One of the best things you can do to bolster your health during the cold and flu season is to take a daily immunity-boosting tincture.

Tinctures are heavily concentrated extracts made by placing chopped fresh or dried herbs into a jar and covering them with a solvent: alcohol, glycerin or vinegar. The mixture is then sealed and allowed to macerate for several weeks before the herbs are strained out and the remaining liquid is ready for medicinal use.  

(You can read more about herbal preparations and how they differ, here.)

A Tincture For Every Season

Tinctures are incredibly versatile! Depending on the stage of life you’re in, the physical weaknesses you have, or the health benefits you hope to obtain… there’s a tincture to meet your needs. All you have to do is select the right herb, or combination of herbs, and better health is in your grasp.

For the winter time, our family relies heavily on a WINTER IMMUNITY-BOOSTING TINCTURE.

I make huge batches of this tincture for my family and extended family to use throughout the season and we’ve witnessed a definite strengthening of our immune systems. We take a daily dose (when we remember!) and then a repeated hourly dose if we feel we’re fighting a bug.

And the number one ingredient?


The League of Incredible Herbs

Elderberries just happen to be our Herb of the Month right now… and little wonder! They are THE best source of immune-boosting powers in our opinion. Not to mention they’re the best tasting. :-)

In fact, a 2004 study verified elderberries’ ability to safely and efficiently relieve symptoms caused by the influenza virus. And a 2009 study reached the same conclusion.

Elderberries are high in vitamins A and C, and are chocked full of antioxidants. They contain more iron and phosphorus than any other berry. (Source)

If you read our guide to elderberries, you probably saw that these purple fruits contain a toxic substance that can cause mild nausea and diarrhea if ingested raw. However, dried berries prepared in a tincture are safe.

But it’s not just elderberries that make our Winter Immunity Tincture a success, it’s the joint effort of five other incredible herbs that give any cold or flu the ol’ “one, two”. 

winter tincture


Calendula is widely recognized for it’s ability to disinfect and facilitate healing for external wounds and skin irritations. But calendula petals offer tremendous internal benefits too as they are anti-inflammatory, anti-viral and anti-tumor! They work well as an herb to reduce fever, as well. 


Nettle may be the last herb I mention in this awesome tincture line-up, but it’s the backbone of nutrition. What’s a holistic medicinal tincture without the inclusion of a tonic herb that’s abounding in nutrients?


Echinacea needs little highlight. This herb is well stocked with medicinal components, like polysaccharies, which are responsible for echinacea’s popularity as an immune-stimulant.


 This tonic herb, also known as Siberian Ginseng, has some very notable effects on the immune system as well. It’s a powerful, yet gentle herb on the body, which is why research suggests it’s the safest and most efficient immune-stimulant available for children. (Source)


Last, but not least is the wonderful energizing tonic herb, astragalus. Like the others, this herb bolsters the immune system, but it is also a strengthening tonic for the lungs. A great thing for the winter season! 

Making Tincture: Life Under the Influence

If you ever want to feel like a real loser, take your children to a state liquor store and have them wait outside the door while you purchase several bottles of 100 proof vodka. It’s a great feeling.

The look I was given by the man behind the counter would make any mother feel compelled to provide a good explanation… and fast. My mumbled “it’s for medicinal purposes” didn’t seem to make things any better. I send my husband to buy it now. 

Tincture sounds like such a scary thing to make, but really it’s quite easy. All it takes are some well-selected herbs (either fresh or dried), a lot of high-quality alcohol and a little bit of know-how.


 You can make tinctures using fresh or dried herbs, but I find dried are the easiest to work with. 

To make tincture using dried herbs: 

• Fill a mason jar 3/4 full with the herbs (if using roots, fill the jar only 2/3 full)

• Pour alcohol over the herbs up to the top of the jar, being sure to cover completely! (You don’t want your herbs to be exposed or else they can develop mold.)

NOTE: If using vegetable glycerin, fill the jar half with glycerin and half with pure, filtered water. 

Place a lid on the jar and seal tightly.

Then, allow the mixture to sit for at least 6 weeks. You can speed up the maceration (soaking and extraction) process by using a crockpot (following this method for glycerin tinctures), but I prefer doing it the old fashion way. If you notice the alcohol level drop, add more. You want the herbs to remain covered at all times. 

My Immunity Tincture sits for 8 weeks and is shaken at least once per day to keep the herbs from packing down in the bottom of the jar. 

Once the preferred maceration time is achieved, strain the herbs, bottle (and label!) the tincture and store in a cool dark place. This tincture will keep for years and will maintain it’s value! 

Ready to get started?

You can purchase quality, organic herbs here:


Mountain Rose Herbs. A Herbs, Health & Harmony Com


Don’t Want to DIY? Buy Ours!

If “do-it-yourself” isn’t your thing, there are other options.

For one, you could buy your Winter Immunity Tincture from us!


We have a limited amount of this wonderful winter tincture that is available to our readers! 

This tincture is chocked full of medicinal benefits and can not only shorten the duration of your cold or flu (when taken according to bottle directions) but will help strengthen your immune system so you don’t get sick in the first place!

This year, be smart!

Take measures to boost your immune system NOW… so you don’t have to deal with the ickies later. A tincture can be fun to make and offers your family a host of medicinal benefits that will leave you wondering why you didn’t start taking one sooner!


*This information has not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. This information is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease.*


This post has been shared on: Homestead Barn Hop, Natural Living Monday, Better Mom Monday, Modest Monday, Reinventing the Herbal, Domestically Divine Tuesday, Teach Me Tuesday, Works for Me WednesdayHealthy 2Day WednesdayWelcome Home WednesdayWildcrafting WednesdayRaising HomemakersParty Wave Wednesday, Frugal Days, Natural Family FridayLittle House Friday, From the Farm.

PAID ENDORSEMENT DISCLOSURE: In order for me to support my blogging activities, I may receive monetary compensation or other types of remuneration for my endorsement, recommendation, testimonial and/or link to any products or services from this blog.
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Faith is a wife and homeschooling mother of five, pursing a degree in holistic health. She is also a clinical herbalist and nutrition guru with a passion for teaching her clients and readers how to take charge of their health. In her spare time Faith is also the caretaker of 14 chickens and a large herb garden.... which grows exceedingly well despite her brown thumb. Read more...



  • Reply
    October 7, 2013

    A couple of questions for you… When you mention alcohol what are you talking about? Vodka?
    What is the dose amount if I make this?

    I am very new to herbs. I am slowly learning! Thanks for sharing this!

    • Reply
      October 7, 2013

      I’ve used vodka and brandy for tinctures. Just make sure you’re using at least 100 proof. I’ve heard using rum works, too.

    • Reply Faith
      Faith Author
      October 8, 2013

      Yes, as Tammy mentioned you can use Vodka or Brandy. Brandy is the traditional alcohol used, but I prefer Vodka. I’m been taught you can use either 80 or 100 proof. Either should be fine.

      Dosage for acute issues is 1/4-1/2 t. (or 1-2 dropperfuls) 5-6 times per day. Preventative health would require just 1/4 t. once daily. For children use half the adult amount.

  • Reply
    October 7, 2013

    Thanks for sharing this on Make Your Own Herbal Monday! Please feel free to link up more of your Bath/Body Care and Medicine Cabinet recipes until the end of the week. Your photos are beautiful and your tutorial is very detailed which I appreciate. I too have a HUGE problem with buying the alcohol which prohibited my making tinctures for many moons! Too bad I didn’t know about the glycerin then :( I look forward to future posts!

  • Reply
    October 7, 2013

    Perfect timing for this post! We are jumping into learning about elder in a week or so for our home learning and we’ll be referring back. Visiting from Natural Living Monday…

  • Reply
    October 16, 2013

    When mixing your herbs for this recipe, do you use equal amounts?

    • Reply Faith
      Faith Author
      October 16, 2013

      Yes, you can use equal parts with the leaves and petals, and equal parts of the roots and berries. But feel free to tweak according to your preferences, keeping in mind that the roots will expand quite a bit.

  • Reply
    Ben Adams
    October 17, 2013


    Please elaborate on the use of vinegar: what strength/acidity is required; distilled/fruit/wine; required length of time; etc.

    I assume the acid in the vinegar is performing the same chemical operation as the alcohol or glycerin would, and that it’s extracting different compounds than water would. If so, will any acidic medium (e.g. kombucha, whey) do the same? I don’t have an issue with the alcohol per se, but I’m interested to know other options. Also, will a wine extract at the same strength & speed as 100-proof, or no?

    Thanks. :)

    • Reply Faith
      Faith Author
      October 19, 2013

      Ben, you can use vinegar, but keep in mind that the tincture will not be nearly as potent or medicinally beneficial, doesn’t have as long a shelf life and can also rust the lid you use on your brewing jar. I don’t recommend using vinegar… unless you want to infuse it for use in a salad dressing. :-) Also note that herbalist Rosemary Gladstar recommends warming the vinegar slightly before making tincture with it.

      You would want to use a raw apple cider vinegar (like this one) or wine vinegar, but do not use white vinegar as it is distilled and diluted. Raw apple cider vinegar has many healthy properties, so it’s the preferred choice. Kombucha would not be nearly strong enough for a tincture.

      On the alcohol side of things, almost any strong alcoholic beverage can be used for a tincture, but keep an eye on the water content. Fresh herbs have a large amount of water in them already, so you’d want to use a higher proof for those. For dried herbs, 100 proof is ideal.

      • Reply
        Ben Adams
        October 19, 2013

        Excellent thorough explanation, thanks. I think we’re going to try your infusion first, but if we like the results, I may do my own in bulk, possibly using my brother’s preferred Luksusowa vodka (made from potatoes not corn and bottled in glass not plastic). Maybe I’ll toss the leftover berries into the kombucha. 😀

  • Reply
    November 8, 2013

    OK..I just made this, but I accidentlu used bourbon instead of brandy.. it is 103 proof…did I just ruin it!? :(

    • Reply Faith
      Faith Author
      November 8, 2013

      Definitely not, Tiffani. Brandy is just fine and that proof will work well, too. It will be very strong, though, so you’ll probably want to place your dropperful of tincture in a cup of hot water to remove some of the alcohol so it’s palatable. :-) It makes a great addition to tea.

  • Reply
    September 21, 2014

    Are all of these herbs safe to use during pregnancy? Thanks!

    • Reply Faith
      Faith Author
      September 24, 2014

      Hi Amanda, thanks for stopping by! Our tincture contains Siberian Ginseng (Eleuthero) root, which has been subjected to only limited studies as to it’s safety during pregnancy. Consequently it’s wise to use it with caution or ask your health care provider before using. Personally I’ve used it in each of my 5 pregnancies and have had no concerns or adverse effects with it at all. Most herbal concerns, whether you’re pregnant or not, pertain to a high-dosage use of the herb anyway, so I’m just extra careful in monitoring how much I take when I’m expecting. Hope that helps!

  • Reply
    October 25, 2014

    If I were to use fresh elderberries should I cook them at all first or will the alcohol and steeping neutralize whatever it is that causes the stomach upset? If I were to dry my fresh berries without cooking them would that be ok for this as well? I am hoping I can skip the drying part though. Thank you so much for this!

    • Reply Faith
      Faith Author
      October 29, 2014

      Hi Ali – thanks for stopping by! Unfortunately, the tincturing process will not deactivate the cyanogenic glucoside, sambunigrin, which is responsible for causing nausea and vomiting when consumed in excess. However the amount of berries consumed at one sitting through the use of a medicinal tincture is minimal, so you certainly can tincture the fresh berries. Just use your tincture with caution until you know how your body responds to sambunigrin, and always be sure to tincture with 100 proof alcohol or above when using fresh berries to prevent your tincture from containing too much moisture. My personal preference is to dry the berries in a dehydrator prior to tincturing. Heat, whether from cooking or dehydrating, will deactivate the sambunigrin and I feel more comfortable controlling the moisture content of my tincture by using the dried berries. Hope that helps!

  • Reply
    December 29, 2014

    Just a question about the % proof of the alcohol content. I have been reading in many herb books that 80 proof is more than fine to use to make tinctures and the tincture would basically last forever. Can you clarify the safe proof 80 or 100, or will either be safe? Or does this depend on if I’m using fresh or dried herbs? I just get a little confused because I keep reading different things on which is okay, and I have only been able for some reason to find 80 proof where I’m live. Thank you in advance your help is much appreciated.

    • Reply Faith
      Faith Author
      January 4, 2015

      Hi Jen! In truth every herbalist has their own personal preferences for how they create their tinctures. Choosing between 80 & 100 proof is just the difference in the water content present in the spirit. When using fresh herbs for your tincture you want to select a spirit that has a lower percentage of water, since the plant matter already has a fair amount of water within it. Doing this simply ensures your tincture will last a long time without spoiling. Consequently, with fresh herbal tinctures you should only select 100 proof or above. For dried herbs you can get away with using 50-100 proof. Personally I just make all my tinctures using 100 proof, following the teachings of master herbalist Susun Weed. Hope that helps!

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