Herbal capsules offer so many advantages over tinctures and teas for daily use. The dosages are consistent, they’re easy to transport, and they’re quick & simple for adults to swallow. Yet the cost can really add up! That’s why I want to teach you how to make herbal capsules yourself.
For most people, capsules are the easiest and most effective way to take herbal medicines … and they’re the method people will stick with the longest. If you’re like me, you don’t have time to make a fresh cup of herbal tea three times a day to begin with. Putting tinctures into water can get tedious real fast too. (Plus, some people can’t stand the taste!)
But capsules … dump them out of the bottle and swallow. There’s nothing to it.
By making your own herbal capsules, you can custom tailor them to your exact needs. Select the exact herbs you want, blend them in the proportions you need, and capsule them.
No fillers. No additives. No wondering what that word on the ingredient list means.
You’ll be able to choose the dosage size that’s right for you too.
The only drawback? Making herbal capsules is a little messy, especially the first time you do it.
After that, you’ll be a pro!
Herbs for Your Homemade Herbal Capsules
To make your own capsules, you’ll need herbs and empty capsules. If you’re not sure where to buy herbs, take a look at my Where to Buy Quality Bulk Herbs article.
Gathering your own herbs is incredibly empowering – and super fun! If you want to give it a try, check out my wildcrafting articles to help you get started.
Which herbs you capsule will depend completely on your personal needs. Do you need a hormone balancer like vitex, an adaptogen like reishi mushroom to help you cope with daily stress, or something else? Only you know the answer to that question!
You can also capsule herbal combinations to suit specific problems. I’ve made capsules from my bowel tonic combination, an eye strengthening blend, and a combo of several herbs to help my husband with recurrent sinus problems.
Use Powdered Herbs
Herbs need to be in powder form before putting them into the capsules. This allows the body to more easily digest and utilize all the beneficial components from the plants. Some medicinal herbs – particularly barks and roots – are basically impossible for the body to completely digest unless they’re powdered.
If you buy powdered herbs, you’re all set. But keep in mind that a powdered herb will deteriorate much more rapidly than one that is whole or cut.
Capsule powdered herbs as soon as possible to extend their shelf life. Once in the capsule, a powdered herb will stay potent for about a year.
If you’ve harvested your own herbs, you’ll need to allow them to dry completely before powdering. If you purchase cut and sifted herbs or whole dried herbs, you can jump straight to the powdering stage.
Powdering most herbs is pretty easy. Throw them in the blender about a half cup at a time and blend until you have a fine “dust.”
If you don’t have a blender, you can easily powder dried flowers and leaves in a mortar and pestle. It’ll just take some bicep-power.
Powdering Tougher Herbs
When dealing with roots, barks, or nuts, powdering can be more tricky. I’ve been using my Ninja blender with good success, or you may be able to use a heavy-duty coffee grinder. (I tried using a cheap model and quickly destroyed it, so I don’t recommend going that route.)
With really tough plant material like horse chestnuts, I don’t have any good tips for turning them into a powder. I’ve gone as far as to run over them with my minivan to no avail. I’d suggest making a tincture from the super tough herbs or buying them pre-powdered.
What Capsules to Use
I buy my empty capsules from Mountain Rose Herbs or Amazon. Both supply excellent quality – in fact, the ones on Amazon are from Capsule Connection, the same company that makes the capsule machine I use.
Capsules come in various sizes: 5, 4, 3, 2, 1, 0, 00, and 000 are commonly available. The larger the number, the smaller the capsule.
Most adult dosages are given using two size-0 capsules, and children who can swallow pills typically use the size 1 capsules.
Even smaller capsules can be used for tiny dosages (or for children who aren’t ready for size 1), and the larger capsules would be used for very large dosages. (Personally, I think I’d rather swallow 3-4 size 0s…)
If you prefer vegan capsules, there are many options available.
How Much Does Each Capsule Hold?
The amount of powdered herb that each capsule size will hold depends somewhat on the density of the particular herb – is it finely powdered or coarse with bits of chopped herb remaining?
The approximate amount for each capsule is…
|Size||Approximate Amount of Herb|
All right, now that that’s out of the way, let’s start filling capsules.
There are two basic methods for making your own herbal capsules: with a capsule machine and without.
Both methods work equally well – one’s just faster than the other.
How to Make Herbal Capsules Without a Machine
To make herbal capsules without a machine, I like to have three bowls – or two bowls and a jar.
Fill one bowl with empty capsules and set another bowl (or the jar) to the side. Fill the remaining bowl about ¼ of the way with your powdered herb.
The capsule-filling is a simple four-step process:
- Take one capsule and separate the two halves.
- Hold the smaller half with the open side pointing directly at the powdered herbs and “stab” it into the powder several times until it’s completely filled.
- Slip the larger half onto the filled, smaller half and press them together.
- Drop your finished capsule into the other bowl (or jar) and repeat until you’ve filled as many capsules as you want.
That’s really all there is to it!
After filling a few capsules, you’ll get the “feel” for how long you need to continue stabbing the capsule into the powder before it’s filled enough. I notice a sort of “resistance” when the capsule is as full as it can get.
When you press the two capsule halves together, press firmly enough to lock the parts in place but don’t squeeze too hard. You’ll squish the ends of your capsule if you apply too much pressure.
How to Make Herbal Capsules With a Capsule Machine
If you plan to make herbal capsules very often, I highly recommend getting a capsule machine. I use the original Capsule Machine brand from Capsule Connection and have been perfectly satisfied with it. For less than $20, it will make your capsule filling 3-4 times faster.
With the capsule machine, I can fill 150-200 capsules in less than the time it takes us to watch an episode of Star Trek: Enterprise (our current Netflix binge).
Your machine should come with complete directions that are easy to follow. Look for my complete review of The Capsule Machine coming soon!
Is It Cheaper to Make Your Own Herbal Capsules?
Aside from knowing exactly what ingredients are in your capsules, why bother making your own if it ends up costing you more? Let’s look at a breakdown of the cost…
Let’s say you want to make capsules from hawthorn to support heart health. As of this writing, you can buy a whole pound of organic hawthorn berries for $14.59. That equates to about 453 grams.
(You’ll need to powder the whole berries, of course. If you go with hawthorn berry powder, the cost will be slightly higher but only by a couple dollars.)
Since size 0 capsules hold about 490mg each, you’ll be able to fill about 925 capsules. One thousand empty size 0 capsules costs about $10.35 for a total cost of capsules and herbs of $24.94.
That works out to a little less than three cents per capsule. Plus your time in capsuling them, of course.
How does the cost of pre-made capsules compare?
I found several brands of organic hawthorn berry capsules, and the average price is $15 for 90 size-0 capsules. To get 925 of them, you’ll spend $154! The price per capsule is a little less than 17 cents.
Buying pre-made capsules costs six times as much as making your own capsules!
To me, that’s worth a few hours of my time.
Did you discover something new? Don't stop here....
Sign up for my newsletter and come along with me on this journey. Once or twice a week, I'll send out an update with highlights, insights, and practical ideas for pursuing a holistic lifestyle.
To welcome you to my community, I have a few goodies I want to send you, including my new e-book, Ten Natural Health Habits You Can Start Today. In it, you'll find ten easy all-natural health habits that are doable today. No more waiting around or trying to find the perfect plan. Just get started today!
Green, James. The Herbal Medicine Maker’s Handbook: A Home Manual. Crossing Press, 2000.
This information has not been evaluated by the FDA and is intended only for educational purposes. It is not intended to diagnose, prevent, treat, or cure disease. Always consult a healthcare professional before making significant changes to your healthcare routine.
Articles on this website may contain affiliate links. Using these links costs you nothing but generates a small commission for the blog author.