What are mother tinctures, alcoholatures and fresh plant extracts?
Tinctures, alcoholatures, fresh plant extracts, all these terms are used a lot when talking about phytotherapy. Are they synonymous with a single product or are there differences between these terms?
What are the differences between tinctures, mother tinctures, alcoholatures and fresh plant extracts?
Mother tinctures and alcoholatures
The mother tincture, also known as alcoholature, is a hydro-alcoholic solution made from a mixture of fresh plants and alcohol. This remedy, well known in phytotherapy, also holds an important place in homeopathic practice as it is useful for making dilutions and is the basis of a large part of homeopathic medicines.
Extract of fresh plants
Mother tinctures are sometimes wrongly called "Standardised (Fresh) Plant Extracts" or SPE for short. Indeed, both preparations are similar, the only difference being that the fresh plant extracts are preserved in an alcohol-free glycerine solution of plant origin, making them sweeter and better suited for children and pregnant women.
Mother tinctures are also different from alcoholic (or any other) tinctures. Where the former are made from freshly harvested plants, alcoholic tinctures are extracted from dried plants. The difference lies in the strength of the active ingredients. This means that dried plants have less therapeutic properties than freshly picked plants.
Manufacture of a mother tincture
As mentioned above, a mother tincture is a hydroalcoholic solution. Its manufacture therefore requires the plant to macerate in a pure alcohol solution (between 60° and 95°). Then, for three weeks, the mixture must be stirred regularly to extract the active elements from the plant. When this stage is over, the solution is filtered to keep only the liquid part.
The production of a mother tincture can be done with more than a hundred different plants to act on numerous pathologies.
As mother tinctures are widely used in homeopathy, each step of the manufacturing process is listed and codified. Its manufacture is strictly controlled by the pharmaceutical industry and the laboratories producing mother tinctures must have a Good Manufacturing Practice certification given by the National Agency for the Safety of Medicines and Health Products (ANSM).
Mother tinctures are made with dry plants and are now considered as medicines, therefore subject to the pharmaceutical monopoly. The quantity of plant used is 100 grams of dry plant per kg of finished product = ratio 1/1 (= as much plant equivalent to fresh weight as 80° alcohol) (less when it is seeds or flowers alone)
The alcoholatures are made in a similar way, but with fresh plants. The quantity of plant is on average equal to the weight of alcohol, i.e. 500 gr per kg of finished product. (ratio 1/1)
The maceration is done in organic wheat alcohol at 96° or 80°, for 1 week; then it is reduced to 40° / volume by adding distilled water, and the maceration continues for at least 3 weeks. This is done in glass carboys, simply filtered with organic cotton, and stored in tinted glass bottles.
Focus on mother tinctures and their actions
Here is a small summary of some mother tinctures that it is useful to have at home and their different uses.
Piloselle: detoxifies the body of its toxins, it is useful for after parties, to stop smoking or when dieting.
Propolis: fight against infectious diseases.
St. John's wort: combats fatigue and mood swings.
Echinacea: stimulates natural defences in winter and cures colds and other winter infections.
Sage: reduces sweating and hot flashes.
Olive tree: reduces hypertension and has a diuretic effect on the kidneys.
Calendula: moisturises irritated or dry skin and relieves acne, insect bites, itching, burning, sunburn, eczema and other skin conditions.
Blackcurrant: has an anti-inflammatory effect and is useful in cases of rheumatism and arthrosis.
Devil's claw: relieves joint pain.
Linden: calms stress and anxiety.
California poppy: promotes sleep and combats insomnia.
Poppy: has a sedative, calming, expectorant and soothing effect.
Garlic: is a powerful antiseptic and anti-microbial.
Arnica: is useful for bruises and other contusions.
Comfrey: is healing, antiseptic, regenerating and soothing.
How to use the mother tinctures?
The mother tincture can be used in several ways.
Orally by diluting it in water. The dose is usually 50 drops per glass of water, but it is always recommended to check the indications written on the bottle or those of a doctor.
As a compress on the skin.
Directly on the wounds.
Guide for use and contraindications of the tinctures
- For internal use, follow the instructions on the bottle or given by a doctor.
- Some tinctures are not suitable for people with a medical history because there is a risk of side effects.
- Mother tinctures are not suitable for pregnant or breastfeeding women or children because they contain alcohol.
- The tinctures have powerful active ingredients so there is a risk of side effects. It is therefore absolutely necessary to follow the recommended prescriptions.