Herbal Anti-inflammatory tincture
been fascinated by the concept of inflammation in the body and all of its associated ills. Lately, inflammation has been the "it" reason for almost every illness, and -- truthfully -- I believe it might actually be a significant symptom of multiple illnesses. Inflammation happens but what causes it? Well, there seem to be a multitude of reasons for runaway inflammation: stress, Omega 3:6:9 imbalance, processed foods, leaky gut, exposure to chemicals and heavy metals, childhood trauma, allergies of all kinds, inflammatory foods, an imbalance of gut bacteria, dehydration, poor sleep. You name it.
What harm does inflammation do? Well, inflammation is associated with many things: metabolic syndrome (diabetes, heart disease, high blood pressure), arthritis, Alzheimer’s, lowered immunity--thus making one more susceptible to colds and the flu, chronic pain, depression, candida overgrowth, and it has been implicated as a driver in all kinds of auto-immune disorders. I'm sure tomorrow a new study will show that it causes the "terrible twos" and “midlife crises”! Here is a link for more information on inflammation, its symptoms and causes.
When, one by one, each of my family members were bitten by ticks and came down with Lyme’s disease (welcome to southeastern Pennsylvania!), safely managing the long-term inflammation issues associated with this spirochete was my goal. I turned to Stephen Buhner's herbal protocol as a basis of my tincture. I spent a few years trying to create a single tincture that would address the effects of chronic inflammation due to Lyme’s disease which for me were persistent joint soreness and fatigue, as well as other inflammatory issues that I had including rosacea, an auto-immune disorder that I inherited from my father (thanks, Dad!). The tincture worked so well for me that when my husband needed something for his chronic back pain and relief from pain due to a near-fatal motorcycle accident, this tincture became a mainstay. In fact, it helped him to stay off opioid-based pain killers (note: there is no killing the pain of an 8 inch incision from your diaphragm to your groin, not even with opioids.) The proof was “in the pudding” when he had to quit the tincture for surgery, and in the ten days between ceasing his daily dose and the surgery for his disk rupture, his pain increased from (in his words) "manageable to unmanageable." So, what is this stuff made of?
Here is a list of the ingredients I use. The proportions and how to make it is set forth after that.
"Herbal Anti-Inflammatory" tincture ingredients:
birch bark (Betula lenta)
cat's claw bark (Uncaria tomentosa)
ginger root (Zingiber officinale), use fresh if you can
Japanese knotweed (Polygonum cuspidatum) (This is where I get mine... I know these folks and they are the real deal!) https://www.etsy.com/shop/SusquehannApothecary
Oregon grape root (Mahonia repens, nervosa, aquifolium)
turmeric root (Curcuma longa), use fresh if you can
In addition, these healthy bitters support liver function:
burdock root (Arctium lappa)
dandelion root (Taraxacum officinale)
For taste, anti-inflammatory properties and adding greater bioavailability add these herbs:
cinnamon (Cinnamomum verum)
nutmeg (Myristica fragrans)
pepper corns (black is best) or ground pepper (Piper nigrum)
star anise (Illicium verum)
The following herbs are optional:
eleuthero, Siberian ginseng (Eleutherococcus senticosus) (for greater energy)
meadowsweet (Filipendula ulmaria) (for pain)
saffron (Crocus sativus)
Medium quality vodka (I recommend skipping the poor quality ones due to taste)
I use varying size containers when I make it. Lately I've been using the jar pictured below. It holds two gallons.
5 parts of each:
2 parts of each of the following:
Oregon grape root
1 part each:
saffron (or however much you have)
4 or 5 whole nutmegs if you have whole ones…or one half part ground nutmeg (or less depending on taste).
Optional (but helpful) add 2 parts of the following:
I use fresh turmeric root (not powdered) and fresh ginger because I think they are more potent. Slice the turmeric and ginger into the thinnest slices you can muster. There is no need to skin the ginger and turmeric, but rather just make long, thin slices out of the fresh root and place it into the jar. Add all the other ingredients. It will look like the photo on the right when you are done.
Add the vodka so that it covers all the ingredients by about an inch. Mix the herbs and the alcohol thoroughly and then set into a corner of your kitchen with no natural light. Do not put it in the refrigerator! Mix or shake it daily if you can.
Wait a week or so and then strain through a thin mesh strainer or coffee filter. I often use a turkey baster to "pre-filter" the mixture into a wire tea strainer, eliminating big chunks and leaving them in the jar. Strain the mixture into small bottles with droppers, or simply store it in the mason jar it was made in. (Just make sure you tell the kids it isn't iced tea!). You can use these ingredients up to three times with new alcohol, but the tincture will get less strong each time you do this. I am experimenting with, at the end of the process, using a masticating juicer to extract everything out of the ginger and turmeric root slices and then using that "juice" in future tinctures.
Dosage: This is always tricky. People weigh different amounts and respond differently to pain and pain-killers. This is something you have to experiment with. As a reference, my husband is 6'2" and he was requiring a "shot" of this tincture 3 times a day to manage acute pain. Your needs may be less so always use your own responses to the herbs as a guide. And check in often with yourself.
Disclaimer: Of course, if you are on any kind of medication at all, you should talk to your doctor about contraindications. Also, you MUST terminate using this tincture ten days before any surgery. I'm not a doctor and don't even play one on TV, so I'm just sharing my own experience and not telling you what to do or how to treat illness. Do your own research! Good luck!
Marie Goodwin is a writer, activist, and recovering academic who is de-schooling herself while unschooling her two teens in Media, Pennsylvania. She wears many hats (event planner, archaeologist, student of herbalism, writer). She is currently birthing her first novel of historical fiction. You can find even more of her writing on her blog Personal Mycology, where this post is originally published.