Tincture Making: Curlycup Gumweed / Pteíčhiyuȟa

I wanted to share a few pictures of my Curlycup Gumweed / Pteíčhiyuȟa tincture. It’s a very simple recipe, but has helped me tremendously with breathing problems during the winter months. So I wanted to share this for others who might also want to try making this medicine.

Generally, tincturing with alcohol is a way to extract as much medicine from a plant as possible. Tinctures can also be made from vinegar or glycerin, for people who prefer not to use alcohol. For most plants, vodka is recommended for an alcohol-based tincture. However, because Curlycup Gumweed is quite resinous, it needs a stronger, higher-proof alcohol to extract the maximum amount of medicine.

I do not drink alcohol — however, I do make alcohol-based tinctures for a very small number of medicinal herbs, such as this one. The effective dosage is so low — maybe half a dropperful — that I have never felt any effects from the alcohol. Each person has to make the decision for themselves about whether they are comfortable using medicine that contains alcohol — but for me, it has not been a problem, and I am comfortable with it.

Someone recently asked me about whether an alcohol-based tincture is safe to give to kids. I don’t have the knowledge to advise either way, but if any readers have insight there, please do share it in the comments.

Materials needed:
1. Clippers
2. Wash basin with clean water
3. Towel
4. Glass jar (you can choose the size)
5. Everclear (enough to fill jar)

Steps for making Curlycup Gumweed Tincture:

1. Gather desired amount of Curlycup Gumweed in as non-polluted of a place as possible. (While it often grows along roadsides, try to find some that is away from a main road, and is in the least polluted location you can find.)
Harvest the top 2/3 of the plant; the majority of the medicine in this plant is in the leaves and yellow flowers. You want to harvest some that has as many open flowers as possible. This tincture is strong and requires only a small dose, so you don’t need a lot of it unless you’re making medicine for a lot of people.

2. Wash and dry the plants you harvested. (They don’t need to be extremely dry; you are about to submerse them in liquid and get them wet again!)

3. Chop the plant up into ~1″ pieces. (Use clippers/pruning shears so it is easy to cut.)

4. Place plant pieces in your glass jar. Keep filling until the jar is between 2/3 and 3/4 full.
(Note: when I first tried tincture-making, I would fill the jar up all the way with plant material, with the idea that I was getting as much medicine out of them as possible. I have since learned that this is not as good of an idea as I thought. In fact, the top 25% or 33% of the jar, which is only liquid, gives the solution enough space to fully extract the medicine from the plant.)

5. Pour Everclear over the top of the plant material, until the jar is full.

6. Put on the lid, and put it away, ideally in a dark space.

7. Whenever you can, turn it upside down briefly in order to agitate the mixture a bit.

8. Within 24 hours, you will see the liquid start to turn emerald green. However, it will not be ready for at least 6 weeks. The longer you can let it sit, the better. I try to let mine sit for 6 months when I can, but sometimes with winter colds, people need it sooner.

9. Pour it out of the jar and strain.
NOTE: This tincture will stain things bright green!
Learn from my mistakes: If you spill any, clean it up instantly, or you will have a bright green stain forever that will be hard to remove, especially from linoleum.

10. Store in a dark place, and/or in a dark/amber-colored bottle. I am not sure how long this tincture will last, because I always use mine up or give it away long before I run out. But generally, tinctures are a great way to preserve medicinal plants for a very long time. Tinctures are shelf-stable and do not need to be refrigerated.

The green color is really visible here:

You can change out the medicinal plant to another favorite plant, and substitute Everclear for Vodka (unless it is another resinous/gummy plant) and use this basic tincture recipe for another plant.

I am also trying an Apple Cider Vinegar tincture with Curlycup Gumweed this year, but I can already tell that it is not going to be nearly as strong as the Everclear one.

(These next 2 pics are the ACV tincture — as you can see, the color hasn’t changed much, although these 2 are the same age. I haven’t opened it up to try it yet, though. I’ll update when I do.)

Since I don’t drink, I did extensive research on alternatives to alcohol tincture before I attempted to make this. From everything I learned in my research, it seems that Apple Cider Vinegar tinctures extract more medicine from the plants than the other common alternative, Glycerin. However, for soft-tissued plants (not like this one), a Glycerin tincture is said to be adequate to extract the medicine. I have never personally tried a Glycerin tincture, though, so I cannot comment from personal experience.

(The 2 tinctures, properly stored in a dark cabinet.)

I have used this tincture at the onset of a cough to stave it off, and also to clear out a lingering cough in myself and others. I also sent some bottles to friends in California last year, whose lungs were suffering from the effects of the wildfires, who told me they were effective.

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