A homeopathic tincture is a type of homeopathic medicine that is made from a specific plant or animal-based source. Generally, the root, bark, leaves or flowers from a plant are combined with alcohol to make a homeopathic tincture. Numerous symptoms can be treated with a homeopathic tincture, though scientific evidence of their effectiveness is lacking when compared to non-homeopathic medicines. In the United States, the formulation of various types of tinctures is guided by the Homeopathic Pharmacopoeia of the United States (UPUS) and, to some extent, regulated by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA).
Classical homeopathy discusses the preparation of natural remedies in the form of tinctures, ointments and other methods. The process starts by creating a mother tincture from crude plant or animal material at a specific location during a certain time of year. The raw material essentially is dehydrated with an alcohol and water solution, stored in a dry place, and allowed to set until the chemical properties of the source material have leeched into the solution. The process is completed by a succession method that repeats until the desired potency is achieved.
Some examples of a homeopathic tincture include Aesculus hippocastanum, or horse chestnut; Hamamelis, or witch hazel; and calendula, or marigold. Horse chestnut and witch hazel are homeopathic tinctures used for the treatment of hemorrhoids and varicose veins. Marigold is commonly regarded as a wound-healing agent. Picricum acidum, or picric acid, is another homeopathic remedy that may be prepared as a tincture, and it is used to treat water retention and confusion.
The potential for a botanical or zoological source to resolve symptomatic ailments has grown with each new finding in plant pharmacology and phytopharmacology studies. In the case of horse chestnut, the seed extract has demonstrated an ability to treat chronic venous insufficiency, which is associated with varicose veins. Research has shown that marigold has an anti-inflammatory response and a potential anti-tumor therapeutic effect.
Making a homeopathic tincture involves several steps to ensure proper purity, strength and packaging. There is no safety or efficacy testing involved for a homeopathic tincture in the U.S., because the products are classified as dietary supplements by the U.S. Dietary Supplement Health and Education Act (DSHEA) of 1994. As a result, homeopathic medicines do not undergo the same regulatory testing procedures as over-the-counter (OTC) and prescription medicines. Homeopathic and herbal medicines may be sold OTC so long as the label indicates at least one medical condition. In the U.S., a tincture may not be purchased OTC if it is intended for cancer treatment; it must instead be purchased from a pharmacy.