Advantages to Tinctures
Ancient Wisdom Healing Arts products and the information contained in this page are strictly intended for use by licensed health care professionals.
High Bio Availability – Complete dissolution of the ingredients makes tinctures optimal for absorption and assimilation.
Easy Assimilation – Tinctures do not rely on digestion for assimilation; they can be absorbed sublingually or directly through the stomach lining. This is particularly useful for conditions involving spleen qi impairment or other middle jiao dysfunctions. Elderly and other groups with yang-deficient digestions also benefit greatly from the easy assimilation of tinctures.
Fast Working – By not relying on the digestion for assimilation, the body’s use of a tincture occurs very rapidly. In fact, tinctures start working as soon as they enter the mouth.
Full Spectrum Extraction – Tinctures extract the synergistic medicinal benefits of the whole plant in a soluble form. Tinctures retain volatile and semi-volatile ingredients (aromatic oils), which are lost in heat-treated and processed extracts.
Easy to Control Dosage – The unit of tincture dosage is “drops.” This allows for a much greater range of dosages to fit the individual’s specific illness and constitutional needs.
Inexpensive – The average tincture dosage is less costly than a dose of expensive, high concentration tablets.
Increased Patient Compliance – The ease of use and convenience of tinctures help ensure a higher degree of patient compliance, thereby increasing treatment effectiveness. Tinctures do not require time-consuming patient preparations, as with bulk herbal decoctions. Unlike pills, they can be taken without water, making them easy to use during the day, or while traveling away from home. They are also ideal for the patient who is uncomfortable with the physical action of taking pills.
Universal Application – Tinctures can be applied externally or internally.
When prescribing Chinese Herbal treatments, the question is not only which herbal formula to use, but how much and how often it should be administered. Even if a practitioner prescribes the correct formula, if the dosage is too small the desired result may not be achieved, and too great a dosage may cause harm. This practical appropriateness lies at the heart of this ancient and beautiful medicine.
The typical adult dosage is 30 drops: this is one dropper full, or one squeeze of the bulb, which is usually about half of the pipette. With that said, there are other major considerations concerning proper dosage: acuteness or chronicity; the patient’s constitution, age and size; and even season and climate. The information below is meant only as a general guide. It is sometimes advisable to have the patient experiment with the dosage to determine what level is optimally effective for them.
Acute – Acute external pathogenic invasions (i.e. wind-cold or wind-heat invasion) are usually treated strongly and as early as possible. For example, wind-heat invasion may be treated with Yin Qiao Jiu by administrating two droppers full every two to three hours. Success depends heavily on the speed at which the patient begins treatment following the first signs of invasion.
Chronic – Slow degenerative diseases, other chronic illnesses and/or patterns, and constitutional issues that can affect patients are usually treated more slowly and gently. Patients may require herbs for months or even years. For example, cold due to Kidney yang deficiency can be treated using You Gui Jiu by administering one dropper full twice a day.
Age – Robust individuals in the prime of their lives are often given larger dosages, while children and the elderly are often given smaller dosages. Below is a chart outlining the basic dosage guidelines for children:
Infants 3 drops
1-2 years 6 drops
2-4 years 9 drops
4-6 years 12 drops
6-14 years 20 drops
14 years & up 30 drops (one dropper full)
Size – If the patient’s body weight falls outside of their normal range, the practitioner may increase or decrease the dosage accordingly. A patient who weighs less than 100 pounds may require only 15-20 drops; whereas an individual whose body weight is over 250 pounds will possibly need two droppers full to achieve the desired result.
Sensitivity – Some patients are generally more sensitive and may require smaller dosages. Herbs are energetic entities with unique and individual vibrations; some herbs have “strong” personalities and may be too demanding or aggressive, causing adverse reactions. In other cases, the patient may not be “ready” for the communication of a particular herb. In those situations, reintroduce with a smaller dosage or discontinue for a short time and then reintroduce.
Spirituality – Using herbs for spiritual purposes generally requires a smaller dosage, usually 3 drops.
Understanding the appropriate time of day to take herbs is also beneficial to achieving maximum results. As a rule, herbs should be taken on an empty stomach one hour before eating, thereby increasing absorption and assimilation. If herbs cause irritation or an upset stomach, they can be taken with food. It is advisable to take herbs for sleeping disorders 30-45 minutes before bedtime to aid in their effects (insomnia herbs are not sedatives and may be taken throughout the day without causing fatigue). Formulas for heat syndromes can be taken at room temperature or chilled. Formulas for cold syndromes can be taken warm or hot. Timing may also be affected by the yin and yang of the environment of the individual taking them. A yang tonic’s efficacy may be increased by taking it in the morning, or vice versa, a yin tonic at night.
Note: In our modern world there are many constraints and variables (i.e. time and resources) that our patients must deal with regularly. The benefits of proper timing are important, but not if they hinder patient compliance. It is more important that the individual takes the herbs than fails to do so because the timing is off. The burden and habituation of a very strict herbal regimen may hinder the healing process.
To administer orally, place the desired dosage in 2- 4 ounces of water and drink. Alternately, tinctures may be taken “straight” by placing the drops directly into the mouth, preferably sublingually.
Some tinctures may also be used externally by placing directly on the skin. Caution should be taken to keep the alcohol out of open sores.
If alcohol content is undesirable, place the tincture in hot water or tea for five minutes before consuming. This will allow the alcohol to evaporate.
If the taste of the herbs is an impediment, there are several ways to mask the flavor: add the tincture to juice or a favorite flavored beverage, dilute the tincture’s flavor by adding more water or juice, change the temperature of the beverage used. Some patients also find it useful to eat raisins or pickled ginger to “chase” the tincture and remove any after-taste.
Chinese herbs are the most organized, developed herbal system currently in existence, with an extensive written history of empirical information dating back over two thousands years. Taste was one of the major qualities that Chinese practitioners used to assign function and to categorize the over 6000+ herbs.
The taste of Chinese herbs plays an important and integral role in creating a shift in an individual’s health. Many practitioners, historically and presently, believe that chronic diseases are rooted in the spirit, and that to make any lasting effect on one’s health, the spirit needs to be impacted. The flavor of Chinese herbs accomplishes this through the effect that the flavor, personality, or vibration of the herbs have on the tongue. The tongue is associated with the heart, where the spirit (shen) is housed.
Tincture extracts not only contain the medicinal qualities of the herbs, but also the flavors, which are lost in tablets, capsules or tea pills.
Many of the tinctures from Ancient Wisdom Healing Arts have 5 or fewer herbs. The purpose of this is to allow the practitioner to mix and combine the tinctures into larger, more complex formulas, or to augment or place emphasis on an existing formula. This gives the practitioner the tremendous advantage of being able to subtly adjust the patient’s prescription, as with loose bulk herbs, while offering the patient the convenience of using a prepared herbal supplement.
Examples of combining to form more complex formulas:
- Ba Zhen Tang (Eight Treasure) can be created by combining equal parts of Si Jun Zi Jiu and Si Wu Jiu.
- Six Gentlemen (modified) can be created by combining equal parts of Si Jun Zi Jiu and Er Chen Jiu.
- Formula for Hay Fever can be created by combining variable amounts of Yu Ping Feng Jiu and Cang Er Zi Jiu (depending on patient’s signs and symptoms).
Examples of augmenting and emphasizing an already existing formula:
- To increase the tonifying qualities of Jia Wei Xiao Yao Jiu add 5 drops of Si Jun Zi Jiu.
- To treat spleen qi deficiency due to kidney yang not supporting the middle jiao, add 5-10 drops of You Gui Jiu to Si Jun Zi Jiu.
- To treat damp-heat in the lower jiao, when the heat is predominant, add 5 drops of Long Dan Xie Gan Jiu to Si Miao Jiu.