Traditional Extract vs. Fresh Plant Tincture: What’s the Difference?

Posted on November 7, 2017

Australian herbalists have long used traditional herbal extracts, and for good reason – for many years, there was nothing else readily available on a commercial scale. In Europe on the other hand, fresh plant tinctures have been widely available to herbalists for many years, and are used with enthusiasm.

What’s the difference between the two?

Traditional extracts are made from dried plant material. These materials are sourced from all over the world. At PPC Herbs, we have a preference for Australian grown herbs that are organically certified where possible. Dried herbs work well as a starting material, they are available year-round, and store and transport easily.

On the other hand, it can be difficult to tell how old the herb is. Suppliers often have trouble telling where it comes from, and there can be significant variations depending on how the grower harvested, dried and processed the plant material.

Fresh plant tinctures are made from fresh plant material taken straight from the field into processing without drying. The plant material is processed within hours of harvest to avoid any deterioration or loss of actives.

Where does PPC Herbs source their Australian organically grown fresh herbs?

In late 2014, PPC Herbs was approached by Ronald and Marleen Van de Winckel who had established Marleen Herbs of Tasmania. Ronald and Marleen had vast herb growing experience from years of growing medicinal herbs in the Netherlands. In 2010, they had moved to Australia and established their new farm near Sheffield in pristine Northern Tasmania. Although they were exporting many tinctures back to Europe, they wanted to introduce their fresh plant tinctures to Australian herbalists. PPC Herbs was the perfect partner, due to our well-established preference for Australian Organically Certified herbs.

PPC Herbs launched the new range of fresh plant tinctures in March 2015 with an initial selection of 60 herbs. In 2017 that has expanded to 110 species. Every one of these is organically grown in Tasmania by Marleen, Ronald and their family.

How do you use fresh plant tinctures?

Many Australian-trained herbalists are a little unsure about how to use fresh plant tinctures, largely because they didn’t learn about them at college. In actual fact, they can be used just like traditional extracts, as they’re used for the same actions and indications, and the dosages are similar.

PPC Herbs does express the dosages in drops to differentiate between the two ranges. Therefore, a typical dosage of 20-40 drops three times daily still translates to 20-40 mL per week, matching a typical traditional extract dosage.

Can fresh plant tinctures be used with traditional extracts?

The answer is absolutely YES. Fresh plant tinctures are still prepared in ethanol and water, with a typical final ethanol percentage of 51-66%, depending on the extract ratio (1:1 or 1:2). Fresh plant tinctures and traditional extracts can mix easily and be interchanged at will.