What Is a CBD Tincture?
Cannabis legalization – just the name of this rising concept in American society and politics conjures up various emotions. Yet in recent years, public sentiment toward cannabis-related products have softened, giving way to ever-increasing support. Part of the reason why this transition occurred is due to the diversity of botanical products.
Let’s face it – the cannabis plant doesn’t have the greatest public reputation because of its connection with the illegal marijuana plant. As such, images evoking stoned-out teenagers and drifters have unfortunately integrated themselves into the mainstream psyche. However, with the advent of legal products such as industrial hemp and cannabidiol or CBD, a majority of folks are now more curious than ever about this platform’s purported health benefits.
Aiding in this discussion is platform diversity. No longer limited to smoking a joint, legal therapeutic cannabis can be enjoyed across various mediums, including vape oils, ointments, edibles, and the topic of this discussion, CBD tinctures.
But what exactly is a CBD tincture? Bridging the gap between a topical product (such as direct application hemp-seed oil) and an edible product (such as CBD gummies), tinctures are cannabidiol-based solutions that are applied sublingually, or underneath the tongue.
One drop from a typical CBD tincture product represents a potent dosage of cannabidiol (and depending on the type of CBD, other cannabinoids and terpenes). Because tinctures absorb into the bloodstream quicker than edible products, they represent highly desired platforms for people seeking therapeutic benefits.
To familiarize you with the basics of CBD tinctures, we’ll discuss the following:
- What is a CBD tincture?
- An interesting history of tinctures
- Effectiveness versus other CBD platforms
- Full spectrum or isolate?
- Legality of tinctures
- Best uses for tincture products
- Final thoughts
First, let’s start off with the basic question, what exactly is a tincture?
What Is a CBD Tincture?
Arguably, most cannabis-based product categories are intuitive based on their names. For instance, a vape oil is a liquid material for vaping, while edibles are usually CBD-infused confectionaries – they don’t require much explanation.
But a CBD tincture? Unless you were deeply involved in the business, you probably wouldn’t know what it is or how it’s used. Interestingly, tinctures actually have a long and rich history, which we’ll discuss in the next section. For now, let’s start with a working definition.
Tinctures are liquid-form hemp- or CBD-based therapies that contain a concentrated, potent dose of cannabinoid(s). These are naturally occurring, organic compounds found within the underlying cannabis genus. The most common cannabinoids are cannabidiol (CBD) and tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), the latter being the compound responsible for marijuana’s psychoactive effects.
Almost always, tinctures are packaged in small bottles (usually glass), with droppers that also act as top caps. To use a tincture, one would simply open the bottle and extract some CBD-infused liquid from the bottle using the dropper. Finally, you will drip the tincture directly underneath the tongue.
Depending on the manufacturer and the potency involved, a certain number of drips will represent a particular dosage of cannabidiol. Since individual responses to CBD may vary, it’s recommended that you start with one drop before ramping up your dosage.
Usually, end-users, botanical enthusiasts or medical patients will feel the impact of CBD tinctures within 20 to 30 minutes. All other things being equal, this is far quicker than the response rate you can expect from a cannabidiol-infused edible.
What makes the CBD tincture so effective is how it is manufactured. Among the various cannabis-based platforms, tinctures are one of the most complex. Featuring a lengthy and extensive process, a hemp plant is essentially run through a carefully orchestrated grinder. From here, only the valuable compounds such as CBD are extracted from the plant; the rest of the botanical material is thrown out.
Once the CBD extract is available, this material is marinated in a liquid base featuring high-proof ethyl alcohol. For those who do not wish to have alcohol or have sensitivities toward it, alternative bases such as MCT coconut oil are available. This steeping procedure takes considerable time. However, like an expertly aged wine, the end product is well worth the cost investment.
Once the marinating is complete, other measures, such as thermal treating are applied to make the product ready for retail. As you can imagine, a premium-label CBD tincture combines extensive hours of manufacturing and product engineering. However, the potency of tinctures is unlike any other consumable CBD platform, making this an ideal choice for addressing various acute symptoms.
Tinctures’ Interesting History
Although tinctures might appear like a recent innovation – and to be fair, CBD tinctures are recent developments in the botanical space – the platform itself actually has a long and storied history.
As you likely know, the cannabis plant didn’t always have a controversial societal status. In fact, medical researchers and historians have discovered that the therapeutic uses of cannabis extend back thousands of years. What is recent is the negative shift in perception towards the plant.
As countless experts have noted, cannabis is the only “narcotic” which you cannot practically overdose on. The same cannot be said for other legally defined narcotics, many of which are scheduled lower than marijuana, which notoriously has a Schedule I classification from the federal government.
Apparently recognizing this fact, our ancestors increasingly supported the use of cannabis in medical applications. And notably, the first use of cannabis in a tincture format in western society was recorded in 1843 in a medical journal. That reference was used as part of a recipe. Thus, it didn’t take long before the medical professionals at that time extracted tinctures as their own distinct platform.
Fast forward a few years to 1851, cannabis-based tinctures made their first appearance in the United States Pharmacopeia, an almanac that lists out various medicinal drugs, and how they address certain conditions.
During this time period, tinctures became widely accepted, and not just among the common folk. In the British Empire, Queen Victoria’s personal physician recommended cannabis-based tinctures to help provide relief for menstrual cramps. Later, that physician, Sir J. Russel Reynolds, wrote in 1891 that “When pure and administered carefully, [cannabis] is one of the most valuable medicines we possess.”
So, what stopped this groundbreaking innovation in medicine? Up until the late 19th century, cannabis was widely accepted as a therapeutic platform. However, its recreational use was very limited.
But starting from the early 20th century, a surge of immigrants from Mexico fleeing political unrest at home entered the U.S. Unlike the Americans, the Mexicans did have a practice of using cannabis recreationally, and this subculture took off.
In an attempt to quell this growing, largely youth-centric movement, mainstream institutions produced propaganda material, like the notorious film “Reefer Madness.” In it, the film makers strongly asserted an association between recreational cannabis use and various social vices.
Later in 1937, the federal government passed the Marihuana Tax Act. In an effort to stem cannabis sales and Central American immigration, the government imposed cripplingly onerous taxes on cannabis. Violations of this Act would also result in stiff penalties. As you might imagine, disenfranchised members of American society received disproportionate penalties.
Just as egregious, lawmakers intentionally used the term “marihuana” to associate the plant with foreign Mexican immigrants. Thus, under deeply bigoted motivations, tinctures devolved from proven, effective therapies to a run-of-the-mill narcotic.
It will take almost a century for the damage to be undone.
Effectiveness of CBD Tinctures
Despite historical animus toward cannabis-related products, the botanical industry made the breakthrough that it did in large part because of product effectiveness. Though scientific quantification is continuing in this area, the volume of patient testimonies confirm that these narratives are more than just anecdotal tales.
And among the most effective of cannabidiol products is CBD tinctures. Indeed, they arguably are the most effective of consumable CBD products. Essentially, tinctures form a bridge between pure edibles – such as CBD gummies – and vape oils/wax concentrates that require vaping or inhalation. They are the middle ground of the cannabidiol spectrum.
While edibles are crowd favorites because they come in delectably enticing forms such as candy or gummies, eating cannabidiol has never been the most potent platform. That’s because as CBD enters the various stages of the digestive process, it becomes more and more stripped of its native potency.
Near the end of this process lies the liver. Under normal circumstances, the liver breaks down foods, splitting any toxins or unhelpful compounds and storing compounds that are useful. Unfortunately, by the time cannabidiol reaches the liver, it has already been compromised, for lack of a better word. And when the liver is done with CBD, the end user receives a relatively small percentage of the cannabinoid’s benefits.
Fortunately, tinctures are a different proposition. Because of its sublingual delivery, some portion of this liquid cannabinoid solution enters the bloodstream before being processed by the digestive system. The result is far greater potency than a typical edible product.
As mentioned earlier, cannabidiol tinctures have another distinct advantage in that it works far quicker than edibles. Usually, 20 to 30 minutes is all it takes for tinctures to have their desired effect. This is especially useful when you’re taking the solution for an “actionable” symptom, such as restlessness or stress-induced issues.
Here, time is of the essence. The longer you’re waiting, the less likely it is that you’ll continue the particular therapy. Because tinctures deliver efficiently and quickly (relative to edibles), they have found immediate adoption by both botanical enthusiasts and the curious.
Of course, as the middle ground, CBD tinctures are not as effective as vape oils or wax concentrate materials. As these are either vaped or heated products, all of the cannabidiol and associated cannabinoids and terpenes enter the bloodstream, skipping the digestive process altogether.
That said, vaping or heating for the purposes of inhalation is not an appropriate platform for everyone. Some folks may not want to forward the equipment investment needed to vape CBD. Others may not like sensation of flavors entering their lungs. Most importantly, many people have respiratory issues that make vaping or heating materials inappropriate.
For these folks, CBD tinctures make the most sense, especially if they desire therapy over a recreational pursuit. Balancing ease of use with potency, this platform is one of the most relevant in the broader cannabis industry.
Full Spectrum or Isolate?
Invariably within the CBD industry, you’ll come across a key question no matter what your platform of choice: full spectrum or isolate?
While botanical enthusiasts are familiar with this topic, not all newcomers are. Full spectrum CBD refers to cannabidiol and other cannabinoids and terpenes associated with the cannabis plant. Isolate CBD, on the other hand, refers to pure cannabidiol without any cannabinoids or alternative compounds.
Finally, some CBD tinctures are sold as broad spectrum. This category refers to tinctures (or other cannabis-related products) that feature CBD and other cannabinoids/terpenes, minus the psychoactive compound THC.
Initially, this latter part sounds confusing so let’s take a brief walk regarding the various spectrums of CBD. Typically, cannabis products marketed as cannabidiol (CBD) don’t just include the target botanical compound. Because the cannabis plant has over a hundred different cannabinoids, including Cannabidiolic Acid (CBDA), Cannabichromene (CBC), Cannabigerol (CBG), and so on, in its native form, you never just receive CBD.
For all intents and purposes, you can call full spectrum CBD as regular, unadulterated CBD. On the flipside, isolate CBD, despite its name, is somewhat unnatural. To only receive pure cannabidiol extracts, manufacturers must undergo an extensive process. Thus, in many cases, isolate CBD is more expensive than its equivalent full spectrum counterpart.
If that’s the case, why would anyone elect isolate CBD? The answer involves THC. Although full spectrum CBD – or any hemp-derived CBD product – is completely legal, there may be a trace amount of THC within the product. Under federal law, cannabis is legal if it contains less than 0.3% THC content. Also, if a cannabis product meets this criteria, it can be marketed as containing 0% THC.
Theoretically, though, there is a small risk that, if taken in copious quantities, that full spectrum CBD can produce a positive hit on a drug test for THC. To get around this critical dilemma, many botanical enthusiasts will instead opt for isolate CBD. The adage, better safe than sorry applies here.
Broad spectrum fills this gap with a balanced approach – these tinctures have CBD and all other helpful cannabinoids and terpenes, while maintaining honest-to-goodness 0% THC. Thus, you can enjoy robust exposure to cannabidiol tinctures but without the worry of a positive drug test.
So, why doesn’t everyone elect broad spectrum? Largely, the reason is cost. If you thought it was pricey to extract CBD from all other cannabinoids, imagine having to remove just THC while leaving everything else in. The stakes are also much higher for manufacturers. To compensate for this added risk and responsibility, the price of broad spectrum CBD is usually much higher than its full spectrum equivalent.
Ultimately, the choice among the three platforms depends on your personal preferences. If money is no object, obviously, broad spectrum offers the best of both worlds. However, money is an object. Therefore, most enthusiasts make their purchasing decision on personal priorities.
Legality of Tinctures
Despite the mass proliferation of cannabis products in today’s retail marketplace, the underlying sector has always been a complicated arena. With the ever-present contrast between state and federal laws, it’s fair to ask a basic question: are CBD tinctures legal?
With the passage of the 2018 Farm Bill, this line of inquiry has thankfully gotten clearer. Prior to this passage, cannabidiol-based products were sold under a cloud of ambiguity. While a record number of states voted for legalization to varying degrees in 2016, the federal government still considered cannabis a Schedule I drug, the most draconian classification under the law.
However, specific language in the Farm Bill legalizes – under the federal framework – industrial hemp and hemp-based derivates. Thus, from a pure technical standpoint, any CBD product, whether tinctures or some other category, is legal as long as they are sourced from industrial hemp.
Practically speaking, then, it is absolutely crucial that end-users purchase their cannabidiol from licensed and respected retailers like Nug Republic. Because such companies abide by strict legal protocols, you are 100% assured that the products you purchase have been vetted through multi-tiered verification processes.
Still, depending on where you live, CBD tinctures may encounter some overhead challenges. While industrial hemp and cannabidiol are now legal in most states, three notable holdouts exist: Idaho, Nebraska, and South Dakota. Of these, the former two have featured robust debate over cannabis legalization, suggesting that they might turn.
However, South Dakota remains a conservative stronghold. Because states are allowed to impose stricter guidelines than what the federal government mandates, it’s unlikely that South Dakota’s position will thaw.
Does this mean that anyone not living in the three excepted states are free to use CBD tinctures? As always, discretion is pivotal in the cannabis space – even in fully legal jurisdictions, the maligned plant still encounters significant societal resistance. Luckily, because of their comparatively small size relative to other CBD product categories, tinctures easily lend themselves to discretion.
Let’s discuss, though, one last warning regarding cannabidiol. Air travel with CBD products presents a whole new dynamic to the legality issue. While hemp-based CBD is legal under the federal farm bill, the material still falls under Schedule I classification. Thus, Transportation Security Administration (TSA) officers may confiscate your tinctures if you put them in your carry-on bags or even your checked luggage.
Here’s the problem: there’s no way for federal officers to distinguish between hemp-derived CBD and CBD derived from other sources. As a note, CBD that is sourced from non-hemp plants – even if the underlying compound contains no THC – is very much illegal.
Therefore, the safest bet is to leave your tinctures at home when you travel by plane. However, if you must travel with CBD, carry with you that product’s certificate of analysis that clearly demonstrates that the material is truly hemp-derived cannabidiol.
Ultimately, though, the best solution is to look up CBD businesses in the state to which you’re traveling. That way, you avoid awkwardness at best and legal repercussions at worst.
Best Uses for Tincture Products
Although CBD tinctures have rapidly grown to become one of the most exciting product categories within the broader botanical industry, they have certain nuances for which users should watch carefully.
First, always obey the manufacturer’s directions and warnings regarding CBD tincture use. Unless specifically mentioned, do not vape tinctures! While they admittedly look similar to vape oils, these two are completely different product categories. As such, they feature distinct organic structures that are suitable for their respective purposes.
Second, when starting off using tinctures for the first time – and especially if you’re new to cannabidiol or hemp-based products – use a small, conservative dosage first. As previously discussed, tinctures are incredibly potent relative to cannabidiol-infused edibles. Since CBD affects individuals differently, you’ll want to take “baby steps” in your tincture journey.
Third, make sure you understand what CBD tincture you’re purchasing. While this sounds obvious, it’s a common mistake, especially for initial tincture buyers. Some liquids are optimized for specific symptoms or ailments, such as anxiety or restlessness. Others give you a pick-me-up to jumpstart your day.
Therefore, you don’t want to use an inappropriate tincture for the purposes you originally seek. For example, Monday mornings are tough as it is: you don’t want a tincture that will make you drowsy throughout the day. More importantly, you’ll want to know how CBD impacts you before venture out for your day-to-day endeavors.
Finally, have fun with tinctures! Another brilliant selling point of this platform is its versatility. CBD tinctures can be incorporated into your favorite dishes or beverages, adding some therapeutic spice to your favorite recipes.
If you decide to go this route, consider picking up a bottle of isolate CBD tinctures. Because of their pure-extract complexion, they will not give off the pungent odor or earthy flavor profile native to the cannabis plant.
Final Thoughts of CBD Tinctures
If you are in the exploratory phase with regards to buying cannabidiol solutions, and you’re particularly interested in CBD tinctures, chances are, you’re doing so for health-related reasons. And in this context, you should strongly consider making the leap.
As we discussed earlier, CBD tinctures represent the bridge between vape/inhalation products and pure edibles like cannabidiol-infused gummies. Far more effective and quicker acting than edibles, yet not requiring the inhalation component of vaped or heated platforms, tinctures are the most balanced CBD solutions available.
Moreover, they have almost all of the benefits associated with cannabidiol edibles. For instance, tinctures are very discreet – you can enjoy drops virtually anywhere and tuck it away when you’re done. They also don’t leave lingering odors, such as what you might expect from vaping oils or wax concentrates. Plus, tinctures have no learning curve; just take a drop underneath your tongue and you’re on you way.
Finally, because CBD tinctures are so effective in bloodstream absorption, they offer great value. Each drop of cannabis-infused liquid is a potent concoction. Combined with its absorption efficiency, the dollar-per-CBD consumed is superior to edibles. Thus, the tincture has rapidly gained mass adoption from botanical enthusiasts, a trend that we see growing well into the future.