A tincture is a solution of a medicinal substance in alcohol or water. Also known as golden or green dragon tincture, cannabis tinctures contain a range of cannabinoids. They are administered orally, sublingually, or mixed in foods or beverages and are, therefore, often packaged in small glass bottles with droppers as caps for convenient dosing. Tinctures offer a popular way to consume cannabis without combustion or inhalation.
More about tinctures
Tinctures are a simple, smokeless way to dose, and very popular because they are easy to make, store, transport, and use. They can be tweaked according to the tastes of people who make their own tinctures. In addition to the cannabis plant, a tincture may also be made from herbs. Dandelion is one popular herb that may be an ingredient in herbal tinctures.
How are tinctures used?
Tincture drops are often administered sublingually, or under the tongue. They can also be mixed into foods and drinks, such as smoothies, salad dressings, and soups. Some people prefer tinctures because, unlike edibles such as cookies or brownies, they have very few calories.
Consuming a tincture sublingually is the most straightforward method and allows consumers to feel the full effects quicker because the medication is absorbed directly into the bloodstream via blood vessels under the tongue. Finding the right dose is relatively simple, but it requires trial and error and a bit of patience. Most, if not all, tinctures come with a dropper marked with milliliter (ml) measurements. Because all consumers are different, it's best to start with a 1ml dose. Place the liquid under your tongue, use your tongue or finger to massage it into the tissue for 30 seconds, then swallow. Cannabis tinctures are fast-acting and will deliver the desired effects quickly.
The onset of effects will take longer when a tincture is mixed into foods or beverages because the medication is absorbed through the digestive process. Sublingual consumption also has a second wave of onset as the swallowed portion makes its way through the digestive system. The onset time is usually one to two hours.
The history of tinctures
The first official account of cannabis tinctures being used in Western medicine was in an 1843 medical journal. The piece included a recipe, so it didn't take long for apothecaries and patent medicine producers to begin making and selling tinctures.
A few years later, in 1851, tinctures first appeared in the United States Pharmacopeia — an almanac with a list of medicinal drugs, their effects, and usage instructions — under the name Extractum Cannabis Purificatum, or “purified extract of Indian hemp.”
Tinctures were such accepted medicine that in the United Kingdom, Queen Victoria's personal physician prescribed a cannabis tincture to help relieve her menstrual cramps. The physician wrote, “When pure and administered carefully, [cannabis] is one of the most valuable medicines we possess.”
In the US, the Marihuana Tax Act of 1937 taxed the possession and transfer of cannabis so outrageously that it was basically outlawed, and cannabis was removed from the US Pharmacopeia four years later.
How to make cannabis tinctures
Making tinctures isn't difficult, but it can take weeks — so if you're going the homemade route, you can't be in a hurry. Here's a basic cannabis tincture recipe with detailed instructions and tincture dosage.
The ingredients are dried, ground flower or cannabis extract, and high-proof ethyl alcohol to use as a solvent. The higher the proof, the more cannabinoids will be absorbed. Add a few other household supplies (including a Mason jar, some coffee filters, and a measuring cup) and you're off and running.
Note: In order to feel the euphoric, intoxicating effects of cannabis in the tincture, the cannabis flower must be decarboxylated by heat to break down tetrahydrocannabinolic acid (THCA) into tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) before it's mixed with alcohol.
How to make cannabis tinctures
Here is an easy tincture recipe:
- ⅛ ounce cannabis, whatever strain you choose
- 2 oz. 190-proof grain alcohol
- 1 Mason jar and lid
- 1 Coffee filter
- 1 Funnel
- 2 oz. bottle with eyedropper
- Decarb the cannabis.
- Combine cannabis and alcohol in jar.
- Seal the jar and store it in a cool, dark place for three weeks, shaking daily.
- After three weeks, place the coffee filter in the funnel and the funnel into the eye-dropper bottle. Pour in the tincture to strain the cannabis from the liquid.
- Insert the eyedropper and store your homemade cannabis tincture in a cool, dark place where it should last a year or more.