by Joe Lillard (Proprietor of Washington Homeopathic Products)
Homeopathic tinctures are made in accordance with the Homeopathic Pharmacopoeia of the United States (HPUS). It's a four volume book written by homeopaths in the U.S. (with input from homeopaths in other countries), and recognized by the FDA as the way things are to be done. If remedies are made in any other way, they are considered "unofficial" and they are prescription or the method used must be proven by the user to be safe, effective, etc.
The HPUS identifies what a medicine is to be made from and how to make it. Whatever it is made from must be just that and nothing else - no additives, or contaminants of any kind. Tinctures are made from plants, and no inorganic fertilizers, bug or weed killers could have been used.
The pharmacopoeia designates whether the tincture is to be made from the root, flower, bark, etc. The pharmacopoeia also provides the formula for arriving at the final alcohol strength of the tincture. Depending on the plant the % of alcohol ranges from 35% to 95%. We can vary _ or - 15% of that - e.g. if the goal is 35% the variation can be as low as 29.75% or as high as 40.25%.
Here is how we go from poison ivy to Rhus Tox.
Joe - yup me, will don a long sleeve shirt and plastic gloves, and pick poison ivy leaves (in the Spring - tradition). We will determine how much we need and pick the leaves in a ratio of 3 pounds to the gallon - I will bring the fresh leaves to the lab where we weigh it. The next step is to take an ounce of that and dry it completely out - then weigh that out - the difference is the dry weight. The dried out x-ounce is discarded (want some?)
For each medicine there is ratio of dry weight to alcohol and water. This is calculated and the formula tells me whether to add any water and how much alcohol to add. The alcohol and water (distilled or purified) are added to the chopped up herb. This sits (for us) a month - the contents are rotated on a regular basis. At the end of the month we pour off the liquid then we place the solid in a press and squeeze. This is all mixed together and is a tincture. The "tincture" is then filtered through a series of new filters until there is nothing left on the "last" filter.
There is a way of testing the tincture - by using "thin layer chromatography" - a record of the outcome from the test is photographed by a digital camera and stored as a record. Remedies made in accordance with the pharmacopoeia last for many years.