Arthritis Today

How Do You Take Your Botanicals?

Learn the difference between teas, tinctures and concoctions.


Tea is one of several ways botanicals are sold. Also called an infusion, tea is made by adding boiling water to fresh or dried plant products – stems, leaves or flowers, usually – and steeping them to release their active ingredients.

Tea isn’t the only way that bot­an­icals and herbs can be used. In this guide, you’ll find some of these forms listed under “Forms and Dosages”:

Concoctions and Decoctions

Tea requires just a few minutes of steeping but some plant products require a little more time for their active ingredients to be released. A concoction is simply a mixture of herbal ingredients that can be prepared in a variety of ways, usually with heat. When the heating method is boiling, the mixture – usually of roots, bark or berries – is called a decoction.

Liquids, Extracts and Tinctures

Botanicals are sold in liquid forms, such as oils, extract-containing drinks, syrups and tinctures. Tinctures are preparations made with alcohol and water. Extracts can be made with many different liquids (solvents), and that liquid is often evaporated to make a dry extract. Dry extracts are put into capsules and tablets. Tinctures and extracts are usually more concentrated than teas. When looking at the recommended dose, it is important to notice the form of the product. For example, a dose might be three cups of tea per day or one to three teaspoons tincture per day.

Fresh or Dried Herbs

Herbs can be grown at home or purchased fresh-cut at a market. Air-dried, freeze-dried or fresh, herbs can be used in cooking or for making tea.