Natural Wellness Transformations Podcast
October 17, 2019
This is not about pharmaceuticals. This is figuring out how to get extracts out of different plants to work in the natural wellness realm. It’s not something that’s supposed to replace Pharmaceuticals. The common colloquial phrase is just herbal medicine.
Most of you are aware that I prefer Nature’s Sunshine Products in general when I’m working with somebody. They have several different capsule forms that are very helpful for people. There are some liquid extracts that they utilize– certain ones taste good, certain ones taste disgusting… but the liquid extracts will sometimes give a slightly different effect than the capsules. And they do have a couple of salves and lotions and things like that. But on occasion I will run into a situation where personalization is necessary.
For several herbs the capsules are just a better option because of the taste. There are several herbs that you wouldn’t necessarily want to use in a tincture unless somebody just needed to tincture or couldn’t swallow a capsule. You can also actually create your own capsules. It is kind of time-consuming and it can be very expensive, depending on what you’re dealing with. So again, herbal medicine making is great if you’ve got local herb options that you want to use that maybe aren’t necessarily offered in the Nature Sunshine line or unusual herb combinations that are specific to a person.
Making your own product lines that are specific to your brand, (such as a tummy tincture that’s the same formula for everybody) will require following good manufacturing practices that the FDA sometimes enforces and sometimes doesn’t. So be aware that there are rules and regulations around manufacturing supplements and things like that. So if you are creating a generalized option that you will have all the time, then you need to be aware of these good manufacturing practices for those mass-produced herbal products.
Now if you’re making individualized blends for people, those rules don’t apply in that scenario at this time. They could change in the future, but right now if you’re doing something for a person and creating it for that person at that moment, then it does not fall under good manufacturing practices because it’s not considered a mass-produced product. So, that’s just something to consider.
I want to first talk about tinctures and glycerites, which are the two most common liquid products that you will see when you’re dealing with people who have herb products available.
I. Tinctures and Glycerites. A tincture comes from an alcohol extraction of an herb. And a glycerite is actually a percentage of glycerin and water combined and then the herb is extracted into that. It’s liquid so it’s easier dosing. Liquid dosing can be done in drops. You can even, technically, do half drops. You can put one drop into an ounce of something, stir that around, and then take half an ounce. That is literally half a drop. So it’s very easy to split this down into smaller and smaller pieces based on what somebody needs.
The problem that you run into sometimes is that tastes can be off-putting. Sometimes you will have herbs that you really just want to take in the capsule form because they’re extremely bitter or maybe you don’t like the taste of them. So that it can sometimes come into play when determining whether or not you want to get something in capsule form, or you want to go to the tinctures and glycerites route.
The tinctures will last pretty much indefinitely. I think most people say the shelf life is 7 years, but if you are using a high enough alcohol concentration and then, technically, they’re not ever really going to go out of date. There are some people who argue that they energetically will lose a lot of power but because there are molecules in there that are specifically from the herb, I don’t necessarily hold to that. Now if you’ve had a tincture on your shelf for 7 years and you are getting ready to use it again, you can always charge it–you know do things like you do crystals and whatnot–and that can put you in a situation where you feel like your tincture is energetically back. Or cleanse it whatever you need to do. There are options like that so don’t get put off by a tincture that’s a little older.
Glycerites don’t last quite as long. They’re usually good for two to three years. They are sweet and, a lot of the times, you’ll find that kids will take a glycerite before they’ll take a lot of other things. There are some people that do not believe that they should have any alcohol and therefore they do not want to take tinctures. So, that’s when glycerite can be a better option. Now that being said, there are a lot of different medicines and things that will have some alcohol in them. Some people have a moral concern about alcohol. Also, if somebody is an alcoholic, then switching to glycerites is a better option. If they’re recovering or trying to stay away from alcohol, then the glycerite is going to be a better option for them as well.
Glycerin is sweet because it is the sweet part of fat. So when somebody is diabetic and feel they can’t have sweet things, that’s not really a concern with glycerin. Now I have heard of the occasional person where the taste of sweet will affect their blood sugar and they may have issues, if they are a specific type of type 2 diabetic. But that is a very rare circumstance. I have only heard tell of it. I have never had somebody have blood sugar issues out of a glycerite.
A glycerite usually has a 60% glycerin 40% water combination is pretty common. Put the herb, the water, and the glycerin into a mason jar. Then put the Mason jar into a double boiler for a couple of hours. You kind of stir it and that helps to extract things a little faster. Sometimes you’ll use 70/30 glycerin combination, depending on the herb.
Alcohol is the same way. Certain alcohol percentages are better for certain constituents. But you don’t have to heat the tincture up you just put the alcohol and herb together and you shake it every day for 2 weeks. So every day you just pick it up and shake it a little bit and that keeps things moving and extracting. Do that over the course of 2 weeks and you will end up with a rather strong tincture. Some people will use brandy. Some people will use Everclear. Some people will use a combination of the two to get different percentages that are good for certain herbal constituents. If you think about the herbs themselves—for instance leaf, leafy type things―so Mimosa blossoms, or lemon balm, or peppermint… those things are not going to have to have as high of an alcohol content. So, those would be put into like a brandy because those things are easier to pull the constituents out of. Think about how soft and easy they are to pull apart.
However, if you were having to do mimosa bark for a tincture, you’re going to want something closer to the Everclear end of things. Actually, to me, that’s a blend of some Everclear and some brandy because you can still break it; you can still kind of pull it apart, but you are having to deal with the fact that it is a little harder to pull the constituents out of. Straight Everclear is used a lot of the times for resins—something like boswelia, which is what frankincense comes from. If you’re going to extract the assets out of that, you have to use a very high percentage alcohol. Resins are very hard. It’s not really something you’re going to be able to break. You’re not extracting things out of it easily. You’re trying to dissolve the resin into it and that can be difficult to do. My point is if you think about how hard it is for you to break or pull apart the different herbs, it can kind of be a hint as to what level of alcohol percentage you need. That’s not always the case, but it is a good general rule of thumb when it comes to figuring out your percentages for tinctures.
For glycerites, a lot of the times the 60-40 split is fine. Some people will actually do a tincture extract and a glycerin extract and then put them together. That sometimes works really well. The alcohol will pull slightly different things out than the glycerin. You can play with that and kind of see what you like for your products.
II. Oil Extracts. Another thing that I like to talk about a lot is oil extracts and saps. Oil extracts are not used as often. You will see a lot of people with tinctures and glycerites, but you won’t see them as much with oil extracts. One reason for this is essentially after creating an oil extract everything is super hard to clean up afterwards. But they are great for topical applications. You do oil a little bit like the glycerin: heat the oil in a double boiler, but use a very low heat because you don’t want the oil to come to its smoking point. You don’t want anything to start breaking down; you want it to stay oil. Some people will blend several different types―the coconut blended with olive is a very common one to use in topical products and I think that works really well.
You can do an olive oil extract and a vinegar extract and then combine them to make some fantastic salad dressings. Simply Infused Olive Oil Shop (link below) at 5475 Highway 280 here in Birmingham has some wonderful products. You can find them a lot at the different farmers markets in the area. They are amazing! They have a blood orange olive oil. They’ve got a pumpkin spice infused white balsamic. They suggest putting their blood orange with a pumpkin spice and do different marinades with it. So there are ways to pull this kind of stuff into your cooking as well.
Vinegar extracts are done a lot like tinctures. You just put it in there and you shake it every few days until it’s done. A lot of people wonder how to make a salve. Salves are an oil extract that had beeswax added to it. Strained the herbs out of the oil. (If you add the beeswax in while the herbs are still in the oil, you’re just going to have a gloopy mess. So once you got the oil extracted as far as you think you want to, then you would strain the herbs out of it, put it back in the double boiler, and add the beeswax in at that point. Be very careful when you were straining these things because hot oil is hot! I always take mine out for about 30 minutes and then strain it and that way it’s warm and not too hot. Depending on how hot or how long it sat, you may have to let it sit a little longer. So just use precautions when you’re doing this.) Put it in the double boiler and add some beeswax in. For a harder salve, add more beeswax. A softer salve add less beeswax. To test how hard the salve is, take a spoon and get a little spoonful and set it in the fridge for about 5 minutes. Then pull that out and feel it. Don’t set it in there for too long because it starts to get too cold and it’ll appear to be more solid than it really is. But if you set it in the fridge for about 5 minutes and you pull that spoon back out the little bit, what you have in the spoon will be about the consistency that it will be when you pour it into its container. So that can kind of help give you an idea whether or not to add more beeswax. If you’re at a point where it’s too hard and you wanted a little softer, then you just add a little more olive oil to the mix
If you’re going to add beeswax and create a salve, do not use the salve on an open wound because the beeswax can actually create a barrier that traps the bad bacteria in and allows it to thrive. You don’t want to risk it. It does not happen very often, but you don’t want to risk it. You don’t put salves on open wounds.
Some people want to add some essential oils to their salves. During winter time or whenever everybody’s having breathing issues, some people make a salve that you can rub on your chest like a natural Vicks VapoRub type thing. Some people put the essential oils in as it’s cooking. That is ok, but it is better to add the essential oils as the salves are cooling. If you wait, until it starts to cool a little bit (but you can still stir it) and put the essential oils in then, you will have more of the volatile constituents. Those volatile constituents evaporate with too much heat. So just think about that. If you’re doing a salve and you’re putting essential oil in it, wait until it’s starting to cool before you put it in.
III. Teas. Teas are fantastic! Just dried herbs. You can mix them together anyway that you like. A lot of the times I do either the Emperor’s Blend, which is a traditional Chinese medicine blend. Or I will start with like the basic blend like what we talked about for essential oils in the past. You can do hot teas or cold teas. Cold teas usually sit in the fridge overnight for Infusion. Those are fantastic if you got something that’s got a lot of mucilage in it. I love doing cold tea blends in the summer in Alabama. It’s fantastic! If you do it right, people like it just as well as they like sweet tea. Blending teas is very simple. You just put some stuff together in the ratio you think is best, but you will have to take some time to understand the tastes. I encourage you, when you’re starting to blend, don’t dump a bunch of it together all at once. Do a little bit and keep notes. If you don’t keep notes, you’re going to forget.
IV. Elderberry Syrup. The last thing I want to mention is elderberry syrup. Elderberry syrup does not have to be the only syrup. There are all kinds of different things that you can boil down and add some honey and some sugar to and make fantastic syrups. Obviously, we don’t want to be using a lot of processed sugar. I make my elderberry syrup with nothing but honey–local honey–and it’s fantastic. You have to boil it a little longer than you would if you were adding dry sugar to it because honey is liquid as well and it won’t make a very syrupy feel, but you can do that. Cinnamon is great. All of the Christmas type spices can be fantastic in syrups. You can use those syrups and create gummies out of the syrups by adding the right kind of gelatin products, depending on what you are. I think there’s a vegan version of it as well. I don’t do gummies much which is why I don’t really have a whole lot of quick information on gummies.
With the right people sometimes it’s easier and best for people to go ahead and just utilize the Nature Sunshine Products. But on occasion there will be somebody who it really makes sense for to go ahead and create a blend of some sort–a tincture, or glycerite, or maybe a tea. It kind of depends on what they’re dealing with.
To work with Larabeth, go to the website, naturalwellnesstransformations.com and click on free 20 minute consult to schedule your 20 minute consult. In the Birmingham area it will be face to face at Go Natural, which is the shop in Hoover Alabama. If you are needing to do it online, we can do it that way. We’ll just do it either over the phone or on Skype depending on what works best. Just make sure that you send me an email and with what works best for you. If you need to speak with somebody else then I will be able to refer you on to someone who is a better fit for your scenario.
Be kind. Be loving. Be the light that this world needs. Catch you next time.