Tinctures are one of the oldest methods of concentrating plant compounds in medicine. They 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”.
We’re sure you’re familiar with all the typical ways of consuming marijuana, such as smoking, vaping, dabs, and edibles. How about marijuana tinctures, though? What are these, and why should you care?
What Is Marijuana Tincture?
As one of the oldest medicinal methods of concentrating plant compounds, tinctures have long been used to maximize the benefits plant yields, cannabis among them.
The word tincture refers to an extraction method that uses alcohol as a solvent. In the world of marijuana, a tincture is sometimes incorrectly applied to oils infused with cannabis. These are actually infusions.
Tinctures, nickname “the moonshine of marijuana,” were the leading form of marijuana medicine until it was first banned back in 1937. Safe and relatively easy to make, the process involved is akin to dissolving some sugar in water.
Plant material is extracted with an ethanol percentage from 25 to 60% yielding a solution from 50 proof to 120 proof. Since alcohol breaks down both the basic and acidic components of marijuana, you’ll end up with more of those precious cannabinoids in your dropper bottle.
With the plant matter dissolved and the oils, trichomes, terpenes, and cannabinoids all suspended in the solution, you simply administer the tincture sublingually or ingest it.
What’s the point of going to all this trouble, though? Surely you could just rely on the time-honored methods of smoking or go ‘twenty-first century’ with your dab rig?
You could, but tinctures come with a few distinct benefits.
Key Benefits of Marijuana Tinctures
- The effects hit home quickly and powerfully
- Dose control is straightforward, so you’ll get none of the uncertainty when trying to gauge dosage with edibles
- It is totally discreet, and you won’t need to worry about wielding a bong or reeking of weed in public
- You won’t experience any of the dangers associated with smoking
- Tinctures have an exceptionally long shelf-life
While THC tinctures deliver all the above and more, CBD tinctures can deliver a shower of medical benefits. From helping with a waning appetite to dealing with insomnia, reducing inflammation to soothing psoriasis, the list goes on.
Whichever tincture you choose, this tried-and-true method works. It might not generate the same amount of press as wax and shatter, but it’s a classic delivery method for good reason.
How about the less positive side of tinctures, though? Are there any side effects?
Methods of Cannabis Tincture 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 Cannabis 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!
How to Take Marijuana Tincture
A tincture comes in a dropper bottle; you simply squeeze a drop or two under your tongue. Rather than swallowing it, allow the tincture to absorb into your bloodstream. This process is called osmosis.
If you choose to swallow instead, the delta-9-THC (the psychoactive component) turns into 11-Hydroxy THC as it passes through your liver. This process delays the onset of effects from 15 minutes to 2 hours or more.
When you allow osmosis to take place, the marijuana tincture hits your brain in a quick-fire fashion. It absorbs into the bloodstream through the sublingual artery that’s close to your carotid, making it fast-acting and effective.
What to Do Next
If this glimpse at marijuana tinctures has piqued your interest, why not head down to Cannabis & Glass? Our highly knowledgeable team will be delighted to continue the discussion while showing you around our incredible menu of marijuana in all its forms.