By Helen Thomas
By now you’ve probably seen thousands of them, whether on specialty store shelves or while scrolling through your Instagram feed. Most are self-explanatory—like CBD lotion, which is obviously something you just rub on your skin, and gummies and cookies. Just pop them in your mouth and enjoy.
However, CBD tinctures, which are sold in those pretty glass bottles sealed with a dropper, are more ambiguous. What the heck do you do with those? And why would someone want to buy them? Read on to learn more about CBD tinctures, and what you need to know before trying this trendy health product.
First things first, what is CBD?
CBD is one of many chemical compounds found within the cannabis plant. It’s a close relative of tetrahydrocannabinol, or THC, the psychoactive chemical found in cannabis. However, unlike THC, CBD cannot get you high—no matter how much you take.
While there’s not a ton of research out there yet, what CBD could give you is possible relief from stress, joint pain due to inflammation, or a better night’s rest.
Got it. So, what’s a tincture?
Over time, the solvent used to make tinctures has changed, but the basic method has remained the same. “In traditional herbal remedies, tinctures were most often made with alcohol,” says Jonathan Edwards, vice president of manufacturing at HIGHLIFE®, a leading cannabis company. “Today most cannabinoid tinctures use food grade plant-based oils and flavors as a solvent.”
Should I use tinctures instead of other CBD products?
Compared to other popular products like CBD chocolates and lotions, tinctures have extremely high bioavailability, so they’re very easy for the body to absorb. According to a National Center for Biotechnology Information study, CBD edibles, like gummies or cookies, have less bioavailability because the body has to process both the CBD and the ingredients used to make the treat.
According to researchers, a person will absorb a great deal more CBD if he or she ingests it in a pure tincture. You may also feel the effects sooner. “Due to the way you take tinctures versus other forms of administration, you get a high rate of absorption often starting as soon as the tincture is dropped onto the oral mucosa lining your mouth,” Edwards explains.
How do I take a tincture?
Before we get into the nitty-gritty, just a quick reminder: Like any new supplement, it’s important to talk to your doctor before starting a CBD regime. CBD isn’t ideal for everyone, and it can interact with certain medications, such as Warfarin. Make sure a medical professional knows exactly what you’re taking and in what combination before you start experimenting with CBD in any form.
Assuming you’re given the go-ahead to try CBD, there are two ways to consume a tincture. After squeezing the liquid into the dropper, you can either place it under your tongue (this is known as taking something sublingually) or rub it on your skin. People trying to remedy arthritis, tendonitis, joint pain, and muscle soreness tend to use the latter method, whereas those using CBD for other reasons might take it orally.
These days, there are plenty of tasty CBD tinctures on the market. HIGHLIFE®, for example, sells natural, peppermint, watermelon, and strawberry flavored drops. However, if you aren’t a huge fan of the taste, you can always mix your tincture into a drink, a smoothie, or your favorite food to make it more palatable.
Wondering how much should you take? This is a bit of a tricky question, as there are no official dosing guidelines for CBD. We suggest starting with a lower strength product and taking just 1 milliliter. (For a 30-milliliter bottle that’s likely a full dropper, but check the bottle to be sure.) You can always take a bit more next time if you don’t feel the effects.