Sharol Tilgner

author & pollinator
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since Dec 30, 2011
Who is Sharol Tilgner?: I am an herbalist, licensed naturopathic physician, farmer/gardener, teacher and herbal medicine maker. My mission is to inspire and empower you with the healing wisdom of herbs. Learning about herbs gives us a tool to live a vital and energetic life. I have spent much of my 58 years wildcrafting, growing, preserving and using medicinal herbs. I am a fourth generation Oregonian, an organic/biodynamic farmer, physician, and herbalist. I teach others to grow, and preserve their food and medicine and stay healthy via natural methods. I reap tremendous joy from teaching people to take charge of their health care. Writing is one of the best ways to reach people, and share my knowledge as a physician/herbalist/farmer. I use blogging, books, free website information and classes as a way to share tools, as I endeavor to co-create a beautiful world.
Dr. Tilgner's past includes director of the Portland Naturopathic Clinic pharmacy, molding an old cattle ranch in Cottage Grove, Oregon into an organic herb farm and founder and prior owner of the herbal manufacturing company Wise Woman Herbals. She also founded the Pacific NW Herbal Symposium, The NW Herb Fest, was the editor of Herbal Transitions and associate editor of Medical Herbalism. She has produced 2 herbal videos entitled Edible and Medicinal Herbs, Volume 1, and 2 " and is author of the books , "Herbal Medicine From the Heart of the Earth", "Herbal ABC's,the Foundation of Herbal Medicine" and "Herbal Formulas."
Dr. Tilgner is a nationally known speaker who prior to becoming a farmer, lectured at medical colleges and conferences across the United States. She is an herbal consultant to both physicians and the herbal industry.
Roseburg, Oregon
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Recent posts by Sharol Tilgner

I have grown beans for many years. I find fresh beans (in the first year) are so much tastier and vital than even 1 year old plus beans. I don't even like them much at 3 years. I usually store them in 1 gallon glass jars with tight fitting lids, but still I notice them losing vitality after a year. The one year beans also srpout better and grow better than 3 year old beans. Again, they just seem to have more vitality.  I have never had store bought beans that taste as good as my home grown beans, but I have purchased beans from other organic farmers who's beans taste great.  It was mentioned that beans have constituents in them that can be problematic, but soaking for a minimum of overnight (I usually soak 12-24 hours) and cooking them thoroughly helps to remove the phytates, lectins and enzymes that seeds such as beans contain.  The following information on these constituents is taken from an article on reactions to corn that I wrote, but it is pertinent here too. The whole article is rather long and the rest of the article not listed below does not relate to beans. I have only included data that has some relationship to the phytates, lectins and enzymes found in seeds, including beans. If you are interested in the corn article in total you can find it at
Phytate, or phytic acid is mostly found in the outer hull of seeds. It is in a variety of plant products with them predominating in  whole grains, beans, and also found in nuts. Any actual food item that could be used as a seed to grow a new plant is suspect of having a lot of phytic acid.

Phytic acid is the primary storage compound of phosphorus in seeds. It is strongly negatively charged and the phosphate in phytic acid strongly binds to metallic cations of calcium, iron, postassium, Magnesium, Manganeese and Zinc, making them insoluble and thus unavailable as nutritional factors. Phytate mainly accumulates in protein storage vacuoles as globoids, predominantly located in the aleurone layer (wheat, barley and rice) or in the embryo (corn). During germination, phytate is hydrolysed by endogenous phytase(s) and other phosphatases to release phosphate, inositol and micronutrients to support the growing seedling.

The process of fermentation, and sprouting can be used to remove phytate from corn and other seeds. Nixtamalization of corn has also been shown to reduce phytates.

Enzyme Inhibitors
Just as seeds contain phytates, they also contain enzyme inhibitors. These enzyme inhibitors inhibit seeds from sprouting but they also inhibit our digestive enzymes. This can lead to all manner of mild or serious digestive problems. These enzyme inhibitors prevent the seeds from sprouting until just the right conditions come along. The right conditions are usually water, warmth, and slight acidity such as found during fermentation. So, just as with phytates, soaking, or fermentation can remove enzyme inhibitors.

I mentioned above that corn has been found to contain prolamins called Zein, that cause allergy reactions similar to gluten. They are lectins and it is important to know that humans can be benefited or made ill by different types of lectins. Lectins are carbohydrate-binding proteins that are present in both plants and animals. The prolamin lectin in corn appears to be causing an allergic reaction in some people. They are known to interact  with the brush border of the intestine (which may impact cell viability and/or barrier function in addition to allowing transport of the toxic lectin into the body); and they are biologically active once they enter the body.

Most grains contain a prolamin similar in structure to gluten, and zein, such as orzenin in rice or avenin in oats. These prolamins contribute to the cross-reactivity experienced by so many with a gluten sensitivity, and yet grains that contain them are often used as gluten-free alternatives.

Besides corn, lectins are found in other grains, (especially wheat and wheat germ), quinoa, rice, buckwheat, oats, rye, barley, and millet, all legumes, including dried beans, soy and peanuts contain these potentially toxic lectins. Dairy is another source and some think this is due to feeding cows/goats grains rather than being entirely grass fed.

Secretory IgA binds lectins and protects us from them, but some people do not make secretory IgA, and some mycotoxins which are too often associated with corn and other grains, have been shown to decrease production of secretory IgA.

There is data suggesting that lectins are also inactivated by soaking, sprouting, cooking (high temps like boiling) and fermenting.
23 hours ago
I have used Gymnema sylvestre with both Type I and type II diabetics. Type II diabetics often don't need Gymnema though. I find other herbs, diet and exercise usually all that is needed.  In Type I diabetics it has been helpful in lowering the amount of insulin they need and also stopping the erratic blood sugar changes seen in what is called  a "brittle diabetic".  I have not seen anyone come off their insulin.  I would be worried about someone attempting to lower their insulin by using Gymnema though, unless they did it in conjunction with their practitioner while watching their blood sugar closely. You might work with a naturopathic physician or a functional medicine physician who should both know this herb, and could help you with your situation, not only perhaps by use of this herb but also with other ideas specific to you.

Here are a couple research articles one with Type I and one with Type II :  

Some researchers have theorized that the beta cells are being regenerated and it is possible, but we don't know that at this time. Most of the research on Gymnema has been small trials and not exactly up to par with what is usually accepted as best scientific practices unfortunately. Therefore, some people simply ignore them.
1 month ago
Hi Judson,

I just posted that article you were interested in on my website at The short rundown is that parasitic worms, or helminths, as most researchers call them, are used to modulate the immune system and the digestive flora. There is a lot of research around this strange topic and a lot of benefits are gained for those with robust immune systems causing them inflammatory issues. We coevolved with these worms and it was only recently that many of us increased our hygiene and no longer have them on board. It is also recently that we have had an explosion of autoimmunity, and allergies. Studies have found countries where there are more worms have less autoimmunity.  

I cover some of the more commonly studied worms. Here are a few of the key points:

Helminths in general have been found to help with a variety of inflammatory conditions, allergies and various autoimmune disease.

They have been shown to have specific mechanisms by which they modulate immunity of the host.

It has been theorized that some of our immune inherited genes may make us more prone to needing helminth association. Therefore, certain individuals would be more helped by helminths. It is not as if everyone needs them. Northern Europeans appear to have a more robust immune system and often in this case do well with worms.

Using worms that stay in the lumen of the digestive tract make this type of therapy look safer and more appealing in my opinion.

When using hookworms for treatment there is a specific subspecies, NA457 that is used.

Many people with autoimmune diseases are using drugs that they find  cause them a lot of side effects that are hard to live with. I think we should further investigate the use of parasitic worms to treat autoimmune diseases and spare individuals these terrible side effects.

Helminths may have a future treating a number of afflictions from histamine over-expression and SIBO to multiple sclerosis and inflammatory bowel disease. They may change the entire face of autoimmune treatment and other inflammatory disease in the near future.

Safety concerns about using helminths are being addressed by use of specific Genus, species and even subspecies as well as controlling dose.  Using those parasites that do not reproduce in the host has been key to choosing the specific types of worms used.

If you check out the article and are interested in it, you will also find Dr. Nenninger's book on the use of hookworms fascinating. There is a link to it if you want to read it also. He has had a lot of personal experience using them on him and his family who all have servere autoimmunity. He has also had quite a bit of experience using them with his patients.

I realize there is a huge ick factor to get by with this therapy, and drug companies are trying to copy various proteins the worms make and they plan to provide them as drugs to people with autoimmune diseases. However, the worms appear to be more like conductors of our immune system and gut flora. Although, the drug proteins might help, I wonder if they would ever be able to reach the state of finesse that some of these worms offer in their minute to minute modulation of our flora and immune system. Natures methods even in the case of parasitic therapay may offer much more than a drug ever could.
1 month ago
This book is free for two days this coming weekend on December 4th and 5th through a special option Amazon has given to authors of ebooks. The details for how to download it are available at my website at this link:  
1 month ago
I would like to point out that a true allergic reaction is caused by an IgE surge. The allergen stimulates allergen-specific IgE antibodies which attach to specpific receptors on cells which then release histamines and other inflammatory mediators. This is a very quick reaction with an early phase that occurs within 15 minutes after exposure and a later reaction that occurs 4-6 hours after the first symptoms disappear. This second phase can last for days or even weeks. These are so quick and so intense that it is usually quite noticeable and evident that it is an allergic reaction.

Besides being sensitized to something and having an allergic reaction, other causes of rashes would be contact with a toxin that irritates the skin, infectious agents (viral, bacterial, parasitic, fungal), heat, autoimmune conditions, stress can bring on rashes in some individuals which is a neuroendocrine reaction. It is also thought by some practitioners including myself that a leaky gut can lead to inflammation anywhere, including the skin.

There are so many different ways to view rashes and this is my take on it: Any type of inflammatory reaction including a rash, no matter what the factors and process, is related to the level of reaction by our immune system. For those who have over-reactive immune systems such as is seen in allergies, using treatments such as herbs, supplements, or lifestyle changes to modulate the immune system can be helpful. Similar treatments can be used to support the biotransformation system (AKA detox system) also, as the biotransformation process of the body helps to remove both environmental toxins as well as well as many excess products our body makes. Most cells and organs in the body have been shown to be involved in the biotransformation process, but the liver is the major power-house of this process, and one of the reasons liver herbs are helpful in all inflammatory reactions including allergies. Sometimes you can figure out which part of the biotransformation process is lacking from a person's symptoms,lab values or other data they share. This helps to  better support them. However, ultimately you really want to know what caused them to have a dysregulated immune system, biotransformation system, digestive system, liver, kidneys etc. Although genetics do certainly play a part for all of us, usually it is the epigenetics, or the environmental factors that are actually the big players. If we can figure out if someone is working in a toxic environment causing their dysregulation, or has high mercury levels, or is living in a moldy building, has an infection they don't know about,  is under extreme stress, or any number of other possibilities then we can get to the root of their problem and stop the rash as well as many other issues that stemmed from the causative agent.

I am in the process of finishing an article on the use of therapeutic helminths (parasitic worms) for autoimmune disease and allergies. There is a growing amount of research in this area, and  has been useful for those who are continually inflamed and simply can't get well again, or continuously relapse. Specific types of helminths are being used for everything from allergies, to multiple sclerosis. Not an herb, but fascinating that some of the helminths that we coevolved with, and recently separated from, are appearing to be a missing link for those with immune systems on fire.
2 months ago
I thought I would take a bit of a different approach here and start by explaining what hay fever is.

What Is Hay Fever

Hay fever, also known as allergic rhinitis, it is a type I hypersensitivity reaction mediated by IgE antibodies that are set off by grass, weed and tree pollens. Pollens effects the ears, eyes, nose and throat. The eyes are itchy and watery, the person has a runny or stuffed up nose and the sneezing is obnoxious. It may interfere with sleep, work, recreation, cause a person to feel irritable and may also be associated with asthma and in severe cases induce anaphylaxis in susceptible individuals. Over the long-haul, these seasonal attacks on the person's sensitive mucous membranes may cause structural damage of the respiratory tract and can lead to nasal polyps, and vasomotor rhinitis which can cause nasal congestion all year round as well as repetitive upper respiratory tract infections.

The Details
Pollen lodges into the mucous membranes of the eyes, the nose and throughout the respiratory tract. The first time an allergy-prone person meets up with pollen, a white blood cell, called a B-cell is alerted to what it sees as an intruder. This B-cell is transformed into a plasma cell and makes large quantities of immunoglobulin E (IgE) that is specific to recognizing and attacking that pollen. The IgE made for this pollen will attach to mast cells and the next time the person comes into contact with that pollen again, the mast cells with this specific IgE on them will perceive an invasion and release powerful substances called vasoactive amines. The most powerful and the one most talked about with hay fever is histamine. Histamine is synthesized by mast cells, basophils, platelets, histaminergic neurons, and enterochromaffine cells, where it is stored intracellularly in vesicles and released on stimulation. This is what is primarily responsible for the runny/stuffy nose and watery eyes, itching and sneezing. This is an overreaction of the body due to a weakness on the part of the upper respiratory mucosa with an overreaction of the immune system. So support of the upper respiratory system and modulating the immune system are in order. Before we tackle how to treat hay fever, we want to investigate methods used to prevent it. Calming the immune system, supporting the respiratory tract, liver and digestion go a long way in preventing or decreasing symptoms. These supportive measures are key in preventing an explosive reaction that can irritate these sensitive membranes. There are some general behaviors and lifestyle practices that will assist the person with hay fever in living a more comfortable life. Dietary and lifestyle changes often decrease the need for drugs, herbs or supplements.  However, when they are not enough there are many healthier options to drugs for resolving or lessening the symptoms of hay fever.

A whole book could be written on how different organ systems are involved in hay fever (especially the immune system, respiratory tract, liver and digestive tract) and the intensity of symptoms. However, I am going to give you one example regarding the digestive tract and how it can be involved as it is a big one.

An example of digestive tract involvement
We find that supporting the digestive tract goes a long way to decreasing overall body inflammation and histamine levels. If you have dysbiosis (your gut flora is out of balance and have too many bad guys to good guys) you will get increased histamine released and more histamine will end up in the general circulation adding to the histamine created from the pollen reaction.  Treating the dysbiosis and lowering histamine in the gut are key in this case to lowering histamine load in the body as this histamine will add to the histamine from the pollen. So, how is the gut and dysbiosis involved in making hay fever worse?

The histamine issue and the gut
When there is dysbiosis, this means that there are some less desirable gut bacteria that are out of control. Many of these will add to the histamine load in the gut by irritating and damaging the gut lining in various ways. This causes the gut wall mast cells to release histamine and other inflammatory mediators. We can stabilize mast cells so they release less histamine and we can also remove histamine from the body with the use of enzymes, herbs, and supplements. Additionally, we can go after the histamine producing bacteria.  Most of my experience with severe histamine reactions is from my work with people who are reacting to water-damaged buildings. Many of these folks inevitably end up with histamine issues at some point if they don’t take appropriate steps to protect and treat themselves. For folks with excess histamine using the enzyme Diamine oxidase (DAO) (which degrades histamine in the gut) with high histamine meals can make a huge difference in lowering the histamine load their body is under. Stopping all the histamine containing or histamine creating foods is really not an option as this removes a lot of healthy foods and people find it hard to eat. Therefore, using DAO is a big help for these folks along with adding healthy gut bacteria that will compete with the histamine making bacteria. Often these high histamine folks will find themselves unable to take probiotics as they make their digestive issues worse. This is due to the bacteria being types of gut flora in probiotics that add to the histamine load. This does not matter if the person does not tend to have high histamine normally, as we actually need a certain amount of histamine in our body as it is important in various reactions. However,  in folks with either genetic or functional reasons for high histamine those probiotics will really bother them as their histamine load is already too high. So, the way to go is to compete with those histamine making bacteria in the gut by introducing only probiotics known to be associated with low histamine in the gut. Why we care about histamine in the gut is that this gut histamine can be picked up by our circulation and travel to other areas of the body. This increases the general histamine load everywhere, thereby, adding to any inflammation in the body including the respiratory tract. This can be quite noticeable for some people including those with hay fever. You can read more about mast cells  and how to stabilize them so they release less histamine as well as the use of DAO and gut flora and herbs and supplements to decrease overall histamine and other inflammatory activators at this link.

Hay fever often needs a multilayer approach
I am trying to give you the idea that hay fever is not something that takes place in the body all on its own. It is not as simple as pollen creating a reaction. That is important for sure, but ultimately you want to ask yourself why am I reacting to pollen. Why do I react and others do not? What is my inflammatory load in my body? Do I react only to pollen or do I have other sensitivities? If I react to many things, I need to find what is the cause of these reactions. Is there involvement of gut pathogens, toxins in my home or work, an  underlying viral or bacterial illness that is unrecognized, heavy metals etc.  Are my genetics adding to this and if so, how can I support myself to compensate for this? How do I lower my inflammatory load overall and how do I specifically lower the histamine in my body that is known to be a part of the pollen reaction? If I can’t control the pollen completely, what can I control that is raising the histamine level in my body or causing other inflammatory mediators to add to my inflammation load?  The reason you will see so many different things help with hay fever, is that there are a variety of underlying reasons that can set someone up to being susceptible to pollen reactions. Finding the underlying reaction will help resolve or decrease the symptoms. Think of finding the cause to alleviate the hay fever reactions. Think of histamine as a major player in what causes the symptoms and attend to it as needed. It is not the cause though. The cause(s) are the multilayered issues that all together make us more sensitive to pollen.
I wrote a series of articles on hay fever that I am going to list here. They range from prevention to treatment and go over everything from how to set your environment up, to the use of diet, lifestyle factors, supplements, herbs, enzymes and more.

Preventing Hay Fever:
Herbs used to prevent hay fever prior to hay fever season

Hay Fever Prevention With Diet and Nutrition:
Goes over general dietary measures, specific dietary actions that help, what makes hay fever reactions worse, and dietary supplementation that helps. There is also some coverage of supporting the liver to support the biotransformation system.

Hay Fever Prevention Tips:
What is hay fever, what takes place in the body, the role of histamine, common sense tips to prevent it, to remove pollen from self and home,

Acute treatment with herbs:
What to do acutely with a link to directions on making herbal compress

Hay Fever Prevention With Focus on Histamine:
Here the focus is on healthy lifestyle practices, digestion, histamine in food, enzymes that remove histamine, how to support the body in stabilizing mast cells that make enzymes and nutrients used for making enzymes.

Mast Cell Activation and Histamine:
All about histamine. Symptoms associated with high histamine listed by body system, diseases high histamine is associated with,  how mast cells are activated, other reasons for high histamine, testing and treatment.
1 year ago
Hello Gray,

Herpes simplex is off the subject for this post as you are asking about a viral infection and this is a post about antibacterial activity. However, I don't want to leave you hanging here. For people in low selenium areas (lack of selenium in soil) they are usually low in selenium and selenium is necessary to keep herpes at bay. (some areas are high in selenium) For people who are having continual outbreaks that are low in selenium they usually need 200 micrograms per day.  I don't usually give people more than 400 micrograms and only when necessary.  Adequate zinc level is also helpful. Lysine also helps. Herpes simplex feeds on arginine and if someone eats high arginine foods such as chocolate or nuts etc. it will sometimes cause outbreaks. Taking Lysine to counter the arginine (both are amino acids and arginine feeds herpes while lysine will slow them down) will help. For people who note arginine rich foods causing outbreaks, they simply take 2000 mg (or amount found to work - differs in people and how much arginine they are eating) with the food and it keeps the outbreak from happening (in conjunction with having adequate selenium). For actual outbreaks I have folks use 3% food grade hydrogen peroxide at the beginning of an outbreak. I have them use it at the beginning sensations of tingling or itching that comes up and it often keeps the outbreak from taking place. It can be used to shorten a skin outbreak that has already taken place also. Be careful as too concentrated of hydrogen peroxide can cause skin irritation and burning itself. Zinc is used with success too as are all sorts of essential oils and most of them help to some degree.  I find hydrogen peroxide works better topically than most anything else that has been used on the sores, however every once in a while someone likes the topical zinc better and I assume they have inadequate levels and this is why it works best for them.

If someone does these things, has good nutrition over all  and still has outbreaks, I start looking for environmental toxins or other reasons for the person's immune system to be behaving inadequately. What other stressors of a physical/mental/emotional type is the person dealing with.
1 year ago
Ultimately we want something that works clinically for what we are treating. There are some plants that work better fresh, but most plants will work dry.  It can depend on what we are using it for also. One plant will work dry for a specific situation and need to be used fresh for another situation.  I make tinctures from dry material if I can, as it is much easier to do, and yes, I can make it stronger as far as density of product.

One  issue that comes up with dried herbal tinctures is how old the dried product is. Some herbs will be fine if we make a dry tincture out of them immediately after drying, but if we wait 6 months, a lot is lost in quality.  Some herbs I find to be better made fresh but dry is ok, I just prefer them fresh. These are the tinctures I usually add both fresh and dry herb to.

If a product only works fresh clinically for me, fresh tincture is what I use and I don't bother to add dry to the tincture at all since the dry  is worthless in my opinion in some cases. Even though it is more work to make a fresh tincture or fresh oil, I do when I need to. Ultimately, if I can dry the plant and use it as a tea, that is the form I like best and it is the least expensive for people. However, teas have issues some times too for a variety of reasons.

Fresh plants are different than dried, just as fresh food is different. Making a dinner from food that sat in the refrigerator for a week or food that has been dried first (getting older on the shelf all the time) makes a difference. It is shown that nutrients are lost in storage and during shipment of food for a variety of reasons. Same happens with herbs. So, fresh or freshly dried is going to be best for most herbs just as with food, but not all. The better you store them, the longer a dried herb will last before tincturing it too. Often you are depending on someone else to have taken good care of the dried herb, keeping it in a cool room and out of the sunlight etc. There is a lot of poor quality dried herb on the market and it is best to grow and dry/process your own herbs.

Plants do have energetic qualities. Ultimately we all share the one eternal flame as our source, but we each, including the herbs have our own special vibration that spirit gave us. It is this energetic quality that we attempt to harness in homeopathics , flower essences and some tincture makers attempt to capture as well. The energy of the maker is infused into the product also.

I don't just look at known active components. There are countless examples of herbs that have been released as products on the market where they were sold by their most active components, only later to be found to not work as there were other unknown constituents not in the product that were in the whole herb. We know so little about what it is about  an herb that makes it work the way it does. We know even less about what we are. Ultimately, we all have to follow the path that works for us, gives us a life we find rewarding while on the path and gives us results that enrich our lives. Some people prefer eating packaged food, while others only want freshly prepared food.  Some foods are better eaten fresh such as a sugar snap pea or carrot while other such as a cannellini bean or brown rice cook are great as a dried food that is cooked up later. Some herbs such as Arnica, St. John's wort, Pasque flower, Echinacea purpurea, Bugleweed are examples of herbs I usually use fresh. There are herbs such as Garlic that should only be used fresh if for killing pathogens but can be used dry for other things. Even the herbs I mentioned that I used fresh would have some applications where you can use them dry, but I mostly use them fresh, so that is how I make the tincture. With the Ech purp, I add dry in at the last maceration as dry is useful as long as made from freshly dried root and not old root. Ech. angustifolia by the way will last a long time on the shelf, unlike Ech. purp. If they are made appropriately as tincture they are both great as tincture, but if you use them both as 6 month old dried root to make the tincture he E. purp will not be as good as the E. ang. as the E. purp does not last on the shelf as well.

Plants will share information with us if we show you we worthy. That has happened very few times in my life, but it has happened and this is the most profound data you can get. So, if you really want to know how to best utilize a plant, ask the plant. Show you are worthy by spending time with them, get to know them. Take care of them. Open your heart. Be open to what they share no matter what it is. Be thankful.
1 year ago
Here it is Daniel. This is always hard for  people to understand the first time and it helps to have someone who has made tinctures this way to show you the first time.

The Formula/Calculation/Weight to Volume Method of Maceration
If you want to make a tincture that is the same strength each time, you need to use a bit of math and follow a formula to ensure you make the product the same each time. Herbalists use this method for consistency of product. An herbal production company uses this method out of necessity. You know what percent of alcohol and water you will have in the final product. You also know the strength will remain fairly consistent. This is also the method I use for most fresh plant tinctures I make at home, so I can account for the water in my product.
When using the formula method you take the amount of herb that you are going to tincture and multiply it by a set number used specifically for that herb to get the amount of solvent that will be used to arrive at a specific final product strength. Once you know the total amount of solvent you will add, you multiply that by the percent of alcohol and the percent of water you want in the final product. This gives you the total amount each of water and alcohol to add. This is fairly straight forward for dry plant tinctures. When making a fresh plant tincture it becomes more complicated as you now have to account for the amount of moisture in the plant. This necessitates, weighing a fresh plant sample and drying it, followed by re-weighing the dried herb to find out how much moisture is in the fresh plant. This moisture content is then used in your calculations to decide how much alcohol and water to add to the amount of plant you decide you will be using.

Example Of Making Alfalfa As Fresh Plant Tincture
You asked specifically about adding the actual herb into the product for Medicago sativa or Alfalfa as an example. Collect a sample of Alfalfa. Weigh the sample and dry it. I use a small oven set very low to dry it in a few hours. When completely dry, I remove it and reweigh it. The difference in the first and second sample weight gives us the moisture content that we use in our calculations. Now decide how much herb in total to use. Once that is decided, calculate the amount of alcohol and water to add, subtracting the moisture in the plant from the water. This math is lengthy to explain and is in my book in great detail. If you don’t like math, I suggest you take a class from a local herbalist who will show you how to go through this process, as it is hard for some people to grasp it without doing it with someone. If you are a math whiz, it will be easy for you. We will use a 1:1 fresh, plus dry formula here. The fresh herb will be processed through the menstruum 3 different times and the dry herb will go through a last and fourth time. Whatever that weight of fresh herb is going to be, we will start by using about 25% of that weight to add initially to the solvent. There is a lot of moisture in Alfalfa. It is about 73% in the Willamette Valley usually, although it changes depending on the climate where it is growing at the time (this change can change the amount of herb that is added each time through the menstruum). Each time you add Alfalfa to your solvent/menstruum, more water will be added from the moisture in the Alfalfa (that is okay as we take this into account in our calculations). This means the first time we add herb to the solvent, there will be less moisture in the menstruum than the last time we add herb. So,  start with a smaller amount of herb in a situation where the moisture content is really high.

When processing fresh herb, you have to account for the plants seasonality. If the season is not long enough for us to collect it multiple times currently, we may have to figure out if we can grow it at two different times in our area, stagger the crop or if we can’t do either of these things, we might be able to get the herb from someone that is at a higher or lower altitude than us. Different altitudes will usually change when it is harvested enough to prolong the time period to give us enough time to process our tincture over a longer period of time. To make good fresh tinctures we really need to have an understanding of growing the plant, harvesting the plant and where  we  might otherwise be able to procure the plant if needed. Even if we never grow or harvest the plant, it will help in ordering it from herb farmers if we know this data.
The first amount of herb processed can sit a shorter time in maceration than subsequent ones, as the solutes are being extracted into a solvent that has nothing else in it yet. Each time the herb goes through maceration it will take longer to extract usually. I gauge when it is done by how it looks, smells and tastes each time. Once we press out the first maceration of Alfalfa, we are ready to add the second fresh plant. This time we can add about 30%-35%. When the second Alfalfa maceration is pressed out, we can add the last amount of fresh Alfalfa and we are done adding fresh plant.  When this is pressed out we now add dry Alfalfa to menstruum. Dry plant is added to the extract if we feel the fresh extract is not strong enough. We are limited by the moisture in the plant as to how strong we can make the plant as a fresh plant tincture. Therefore, we may want a stronger tincture. We may want the vitality we get from the fresh plant, but as long as dry plant will add something worthwhile to the tincture (it does not always-some herbs should only be used fresh) adding dry is the way to make it stronger.  The average amount of dry I add to Alfalfa is 5%. Once this dry plant has macerated long enough, we press it out and are ready to filter it if we wish to filter (companies almost always filter, not everyone filters when made at home).

1 year ago
Hello Daniel,

As Derek mentioned the numbers represent plant:menstruum (liquid). Yes, they have multiple macerations. This means you put the original plant material through and then you press that out after a period of time and put more plant material through. This is a more time intensive method and takes more planning. The strengths I list will give you a very strong tincture.

Most of the fresh plants have a minimum of 2 macerations, although they can have more to get the strength listed. This is why Wise Woman Herbals has such strong tinctures. You can too if you are willing to go to the extra effort. This usually necessitates calculating out how much ultimate herb, alcohol and water you will use though. It is easier for people to simply use the folk method. With the folk method, you can also add extra macerations of herb, but if making fresh plant tincture and you get the percent of alcohol too low, due to not calculating how much water is in the plant and how much alcohol and water to add,  you can end up with not enough alcohol to preserve or extract constituents. The complete directions are in the book in the tincture making section. Learning to make a fresh plant tincture and calculating the amount of moisture in the plant, and then accounting for that moisture in the mathematical calculations to ultimately end up with the total alcohol and water to add has in my classes been one of the harder things for people to grasp, but once they get it, they now know how to make a really strong tincture. Over the years, I experimented with each herb to see how strong I could make the tincture before it would start to settle out too much. At some point the amount of herb particulate matter simply becomes too great and you can't keep it in suspension. (There are also constituent reactions that cause this at lesser strengths in some tinctures too.) The strengths I ended up with were not a matter of guessing, they were years of experimenting leading me to a specific strength. They are listed as the amount of actual herb to total liquid. The FDA made new rules at one point and told herbal companies they had to switch their labels form listing herb added:liquid added to  herb added:final liquid in product. I have no idea what the current rules of the FDA are as they could have changed again. Additionally, not all companies abided by the FDAs new rules, so I don't know what people are using on their bottles that are sold now. It also makes it hard to compare one company to another if they are using different rules to list this ratio.

As long as math is not a deterrent, I suggest you try making tincture first with dry herb and menstruum and then after you have that under your belt, make fresh plant tinctures. Fresh herb tinctures using the calculation method are much harder than dry. Keep in mind that the more dense the herb material (hard roots) is the less times it will go through the liquid usually and the lighter and less dense (fluffy leaves) the more times it will need to be macerated. When you first start with the dry herb tinctures it is a good idea with roots to only add 30-35% of the root material to the liquid initially and let it sit a few days to see if you can add more. It will take a few days for the liquid to penetrate the root material and allow you to see if it soaked up most of the liquid or if there is room to add some more dry root material. With the dry  leafy or flowery items, I suggest you add only 20% at first and wait to see how much menstruum (liquid) is soaked up. If using Mullein leaves, start with about 15%.

If math is not your thing, just use the folk method. You won't have a specific strength, but you still get an okay tincture. I don't have that listed in the book, but the directions are at my website for free:  I also have the percolation method directions at my website if you want to try your hand at that.
1 year ago