As CBD becomes ever more present in the medical realm, new products are hitting the market constantly. While it’s great that these products are becoming available with growing ease, it can also be a bit confusing and overwhelming. Today we focus on CBD tinctures and everything you need to know about them.
WHAT ARE CBD TINCTURES?
A CBD tincture is a dietary supplement that comes in liquid form and has a very potent cannabidiol content. Tinctures are created by steeping CBD-rich hemp flowers in high-proof grain alcohol, then cooking over low heat for multiple hours. Vinegar or glycerin can be used in lieu of alcohol, but alcohol really does produce the best tincture in the end. It’s time-consuming but very simple.
Tinctures are liquid extracts made from herbs that you take orally (by mouth). They are usually extracted in alcohol (known here on our website as “regular”), but they can also be extracted in vegetable glycerine or apple cider vinegar (non-alcohol). Tinctures are easy and convenient to use. Tinctures are also easier to give to children as they have to take only small amounts Because they are taken directly under the tongue, they enter the bloodstream much more quickly and directly than by any other means. This means that the action in the body is usually quicker. Although some herbs will have an immediate effect, such as those used to help one relax, others that are more nutritive and building in nature may take several weeks of continual use before best results are seen (much like a multi-vitamin).
Once the liquid is ready, it’s commonly mixed with a sweet tasting carrier oil like orange or peppermint. On its own, it can be very bitter. The final product should be potent, with a very high CBD content and no more than 0.3% THC (Tetrahydrocannabinol). When shopping, keep in mind that a CBD tincture varies greatly from a cannabis tincture, which has all the cannabinoids including THC. A CBD tincture will not be psychoactive, meaning it won’t get you high.
HOW TO USE A TINCTURE
Since tinctures are concentrated, it’s supposed to be taken in very small doses. Most come with a built-in mL dropper, but some people use an eye dropper. Taking too much won’t cause an overdose or anything like that, but huge doses are often unneeded by most therapeutic CBD users. If more is needed, it is a simple case of having a few more drops.
Many patients can’t get past the bitterness, so they mix it with food and beverages. It’s most commonly added to soup, salad dressing, coffee, and tea. Others take it sublingually, meaning underneath the tongue. Research suggests that substances taken sublingually are absorbed by the body faster than with other oral methods.
When dosing a CBD tincture sublingually, make sure to actually hold the tincture under your tongue for at least a minute to allow it to absorb, before swallowing the rest. The membrane under your tongue allows for absorption by your sublingual artery. From there it will travel to your external carotid artery, then through the internal carotid artery, and into your brain. Effects can start to take place in about 15 minutes.
WHAT ARE THE BENEFITS?
CBD tinctures can be used to supplement anything that would be supplemented with regular CBD oil. Because the tincture is concentrated, it will have the same effects, but you’ll only have to use a small dose. Tinctures, and CBD, in general, can be used to supplement a healthy lifestyle, as well as support the management of various conditions — though always consult a medical professional. CBD is being investigated as a strong anti-inflammatory and antiseptic compound.
Tinctures can have some major practical advantages as well. For example, tinctures are easy to consume discreetly throughout the day since they require no prep work and don’t need to be smoked or vaporized. The dropper bottles themselves are very small and easy to conceal in a purse or pocket. It’s high concentration also plays into the convenience. Since only small amounts are needed, it’s easy to adjust your daily dose with absolute precision.
Are Tinctures Safe for Pregnant or Nursing Women? How About Children and Babies?
Yes, tinctures are fine for pregnant and nursing women, even the alcohol-based versions. One dose of an alcohol-based tincture has approximately the same alcohol content as eating a very ripe banana. A 1oz bottle of tincture, should one drink the entire bottle at one sitting, would be the equivalent of one drink, one glass of wine or beer. But the user is not drinking the entire thing at one sitting – they are taking drops of it at a time, spread out over the course of one week, and at this dose, the alcohol content is negligible. (A 1oz bottle of tincture taken on a consistent basis should last one week.) Herb Lore does offer non-alcohol versions of nearly all of our herbal tinctures. Non-alcohol tinctures are good for children, those with alcohol sensitivities, or for those who simply prefer a non-alcohol product. If you are pregnant or nursing, we invite you to see our list of Herbs to Avoid During Pregnancy and Lactation.
What is the Shelf Life of my Tinctures? How Should I Store Tinctures? What are they made with?
Tinctures are extracted most often in alcohol because it is such a potent solvent. As mentioned before, some herbs simply will not release their medicinal qualities to a solvent that is less potent, such as water, apple cider vinegar or vegetable glycerine. It takes something stronger, and alcohol is perfect. It also acts as an effective preservative. Alcohol-based tinctures have a virtually unlimited shelf life if stored in a cool, dark location. Refrigeration is not necessary.
Store your tinctures and all of your herbs in a cool, dark cupboard. This includes your cooking spices, which most people keep above a hot stove. Keeping them in a heated area can cause your herbs and spices to become weak and less effective more quickly. You may carry and keep tinctures in a purse or briefcase. Be sure not to leave your tinctures in a hot area for long periods of time, such as in a car, as heat can negatively impact the quality of your herbal products.