If you’re looking for a fast, easy, convenient way to enjoy the potential benefits of cannabis, you should consider tinctures. They can give you all the possible benefits of CBD without the calories of a consumable product or the smoke (or vapor) of an inhaled product. If you use them sublingually, you’re likely to notice faster results than with other methods.
What is a Tincture?
In general terms, a tincture is a plant extract dissolved in ethanol (alcohol). Alcohol breaks down the plant material and all the chemicals it contains, then suspends those chemicals in a liquid solution that can be ingested.
The concentration of the extract varies, with higher levels providing a more potent effect. In most cases, the tincture should contain at least 20 percent alcohol for preservation purposes. The alcohol keeps the germs and other dangerous microbes away.
Tinctures can be made with other solvents like vinegar, glycerin, propylene glycol, and oils like grapeseed or hemp, but ethanol is the easiest to use and most efficient at binding to the cannabinoids. For those who want to avoid alcohol, however, an alternative like glycerin or oil may be preferred.
Tincture products are usually available in handy dropper-top bottles, allowing users to carefully manage the dose they’re taking. Tinctures can be administered orally, under the tongue, or mixed in with foods and/or beverages.
What is a Cannabis Tincture?
Cannabis tinctures are alcohol-based cannabis extracts. The alcohol pulls the cannabinoids and terpenes from the cannabis plant so that they can be available in a more concentrated form in the tincture.
For decades, tinctures were the primary form of cannabis-based medicine until the United States outlawed cannabis. Now that the laws are changing, tinctures are becoming more popular again. For many, they are the perfect entry point into cannabis use, particularly if you’d rather not vape or smoke.
Tinctures also have the advantage of being easily controllable. There is a lower risk of getting more than you need with a tincture and a greater chance of learning exactly how much your body requires for a particular benefit.
Types of Cannabis Tinctures
Cannabis tinctures are usually categorized according to their cannabinoid content. THC (tetrahydrocannabinol) tinctures contain more of the psychoactive cannabinoid and are popular among those seeking THC benefits. CBD tinctures are most often sourced from hemp and contain more CBD. They are preferred by those who wish to avoid THC and enjoy the benefits of CBD alone.
Some tinctures have both THC and CBD in them. A popular blend contains a 1:1 ratio of the two. So it’s important to read the label carefully so you know what you’re getting.
Tinctures may differ in other ingredients used as well. While high-proof, food-grade alcohol is considered the best ingredient for making cannabis tinctures, as noted above, there are other options. Glycerin is a common one for cannabis, but it is not as good at bonding to the cannabis compounds and usually produces a less potent tincture. The same is true of vinegar.
Glycerin may also be used with alcohol to soften the extractions, making them more mild tasting and gentler on the mouth tissues.
What Are the Benefits of a Cannabis Tincture?
The benefits of a tincture include the following:
- Easily controllable: Measure your intake by drops.
- Fast-acting: Tinctures often work more quickly than other options, like edibles.
- Long shelf life: Because of the preserving action of the alcohol, tinctures tend to last a long time.
- Easy to take: Simply mix into your food or drink, or place the drops under your tongue (the fastest way to absorb the benefits).
- Easy to travel with: Forget all of your smoking accessories or packages of edibles. Simply grab your little bottle and go.
- Bypasses the digestive system: If you place the drops under your tongue, rather than consume them in food and drink, the cannabis doesn’t come into contact with your digestive system. Instead, it’s rapidly absorbed through your tissues and moves quickly into the bloodstream. This method of ingestion also protects the fragile plant components from being damaged during digestion.
- Discreet: Unlike smoking or vaping, using a tincture is discreet and protects your privacy.
- Low-calorie: Tinctures are a great low-calorie alternative to edibles.
How to Use a Tincture for Wellness
If you’d like to try a cannabis tincture, it’s best to use a system of titration to determine the best dosage for you.
Begin with 1 mL of your tincture under your tongue. (You can always start with less.) Using your finger, massage it into your tissues for about 30 seconds, then swallow. (You can also simply hold the tincture in your mouth for 30 seconds.)
Wait at least 90 minutes before adding more. If you’re happy with the results, you’ve found your dose. If not, you can try 2 mL the next time.
If you decide to mix your tincture with a food or beverage, approach it the same way, starting with a low amount and gradually increasing it until you’ve found your ideal dose. Because the tincture has to go through the digestive process, though, it’s important to wait two hours for the effects to take hold. You can mix cannabis tinctures with juices, ice creams and sherbets, smoothies, soups, dressings, and tea.
Note that some people experience a burning sensation under the tongue after taking a few drops of cannabis tincture. This is because of the high-proof alcohol content. If you notice this, you can look for a glycerin-based tincture or one that combines glycerin and alcohol, or mix your tincture with food or drink.