Homemade Echinacea Tincture Recipe
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It’s easy to make your own homemade echinacea tincture at home for a fraction of the cost of store-bought prepared tinctures. All you need is fresh or dried echinacea and some alcohol (vodka is typically used) or glycerin if you’d rather make an alcohol-free glycerite. Read on to learn how!
Echinacea Medicinal Benefits & Uses
Echinacea has earned a reputation for being a potent herbal remedy for cold and flu symptoms, however it has been used as a general “cure-all” throughout history. The echinacea plant originates from North America and has been used by Indigenous peoples for hundreds of year to treat everything from sore throats and colds to toothaches, snake bites, inflammation, infection and more.
Echinacea is an immune boosting herb that has antibacterial, antiviral, antifungal and antioxidant properties. Today it’s best known for its ability to help shorten the length and lessen the severity of common cold and flu symptoms such as sore throat, cough and fever, and is most effective at treating bronchial infections, respiratory infections, sore throats and oral infections.
Because it’s an immune stimulating herb, echinacea is MOST effective when taken right at the onset of symptoms, before a virus or illness has a chance to really take hold.
Echinacea is generally considered to be a very safe herb for adults and children of all ages, however it’s always a good idea to check with your doctor or health care provider to make sure echinacea is safe for you to use, especially if you suffer from an autoimmune disorder or are on any prescription medications.
Related: Homemade Elderberry Syrup Recipe
Medicinal Parts of the Echinacea Plant
All parts of the echinacea plant are medicinal, including the aerial parts (flowers and leaves) and the roots.
There are many different types of echinacea (also known as coneflowers) that come in all different colours. The purple varieties have the highest concentrations of medicinal properties, specifically Echinacea purpurea, Echinacea angustifolia and Echinacea pallida.
I grow Echinacea purpurea at home (these are the exact seeds that I started my plants from a few years ago). Echinacea purpurea has its medicinal properties concentrated in the flowers and leaves, so I focus on harvesting the aerial parts of the plant first and then the roots second.
You can use only the flowers and leaves for medicine or only the roots, or you can use all parts of the plant together (as I do in this whole-plant echinacea tincture recipe that follows). You can also use just one type of echinacea plant to make your tincture, or you can combine two or even all three. One of the things I love most about making your own herbal medicine is that it’s highly adaptable and customizable!
Where to Get Echinacea
If you can grow echinacea at home, this is the best way to source it as it’s a perennial that will continue to produce year after year. You can also harvest all parts of the plant this way.
* Avoid harvesting the roots of the echinacea plant until it’s at least 2 to 3 years old in order to allow the plant to establish itself so it returns year after year.
I got my echinacea from West Coast Seeds a few years ago and started them from seed back in 2019 (3 years ago at the time of publishing). They are now well-established perennials that produce more than enough medicine for my family every year, as well as add beauty to our garden and attract tons of local pollinators like honeybees, bumblebees and hummingbirds.
If you’re in the U.S., I recommend True Leaf Market for all your seed needs, including echinacea seeds!
It’s possible to forage for wild echinacea in some areas, however due to its medicinal properties, echinacea has actually been over harvested in recent years so it’s best to leave any wild patches you come across.
You can also purchase dried echinacea to make your own tinctures and herbal medicines. I recommend purchasing dried echinacea from Farmhouse Teas or Starwest Botanicals if you’re not growing it yourself.
Related: What to Stock In A Home Apothecary
How to Harvest Echinacea
If you’re growing your own echinacea, you’ll want to harvest it when it’s at its peak. While you can technically harvest all of the parts of the plant at the same time (near the end of summer/beginning of fall), you’ll get the most benefit and highest medicinal concentrations if you harvest each part of the plant when its at its peak.
The leaves are best harvested in the spring when they are fresh and new, the flowers are best if harvested from about mid to late summer, right from the time the buds begin to ripen until the flowers are fully in bloom. And the roots are best harvested in the fall after the aerial (top) parts of the plant have begun to die back.
You can harvest each part of the plant when it’s at its peak and add it to your tincture jar (with your alcohol, which will preserve it). Then continue to add the different parts of the plant throughout the growing season until you have a whole-plant tincture at the end.
To harvest the leaves and the flowers, simply cut them off with a pair of scissors or garden shears. To harvest the roots, dig around the plant to loosen the roots and lift them up out of the ground, being careful not to dig up the entire plant (you want it to come back next year after all!)
I don’t bother rinsing the flowers or leaves, but I do give the roots a good rinse and a scrub before I chop them up and add them to my tincture.
Homemade Echinacea Tincture Vs. Glycerite
The recipe I’m sharing with you today is a whole-plant echinacea tincture, meaning it uses all parts of the plant, including the aerial parts (flowers and leaves) as well as the roots. However you can adapt the recipe to only use the flowers and leaves or only the roots if you prefer.
This tincture is made with an alcohol base (I use vodka, but you could use any 80-proof alcohol, such as brandy or gin), or you can make an alcohol-free glycerite if you prefer.
A glycerite is made exactly the same way as a tincture, but uses vegetable glycerin instead of alcohol. While alcohol tends to be a stronger solvent (meaning it is better at extracting the medicinal properties from the plant), vegetable glycerin is a great alcohol-free alternative if you’re concerned about giving it to kids or prefer not to use alcohol for any reason.
Do keep in mind that you only use a few drops of this tincture at a time and it is typically diluted in water or tea, so the alcohol content is very low.
How to Make Homemade Echinacea Tincture
Tinctures are very easy to make at home. All you need to do is fill a clean glass jar with plant matter and cover with alcohol. Vodka is always a top choice as it’s highly effective at extracting the medicinal properties from plants and is also odourless and flavourless, but brandy and gin are both good options too (or substitute vegetable glyerin as outlined above).
If using fresh echinacea, chop up the flowers, leaves and roots into smaller pieces to increase the surface area of the plant matter (this will help the solvent (the alcohol or glycerine) to extract more of the medicinal properties from the plant. Make sure to wash the roots well first!
Stuff a Mason jar (or any clean glass jar) full of the echinacea flowers, leaves and roots. Fill about 3/4 of the way full with packed fresh plant matter (leaving at least a couple inches of headspace at the top of the jar so you can cover it with alcohol), or about halfway full with dried plant matter. Cover completely with alcohol (or glycerine). Screw the lid on and give it a good shake.
Let sit on the counter at room temperature or in a sunny window (for a sun infusion) for at least 3 to 4 weeks.
Strain out the plant matter, reserving the liquid. Transfer the tincture to a dropper bottle (or another smaller jar or bottle), label, date and store in a cool dark place until ready to use.
How to Use Echinacea Tincture
Take half a teaspoon of homemade echinacea tincture every hour or so when you feel like you’re just starting to come down with a cold. You may increase the dosage to half a teaspoon every half hour if you feel like you need a little extra support.
Continue taking echinacea until you start to feel better, then decrease the dosage a little bit at a time until you’re feeling well.
If you’re suffering from a more chronic illness, you can take half a teaspoon of echinacea 3 times per day for up to two weeks at a time. Then take a break for at least one week in between. Echinacea is an immune stimulant so it’s important to take breaks from using it so that it doesn’t overstimulate your immune system as this can lead to unwanted side effects and resistance to the effects of the medicine.
- Fresh or dried echinacea leaves, flowers and roots
- 80-proof alcohol (vodka, brandy or gin)
- If using fresh echinacea, chop up the flowers, leaves and roots into smaller pieces to increase the surface area of the plant matter (this will help the solvent (the alcohol or glycerine) to extract more of the medicinal properties from the plant. Make sure to wash the roots well first!
- Stuff a Mason jar (or any clean glass jar) full of the echinacea flowers, leaves and roots. Fill about 3/4 of the way full with packed fresh plant matter (leaving at least a couple inches of headspace at the top of the jar so you can cover it with alcohol), or about halfway full with dried plant matter.
- Cover completely with alcohol (or glycerine). Screw the lid on and give it a good shake.
- Let sit on the counter at room temperature or in a sunny window (for a sun infusion) for at least 3 to 4 weeks.
- Strain out the plant matter, reserving the liquid. Transfer the tincture to a dropper bottle (or another smaller jar or bottle), label, date and store in a cool dark place until ready to use.
- If gathering the echinacea fresh from your garden, you’ll get the most potent medicinal properties if you gather the leaves in the late spring, the flowers in the summer when they are just beginning to bloom and the roots in the fall once the plant has begun to die back. Add each part of the plant to your tincture as you harvest them. However you can harvest any or all of the above at any time the plant is blooming and in season if you like.
- You can also make a variation with only the leaves and flowers or only the roots if you’d prefer.
- You can substitute vegetable glycerin for the alcohol if you'd prefer to make an alcohol-free glycerite.
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