Health & Wellness

Guide to CBD Tinctures—What They Are and How to Use Them

By Melena Gurganus

CBD is gaining popularity as many people praise its health benefits and potential medicinal value. As knowledge about this cannabis-derived compound increases, people are also finding that there are several different methods to using CBD. Tinctures (pronounced like tink-cher) are one of the more popular application styles. These CBD infused liquids are relatively easy to use, and appeal to long-term CBD users and newcomers alike.

What is a CBD tincture?

Herbal tinctures have been used medicinally for centuries, and CBD solvents are no different. Tinctures rich in CBD are constructed using this same process. Parts of a cannabis plant, typically those highest in cannabinoids, are submerged in high-proof alcohol to create a highly concentrated CBD liquid. While these tinctures have an alcohol base, they do not have any intoxicating effects since they are applied in such small doses.

Using CBD Tinctures

Tinctures are a versatile CBD product and can be administered in more than one way. The most effective way for CBD to enter your body is to apply sublingually (underneath the tongue).

For this method to work at its full potential, there are a few steps to follow.

How to take a tincture:

  • Use a dropper to collect the tincture—you can expect most purchased CBD tinctures to come with a dropper. It’s also easy to find droppers in drug stores and online if your tincture is home-made.
  • Place appropriate amount of drops underneath your tongue—usually 3 to 5 drops will do the trick, but the amount of CBD you take will depend on your weight, pre-existing conditions, and what type of tincture you are using.
  • Allow the tincture to sit underneath your tongue for 30 to 90 seconds—when you let this liquid soak into the capillaries of your mouth, the CBD will take effect much faster as it goes directly into your bloodstream.
  • Swallow the rest—the digestive track will absorb any remaining CBD, so you will have quick relief from the sublingual application, and a lasting benefit from the ingested portion.

If you’d rather not swallow the oil directly, you can put CBD tinctures in food or drinks. This is a great choice for those that are new to using CBD. Introducing this compound slowly is the best way to determine what effect it may have on your body, which can easily be done by using a few tincture drops in your morning coffee or afternoon tea. (Note: Do not cook the CBD tincture as this may reduce its effectiveness.)

When will a CBD tincture take effect?

When applied underneath the tongue, CBD travels to the brain through the bloodstream quickly. Within a few minutes you may feel some relieving effects from the tincture. For some people it may take longer, but the CBD should start to work within 45 minutes after application, and the benefits should last for the next few hours or so.

If you ingest the tincture with food or a drink, it will take longer for you to feel these effects. It can take your digestive system 6 to 8 hours to fully absorb nutrients from food, although it likely won’t take this long for you to feel the effects of CBD. It will take a while for the CBD to be absorbed into your bloodstream, but you can expect to feel symptom relief 2 to 3 hours after ingesting a CBD tincture.

Isolate vs. Full Spectrum CBD Tinctures

There are generally two different types of CBD extracted tinctures—those that only contain CBD, and others that include terpenes, flavonoids, and trace amounts of THC (tetrahydrocannabinol). The latter, known as full spectrum CBD, has the potential for greater symptom relief since all of the active compounds work together for enhanced benefit. However, if you want to avoid the 0.3% THC in full spectrum products, CBD isolate tinctures are an alternative option.

FAQs About CBD Tinctures

Are CBD oil and tinctures the same thing?

While CBD oil is used in similar ways as a tincture, they are created through different processes and will have different ingredients. CBD oils are often mixed with coconut, grapeseed or olive oils, and can be ingested or applied topically for symptom relief. Tinctures on the other hand are potent liquids comprised of pure cannabis extracts, and pack a punch of CBD that is stronger than traditional oils.

What does a tincture taste like?

Since tinctures are made from direct herbal extraction, they tend to taste rather earthy. This flavor can be hard to get used to, and many products incorporate other natural ingredients like peppermint, citrus, or mint to improve the taste of a CBD tincture.

Will a CBD tincture get me high?

No, a tincture made with either isolated or full spectrum CBD will not make you feel high like marijuana or THC tinctures. CBD is more widely known for its ability to reduce pain, anxiety, and inflammation without intoxication. You may feel better overall, but without the psychoactive effect of THC.

How long will a tincture last before it goes bad?

The shelf life of a properly made CBD tincture is typically 2 to 3 years. It’s very possible that the tincture may last longer, provided it is kept in a relatively cool place away from direct sunlight. Dark glass bottles also help increase the longevity of tinctures.

Can a CBD tincture be vaped?

No, CBD vape oil is not the same as a tincture. CBD products that are designed specifically for inhalation are the only ones that should be used in a vape. While tinctures are generally safe for ingestion or sublingual application, some ingredients may not be healthy for your lungs.

How many drops of CBD tincture should I take?

The number of drops that you’ll need will depend greatly on varying factors such as weight, potency of the tincture, and what effect you want from the CBD. For instance, the amount of CBD in a single serving size will be different for a 30mL bottle that has 600mg of CBD than a 15mL bottle with 250mg of CBD.

If this is your first time trying CBD, start with a small dose amount and work your way up. Patience is important here, as it may take a bit of trial and error to find the perfect dose of CBD that’s right for you. If you don’t feel any effects or relief from your first CBD tincture, don’t get frustrated, just up the dose next time to see if it increases its effect.

CBD Use—Don’t Believe Everything You Hear

While many people use CBD for added health benefits, little human research has been done to validate these claims. CBD tinctures have not been approved by the FDA, so there is no significant regulation of the industry. This presents a few challenges, the first being that it’s not easy to find a healthcare professional that can provide guidance on CBD use. The second issue with CBD is that dosing guidelines are limited. With this, it’s important to proceed with care.

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