I’ve always loved albizzia flowers, although as a kid I knew them as mimosa flowers. There was an enormous albizzia tree around the corner from my grandmom’s house and every summer I would stand under it, mesmerized. Pink fluff all over the ground, floating pink puff balls in the tree, and a sweet smell that is light and grassy – perfection. Today G collected a huge bag of albizzia flowers, otherwise known as he huan hua in Traditional Chinese Medicine. I’m actually holding one of these flowers on the ‘about’ page on this blog. But that one’s from Hawaii and was enormous, as things are in Hawaii. The flowers picked today are going to be transformed into a tincture.
Albizzia flowers are used for matters of the heart. They calm the spirit, helping with depression, anxiety, irritatability and insomnia. They also can help alleviate pain and swelling due to trauma. The pink of the flowers actually gets absorbed into the alcohol/water combination and in a few days the flowers will be white and the tincture a light tan/pink.
To learn how to make a tincture keep reading….
The folk method of tincturing is simple, very satisfying and powerful. It is also really cost effective.
You will need: medicinal herb, water (purified), alcohol, mason jar
Start off with rinsing your herbs to get any excess dirt or critters off of the plant. Afterwards put the herbs in a mason jar and press the herbs down with a spoon to compress them. If you are using vodka, which is perhaps the easiest alcohol to use, it is usually around 80 proof (40% alcohol). This is a perfect % for flowers and leaves, you can just pour the vodka into the jar until the herbs are covered. If you are tincturing roots, seeds or thick stems you will want to use a higher proof that is 75-80% alcohol. Today I used an organic grape alcohol that is basically classy moonshine and hovers around 100% alcohol. (I also poured it on a cut on my finger by accident, damn!) I eyeballed a little more then a third of the jar and filled it with alcohol and then poured water in until it covered the flowers.
Put the lid on and shake the jar. With some plants the color of the menstrum will change immediately. It’s an alchemical experience and can be downright magical. Label your jar. I like to write of course the date, but also where I harvested from and what alcohol % I used. Shake the jar a few times daily in the beginning and then you can let it rest, tucked away in a dark room temperature spot. You will want to make sure that none of the herbs are poking up through the menstrum because that could encourage bacteria. In the past when I’ve had that issue I’ve weighted the herbs down with a rock.
Let the tincture sit for a month and then strain it through layered cheese cloth into another glass jar, amber glass is ideal. Wring out the cheesecloth with the soaked herbs still in it to get all the medicine into the jar. Lovely. Done.
I would encourage all of you to try tincturing. It is a powerful tool and a simple way to participate in your own healthcare. Remember though to be wary of self diagnosis and be sure to consult with a healthcare practitioner. Herbal tinctures are strong medicine and should not be taken either haphazardly or obsessively!