What Are CBD Tinctures? Here's a Complete Guide to Answer
Up until a few years ago, CBD was a term not many were used to hearing. You might have not even known something like it existed. However, steadily came the year 2018 and things changed for the better—for the most part!
When U.S. President Donald Trump signed the Farm Bill, it made legal industrial hemp cultivation a possibility for many farmers. By 2019, the market was flushed with all sorts of products claiming an infusion with the new miracle compound—CBD. In fact, Forbes published an article in May 2019 that detailed the revolution of the beverage sector, you guessed it, caused by CBD-infused drinks.
Among all this new stuff coming into the market, a newbie can kind of feel lost. Today, we go back to the basics with tinctures. They have been around for millennia and are now one of the most popular forms of taking your daily dose of CBD.
Without dilly dallying any further, let’s get into it.
Table of Contents
But first some CBD fundamentals. Do you know….
What Is CBD?
CBD is the non-high-inducing compound from the cannabis plant that’s in the mind of everyone looking for a mood, performance and recovery booster. Cannabis is like a potion of different chemicals, the most remarkable are cannabinoids and terpenes. These substances have different effects on the human body, many of them of medical value.
Cannabinoids have a special attribute, they can interact with a powerful network that keeps your body’s functions in check and maintains balance. This network is termed the endocannabinoid system (ECS), and it houses a bunch of cannabinoid receptors widespread all over your body., known as CB1 and CB2.
This complex system produces its very own cannabinoids, aptly called endocannabinoids. And also enzymes responsible for creating and destroying said endocannabinoids.
CBD binds to receptors out of the ECS, these actions indirectly affects CB1 and CB2. Cannabinoid receptors can encourage the body’s healing mechanisms involved in a variety of different ailments. The potential benefits CBD unleashes by acting on cannabinoid receptors are:
This versatile cannabinoid also interacts with other channels of your body. Research suggest that CBD may hit 65 different targets of the human body. These interactions explain the wide range of benefits attributed to this compound, but the mode and course of its action isn’t yet fully elucidated.
CBD can be sourced from hemp and marijuana, they’re both varieties of cannabis with a fundamental difference: the THC content. THC is the cannabinoid that gives you the high sensation. Under federal THC quantity is crucial to determine if a cannabis variety is legal or not.
Hemp contains only negligible amounts of THC, therefore is legal, while some marijuana strains go up to 30% THC. So, anything with 0.3% THC is illegal in the federal law eyes.
What Are CBD Tinctures?
CBD in itself can be administered in many different forms. From oils and tinctures to vapes, topical creams, and edibles, we’ve seen it all. In fact, there are products, including tinctures, for your dogs and cats!
CBD tinctures are essentially a liquid form of the compound that is extracted from the hemp plant suspended in distilled alcohol or vegetable glycerin.
Tinctures come with high CBD concentrations and potency. Depending on how the CBD was extracted—from industrial hemp or marijuana—tinctures may also contain THC and other cannabinoids.
Because tinctures are alcohol-based they can’t be vaporized. Alcohol is NOT designed to combust. For vapes, only a special alcohol-free juice should be inhaled.
How Are They Made?
Tinctures describe any kind of medicine kept in an alcohol solution. They’re usually inexpensive to make and can be easily prepared at home. But if you’re not interested in making your own tinctures, you can still find a reputable seller, though not all companies make them.
There are two ways to make CBD tinctures: the DIY and the commercial methods.
The Pinterest culture of DIY has not escaped the CBD world, as there are hundreds of recipes available on the internet for homemade CBD food, drinks and tinctures. Tinctures typically call for a few ingredients and a knack for DIY.
Hemp-derived tinctures are made by steeping hemp flowers or CBD isolates in powder form. They’re soaked in a solvent, such as high-proof grain alcohol or vegetable glycerin for several weeks.
ALCOHOL DIY TINCTURES
These are made by soaking the bud in vodka or Everclear. Then, the alcohol mixture is seated in a jar for a significant amount of time, which enables the separation of CBD and other cannabinoids. Alcohol is a great CBD extractor, but it has downsides like its highly flammable nature, the burning feel under your tongue and the additional flavor it adds to the taste.
The next step is filtration. Coffee filters are used to take out anything that hasn’t dissolved and infused in the alcohol. This is usually where the homemade CBD tincture process stops. You can improve taste and quality by adding essential oils or flavoring additives to your final product.
GLYCERIN DIY TINCTURES
Glycerin is a common food ingredient that’s safe to consume. It has a sweet flavor which makes it perfect for baked goods and sweets. With glycerin, a macerating method that doesn’t involve heat is used to preserve the other components from the buds.
Although easy to make, both processes take several weeks, and who wants to wait a month to find relief, right?
That’s where commercial tinctures come handy.
Commercial tinctures are made from two extracted methods.
THE ALCOHOL EXTRACTION METHOD
The process involves soaking CBD extract in human-safe alcohol. When the compounds have infused with the solvent, the latter is boiled off to leave behind a potent liquid, which is then sold as a tincture.
The commercial process differs from DIY as it adds a step and dealcoholizes the tincture. You won’t be getting the burning sensation alcohol tends to have.
Some manufacturers may go ahead and further distill the mixture to increase its potency and richness. They may also add complementary additives to elevate the benefits of the tincture. Most of them often have to do with adding other beneficial compounds and improving the flavor profile. On its own, the earthy taste of the CBD tincture may take some time getting used to.
This is the most advanced and advised way to extract CBD, it’s believed that CO2 extraction creates the highest quality and safest CBD products. Unlike the process above, this method uses CO2 as the solvent. With heavy-duty equipment, CBD is extracted by putting the hemp matter under CO2 pressure (props to anyone who gets the Queen reference).
Temperature and pressure can be adjusted during this extraction process which allows for a more specific cannabinoids profile and flavor compounds present in the tincture.
What Are Their Benefits?
There is always a reason why something becomes popular. So is the case with CBD tinctures. For all my newbies venturing into this marvelous cannabinoid, tinctures are a great place to start. It’s both widely assessable and affordable.
But wait, the story doesn’t end there as there are other advantages to using CBD tinctures.
VERSATILITY FOR DAYS
While sublingual consumption is the most common way of taking CBD tinctures, by no means it’s the last. The benefits of the products are many to limit it that way. Besides oral ingestion, you can add the tinctures to prepared food.
Even though tinctures can come in highly concentrated forms, dosages are much easier to adjust. Unlike CBD products with pre-measured CBD, tinctures give you more leeway to choose your dosage.
MADE FOR BETTER ABSORPTION
CBD tinctures are very concentrated—for the most part. They deliver the compound to your receptors much faster than an edible. Furthermore, CBD tinctures are much easier to break down. The carrier oils added in commercial CBD tinctures increase the percentage of CBD making it to the digestive system and into the bloodstream.
NO FAZED OUT “HIGHS”
CBD tinctures typically contain less than 0.3% of THC. This is far less than the amount required to induce the intoxicating effect marijuana does. There are isolate tinctures that don’t contain even the trace amounts of THC. This means you don’t have to worry about placing a few drops of CBD tincture under your tongue at any time of the day.
Well, this is pretty much a given as the tinctures come in a bottle. You can throw it into your bag and take it with you wherever you go.
The market is flush with hundreds of different types of CBD-infused products. But the tried and tested CBD tincture remains the more affordable one. This is why it is often a choice for those who are running on tight budgets.
How to Take Tinctures
The high-potency and concentration of CBD tinctures require them to be taken in small doses. To make the administering process hassle-free manufactures put them in dark bottles with a dropper attached to the lid. The dropper helps you measure your tincture quickly, accurately, and conveniently.
CBD tinctures can be taken in a variety of ways, for instance, you can easily add a few drops to your favorite ice cream or simply drop them into your coffee. But hands down, the most effective method to take tinctures is the sublingual route. You use the dropper to place the dose under your tongue, holding it there for a minute to a minute and a half before swallowing it.
You can increase absorption by strongly swishing the tincture around the areas underneath your tongue and along the cheeks and gums which are rich in capillaries. Capillaries refer to a network of blood vessels located in the mucosal tissue of your body. They transport oxygen, vitamins and nutrients directly into the bloodstream.
By placing a CBD tincture under your tongue, you allow it to bypass the first-pass metabolism, facilitating the fast absorption of the compound.
Whatever you swallow is metabolized through the digestive system before entering the bloodstream, meaning less amount of CBD will be absorbed to interact with the endocannabinoid system when taken orally.
Don’t be put off by the taste when you first try a tincture, you get used to it. Plus, the benefits are worth it.
How Much Should You Take
As noted before, tinctures are highly concentrated, so a small dose is enough to find relief. But how much is enough? Well, unfortunately the CBD world is full of unknows and standardized dosage is one of those. Due to the fact that the appropriate amount of CBD depends on too many different factors, it’s almost impossible to get a one-size-fits-all serving size.
Finding your serving size is a unique experience that will make you undergo a trial-and-error process. The best way to do it is by starting with a single tincture drop and increase it slowly until you reach the right dose that brings you the desired outcome.
Types of Tinctures
Most CBD tinctures are sourced from hemp, however, companies have their own formulations that include a wide variety of different ingredients, CBD concentrations and potency. CBD tinctures come in all forms, but they all fall under three main categories:
FULL-SPECTRUM CBD TINCTURES
Cannabis is a family of plants that produces over 400 different compounds. Each variety has different levels of these chemicals, therefore, to obtain CBD that’s legal, the plant is bred to be high in CBD and low in THC. As noted before cannabis with less than 0.3% THC is considered hemp. This concentration of THC is very unlikely to alter your state of mind and reasoning.
Besides CBD, hemp is rich in certain cannabinoids and terpenes and they’re all present in full-spectrum tinctures, also known as “whole plant extracts.”
Many people report that full-spectrum tinctures provide a stronger effect, and some scientists believe that keeping all the hemp cannabinoids and terpenes together works as a team force that synergistically enhances the benefits of each substance. This synergy is called the “entourage effect.”
BROAD-SPECTRUM CBD TINCTURES
Think of broad-spectrum as the same thing as full-spectrum CBD tinctures where the THC has stripped out. This type of tincture is optimal for people in need of the entourage benefits without the unappealing effects of THC.
ISOLATE CBD TINCTURES
The great assortment of cannabinoids and terpenes found in full and broad-spectrum tinctures can be too much for some people—especially those who are drug-tested regularly. Thinking in these individual needs, the market offers a crystalline purified form of the CBD molecule.
Although not as potent as other types of tinctures, isolated extracts still have their applications. They’re a good fit not only for drug-tested people, but for beginners and those with plant allergies.
Are There Side Effects?
CBD itself is safe and highly tolerable by the human body. However, some adverse effects surfaced during clinical trials of the approved CBD drug Epidiolex. During these trials children were administered with high doses of a highly purified form of CBD. Some patients reported experiencing mild forms of the following side effects:
- Changes in appetite
- Low blood pressure
- Altered liver enzymes
By no means, these studies are conclusive, what’s a fact is that lines of evidence are not convincing enough to determine if CBD is safe or unsafe for any particular population.
Another important point to note before supplementing CBD tinctures is that it may interact with medications you might be taking. CBD is known to interfere with CYPs or Cytochromes P450, which is essential to metabolizing medication.
Do NOT replace your current medications or prescribed treatments without medical supervision.
Can You Mix Tinctures with other CBD Products?
The options with CBD are endless, new items are popping up every day, but they all come with different ratios of effectiveness. This is known as bioavailability and it determines how much of the CBD contained in a product is actually absorbed. Eating a CBD gummy, for example, offers a completely different effect than vaping CBD.
Once you determine the minimum amount of tincture drops that brings you relief, it’s safe to introduce other delivery methods—as long as you wait for the tincture’s effects to disappear. Mixing products makes sense if you want to find out which one is better for you, so feel free to experiment to determine if you’re more into a fast-acting solution or a slow-burner.
It doesn’t hurt to be extra careful when combining products, listen to your body, watch out for side effects and control your dosing.
Tinctures vs. Oils: What’s the Difference
For the uninitiated, tinctures and oils may seem the same but there are differences between the two.
The main difference is in the formulation of both oil and tincture. While CBD oils are suspended in inert oils, tinctures are suspended in human-safe alcohol. Furthermore, CBD oils have a more earthy taste as tinctures are added with carrier oils that improve its flavor.
Also, CBD oils can also be used topically while tinctures contain ingredients that may cause irritation.
Besides the difference in formulation, both CBD oils and tinctures provide the same benefits.
TINTURES VS. OILS
WHICH IS BETTER?
When it comes to choosing between tincture and oil, you may look for a clear answer as to which is better. I don’t want to disappoint you but there is no clear answer.
There are some cons and pros to both, but they’re very subjective and depend on personal choices. For instance, CBD oils are more widely available compared to tinctures. However, tinctures are more palatable than oils.
CBD oils are suspended in inert oils that don’t affect the CBD, but they also leave an oily mouth-feel. Tinctures, on the other hand, diffuse much quicker.
As you can see, it’s quite hard to decide which is better. They both have their advantages and disadvantages but are effective at similar levels. The decision on which to use lies with you.
How to Pick the Right CBD Tincture Brand
Although some CBD companies have been around for several years, the majority of brands on today’s market have sprung up recently. The CBD industry has proved to be disruptive, with more companies being established on a daily basis—and the creation of new innovative products, which can make it hard for consumers to know which brands to trust.
Whether you prefer to shop in a store or online, follow these basic guidelines to find the CBD tincture brand of your dreams without much hassle:
- First, ensure that the brand offers a friendly website with helpful information that honestly educates people in the most important CBD facts.
- Then, check for detailed product info, all the ingredients included in the tincture should be clearly listed on the label.
- In their website look for lab reports for each product you’re considering. These reports should match what the product’s label says.
- Keep an eye on reviews the product has, check out customer satisfaction and how the company respond to all kind of inquiries.
- If you’re still on the fence, reach out to customer support and ask questions. Good brands love to help.
Hemp-derived CBD tinctures are beneficial products that can improve your lifestyle. When it comes to choosing the right one, the focus should be on finding a credible company.
The litmus test for figuring that out includes seeing whether their products are third-party lab tested and properly tested. The company should also be forthcoming when information regarding its CBD sources is considered.
Next, you want to focus on whether you want to use an isolate or full-spectrum CBD tincture. The difference between the two is of purity and THC levels. Isolates are much more refined and typically free of THC, while full-spectrum CBD tinctures contain less than 0.3% THC, along with other cannabinoids and terpenes.
With those two considerations accounted for, you can play around and find the one that works for you and delivers the benefits you were seeking.