I was inspired to make this tincture today as I drove past hillsides covered in our state flower - the California poppy. This is the time of year where the hills are speckled with these bright orange flowers. Since we cant go hiking or enjoy the wildflowers this year I thought I would bring some of the wild California flowers to the kitchen and whip up a tincture.
Tinctures are a fantastic introduction to beginner herbalists. You only need 2 ingredients the herbs and the grain alcohol. It is very difficult to mess it up. This tincture I have aptly named poppy potion. But it also includes chamomile and lavender buds. I opted to use fresh as I like the energy that comes from fresh material. If you have dried herbs, you can of course use those if you like. But if you have the opportunity to use fresh material, I would give it a try!
You will also need to use a higher proof alcohol like an ever clear when you are making tinctures. Grain alcohol which has a higher percentage of alcohol can extract more constituents of the plant than a regular clear alcohol like a vodka can. But if all you have is some plain ol vodka, that will work too. Since these are all such delicate flowers, you can get away with using vodka.
1 part fresh chamomile
1 part fresh lavender
1 part fresh California poppies
120 proof grain alcohol (or 80 if its all you can find)
1 glass mason jar (whatever size you want)
Start by chopping up your herbs. Cutting them up makes more surface area, thus allowing more of the plant to permeate into the alcohol. You can use the stems and leaves of all three of these plants. I suggest you collect the poppies from cultivated source. California poppies are 100% illegal to forage so if you have the chance to grow them all the better! You can leave the chamomile whole since they are pretty small anyway.
Once you have your herbs prepared, just pop them in the jar and top with alcohol. Make sure you fill the alcohol so it covers all the herbs. They tend to float to the top in the first few days, but they will sink with time so dont worry so much that they will rot. As long as they remain covered, you will be fine. Leave this for 6-8 weeks before you strain. Once it's ready, strain out the herbs and return to jar. You can keep this as the mother jar, and pour off what you need into a small dropper bottle. Take 20-40 drops before bedtime for insomnia, and for anxiety you can take smaller doses of approximately 8-10 drops throughout the day. Always start off small and you can increase dosage when you feel comfortable.
California poppies are known for their relaxation and pain relieving properties. Unlike the opium poppy, this poppy does not contain any opiate effects but has similar benefits from pain relief to calming anxiety. It is not addictive, and very safe. In combination with the mild nervines, chamomile and lavender, this makes for a very gentle but powerful calming tincture. It works well for both the physical manifestations and more mental tension and stress. It is one of the best herbs you can use for the nervous system, that is this mild in nature. If you suffer from insomnia or racing thoughts before sleep, taking this blend will help lull you into a sound sleep.