An herbal tincture is made by using a mixture of alcohol and water to extract compounds from a plant—in this case, the cannabis plant.
But first, a little CBD 101…
How are CBD tinctures made and what are the benefits of using them?
According to Low Dog, a tincture may offer a broader range of compounds from hemp than an oil extraction. “Consumers who are alcohol-sensitive often prefer hemp oil over tincture. While both can be used topically, hemp oil is generally easier to apply and less irritating,” she says.
On that note, Hill cautions to know what you’re getting: “If you’re rubbing a CBD cream onto your skin, it’s not going to be absorbed into your bloodstream,” he says. “It can operate as a local anti-inflammatory, like other over-the-counter products… but CBD may not provide any more relief than those products, and it probably will be considerably more expensive.”
What is it?
Here, Tieraona Low Dog, M.D., an expert on herbal medicine and women’s health, and Kevin Hill, M.D., Director of the Division of Addiction Psychiatry at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center and an Assistant Professor of Psychiatry at Harvard Medical School, get to the bottom of CBD tinctures’ mystique.
CBD does not get you high, but the idea that it’s not psychoactive is something of a misconception in his opinion. It does change your consciousness. You may feel mellow, experience less pain, and be more comfortable. In addition, some CBD products do contain small amounts of THC.
Does CBD work?
Also, keep in mind that CBD products aren’t standardized and will vary. It helps to keep a journal recording what type of CBD product you took, how much, and your response to it. This will help you track what works and what doesn’t for your condition.
The endocannabinoid system: Essential and mysterious
Again, yes and no, depending on where you live. In some states marijuana is legal for both recreational use and medical use. In other states, it’s legal only for medical use. And in some areas, it’s not legal at all.
Compared to other popular products like CBD chocolates and lotions, tinctures have extremely high bioavailability, so they’re very easy for the body to absorb. According to a National Center for Biotechnology Information study, CBD edibles, like gummies or cookies, have less bioavailability because the body has to process both the CBD and the ingredients used to make the treat.
CBD is one of many chemical compounds found within the cannabis plant. It’s a close relative of tetrahydrocannabinol, or THC, the psychoactive chemical found in cannabis. However, unlike THC, CBD cannot get you high—no matter how much you take.
Over time, the solvent used to make tinctures has changed, but the basic method has remained the same. “In traditional herbal remedies, tinctures were most often made with alcohol,” says Jessie Kater, senior vice president of manufacturing at Curaleaf, a cannabis company lead by practitioners, pharmacists, and medical experts. “Today most cannabinoid tinctures use food grade plant-based oils and flavors as a solvent.”
Should I use tinctures instead of other CBD products?
In very simplified terms, a tincture is a concentrated herbal extract that’s made by soaking herbs in a liquid. Over several weeks, the fluid becomes infused with herbal extracts, and when the herbs are strained out, you get a potent, ingestible tincture.
While Epidiolex is a Schedule V drug (meaning it can be used to treat health issues), regular cannabis is a Schedule I substance. This means it doesn’t have any accepted medical use. Despite this (not so) tiny detail, countless companies chose to ride on Epidiolex’s coattails to bring a slew of CBD products to the marketplace.
Got it. So, what’s a tincture?
Wondering how much should you take? This is a bit of a tricky question, as there are no official dosing guidelines for CBD. Dr. Steve Patierno, Chair of CuraLeaf’s Medical Advisory Board and the Deputy Director of the Duke Cancer Institute, suggests starting with a lower strength product and taking just 1 milliliter. (For a 30-milliliter bottle that’s likely a full dropper, but check the bottle to be sure.) You can always take a bit more next time if you don’t feel the effects.
While there’s not a ton of research out there yet, what CBD could give you is possible relief from stress, joint pain due to inflammation, or a better night’s rest.