Making Turmeric Tincture

I’ve been on a tincture rampage lately.

I suppose it’s fear-based. Fear of wintertime illnesses, nemeses that steal weeks of otherwise productive, if chilly, pursuits, replacing them with hacking cough/mouth-breathing misery.

Also, I ain’t getting any younger (funny how that happens), and when you find yourself misplacing things the size of large Rubbermaid tubs (where are you, Tub?, here tubby tubby), you start looking for anything you can find to help keep you sharp.

I’ve been reading and hearing about turmeric for years, how it is a powerful anti-inflammatory which may help prevent or slow cancers, Alzheimer’s, arthritis, and much more.  You can read more about it here.

The simplest route to getting turmeric into our diets is to cook with it often.  I haven’t been successful doing that, however much I intend to, so taking a tincture seems like a plan for me.

The basic formula for making tinctures is to grate, chop, bruise or otherwise abuse the plant matter in order to expose the maximum amount of surface area.  Then, cover the plant matter with an edible solvent to extract the medicinal compounds from that matter.  Commonly used solvents are pure grain alcohol (like Everclear) and unflavored, high-proof vodkas.  You allow it to steep for a period of time, anywhere from several days to several months.  In the case of turmeric, the consensus is for it to steep for a period of 2-4 weeks.

After the steeping period, the solution is strained and bottled in a dark glass bottle and stored in a cool, dark place where it remains useable for up to several years.

I found fresh turmeric roots at the local Whole Foods market. You may also be able to find fresh roots at Asian/Mid-East markets.  They are related to ginger, and can be peeled in the same way as ginger by scraping away the skin with a spoon.

I grated it using the second to finest face on my box grater.

Be sure you do this right before your hand modeling gig and wear your grandmother’s wedding dress.

Or not.

Seriously, though, if you mind having yellow hands and clothes, wear gloves and an apron.

If you don’t care, it will mostly wear off by the next day.

It’s a beautiful color, more so in the bowl than on skin.

Put the grated root in a clean glass jar and cover with the alcohol.  Tightly cap and put in a dark, cool place for a minimum of two weeks.

Strain and bottle.

Use 15-30 drops, 3-4 times a day.  There are about 20 drops in one standard dropper full.



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  1. A timely post.

    I intensely dislike the taste of turmeric but it is such an effective anti-inflammatory for me. I’ve been buying expensive turmeric caplets–I intensely dislike the price of those, though.

    I’ll have to give this a try when we get back home this weekend. Hopefully a dropper full if tincture squirted into the back of my throat will taste less nasty, or nasty for a shorter period of time, be cheaper than caplets and just as effective as those caplets.

  2. Trace Willans–It would be turmeric oil, not tincture in that case. I haven’t heard anything about that, but maybe someone else has.

  3. I’m wondering how much alcohol to how much grated turmeric? That ratio will determine the cost of making it because it will determine the amount of tincture produced. Is it like making vanilla where a half-gallon of vodka covers only 48 beans? Or is it just enough alcohol to cover the grated turmeric?
    Thanks for sharing this!

  4. Kate–Recommendations vary, with most advising either to use only enough alcohol to cover the herb/root or to use enough alcohol so that you have 3/4 of the total volume “floating” above 1/4 liquid in the bottom of the jar. For a more concentrated tincture, go with the former.

  5. I love turmeric.. and what a wonderful find in finding those roots. Im going to my Whole Foods soon to see if I can score some as well.
    Thanks for the tincture recipe.. Im definitely trying it soon.. especially since I’ve been looking for that tupperware bowl too. ;)

  6. I have been adding turmeric to almost every soup and stew we make for the last few years. We also add it before grilling meat even rice in the rice cooker. Our kids like the taste and understand this is part of how we cook now. (Cancer has affected many of our relatives) I buy it in bulk bags in the Indian section of our local grocery store.

    I am eager to try the tincture, too. Thanks Deanna!

  7. So I like curries and I honestly have never tried tinctures before but am interested to know what everyone’s preferred method of taking the tincture is. I have tried oil of oregano for a cold and it worked pretty awesome but yeah that was an oil and man it burned all the way down. :D

  8. Melissa–I, too, would like to hear how others take it. Personally, since the tinctures I take have a pretty strong taste (hot pepper, garlic, etc.) I prefer it in a swig of tomato juice, with a tomato juice chaser.

  9. I love a useful blog post. This is certainly one of them. Thanks for sharing some really useful and helpful information.

  10. Cynthia, how much do you add to your rice? I feed a family of 5 adults and want to try this.

  11. As a medical herbalist, I use and make lots of tinctures. My turmeric tincture varies between 60-70% alcohol depending on supplier. This strength of alcohol is needed to extract the active ingredients and then stabilise the finished product.
    So if making your own tincture of turmeric, you would need to have the strongest alcohol you can get, which will probably be vodka at 40% alcohol.
    The proportions of herb to liquid should be about 1 part herb to 4 parts liquid (1:4) or 1 part herb to 5 parts liquid (1:5). So for example to make a 1:4 tincture you would need 250 grams of turmeric, to 1 litre of vodka, and a 1:5 tincture would be 200g herb to 1 litre of vodka.
    In the case of turmeric it is also important to keep the skin in the mix as there are many active ingredients there. The root could either be sliced finely, or fully grated. As much of the liquid can be absorbed by the herb, grating would be the better option as when it comes to pressing the mixture, more of this liquid can be squeezed out into the final product.
    Finally, when taking this tincture, adding water will make a cloudy mix as the resins precipitate out. Adding it to fruit juice is a great way to take it to mask the taste.

  12. Paula–You know, I wondered about the skin. I wish I’d left it in. I guess I was worried about not knowing where it had been, etc., but after sitting in alcohol for a month, I don’t suppose that will matter much. I’ll leave it in next time. I plan to try growing my own if possible, then I won’t worry about its provenance. Thank you for your information. It’s great having an herbalist’s input.

  13. Would love to know what I could use to help with a head cold. I noticed Melissa said something about using Oregano oil…how is this used ? Any help would be appreciated.

  14. I am so interested in this tincture! I make a salve that includes MSM as well as comfrey and some other products to make let’s call
    It a lotion bar. It relieves my back pain and hubby’s knees. I will post it when I have it dialed in or if anyone has a recipe to share? I bought one, but I wasn’t to make mine. Thanks

  15. Head colds: fresh or dried thyme is a great disinfectant: make a tea (1tsp per cup) Fennel will help thin mucus and ease coughing it up if its gone down to the chest: same quantities as thyme tea. Liquorice acts like a natural steroid and soothes any inflammation in the sinus passages and lungs, as well as acting as a mild laxative to help clear out at the other end! (liquorice sticks booled or eat some candied liquorice). Elderberries are antiviral so if you picked any and made syrup, noes thd time to drink it.
    In general all the spices can play a part as they tend to be anti infective, decongesting and warming: cloves, cinnamon, ginger. All

  16. I also juice turmeric along with apples, pears, beet root and cucumber. Hides the taste well and is a great start to the day.

  17. Paula–I’m still waiting for my elderberries to produce enough fruit to make syrup. I’ll have to hedge my bets and go foraging for wild berries next year in case mine poop out again.

  18. When you mention using the drops 3 to 4 times a day, do you mean every day or just when you feel like you are catching a cold? Do you only use this while you are sick? Does this help with drainage from allergies? I live in Tennessee and every fall I seem to get a slight sore throat and a little drainage for a couple of months. Do you think this mixture would be helpful to me? Thank you for your reply. I love your website and look forward to your posts. Lisa

  19. Lisa–I’m only just learning about herbalism, but I will try to answer at least some of your question. Using the tincture when you feel the onset of an illness is a good tact, or when you think you might be headed toward something. I know some people like to use them as a preventative during the cold and flu season. An anti inflammatory tincture such as turmeric or rosemary should help with some of the symptoms of allergies. Turmeric, in general, since it is basically a food ingredient which many consume daily, wouldn’t hurt to use year round. I might suggest using the tincture when you think you are suffering or think you might be in the near future, and trying to incorporate either the fresh root or the dried spice into your cooking the rest of the time. Hope this helps!

  20. Someone I know mentioned that she adds turmeric to her Master Tonic….garlic, horseradish, onion, ginger, hot peppers, grated and submerged in apple cider vinegar for several weeks before straining. Consume 1 oz daily and several times a day when sick…or if you feel something coming on. Any idea how the apple cider vinegar might compare to alcohol in extracting important ingredients?

  21. Can’t wait to try this. I also wonder about using organic apple cider vinegar instead of Alcohol. I can’t imagine that it would not work as well.

  22. Could you use glycerin to it to dilute the alcohal taste. A friend does this with other herbs and it tastes kind of sweet instead. No burn. He used triple distilled vodka instead then cut it with glycerin.

  23. I tried to make a garlic tinture with cayenne and ginger. I wasn’t too bad.but if I used too much I could actually feel the cayenne burning that fat out of my arteries.
    Later I felt like a million bucks.

  24. I am going to try it with Kombucha. I make my own ! Waiting for my anti-inflammatory tincture, made it with Calendula, Lavender, Chamomille and Turmeric (powder). Used Vodka 100%

  25. Just started this 3 days ago for the first time and am very excited to see the end result! I used Braggs raw apple cider vinegar instead of vodka. Many sources say this works just as well as alcohol AND you get the extra benefits ( besides a nice buzz I don’t see any health benefits concerning vodka in general which is why I chose acv). It only lasts 6 to 12 months however and should be refrigerated ( sources are inconsistent with this however). I will let you know how it turns out. I think I’m going to let mine go for 2 months, I hear the longer the better? I also added cayenne pepper for a double dose of anti-inflammatory power ( doing this for my runners knee ). One concern : a few sources say that if the herbs expand above the line of the alcohol/acv then you need to keep adding alcohol/acv to ensure it is always covered or you risk bacterial growth. I’ve had to add more twice now but opening the jar seems counterproductive to the process. Any ideas on this? Thanks !

  26. Amber–I would recommend adding liquid to keep it covered. I think that is more important than not disturbing the integrity of the sealed jar. Stuff may grow on the uncovered herbs and you’d worry if it was spoiled. It would be a pity to wait for two months and then wonder if it was okay. Hope it helps the knee!

  27. So here’s a question I haven’t seen asked:

    Does it cause a body odour? For example, when I eat a lot of garlic, I sometimes wake up in the night and I reek of garlic and I know that the next day other people can smell it radiating off of me (even after a shower). If you take this tincture every day, I’d hate to smell off-putting for the rest of my days.

  28. Sandra–I take it every day and I don’t notice anything and nobody has said anything, so I would say no. Turmeric has a mild, earthy smell, but nothing offensive to my nose. It’s often an ingredient in strong-smelling curries, but it’s probably the cumin that gives curry much of it’s renowned odor, not turmeric.
    BTW, I also take garlic tincture every day and I don’t think I smell like garlic. Maybe I do and am can’t smell it myself, but no one has said anything about that either.

  29. Here is a trick for grinding herbs. Use your blender! What? Yea – Use your blender! But you say, “then you have to get all that stuff out of your blender!” No you don’t! I’m having a conversation with myself here. Seriously – it solves most questions of grinding up all kinds of food stuff. It also works great for grinding dry herbs – as I do for the seasoning I like to make. Blenders originally came with a Ball jar. You that’s right kids! You probably forgot but your Grandma might remember! Your little blender (bottom side) will fit any Ball jar! So just fill up your Ball jar and put your blender bottom on the top, turn it upside down and wallah! Grind it up. Then just pour your alcohol in on top. No fuss – no mess! You may have to experiment a little. For instance you may have to add just a little solvent to get the tumeric to grind smoothly. I learned that on the internet BTW! :)
    My question is has anyone tried adding a little pepper to the tumeric? It is suppose to help the Circumin absorb better. Also maybe there is a way to add the finished extract to olive oil which is also suppose to help the absorb ability.

  30. Also if you are working with fresh herbs which do not grind well, you can start your extract and at any time you can put a blender bottom on the top of the ball jar and give it a good spin on what ever speed you feel safe at! This accelerates the extraction process as it breaks down the herbs. I don’t know if this will apply to those newer fancy blenders because I could never afford one – which is also why I make my own extracts! :)

  31. I have RA and other medical conditions…I believe reducing inflammation is the goal to reducing pain and symptoms .i have used fresh tumeric for several months..and have succeeded ..I am not sure I will have it all year here in NE..this tincture may be a god send,,all the best to all.

  32. Alicia R.–That is good news. I’m excited to hear something is helping and hope the tincture works as well. I’d love to know the result after you’ve tried it. P.S. As a commenter noted, use the peel, too. It has good stuff in it.

  33. What would be the advantage to making a tincture as opposed to, say, putting a tablespoon of dry tumeric powder into a pot of tea? I’ve started doing the latter each morning, too soon to know about results if any, but I’d be up for tincture-izing if there was a clear benefit.

    Thanks in advance!

  34. heidipie–Good question. Here’s why I started making and using tinctures–I knew turmeric was good for me, and garlic, and ginger, etc., but try as I might to incorporate a good amount of it in my daily cooking, I just wasn’t succeeding. Here and there, yes, but not enough for my liking. Taking a daily dose of tinctures was sort of an easy “cheat” to make sure I was getting that in even when I wasn’t cooking with those things religiously. I still try to cook with them and I’m having some fresh ginger tea right now, but homemade tinctures are my way of getting a little daily dose and then teas and additions to meals with those elements are icing on the cake. I guess especially when you find the list of things you really want to include in your diet starts to grow longer and longer, tinctures help because turmeric/ginger/garlic/rosemary/etc. tea wasn’t practical (or palatable). Also, some of the herbs you might want to take aren’t culinary. Motherwort, for example, is bitter and not something I can take in a tea. Gulping down a couple of droppersfull is the best I can do. Thanks for your question!

  35. Hello All!
    I am hoping someone my have an answer for me. I have an alcohol allergy so I have made tinctures from vegetable glycerin with dried herbs. After several weeks of curing I would heat for 24 hours in a water bath in my crock pot. Cool, strain and bottle the glycerin and ingest by the dropperful as needed.

    I tried making some with ground ginger root and glycerin and about a month in I noticed a milky substance on the bottom of the jar. I thought I had wasted my efforts and products for consumption so I did not heat cure this batch. I just strained and saved liquid in a jar and use it to make a pain rub with garlic and coconut oil.

    Can anyone tell me if I was on the right track? Do I need to refrigerate my glycerine and ground turmeric or ginger while it cures? Any and all suggestions will be grately appreciated!

    Thanks in advance! Theresa

  36. Theresa–I don’t know if this is any help, but I always get white sediment on my alcohol-tinctured ginger. I keep meaning to try to filter it out using coffee filters but I haven’t bothered yet. I’ve never thought of it as any sort of contaminant or mold, just some element of ginger.

    On the subject of refrigeration, I’ve never made glycerin tinctures so I don’t know what the procedure is, but I’m sure typical glycerin tincturing directions would apply to turmeric and ginger as to herbs.

  37. Try making a vinegar infusion by infusing the turmeric / ginger in apple cider vinegar for one month and then straining.

  38. Thank you so much for your responses ladies!

    Daisy, I’m glad to hear the milky substance is more than likely a by-product of the root itself.

    Paula, I just so happen to have everything on hand to start my tinctures today! Does it need to be refrigerated at all or just kept in a cool dark place? Thanks in advance!


  39. Refrigeration will slow the whole process down. Room temperature is fine. I keep my vinegars in the dresser in the kitchen.

  40. Thank you so much Paula! I really appreciate everyone’s feedback on this! I will check back in next month and let everyone know how they turned out!

    Thanks again!

  41. Great recipe, but as a psoriasis sufferer, I can’t ingest alcohol. So, I was wondering if I could do something different. Here’s my approach. Let me know what you think.

    I follow all of your instructions, exceptt I put the alcohol and turmeric in a crock pot, and leave on low heat for several hours. I strain the left over root material, and put the alcohol back in the crockpot. I add an equal amount of honey, and over low heat boil off the alcohol. Theoritically, the curcumin should leech away from the alcohol, and bind to the honey. When all the alchol is gone, I should have a honey turmeric infusion. I can just take a spoon of this and the turmeric should get into my system through my mouth. Or, I can put it tea and drink it on an empty stomach.

    Do you think this would work? Of course I’d have to do this in a well ventilated area away from flames or sparks, as boiling off alcohol is dangerous.

  42. You can easily get rid of the alcohol in tinctures by heating, with water, fruit juice or something. The alcohol comes off before the water boils, as its boiling point is lower.

  43. I bought a Turmeric tincture from the health food store, since I didn’t have a recipe to make my own. I use it in Almond or Coconut milk and it taste good. I take it in the mornings for my arthritis. I also have used it in juice but since juice has so much sugar I switched to vegan milks.

  44. I won a 1 lb. bag of organic turmeric and would love to know if I can make a tincture with ground turmeric and how much to use to make it

  45. Esther–It’s possible, but not the preferred way. I thought you might like to take a look at this extensive article about turmeric which includes several recipes (scroll way down) for using bulk amounts of turmeric powder, including Golden Milk and Turmeric Blend, plus more ideas for using turmeric:
    If you want to make tincture with the powder, the percolation method is recommended. You can conduct a web search for methods including videos that show how to do this. Congrats on your win!

  46. I purchased some fresh at the Asian grocery store. I grated it with the skin on using the grating disk included with the food processor I purchased. I preheated the oven to 200 degrees and spread the turmeric on a non stick cookie sheet which has sides. I lowered the oven temperature to 150 degrees and let it bake at one hour intervals. I did the first batch at night and after an hour I just shut off the oven and left the turmeric in the oven overnight. The next day, I stirred it around and baked it again at 150 degrees for another hour. I repeated this until the turmeric was completely dried out. Out of 4 oz. of freshly grated turmeric, it yielded about 3/4 oz. of dried turmeric. I stored the turmeric in small lidded plastic containers and set aside for tincturing