Category Archives: tinctures

Difference Between Bach Flower Remedies, Essential Oils and Herbal Tinctures

Healing Mosaic

Many people seem to have a difficult time distinguishing between Bach Flower Essences, Essential Oils and liquid Herbal Extracts. This is probably because these remedies are liquids and are packaged very similarly. In my practice, I use each of these, so I wanted to share information to help explain what each of these supplements is, how it is used, and how the remedy is made. Each description contains links to some of the most popular remedies of that type. Please consult a trained practitioner before using any of these remedies. As always, these statements have not been evaluated by the FDA, are shared for informational purposes only, and are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease. Let’s go!

Bach Flower Remedies/Flower Essences

Dr. Edward Bach first began using flower essences in the 1930’s when he realized that his patients’ emotional state directly affected their ability to heal physically. Through his research, Dr. Bach identified 38 different negative emotional states and developed a flower remedy for each. Bach Flower Remedies are used to address emotional states such as depression, obsessiveness, bitterness, etc. The essences are made by infusing flower petals from specific flowers in brandy. (Non-alcoholic versions are available for children and pets.) The beauty of the flower essences is that they have a very gentle impact and do not interact with prescription medications. (The Bach flower remedies cannot be used with prescription Antibuse due to their alcohol content.)One of the most popular Bach Flower Remedies is Rescue Remedy, commonly used during times of extreme stress. Rescue Remedy is often used in emergencies to help people calm down. It is also known to be highly effective for pets who have separation anxiety or storm fear. (Pet Rescue Remedy is alcohol free and very effective.) I often find the Bach Flower Remedy Gorse to be very helpful when addressing long-term depression. Most practitioners use a specific set of written questions to identify which Bach Flower Remedies may be best for emotional issues and then create a customized blend in mineral water that is taken four times daily. It is very important to work with a trained practitioner when identifying which Bach Flower Remedy is best for specific issues. If you suffer from Seasonal Affective Disorder, please read my post: Stop Seasonal Affective Disorder Now.

Essential Oils

Essential oils are the highly concentrated volatile aromatic oils that give plants their aromas. They are highly medicinal and can be used for physical issues and emotional issues. (The chemicals in essential oils can have very powerful and positive emotional effects because they cross the blood-brain barrier.) Essential oils are so versatile they also have culinary uses and a wide variety of uses for cleaning and scenting. The oils are distilled or pressed from the leaves, flowers, stems, barks, roots or seeds of a plant, tree or bush. Essential oils are highly concentrated and have such strong medicinal powers that they must always be diluted before use.
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Very few essential oils are suitable for internal use. There are a few applications that do not require dilution, and several essential oils that can be used internally, but only highly trained practitioners should use essential oils in those manners. Additionally, some essential oils can actually be harmful to health when incorrectly used. Please never use essential oils without consulting an expert or doing extensive research. (On a side note, I am aware there is a network marketing company which claims their essential oils are such high quality they can always be used internally and without dilution. I STRONGLY disagree with this company’s teachings and feel they encourage very dangerous usage of essential oils.)
The medicinal effects of essential oils can be gained through inhalation, balneotherapy (bathing), diffusion, massage, compresses, etc. Essential oils do smell good (most of them, at least) and can be used for scenting, but their potential extends far beyond that. My two favorite essential oils, which I consider “essential” for every home first aid kit, are Lavender and Tea Tree oil. For more information on essential oils and their uses, please read Hand Sanitizer Alternatives with Recipes.

Liquid Herbal Tinctures (Extracts)

Most people now use the term “tincture” to refer to any liquid herbal extract, but this term is actually incorrect. My definition is that a tincture is made using fresh plant materials and extracts are made using dried plant materials. However, everyone seems to have their own definition to distinguish between liquid tinctures and extracts. Since the term “tincture” is commonly used to refer to all liquid extracts, that’s the term I use in this post. Liquid herbal tinctures are concentrated forms of medicinal herbs that contain the beneficial properties of the herb extracted into a liquid. Tinctures are typically made by placing an herb or herbs in a natural solvent, such as alcohol, glycerin or vinegar, and allowing the mixture to infuse for three weeks or longer. The amounts of herb, solvent and water used are very specific and are dependent upon the herb being used. (Some herbs require higher amounts of solvent, some require lesser amounts.)
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It is actually very easy to make your own herbal tinctures. I make them frequently and love being able to make my own in the comfort of my kitchen. For detailed information on how to make herbal tinctures and other herbal products, I highly recommend reading Richo Cech’s book, Making Plant Medicine. The book provides ample information about herbs and provides detailed information about how to use herbs in a variety of ways. Herbal tinctures can be used for any and all conditions which are treated with herbs. They are typically taken internally, although some people use them topically in poultices. Some people even add anti-bacterial herbal tinctures to their neti pot. Why use an herbal tincture instead of drinking teas or taking capsules? Because a therapeutic dose of the desired herb can be obtained in a tiny amount of the tincture instead of having to eat pounds of the raw herb or drink gallons of tea. My personal preference is to use liquid tinctures instead of dried extracts in capsules because I believe they are stronger and because it avoids consuming “fillers” commonly used in capsuled products. Herbal tinctures can have a very strong taste, but diluting them in a bit of water or juice effectively modifies the taste.
Glycerites are herbal extracts made in glycerin  Glycerin is a very sweet vegetable liquid that is often used to make liquid herbal extracts for children. The glycerin is used so that the extracts taste good. The problem with glycerites is that (for most herbs) glycerin is not as strong a solvent as alcohol, which makes glycerites weaker in terms of their medicinal potential. However, glycerites are a good compromise for anyone who cannot tolerate the taste of alcohol tinctures. (For detailed information on one of my favorite herbal tinctures, Goldenseal, please read The Wonders of Goldenseal.)

Have you tried or used Bach Flower Remedies, Tinctures or Essential Oils? What was your expereince? Please share!

My passion is helping others improve their health using a natural approach to wellness. If you are interested in feeling better and reversing symptoms by addressing their cause, please feel free to contact me. I will work with you to help you reach your goals. I will not let you fail!

The most obvious conclusion I’ve drawn from writing this post is that I need to write many more posts about the uses of specific Bach Flower Remedies, essential oils and herbal extracts! Stay tuned for more!

Photo used by permission courtesy of LaWendula Photography

Top 10 Ways to Shorten the Duration of a Cold

This post is a follow-up to Surprising Facts About the Common Cold. You may want to read that post before you read this. 

I’m often amazed at how many people are affected each year by colds and flu’s that attack their depression immune system. So what can you do to protect yourself? Here are the steps I recommend to shorten a cold. Using these techniques have very successfully helped many people shorten the duration of illness and reduce the severity of their symptoms. Doing the following may help shorten the duration of a cold:

  1. The Obvious: Drink plenty of water, get plenty of rest, eat healthy foods (lots of fruits and veggies), and avoid sugar at all costs. A single teaspoon of sugar suppresses the immune system from two to six hours, so a single can of soda could potentially make you more susceptible to colds for up to 24 hours. It’s not worth it. Another tip that should be obvious is to please blow your nose, constantly if necessary, so that you don’t swallow infected mucous. Do I really need to say anything more? Another tip is to take at least 2000-5000 IU of Vitamin D daily to boost immunity and help prevent colds before they start. You can take higher doses while fighting a cold.
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  2. Use a Neti Pot with Additives: I recommend using a Neti Pot twice daily to help clear congestion, reduce inflammation and eliminate virus-infected mucous from the sinus passages. You can increase the effects of a Neti Pot by adding two to three tablespoons of Colloidal Silver or 30-60 drops of Goldenseal Extract. Both of these additives can also be taken internally. (Read The Wonders of Goldenseal for more info on this great herb.) If you’ve never used a Neti Pot, please rest assured that it is not an unpleasant experience. When done correctly, you should feel next to nothing while using it. The trick is to keep your mouth open and make sure your head is pointed slightly forward. If you find yourself gagging, change your head tilt to correct this. Please ONLY use distilled water in your Neti Pot.
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  3. Make Clove Tea to Soothe a Sore Throat: Cloves not only have an anesthetizing effect but are also one of the highest sources of antioxidants on the planet. (Antioxidants are known to lower infection rates from viruses and bacteria.) Make clove tea by putting one to two tablespoons of whole cloves in a tea strainer and allowing to seep in hot water for five minutes. (You can also put the cloves directly in the water and then scoop them out. They float, so scooping them out is relatively easy.) Add stevia to sweeten it if needed. This tea is a true blessing for a sore throat. The warmth is very soothing, the steam will help clear the sinuses, and the cloves work as an anesthetic to kill the sore throat pain. This tea is a perfect remedy for children, as they generally like the taste and will enjoy not having a sore throat. The fact the tea also makes the mouth numb is a minor inconvenience.
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  4. Take Extra Vitamin C: The body uses Vitamin C to produce the white blood cells which are responsible for fighting viral infections. The recommended dosage of Vitamin C is typically 1000-5000 mg/day. Taking excess Vitamin C produces an “ascorbic acid” flush and causes diarrhea, but during a cold your body can absorb far more. Since getting sick, I’ve been taking an average of 25,000-65,000 mg in divided doses throughout the day and have not experienced the flush effect. This means my body is craving the Vitamin C and is using every single bit of it to fight this cold. During a cold, I recommend starting with 4000 mg/day and very gradually working up to 10,000 mg/day. (Note: I can tolerate higher amounts of Vitamin C because I receive intravenous Vitamin C in huge doses to combat autoimmune issues. Please don’t take the same dosage I take.) You can also use other immunity boosters, such as ZincAstragalusOlive LeafGarlic, etc. Please follow the dosage recommended on the bottle.
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  5. Use Elderberry Extract: Elderberry Extract is one of the strongest anti-viral ingredients known, yet it is 100% natural and will not react with any prescription medications. It is known to very effectively and very quickly kill viral cells. Some expert estimate that 1000s of deaths could have been prevented if Elderberry Extract were distributed during the Spanish Flu epidemic of 1918. It is a powerful antiviral that works very quickly. It is very easy to take, tastes good, and is safe for children.
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  6. Use an Immunity-Boosting Combination Supplement: Instead of taking 40 different pills every day, take a combination supplement designed to boost immunity. A few of my favorites that can be easily found in health food stores include: 1) SystemWell by Nature’s Way: SystemWell helps protect and improve cellular health, digestive immunity, respiratory immunity, systemic, lymphatic and circulatory immunity. It’s a great product and works well. 2) Full Spectrum Immunity Defense: This is a heavy-hitter containing 18 of the top immunity-boosters known. It is a powerful combination of vitamins, minerals and herbs. I highly recommend it! The dosage can be increased based on need, which is nice.
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  7. Use Monolaurin: Monolaurin is potent antibiotic and antiviral. It is a simple fatty-acid that is present in breast milk and is considered to be one of the components responsible for boosting immunity in breast-fed babies. It is also present in extra virgin coconut oil and a few other vegetable oils. Monolaurin is one of my “can’t live without” supplements, mainly because it’s so darn effective! It is also perfectly safe, having no known interactions with other supplements or prescription medications. The bottle recommends taking three to six 600mg capsules daily, but many MDs who prescribe Monolaurin recommend using higher doses at the beginning of a cold.
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  8. Use Proteolytic Enzymes: Proteolytic enzymes help by reducing the inflammation that contributes to congestion and irritated nasal passages. They also help kill viruses. Most viruses have cell walls that are made of proteins. Using a proteolytic enzyme containing high amounts of Protease (which digests protein) on an empty stomach will work to destroy the cell wall of virus cells, thereby killing them. The most important part of proteolytic enzymes is to always take them on an empty stomach, at least 30 minutes before eating or two hours after eating. If you take them with food in the stomach, the enzymes will help digest the food and will not get into the blood stream to work their magic. The company Enzymedica makes what I consider the best product in the business for combating viruses: ViruStop 2x. I highly recommend it! The best of the best in terms of a mainstream proteolytic enzyme that functions as an anti-inflammatory is WobenzymWobenzym is also useful for inflammatory arthritis, bursitis, and other joint issues, and is used in Germany as part of a cancer treatment.
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  9. Cook Up a Healing Soup: I don’t want you slaving all day in the kitchen, but tossing handfuls of anti-oxidant rich veggies into the crockpot/slow cooker with lots of mineral-rich veggie broth, meat of choice (or not), and immune-boosting spices can do wonders for a cold. It’s also easy to digest, allowing your body to dedicate more energy to healing than to digestion. As you sit and sip, the vapors from the soup will help clear out your nasal passages and the warmth will soothe your throat. Herbs and spices that are known to boost immunity include: garlic, oregano, turmeric, sage, basil, ginger, cayenne, rosemary, and many others. Ginger is especially nice because it opens blood vessels, allowing the body’s own defenses to circulate more easily. See my next hint for another potential use.
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  10. Take an Anti-Virus Bath: Taking a bath is a simple way to help your body eliminate toxins and viruses. It is also wonderfully soothing, so why not take advantage of it? Here’s my favorite blend for baths: 1-inch (grated) of ginger root to increase circulation, warm you up and help you sweat out the virus; 10 drops of tea tree oil to boost immunity and help pull toxins out of your system; 2 cups of Epsom salts to increase your magnesium and to soothe aches and pains (See Why You Need More Magnesium for more info); 3-4 drops Eucalyptus oil as a decongestant; 2 cups Apple Cider Vinegar to help your body expel mucous. Add everything to the tub while the water is running, and then sink into the warmth and think positive, healing thoughts for 20 minutes. You’ll feel better immediately and will sleep like a baby! You can repeat part of this process in the morning by putting 30-40 drops of Eucalyptus oil on a washcloth and placing it on the shower floor to inhale while you take a hot shower, or by using Aura Cacia’s Eucalyptus Shower Tablets. Eucalyptus is a wonderful decongestant that is also known to be antiviral and to boost the body’s immunity. For more bath info, read: Create a Detoxification Bath Using Common Ingredients.

Ok … you obviously can’t do every single one of those. Since several of you have already asked, following is a list of what I’m doing on a daily basis to combat this cold. Please note that what’s right for me may not be right for you. Please consult a trained professional before taking any of the supplements mentioned, and please note that I have extremely high tolerance to some of these supplements and therefore take higher doses than what is typically recommended. The fact my cold is moving through incredibly rapidly and is diminishing quickly is testimony to the fact that these things truly work:

  • Nightly detox bath
  • Drinking high amounts of water, green tea and an immunity-boosting tea
  • Eating lots of soup loaded with a rainbow of veggies and lots of dark, leafy greens; completely avoiding grains, dairy and all sugars. (Eating 100% organic, non-processed foods will also reduce your body’s toxicity and boost immunity.)
  • Taking high doses of Vitamin C, Goldenseal (60 drops four times daily for five days; then 30 drops three times daily until symptoms subside), Monolaurin (900-1200 mg four times daily). During the first few days, I used Agricept (10 drops in one ounce of water) every two hours.
  • Drinking lots of probiotic-rich coconut water kefir every day
  • Using a neti pot with goldenseal tincture and colloidal silver twice daily
  • Light yoga daily
  • I broke down and got an antiviral IV from a functional medicine MD. If you have access to a doctor who offers IV therapies, I highly recommend these when you come down with a cold or flu. The IV contains vitamins, minerals, glutathione (a natural amino acid that is an antioxidant, immunity booster and detoxifier). The antiviral IVs are a great way to get rid of a viral infection quickly. I felt better within an hour and will get another one tomorrow to help protect me when I fly to LA on Friday. 

Many people are surprised to hear I am available to assist with temporary ailments and do not limit my practice to chronic conditions. If you are struggling with a cold, flu or other short-term challenge, please consider scheduling a 15-minute phone consultation. Feel free to email me or call 317.489.0909 to schedule.

Please consult a medical professional if your cold persists, if you have an extremely high fever, or if you develop a severe cough. As always, none of these statements were evaluated by the FDA and none are intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any health condition. Please check with your personal health practitioner before making any changes to your health regimen. I hope you feel better soon!