology, so it feels a bit like the Inspector Morse or Inspector Lewis tv series.

The protagonist, Mariana, a group therapist, is trying to pick up the pieces of her life a year after her husband’s sudden death in Greece. Her late husband’s niece, Zoe, who Mariana raised as her own child, calls to tell her that a friend has just been found dead on campus.

Mariana goes to Cambridge to comfort Zoe and winds up getting involved in detecting. A creepy professor, a student she meets on the train, and an unhinged, obsessed client add to the uneasiness as Mariana believes she is being stalked. Cryptic postcards, a secret society, and more murders lead to what I thought was a sure ending…and then the rug is pulled out to reveal the startling truth! The twist left me dumbfounded and in definite awe of the author.

I highly recommend The Maidens to British mystery and psychological thriller fans–this is a must-read for your summer TBR stack.

I was given an ARC of The Maidens from Celadon Books in exchange for an honest review.

Deeper Into the Wood (A Book Review)

This post contains Amazon affiliate links. If you click through and make a purchase, I will receive a small compensation at no extra cost to you. This helps keep my blog ad-free.

Ruth Pavey’s new book, Deeper into the Wood, shares her love of the four acres of wooded land she has been nurturing for over two decades. It’s a personal tale of one woman’s faithful care for a patch of land that is rather ordinary to anyone except to her.

We follow her through the year as she travels between London, where she lives, and Somerset, where the wood is located. She spends time tirelessly planting, pruning, weeding, watering, and walking among the trees, shrubs and plants. And as she spends time in the wood, she observes the growth, the changes, what thrives and what doesn’t.

She also observes a rather alarming reduction in the diversity of animal, bird, and insect species, as well as a drop in overall numbers. She observes the changing climate. She invites experts in to count plant and moth species. She invites friends on walks with her. She invites family into the wood in hopes of interesting them in caretaking. She researches the history of the place. She is determined to do the best she can as caretaker of this land.

Deeper into the Wood was an inspiring read, and it encouraged me to care for my own land with greater devotion. If we all tended our land as well as the author did, Nature would benefit greatly.

I recommend this book to anyone interested in nature memoirs, natural history, or books about country life.

*I was given an e-galley of this book through Net Galley in exchange for my honest review.

Evening Poetry, March 10

Wild Geese

by Elinor Chipp

I heard the wild geese flying

In the dead of the night,

With beat of wings and crying

I head the wild geese flying.

And dreams in my heart sighing

Followed their northward flight.

I heard the wild geese flying

In the dead of night.

You can find this poem in Favorite Poems Old and New.

Evening Poetry, November 7

The Mist and All

by Dixie Wilson

I like the fall,

The mist and all.

I like the night owl’s

Lonely call–

And wailing sound

of wind around.

I like the gray

November day,

And bare, dead boughs

That coldly sway

Against my pane.

I like the rain.

I like to sit

And laugh at it–

And tend

My cozy fire a bit.

I like the fall–

The mist and all.–

You can find this poem in Favorite Poems Old and New.

Evening Poetry, November 1

Apple Song

by Robert Frost

The apples are seasoned

And ripe and sound.

Gently they fall

On the yellow ground.

The apples are stored

In the dusky bin

Where hardly a glimmer

Of light creeps in.

In the firelit, winter

Nights, they’ll be

The clear sweet taste

Of a summer tree!

You can find Favorite Poems Old and New.

Evening Poetry, October 31

Hallowe’en

by Harry Behn

Tonight is the night

When dead leaves fly

Like witches on switches

Across the sky,

When elf and sprite

Flit through the night

On a moony sheen.

Tonight is the night

When leaves make a sound

Like a gnome in his home

Under the ground,

When spooks and trolls

Creep out of holes

Mossy and green.

Tonight is the night

When pumpkins stare

Through sheaves and leaves

Everywhere,

When the ghoul and ghost

And goblin host

Dance round their queen.

It’s Hallowe’en.

You can find this poem in Favorite Poems Old and New.