Frequently Asked Questions about St. Francis Herb Farm Herbal Tinctures

by Jeremy and Monique Rivett-Carnac

Q. Why use herbal remedies?
A. Herbs are a natural way of dealing with health of body and mind and have been used from time immemorial in all cultures in order to:
  • Prevent and alleviate disease
  • Enhance the immune system
  • Remove toxins from the body
  • Maintain the body's self-regulation and balance
  • Even in our own day, an astonishing 75% of patented prescription medicines are based on herbs
Nonetheless, scientists and pharmaceutical researchers have been unable to isolate and name every single chemical component of herbs. In many respects, the constituent parts of the plant remain a mystery, beyond the scope of scientific analysis. This means that most often they cannot be synthetically reproduced. When all is said and done, herbs remain a complex mixture of vitamins, minerals, and carbohydrates, as well as trace elements and healing agents. In a dynamic, inexplicable way all these components work together synergistically to produce healing. This may be why it has been said of an herbal remedy that it is greater than the sum of its parts.

Q. Are herbal remedies safe?
A. Used properly, they are quite safe. All the same, you need to remember that they're a form of medicine. You should never use them to treat serious medical problems or lingering symptoms without consulting a health care professional.

Q. What is a tincture?
A. A tincture is a liquid extract made from soaking fresh or dried herbs in alcohol.

Q. What are the benefits of tinctures?
A. In our pill-popping world, capsules, soft gels and tablets are very popular. Tinctures, however, have many advantages over these modes of delivery. The bio-availability of tinctures is very high in comparison, because unlike pills, tinctures don't rely on digestion to break them down. Tinctures are readily absorbed by the body, beginning their work in the bloodstream almost as soon as they enter the mouth, significantly increasing the benefits. Note also that:
  • Tinctures can be applied externally as well as internally.
  • Tinctures can be stored for long periods of time, even years, without loss of effectiveness.
  • Tinctures can be taken relatively accurately because they are administered in drops.
Q. Why are tinctures alcohol-based?
A. Not only is the alcohol in our tinctures indispensable for extracting the active ingredients of an herb, it is also needed to stabilize and preserve them. As well as limiting microbial activity, alcohol has the ability to inhibit enzymatic or hydrolytic reactions in plant extracts.

Alcohol plays the role of a carrier substance conveying active ingredients within the body. Beyond that, it has been scientifically proven that small amounts of alcohol actually enhance the immune system and its defenses.

The amount of alcohol taken in an average dose of tincture, you'll be surprised to learn, is about the same as what you'd find in an overly ripe banana!

Q. What's the best way to take a tincture?
A. The simplest way is just to add the required drops to a few ounces of warm water. If you prefer, you can use herbal tea or diluted juice in place of water. Alternatively, you can administer the drops directly into your mouth, under your tongue being the best.

Q. Why do tinctures have such a bad taste?
A. This is a result of the herbs themselves, which can have a sharp, robust flavour. Often it seems that the stronger and more effective the herbal tincture is, the more pronounced the taste. Sometimes the best, least painful way to take the recommended dose of a tincture is to put the drops in a bit of water and gulp the whole thing down quickly. If you want, taking some juice can remove the aftertaste.

Q. How is the dosage determined?
A. When we establish the recommended dosage of an herbal tincture, we examine a number of factors. Primarily we look at the tincture's level of concentration and its specifically intended use. Often the dosage is given in the form of a range. This allows for differences in body weight and physical constitution.

Q. Should I be taking herbs when pregnant or breastfeeding?
A. Except for culinary herbs, no you shouldn't without the go-ahead from a qualified practitioner.

Q. Can I take herbal remedies with prescription drugs?
A. Often this does not pose a problem. It is most advisable to consult a professional health care practitioner before taking more than one remedy at a time.

Q. How long should I take an herbal remedy?
A. It all depends on the nature and seriousness of your ailment. In the case of an acute or superficial condition, you may end up taking the herbal extract for less than a month, perhaps even just one week. For a chronic ailment, your period of treatment may last months.

Whatever the case, if you use any herbal extract for more than a week, avoid taking it every seventh day for a rhythm of six days on and one day off. If your period of treatment last longer than six weeks, go on a schedule of six weeks on and a seventh week off, while continuing to take one day off during every week that you're taking your herbal remedy. Similarly, if you take an extract for longer than six months, take a seventh month off, and then repeat this incremental process.

This schedule of time off from treatment adds to the potency of the herb youre using.

Q. Can I take two or more herbal remedies concurrently?
A. Usually this does not pose a problem. Often times it's actually the preferred course of treatment.

Q. How do I store tinctures?
A. You can store them at room temperature, but out of direct sunlight

Q. What's the shelf life of a tincture?
A. When properly stored, a tincture can last for years.

Red Clover Plus Salve - Alternative to Cortisone Cream
Red Clover Plus Salve is made from St. Francis Herb Farm's exclusive Organic/Certified Organic blend of Golden Seal roots, Burdock seeds, Black Walnut hulls, Echinacea Purpurea as a whole plant, Red Clover blossoms, Eucalyptus leaves, Calendula flowers, and the essential oil of Ravensara - all in a superb base of Gargano Gold - Kosher Certified Extra Virgin Olive Oil and untreated natural Beeswax.

Among these ingredients, Red Clover in particular has traditionally been employed by herbalists in the treatment of skin conditions. Calendula, on the other hand, is our best vulnerary - the class of herbs notable for their ability to promote the healing of wounds.

Red Clover Plus Salve's uniquely effective combination of herbs works together synergistically to give relief on many fronts. Not only is it antiseptic, antibacterial, and anti-fungal, but it soothes as it heals, reducing pain while restoring the skin to health.
  • Please apply a small test patch to your skin before putting to widespread use. If, after application of a test patch, skin irritation arises, please discontinue use.
  • For external use only. Use with caution anywhere around the eyes.
  • Keep out of the reach of children.
  • To be prudent, women in the first trimester of pregnancy should not try new products that contain peppermint, rosemary, rose, or lavender.
  • Do not use peppermint or eucalyptus with homeopathic remedies.

"I have given your Red Clover Plus Salve to many people in my clinic for skin problems of a more severe nature. By applying it faithfully, it always gives the desired result - 'healthy skin'. People really like to use it."
Dr. Annette Gilbody, ND Natures Health Clinic Natures Apothecary, Sherwood Park, AB
"C.E. 20 year old female with severe vaginal (vulvar) inflammation and itching (urticaria) rated at 8/10 in intensity. Suspected cases included candida, eczema and allergic dermatitis. Treatment using an anti-candida diet and natural anti-fungal products such as Candicin and Allisyn, boric acid suppositories and Candigen cream (acidophilus) had no effect. Tea Tree oil poultices provided minimal relief. Within minutes of applying Red Clover Plus Salve, the itching was gone and the inflammation decreased markedly."
Terrie Van Alstyne, N.D. Whitby Naturopathic Clinic, 1145 Brock St. S., Whitby, ON L1N 4M1
'Several of my patients have used Red Clover Plus with good results; in particular, a four month old child with eczema. It reduced the redness and itching immediately, and cleared up the eczema in four of five areas within eight weeks. We were all very pleased with the results."
Dr. Glenna Morris, BSc.N., N.D. Centre of Natural Medicine, Sydney, NS
"I have found this product to be extremely beneficial in the treatment of eczema, particularly in children. Several of my patients have been able to reduce or eliminate the use of cortisone creams. The Red Clover Plus Salve helps to decrease the inflammation and itching associated with eczema while simultaneously promoting healing of the skin."
Tracy Gilbert, HBA, MA, ND Nature's Apothecary Naturopathic Medical Clinic, Hanmer, ON P3P 1J6
"For over half a century I have suffered the effects of poison oak and poison ivy. I've experienced burning pain and extreme blistering. It was getting extremely serious and I was becoming concerned. It was suggested that I try Red Clover Plus Salve. Nothing else was working, but it did! Many thanks to you at St. Francis Herb Farm for making these products available to us all!"
William Monaghan and Family Coe Hill, ON
"I suffer from a facial rash, known as Lupus, and your Red Clover Plus Salve is the only thing that gives me any relief. Believe me, I have tried just about everything."
Betty Steffler Lindsay, ON