If you are currently taking or considering taking a turmeric supplement, you know that they can be pricy. However, you can make a turmeric tincture at home for a fraction of the cost.
What is Turmeric
Turmeric is a root (rhizome) of a plant related to ginger, but it has a very different taste. This earthy, mustardy, bitter spice is commonly used in Indian cooking. It has a very intense yellow color that is sometimes used to color food.
Funny story - when my daughter was little she went through a phase in which she refused to eat anything white. I would add a little powdered turmeric to water and blanch cauliflower in it. She would happily eat the yellow cauliflower.
Watch Me Make Turmeric Tincture at Home
Benefits of Turmeric
Turmeric contains a substance called curcumin, which is a natural anti-inflammatory and antioxidant compound.
Why is this important?
Antioxidants scavenge free radicals in the body and remove them, which slows cell damage. This retards the aging process and can help prevent certain disease states.
Chronic inflammation can lead to disease states such as cancer, heart disease, dementia, arthritis, and more. High doses of anti-inflammatory substances can help counteract inflammation.
To learn more, check out some of these sites:
Making a tincture is not difficult it just takes time. This is how I do it.
fresh turmeric root (if you have an Indian grocery store near you, that is the best and cheapest place to purchase it). The amount depends on how much tincture you want to make.
Everclear (95% / 190 proof grain alcohol)
Use caution - turmeric is deeply yellow and will stain your hands, clothes, and possibly your kitchen counters and kitchen tools.
- decide how much Everclear you are going to use. Keep in mind that you will be diluting with water in the end. (I used about 4 cups to make a big batch).
- find a glass container with a tight-fitting lid that will hold double the amount of Everclear (to ensure room for the turmeric root and enough room to shake it up).
- wash, roughly peel, and chop your turmeric. I used about equal parts turmeric root and Everclear, about 4 cups of chopped root. Place turmeric in the glass container.
- add Everclear to the turmeric, tightly close the lid and shake.
- store at room temperature, out of direct sunlight for several weeks. Shake it daily or every other day. The longer it sits, the stronger your final tincture will be.
- after a couple of weeks, I decided to run my turmeric through a food processor to provide more surface area for the alcohol to pull out the herbal goodness. I simply strained and set aside the alcohol, pulverized the turmeric, then returned the turmeric and the alcohol to the jar to process for a couple more weeks.
- remember to shake often. The longer you allow your tincture to sit, the stronger it will be.
- when you're ready, strain the turmeric out of the alcohol. Wearing gloves and using cheese cloth, squeeze out every last drop.
- dilute the turmeric alcohol with distilled water. If you don't have distilled water, bring tap water to a rolling boil for 10 minutes, then allow it to cool before adding to the tincture. I dilute a little short of 1:1. For every 1 cup of alcohol, dilute with about 3/4 cup+ of distilled water. You can dilute it more, but that means your final tincture won't be quite as strong. I would not recommend diluting more than 1:1.
- store your finished tincture at room temperature and out of direct sunlight. I like to transfer a small amount to a dropper bottle and leave the rest in my pantry for longer-term storage.
What Do You Do With It?
As with all herbal remedies, you should discuss it with your doctor before self-medicating. Assuming you have done that, a typical tincture dosage for an adult is 1mL (one dropper full), 1-3 times a day. I always recommend starting with a smaller dosage and then increasing the dosage if you feel it's necessary.
The taste of this tincture is not unpleasant, but it's not great either. In my opinion, the most enjoyable way to take it is to add 1 mL into a shot glass, top off with a little grapefruit juice, and a small grind of black pepper. Black pepper is known to increase the absorbance of curcumin.
Can Turmeric Tincture Be Made Without Alcohol?
The short answer is yes. But it's not that simple.
The definition of a tincture is "a medical substance dissolved in an alcohol solvent". However, when it comes to herbal tinctures, most herbalists would agree that while alcohol is the most complete solvent, there are other options available. These options will not pull out all the substances into the solvent, but they will do a functional job, depending on the specific substrate.
The 3 common solvents used for herbal remedies are alcohol, vinegar, and vegetable glycerin. This is also the order of their effectiveness. Glycerin is very mild and sweet. It soaks up less of the herbal substrate, which makes a gentler medicine. Many herbalists use this to make medicine for children.
Because glycerin is so mild, I would NOT recommend it for a turmeric tincture. I also expect the combination of sweet glycerin and earthy turmeric might not taste very good either.
That brings us to vinegar. I love vinegar as a solvent because it makes it easy to turn your tincture into food. If you haven't seen it already, check out my video on making Fire Cider, which is a multiple-ingredient tincture for cold and flu. So, yes, you could make a turmeric tincture with vinegar, if you enjoy the taste of vinegar. To be effective, turmeric tincture needs to be taken daily. Using a turmeric tincture only a couple times a week (say, as a salad dressing), is not going to be effective.