How to use CBD tincture and CBD oil

For first-time users and more experienced consumers alike, the vast array of cannabidiol (CBD) products available today can easily become a bit confusing.

The United States market is saturated with a seemingly endless number of CBD products, particularly since the passage of the 2018 Farm Bill. These CBD products include everything from the ever-popular CBD gummy to CBD topicals, CBD drops, CBD soft gels, CBD pre-rolls, tinctures, and oils, giving consumers numerous ways to take CBD. With so many options, it's important to remember that there is no universal best way to consume CBD — it's all about trying things out and discovering what works best for you.

Despite the wide availability of CBD products, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has yet to establish an official serving size for CBD, so dosing and consumption methods are a matter of individual preference and need. For those who want a more precise dosing method, CBD tincture and CBD oil are two good options. Read on to learn more about CBD tinctures and CBD oils, how they work, and how to use them. 

CBD tincture vs CBD oil

One of the potentially confusing areas in the world of CBD has to do with CBD tincture vs CBD oil. The primary difference between the two has to do with how they are produced.

Tinctures are made using alcohol as a solvent. Plant material is soaked in high-proof alcohol for an extended period of time. As it soaks, the alcohol pulls out many of the chemicals contained in the plant material. The final product contains a very high percentage of alcohol plus all the chemicals extracted from the plant — including cannabinoids and terpenes. Producers sometimes add flavors, sweeteners, essential oils, or other chemicals to the final product to enhance the flavor or create a different set of effects.

CBD oil is a cannabis extract in oil form. There are many different methods for extracting compounds from cannabis. Many CBD products today are made using a supercritical CO2 extraction process to pull out all the cannabinoids and terpenes. The extracted compounds are then processed into the final CBD oil product. In some cases, producers will remove THC or other cannabinoids and terpenes, so that the final product contains only CBD.

You may occasionally see CBD oil labeled as hemp oil. Typically, when you see this, it is because the CBD oil was extracted from a hemp plant, which is defined as a cannabis plant with less than 0.3% THC. This type of hemp oil is basically the same as any other type of CBD oil. The only thing to watch out for is hemp seed oil. This is an oil made exclusively from the plant's seeds, and while hemp seed oil is nutritious, it does not contain CBD or any other cannabinoids. Hemp seed oil is not CBD oil, so carefully read the label to be sure you're getting the right product.

Ultimately, tinctures and CBD oil are similar in that they are both liquid forms of CBD extract, which can both be consumed in a variety of ways. The main differences have to do with how they are produced, and the type of liquid used to deliver the CBD to a consumer's body.

How to take CBD oil

There are numerous ways to take CBD oil. For many users, this is one of the benefits of CBD oil. Some of the more common ways include dropping the CBD oil directly into your mouth or letting the CBD oil soak in under your tongue. Similarly, you can mix it into other foods and beverages to create your own CBD edibles. In some cases, depending on the oil and the reason the oil is being used, consumers may apply it topically. Finally, there are also some versions of CBD oil that have been mixed with a carrier oil, making it suitable for use in vape pens. If you are using one of these products, make sure that the oil you purchase is compatible with your vape pen and from a well-known, established producer.

There is no single best way to take CBD oil. It simply depends on your own personal preferences and reasons for taking CBD oil. Experiment to discover what works best for you.

What is a CBD tincture?

A tincture is a concentrated plant extract made by soaking plant material in a potable alcohol solvent for several weeks. As it soaks, the solvent pulls out many of the chemical compounds in the plant material, creating a substance that is rich in the cannabinoids, terpenes, and other chemicals produced by the cannabis plant.

CBD and weed
A tincture is a concentrated plant extract crafted by soaking the plant in a solvent such as alcohol or food-grade oils for several weeks. 
Photo by: Gina Coleman/Weedmaps

The first official record of cannabis tinctures used in Western medicine appeared in an 1843 medical journal. The journal featured a recipe, and soon after its publication, apothecaries and medicine producers began to make and sell their own versions of the product. 

CBD tinctures are geared specifically toward pulling out high levels of cannabidiol from the plant. From there, it can be refined in different ways so that the final product can include various combinations and concentrations of other cannabinoids and terpenes.

How do CBD tinctures work?

CBD tinctures are usually taken sublingually and absorbed into the bloodstream by capillaries in the cheek, gums, and under the tongue. To promote maximal absorption, the liquid should be rubbed into the tissue inside your mouth. After letting it soak under your tongue, you can swallow the tincture so that the remainder of the CBD is absorbed through your digestive system. Once in your bloodstream, the CBD in the tincture interacts with your endocannabinoid system, potentially helping your body self-regulate and achieve homeostasis.

CBD tinctures are usually taken sublingually and absorbed into the bloodstream by capillaries in the cheek, gums, and under the tongue.
Photo by: Gina Coleman/Weedmaps

Why use CBD tinctures?

In recent years, tinctures have become an increasingly popular way to take CBD. There are many benefits to using CBD tinctures. First, they are easy to dose, as you can easily figure out and adjust the amount of CBD you need to achieve your desired results. 

For example, a 30-milliliter bottle of CBD that contains 300 milligrams of CBD has 10 milligrams of CBD per one-milliliter dropper, the standard size for most bottle droppers. Knowing that, you can choose to use half a dropper (five milligrams) or whatever amount you desire and then adjust your dose with each use, as needed.

Another benefit of CBD tinctures is their high bioavailability, meaning the body is able to effectively utilize more of the cannabinoids in a tincture administered sublingually (held under your tongue for 15 minutes). Compared to other consumption methods and products, tinctures can deliver the same effects with a lower dose, cutting down on possible side effects, and saving money. 

A tincture is also a smokeless, vapeless alternative that mitigates the potential harms associated with smoking and using a vape pen. There's also virtually zero cleanup involved with a tincture, even when taken with morning coffee or an afternoon tea, making it an especially easy way to consume CBD.

There's also virtually zero cleanup involved with a tincture, even when taken with morning coffee or an afternoon tea.
Photo by: (Gina Coleman/Weedmaps)

Finally, it's basically impossible to overdose on CBD, regardless of what form it's in. Studies found that CBD had no adverse side effects at amounts up to 1200 milligrams daily, even when taken for several months.

How to use a CBD tincture

Before consuming, shake the bottle to ensure that the solution is fully mixed, then use the dropper to measure out the dosage you want to take. From there, the most effective way to do it is to squeeze the dosage under your tongue. Hold the liquid in your mouth for up to 15 minutes, rub it into the tissue of your mouth to maximize absorption, then swallow.

Wait approximately 60 to 90 minutes to evaluate the dose's effects. If you need more, take another dropper-full and repeat the above steps. It's helpful to consume CBD with a high-fat meal or snack, as CBD is fat-soluble, and the fat increases its absorption by four to five times.

What to keep in mind

When taking CBD tincture, keep the following pointers in mind to maximize its effects. 

Have a specific goal that you want to achieve with CBD, as this will help you determine the best product and dose for your particular needs. Start with a low dose, and slowly work your way up until you find the optimal dose for you and your goals. Your weight, body chemistry, and genetics all affect how CBD works on your system, so pay attention to what feels best to you, and what enables you to accomplish your objectives.

Remember that a tincture is likely to have a double onset. The first onset will happen very quickly as the CBD is absorbed into your bloodstream through the tissue in your mouth, and the second onset will occur later, when the CBD you swallowed is finally absorbed via the digestive tract. 

Read the label to understand more about the CBD in your tincture. Remember there are many different products available today, so pay attention to the type of CBD extract you're purchasing. There are three primary types of extract:

  • Full-spectrum CBD means the CBD was extracted along with all other cannabis-derived terpenes and cannabinoids, including trace amounts of THC
  • Broad-spectrum CBD oil contains the same array of cannabinoids and terpenes as full-spectrum CBD, but it is entirely THC free
  • CBD isolate is made by stripping away all cannabinoids and terpenes, leaving behind only pure CBD

One final note: if you're currently taking medication, it's important to discuss CBD use with your doctor to determine if there might be any possible interactions between the CBD and your medication. 

Final takeaway

Recent legal changes have made it easier than ever to access CBD. As a result, there is a seemingly endless variety of products to choose from, delivery methods for getting CBD into your body, and ways to consume CBD.

Whether it's CBD gummies, drops, soft gels, capsules, flower, pre-rolled joints, oils, or anything else, the key is to understand what each different product is, so that you can get the right CBD product for you and your body. Experiment with different products and try out one dosage after another until you discover how much CBD you need and which types of products are best in order to achieve your ideal CBD journey.

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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 February 16, 2022.