Although CBD is relatively new to the public consciousness, its healing benefits have been known for decades – some estimates date back as far as the 1980s and even ancient times. The range of products that use it today are seemingly endless-from capsules and oils to lotions, seltzers and more; each promising a stronger dose than before.
Tinctures remain a bit of an enigma, partially due to their traditional apothecary-style packaging and even more so because they are taken orally in small amounts. Simply place a few drops underneath your tongue for maximum efficacy!
To understand the mystique of CBD tinctures, Tieraona Low Dog, M.D., an expert in herbal medicine and women’s health, and Kevin Hill, M.D., Director of the Division of Addiction Psychiatry at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center and Assistant Professor of Psychiatry at Harvard Medical School have teamed up to get to the bottom line on this topic.
What is it?
Cannabis consists of more than 120 cannabinoids, with two being the most familiar: THC and CBD. Hill explains that THC can produce an euphoric sensation known as a “high” while cannabidiol has properties such as anti-inflammatory, anti-seizure, anxiety relief and even painkilling. Low Dog also reveals these useful effects from CBD in his studies on cannabis.
On a botanical level, the two compounds are complementary in their effects; CBD effectively balancing out THC’s influence. As Hill explains it, “It’s like yin and yang – while THC is responsible for inducing euphoria, CBD simply doesn’t do that.” Together they create an equilibrium that allows plants to be consumed safely yet still experience mind-altering effects.
What are tinctures specifically?
Crafting a herbal tincture requires an amalgamation of alcohol and water, which extracts the components from the cannabis plant.
Low Dog explains that sometimes extracts known as tinctures use glycerin, vinegar or oil instead of alcohol to act as the solvent. Such alternatives may be preferable because they are free from alcohol, though potency may not always be comparable with an extract distilled in alcohol and water.
How are CBD tinctures made and what are the benefits of using them?
CBD tinctures are typically concocted from high-CBD strains of hemp, containing 60 to 70 percent alcohol and primarily used for reducing stress or alleviating pain. Low Dog assuredly stated that these tinctures are both convenient and have a lengthy shelf life; additionally, they can easily be absorbed when taken sublingually (under the tongue). The dosage is flexible too – one may increase/decrease their intake by simply increasing or decreasing the amount of drops consumed.
Despite CBD’s potential, according to Hill there is still a great amount of research that needs to be conducted.
Despite the widespread interest in cannabidiol, research has not kept up with this trend. Most medical uses of CBD are supported by animal studies or lack evidence altogether, which can be a significant issue.
So are there side effects?
At its core, CBD is a safe compound; however, we still have much to learn about potential interactions with other medications and the long-term effects. Hill’s biggest worry though? People who opt for CBD as an alternative to evidence-based treatments instead of in addition – that could be problematic clinically in certain scenarios.
CBD tincture vs. CBD oil—which is better?
According to Low Dog, a tincture may offer an expansive range of compounds from hemp in comparison to oil extraction. For those with sensitivities towards alcohol, Hemp Oil is far more preferable than the tincture option as it is simpler and less abrasive when applied topically.
However, Hill advises to be aware of the product you are using: “If a CBD cream is applied topically, it won’t penetrate the bloodstream,” he explains. “It may work as an anti-inflammatory like other OTC products… but that doesn’t mean it will provide more relief than those alternatives and could end up costing much more.”