Tinctures are concentrated herbal extracts made by soaking plant-based ingredients—think bark, berries, leaves, and roots—in alcohol or vinegar, which extracts the active ingredients and concentrates them in liquid form. The use of tinctures in herbal medicine goes way back. Centuries, that is.
Ancient alchemists in the Middle East and Egypt forged the path of distillation, extracting the healing properties of flowers and herbs over fire. In the Middle Ages, these sorts of herbal remedies became part of the physician’s everyday toolbox. Victorian era England saw a similar take to tinctures (questionable as they were, with many popular blends of the time containing cocaine, codeine, or opium). Enterprising individuals during Prohibition America may have appropriated the principles of distillation to make moonshine, but the rise of modern medicine, and influence of the pharmaceutical industry, saw tinctures drop off the scene. Lately, with a renewed focus on the multifarious forms of natural healing, tinctures have begun to creep their way back into medicine cabinets and popular consciousness alike.
Holy Mountain is one brand that is tapping into tinctures. It was founded by Melbourne-based herbalism student Lisa Perri last year, beginning with a range of ingestible powders that harness medicinal herbs, roots, and mushrooms. Tinctures seemed like a logical next step. “I love how easy they are to use, while also being such a powerful means of delivering the benefits of herbal medicine,” Perri says. The small dropper bottles are great companions to work or travel and they work by simply taking one dropper (about 20 drops) of the liquid under your tongue or mixed with water one to three times per day.
Perri had been experimenting with making her own tinctures and extracts as part of her herbalism studies, but it was after attending a workshop in the Dandenong’s, a low set of mountains not far from Melbourne, when she began formulating a full collection. The resulting range is made up of seven different tinctures, with each remedy representing an aspect of daily life where Perri personally turns to plants for support. The Clarity tincture, for example, “includes some of the most spiritually potent herbs in Ayurvedic medicine,” which help to support the mind and nervous system. The Calm tincture is a nurturing blend that helps to manage daily stress and ground an anxious, racing mind without causing drowsiness.
There’s a lot of groundwork that goes into crafting a tincture. “Most of the research involves studying herbs for the issues I’m wanting to address and testing how they work together energetically to ensure they’re well-rounded and balanced to work for most constitutions,” Perri explains. Holy Mountain follows the traditional production methodology as closely as possible, brewing the tinctures by steeping herbs in alcohol (organically-grown grape vodka from Western Australia) for a number of weeks, stored away from sunlight and attended to daily. During this time the alcohol takes on the medicinal properties of the herbs, along with the flavour, colour, and scent profiles. “We’ve also tried to align our brewing with the moon cycles by preparing most of our batches under a new moon and straining at a full moon phase,” Perri adds.