How to choose and consume CBD tinctures

Tinctures have been in use since around 1000 AD when the ancient Egyptians distilled alcohol and infused it with plant-based medicines. Today, CBD tinctures are a popular alternative to smoking marijuana and are easy to use.

Here you'll learn about how to use cannabis tinctures to experience a range of potential health benefits. We'll also explore the difference between CBD tinctures and CBD oil, so you can choose which cannabis product is right for you.

What are CBD tinctures?

A CBD tincture is a medication made by dissolving cannabis in alcohol. These medications contain about 70% alcohol along with high-CBD hemp strains and are sometimes referred to as green dragon, golden dragon, or cannabis tinctures. An effective CBD tincture will include full-spectrum hemp oil.

CBD and weed
A CBD tincture is a medication made by dissolving cannabis in alcohol.
Photo by: Gina Coleman/Weedmaps

Tinctures have different cannabinoids for oral consumption or for sublingual (beneath the tongue) administration. The packaging of a tincture often involves a small glass bottle with an eyedropper-type apparatus for precise dosing. Tinctures eliminate the need to smoke cannabis for those who would prefer to receive the potential health benefits through other methods. 

Are CBD tinctures the same as CBD oil?

The difference between CBD tinctures and CBD oil lies in the ingredients. Tinctures are alcohol-based whereas oils are not. However, many brands market oil-based concoctions as tinctures. Oils typically contain extracted CBD and a carrier oil. Common carrier oils include hemp, olive, and MCT oil. For many users, MCT oil, a type of oil commonly derived from coconuts, is the preferred carrier.

Another main difference between CBD oil and tinctures is the application method. Whereas oils are generally applied topically (to the skin), tinctures are ingested (through the mouth). Of course, there are variations, and some people may prefer to swallow a spoonful of CBD oil rather than spread it on their skin. Cooking with tinctures is not uncommon and users may opt to sprinkle a few drops into a salad dressing, bowl of soup, or glass of water. 

Finally, dosages will differ between CBD tinctures and CBD oil. A few drops of a tincture is sufficient and a spoonful would be too much. Discuss the different dosage options with your healthcare provider before beginning any type of CBD regimen, especially if you are currently taking any prescription medications.

How do you use a CBD tincture?

The easiest way to use a CBD tincture is to place a couple of drops under your tongue, let the tincture penetrate for about 30 seconds, and then swallow. Sparing use of CBD tinctures is advisable, which means administering no more than once or twice per day. You may like to start conservatively, with one drop per day, evaluate how you feel, and possibly increase the dosage to two drops daily. Again, talk to your physician about the dose that is right for you before using a tincture.

The easiest way to use a CBD tincture is to place a couple of drops under your tongue, let the tincture penetrate for about 30 seconds, and then swallow.
Photo by: Gina Coleman/Weedmaps

Benefits of CBD tinctures

CBD, which is short for cannabidiol, carries an abundance of terpenes, the potent elements found in the essential oils of plants that give cannabis its aromas and flavors. Terpenes, however, can do much more than make marijuana smell and taste good. The benefits of terpenes extend beyond aesthetic enjoyment and may include highly effective anti-inflammatory, antiviral, antibacterial, and anticancer properties.

CBD oil drop
The benefits of terpenes extend beyond aesthetic enjoyment and may include highly effective anti-inflammatory, antiviral, antibacterial, and anticancer properties.
Photo by: Gina Coleman/Weedmaps

As there are more than 100 known terpenes, a CBD tincture could contain one or half a dozen of them. Whenever you ingest a CBD tincture, your body may also be taking in terpenes such as myrcene, limonene, and linalool. These terpenes can work individually or in unison to provide distinct mental and physical benefits. Myrcene, for example, has been studied for its potential anti-tumor properties, according to a 2015 study published in the Journal of the Korean Society for Applied Biological Chemistry. There is also limonene, with its citrus origins, which may offer antioxidant benefits, based on findings from another 2015 study published in the journal Food and Chemical Toxicology. These advantages do not mean that CBD will cure or prevent any disease, but using the cannabinoid as directed can result in some health benefits.

Disadvantages of CBD tinctures

In small doses, CBD tinctures are not known to produce serious side effects. It is possible to take too much CBD, but known symptoms are non-fatal and the most cited is excess drowsiness.

Despite the relative safety of CBD, some people do experience minor adverse reactions, such as dry mouth. People taking certain medications may be susceptible to a condition called hepatic metabolism, which means that the liver has trouble processing these medications in conjunction with CBD. This is another reason why it's essential to discuss your current medications with your physician before beginning a program of CBD.

Do CBD tinctures work?

CBD tinctures can be very effective depending on what your intended use is. For example, pain relief is a common reason that people seek out tinctures of all kinds, including those that are non-cannabis based. While a tincture may not cure chronic discomfort or heal an injury, it can help with pain management. Similarly, people may want to try a tincture to ease anxiety. Tinctures, or any CBD products, are not replacements for doctor-supervised treatment, but they may serve as complementary therapies. 

How do I choose a CBD tincture?

Choosing a CBD tincture is much like choosing any other CBD product. As a consumer, you want to be informed and purchase the best quality product available that meets your needs. Here are some considerations to make before you head to the dispensary:

  • Full-Spectrum: Those two words are key when choosing a CBD tincture. Full-spectrum CBD tinctures contain the entire range of cannabinoids which naturally occur in the cannabis plant. Tinctures that are not designated as such may only contain isolated CBD molecules, which could render them less effective.
  • Geographical Origin: Knowing where a tincture comes from could help you discern its quality. Tinctures made in the USA, especially those produced in Colorado, are reputed to be higher quality. States such as Colorado must adhere to rigorous testing requirements and need to disclose the use of any pesticides. When you shop for CBD tinctures, you should know whether you're purchasing pure CBD or if the product contains potentially hazardous chemicals that you don't want to put into your body. 
  • Read Labels: After you know the origin of a CBD tincture, continue reading the label to look for other quality clues. For example, seeing the term "CO2 Extraction" on the label could be an indicator of a good quality product. This labeling means that the CBD was removed from the plant without the use of harmful chemical solvents, but rather through a process using high-pressure carbon dioxide gas. Also, steer clear of labels that proclaim "miracle cures" as no such magical solution exists.

The information contained in this article is not intended to diagnose, prevent, or treat any disease. Consult with your physician to determine which CBD tincture could be appropriate for you.

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The information contained in this site is provided for informational purposes only, and should not be construed as medical or legal advice. This page was last updated on August 13, 2020.