Planted in Alcohol

Making and Using Tinctures and Other Herbal Wonders

Sunday, June 25, 2006


Impatiens capensis

Jewelweed is one of those herbs that a lot of people who don't really know herbs know quite well. I imagine that there are two reasons for this. First, it is a beautiful and easily recognized plant, even when not in flower, and it tends to be pretty ubiquitous in the areas in which it grows. The second reason is that it is incredibly effective as an anti itch plant.

It's easy to use by just grabbing some leaves and stems and rubbing them over any place itchy. Perfect for mosquito bites, the plants love to live in stagnant wet mosquito type places. It also works well for nettle stings, poison ivy (sumac, and oak too), and any other random itch. If you put it on right after a bite or exposure, you usually never even feel an itch. Otherwise the itch will go away a whole lot faster than it would if you hadn't used the jewelweed, but not instantly.

So, jewelweed grows in a lot of places, but not everywhere. Because it is wonderful, but not terribly portable in its plant form, I like to try to create more portable forms. The decoction works very well, but spoils quickly when not refrigerated, so you can't just stick a little bottle in your backpack and have it when you need it. I was hesitant to tincture it because it seems like smearing alcohol on irritated skin would be bad. I finally tried it last year though, and it is decidedly good.

I use fresh jewelweed, the whole aerial plant at any stage of growth, and 100 proof vodka to keep the alcohol content on the lower side. (I really do usually use 151 proof, we'll get to one of those soon I am sure.) I have only ever used it topically. I don't know of any history of internal use for jewelweed, and it is sometimes described as poisonous if ingested. Though a lot of people eat the shoots as a spring green. I would eat it myself, but it just doesn't smell tasty to me and I have lots of other, tasty spring greens to choose from.

The tincture is as beautiful as the plant, a lovely deep brownish red, which is nice. It is, without a doubt, worth having on hand.


At 2:17 AM PDT, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hi there andrea. I enjoy your blogs. You seem to be quite a knowledgeable girl. Keep on writing!

At 2:18 AM PDT, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hey there andrea. I enjoy reading your blogs; you seem to be quite the knowledgeable girl. Keep on writing!

At 2:18 AM PDT, Anonymous Anonymous said...

sorry about double post *sigh*

At 2:02 PM PDT, Blogger Chris said...

You would love my 3/4 ac yard. I have so many cool and rare plants that are edible and medicinal.I have a blast out in the woods.

At 7:06 AM PDT, Anonymous Toni said...

Hello Andrea,

I like your blog and would like to join in as I have some knowledge of herbal tinctures as well. I am working to build my site for herbal tinctures and plan on opening others for other forms of natural healing. I look forward to sharing some of the knowledge I have gained with the group. Let's get healthy!


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