Making your own potions with herbs is a super fun and rewarding hobby. You get to experiment with different flavors, smells, and combinations.
I love feeling like a wizard, as tap into the healing properties of nature and its wonderful herbs. But before you start whipping up your own brews, there are a few things you should know.
Tinctures – the elixirs
First, let’s talk about tinctures. It’s a liquid extract of an herb, made by steeping it in alcohol.
To make a tincture, you need:
- a glass jar with a tight-fitting lid,
- some high-proof alcohol (such as vodka or everclear),
- your chosen herb.
- A fine mesh like a cheese cloth or hop bags
- I find a funnel is helpful.
Fill your jar with as much herb as you think you need. I tend to use about 20g for a first try recipe, and then pour enough alcohol over it to completely cover. Seal the jar and let it sit in a cool, dark place for 2-6 weeks (the longer you let it sit, the stronger the tincture will be).
Make sure you shake the jar every few days to help extract the compounds from the herb. When you’re ready, strain the mixture through a fine mesh/sieve or cheesecloth and store it in a dark glass bottle.
Dark glass helps to stop the UV rays in sunlight damaging the delicate aromas.
Making your own tonics – how to brew syrups
You can also make potions using sugar or honey, and it’s way quicker than doing a tincture. They come out a bit like a sweet cough medicine.
My friend was having trouble sleeping, and was going through an anxious stage in her life. She was drinking alcohol to help. So, I decided to draw on knowledge of herbs, and made a tea with dried Valerian root, which is known for helping with sleep and calming down the nervous system.
This is how:
- Three large teaspons of dried valerian root into a tea bag. You’ll need to vary the amount of herbs depending the type of herb, and the desired strength.
- Poured 100ml of just boiled (not boiling) water from the kettle, and let it infuse for a good 20 minutes.
- Took out the tea bag, and put the liquid into a sauce pan with 1 cup/200 grams of normal white sugar.
- Heated it gently, stirring constantly so that the sugar completely dissolved. Warning – this stuff is really hot, and will burn badly if you get it on your skin. Keep the kids away for this one!
- Let it cool, and then voila – done!
You can put the syrup into a jar, and best to keep it in the fridge.
Be aware that it can go off eventually.
I personally sterilised some potion dropper bottles like the ones below using home brewing steriliser (VWP Steriliser) before I poured the cool syrup through a funnel. To be honest, it made a bit of a mess, but it got the job done, and now it sits in my fridge.
Using the syrup and brew
My friend took a dropper full, which is 1 ml, about an hour before bed. She then had another dropper full just before bedtime.
It brought on a deep sleep, and some really wild dreams at times.
Make sure to tailor your use to your own tolerance, and to the specific herb.
Cautionary note on making your own potions
When making your own tinctures and potions, it’s important to use high-quality products if you can get them, and to be aware of the risks involved. For example, Valerian is quite potent and can really sedate you. Check with your doctor before introducing any new herbs or substances into your regime.
Take it slow, and remember that some potions can take a bit of time to feel the effects. So, take a small dose, see how you feel before taking more. Also, make sure to label your tinctures and potions clearly, so you don’t forget what’s in them! And most importantly, have fun experimenting with different herbs and combinations to find what works best for you. Happy brewing!