- An extract, usually herbal, and usually made with a mixture of water and alcohol, although there were official tinctures that also used acetic acid, chloroform and glycerin. Only a few tinctures are still official in the U.S., including Tincture of Arnica and Compound Tincture of Benzoin. In herb commerce, the term should really only be appropriate when the extract at least RESEMBLES the formerly official methods for making plant extracts.The strength should be listed, usually as a ratio (1:5 being the most common) or a percentage (20%...the same strength as 1:5). Green Tinctures of fresh plants, are usually appropriate when defined as 1:2 or 50%. The alcohol percentage should be given, and, if below 45%, is made incorrectly. Dry plant tinctures, the norm, are official when percolated (usually), although maceration was and is allowed as an alternative method. The term Tincture is still pharmaceutical in implication, so the FDA periodically objects to its use in the herb industry. Nonetheless, if it is IMPLIED, it should reasonably resemble the former pharmaceutical media. Glycerin, although a very inferior solvent, is used as a substitute for moral reasons by some manufacturers, and others try to make do with low percentages, like 25%...others use Vinegar for making their "tinctures". There are many alternative methods for preparing herbs in concentrated forms, in ours and other cultures (the Unani honeys, the pills used in Ayurveda and TCM), but trying to emulate a tincture with other media results in inferior products...and a moral waste of Plant Energy. Methods and recommended strengths are outlined in my pamphlet HERBAL MATERIA MEDICA
Herbal-medical glossary. 2015.