Five Years of Fun Facts – Tinctures: Then & Now
Above: our first tinctures!
Five Years of Fun Facts!
As part of our 5th Anniversary Celebration, we will be running a blog series titles Five Years of Fun Facts. Each post with share five fun facts about a specific topic. Our second feature is our tinctures, one of the first items included on our infused products menu and how the methods by which they are made have morphed over our five years of operation.
Tinctures are concentrated herbal extracts that use alcohol as the solvent. They are an essential product in any apothecary, personal or professional as they do a great job of capturing the majority of constituents in a plant, they are shelf stable and they offer an easy drop by drop dosing method. Furthermore, if consumed sublingually, they can transmit the therapeutic benefits of a plant more quickly and effectively to the body because they are absorbed into the bloodstream directly through the lining of the mouth, bypassing the time needed and degradation caused by passage through our lower digestive tract.
1) The first tinctures at CVD were made using the Folk Method, a basic home recipe for making tinctures. Generally, the Folk Method only requires plant material, a mason jar, alcohol, cheese cloth, a strainer, a medium sized bowl and bottles for packaging the finished product. When working with cannabis, it also requires an oven to decarboxylate the plant material, if you want to make a tincture containing neutral, as opposed to acidic, cannabinoids; THC rather than THCa. We started out with our handy-dandy, convection toaster oven. Instructions for how to successfully tincture herbs at home can be found here. We highly recommend Mountain Rose Herbs as a one stop resource for organic herbal inputs, tools, packaging and information about crafting herbal medicine; the methods and the benefits of making plants a focal point of your health regimen.
2) Our first upgrade in tincture making equipment was the addition of a hydraulic press. The press reduced the waste inherent in wringing out the tincture by hand. Using the press enabled us to capture 4-6 more ounces of finished product per batch. Our press was hand built by one of our favorite medicine makers and teachers, Richo Cech, the founder of Horizon Herbs, now Strictly Medicinal Seeds, in Southern Oregon.
3) Our next two improvements, HPLC lab analysis and CO2 extraction, completely changed the way we craft tinctures. When we first started, we had consistent recipes for each of our tinctures (same ratio of alcohol to herb), but we did not have access to lab analysis. We held on to samples of our first batches and analyzed them when our first internal HPLC lab became operational. As we expected, the cannabinoid content in each batch was wildly different, 200-400mg swings from batch to batch. This is because the cannabinoid content in the starting plant material varied based on the strain, the harvest and the “grade” of plant material, flower as opposed to trim. The addition of a CO2 extractor allowed us to create concentrates of each strain. These concentrates are analyzed for cannabinoid content then are formulated directly into an alcohol base guaranteeing consistency across batches.
The quality and the concentration of alcohol is another key factor in successful tincture making. As a resinous plant, cannabis requires a high proof alcohol for a successful extraction. We have always used organic, non-GMO, pharmaceutical grade 190 proof spirits distilled from either grapes or sugar cane. Our vendor of choice is The Organic Alcohol Company, Oregon’s first and oldest certified organic distillery. When using cannabis concentrates to make tinctures, this alcohol can be diluted with distilled water to a concentration that will adequately hold the concentrate in homogenous solution.
5) This fall, we are bringing back a version of our Folk Method tinctures. As we harvest our greenhouse we are creating a very special, limited release, sun grown tincture formulated for a 1:1 THCa to THC ratio. THCa is a powerful, non-intoxicating, anti-inflammatory compound that is also being studied for it’s neuroprotective and anti-emetic qualities. We will achieve this ratio by extracting fresh plant material directly into organic spirits then formulating this base with a THC dominant CO2 extract. The water component of this formula will be the flower essence of the same strain. We are very Excited to be crafting this formula which combines both traditional and modern forms of medicine making and hope that it will be of great service to our registered patients.