5 Benefits of Cannabis Tinctures (And How To Take Advantage of Them)
Tinctures are one of the oldest methods of concentrating plant compounds in medicine, and have historically been used to extract the benefits of a wide variety of plants, including cannabis. Traditionally tinctures are made using the Folk Method of submerging plant material in grain alcohol; here at CVD we combine organic cane alcohol with our CO2 cannabis extract to produce a tincture with consistent cannabinoid content for accurate dosing.
Did you know? The word “tincture” technically refers to extraction using alcohol as a solvent. While the term is also commonly used to describe oils infused with cannabis, the correct term for one of these is an “infusion”.
Methods of Administration
Tinctures are versatile for a number of reasons. Not only can they be added to a wide variety of food and beverages, but they can also be administered in several different ways.
- Sublingual is the preferred method of administration because the tincture is rapidly absorbed through the sublingual artery. Sublingual applications avoid first pass metabolism in the gut or liver, because they transmit active ingredients into the bloodstream directly through the lining of the mouth. (Cannabinoids, as well as pharmaceuticals, can be lost or degraded when being metabolized in gut or liver, resulting in a smaller dose than expected.) Sublingual application allows for a rapid onset of 15-30 minutes with peak effects at around 90 minutes, which can be helpful for handling intense breakthrough pain.
- Ingestion. Alternatively, tinctures can be used like an edible: swallowed or added to food, the THC is converted to the more potent form 11-hydroxy-THC, which delays onset by around two hours and produces stronger, more sedative effects than sublingual application.
- Topical. Tinctures can also be used topically (like a liniment), however this application is more popular with WPCO and infused cannabis oils. The best topical applications for alcohol-based tinctures are those where a drying, astringent effect is beneficial, such as for acne, skin irritation or injuries deep below the surface of the skin. Do not apply to mucous membranes or wounds.
Benefits of Tinctures
- Drop-by-Drop Dosing. By allowing you to dispense a single drop or two, tinctures allow you to titrate precisely the right dose. Concentrates, flower and baked goods are generally harder to titrate because they can’t be administered drop-by-drop.
- Minimum effective dose. Tinctures offer a great way to learn your minimum effective dose (MED), or the smallest amount of cannabis that is effective for managing your condition. Learning your MED saves money, lowers your cannabis tolerance, helps you select products with the correct potency, and can result in more effective treatment. We recommend that patients begin with 2.5-5mg of THC, then titrate up drop by drop until you reach your MED, waiting at least 60 minutes between doses. Keep in mind that multiple doses throughout a day can be cumulative in effect, and may result in a more potent experience.
- Discreet sublingual application. By taking tinctures directly under the tongue and holding for 15 seconds, cannabinoids are absorbed directly into the bloodstream through the sublingual artery. This administration method is also preferable for those seeking a discreet way to consume cannabis, without the odor created by smoking or vaping. We recommend testing one drop of tincture under the tongue first to gauge the strength of the alcohol. Repeated use of alcohol held under the tongue can lead to irritation–for those who do not like the taste or sensation of alcohol, tinctures can be diluted in a little water to make them more palatable.
- Low-calorie. Unlike many cannabis edibles, tinctures are low calorie—a great solution if you’re actively managing your weight. The average tincture made with 140 proof alcohol is about 7 calories/ml, whereas most baked goods are around 100-200 calories.
- Long shelf-life and flexibility. Tinctures can last for years if kept in a cool, dark place, and can be added to a wide variety of foods including juices, smoothies, soups, sauces and more. Just be sure to keep your tinctures capped tightly to prevent evaporation, and shake well before consuming because separation may occur over time.
Whether you’re looking for a discreet, efficient method of dosing cannabis or an easy way to determine your minimum effective dose, this is a great time to try tinctures—Make an Appointment for Tincture Tuesday (any Tuesday in February) and get 10% off all tinctures!