Hemp-derived cannabidiol (CBD), a non-intoxicating compound of cannabis, is now legal thanks to the 2018 U.S. Farm Bill. Dozens of companies are selling CBD products and shipping not only to all 50 states, but to countries around the globe. These products come from industrial hemp and contain minimal THC, and thus produce no psychoactivity.
As CBD interacts with the body’s endocannabinoid system, it has the potential to help alleviate the symptoms of a number of medical conditions. This includes symptoms of chronic pain, epilepsy, anxiety, and depression. Research is ongoing, but early results are promising. And given CBD’s excellent safety profile, it has even been used in pets and children. (Epidiolex is an FDA-approved CBD medication for two forms of pediatric epilepsy. Unless prescribed by a doctor, cannabidiol should not be given to children).
A CBD oil tincture is one of the most popular methods of consuming cannabidiol – particularly among first-time users. CBD tinctures come in many different potencies (and even different flavors), and may produce different physiological effects compared to something like a CBD edible.
There is a school of thought suggesting that CBD administered orally via oil can provide improved absorption rates compared to edibles. And we know through the FDA’s approval of Epidiolex that oral CBD administration – i.e. in the form of a tincture – can work extremely well.
In addition to the Epidiolex clinical trials, other studies have shown medicinal uses for CBD tinctures. A 2016 report in The Permanente Journal, for instance, suggests that CBD tinctures can be effective for individuals suffering from PTSD-related anxiety and insomnia.
While the terms may be used interchangeably, some continue to argue that CBD tinctures and CBD oils are not the same thing. Traditionally, a ‘tincture’ has been loosely defined as an herbal oil extract consumed for medicinal purposes.
There is no distinguishable difference between a CBD oil and a tincture, but the term “CBD oil” can be broader in terms of its scope and application. For instance, there are CBD oils made specifically for vaping.
Variations in potency can also produce confusion. Take a product labeled ‘pure 100mg CBD tincture’ for instance. This could just as easily be identified as a ‘100mg CBD oil.’
In any instance, things like extraction methods and overall quality are more important than whether a brand decides to label their products as CBD ‘oils’ or CBD ‘tinctures.’ CO2 extraction, for instance, is typically indicative of a high-quality tincture.
Regardless, since CBD tinctures are a relatively new product in a new market, interested users will continue to have questions. In this guide, we aim to provide reliable information on dosage, effects, usage, and even how to make your own CBD tincture at home.
CBD Tincture Dosage
To put it bluntly, there is no clinical resource (aside from Epidiolex prescriptions) that identify how to dose CBD tinctures. That said, it doesn’t have to be a complicated affair. The first thing you’ll want to do is identify why you’re using CBD. An effective CBD tincture dosage for pain, for example, may end up being different from an effective dosage for anxiety.
Without sufficient high-quality evidence in human studies, we can’t pinpoint effective [CBD] doses.
Dr. Peter Grinspoon, Harvard Health
Additionally, you’ll want to know and understand the strength (potency) of the specific tincture you intend to buy. CBD tinctures come in a massive range of potencies. You can find products with as little as 100mg of CBD, for instance, as well as products that contain 5,000mg or more in a single bottle.
Calculating your dosage
To calculate a specific CBD tincture dosage, you need to know two things: bottle size (mL) and total CBD content (mg). Most bottles come in a standard 30 mL size. A single dose (or “serving”) of CBD tincture is typically regarded as 1 mL, which is equivalent to 20 drops.
To know how much CBD you’re getting in a single 1 mL dose, first, calculate how many drops are in the entire bottle. If you’re using a standard 30 mL bottle, there will be 600 drops total (1 mL = 20 drops; 20 drops x 30 mL = 600 total drops).
Next, divide the total CBD content of the bottle by how many total drops it contains. For example let’s say you’re using a 30mL, 600mg bottle of CBD tincture. You have 600 total drops of oil. 600mg divided by 600 drops equals 1mg per drop. So in a single 20 drop (1mL) dose, you’re getting 20mg of CBD.
CBD Tincture Side Effects
It would be remiss to suggest that CBD tincture side effects don’t exist. While many consider hemp CBD tinctures safer than pharmaceutical painkillers, there are a handful of adverse effects associated with cannabidiol. According to Harvard Health’s Dr. Peter Grinspoon, these negative effects can include:
- Nausea: While many take CBD tinctures to help ease the symptoms of nausea, it has produced increased nausea in some individuals.
- Tiredness: This typically happens in higher doses, but fatigue can be a side effect of any CBD tincture dose.
- Irritability: Few clinical publications discuss CBD-related irritability, but Dr. Grinspoon mentions it as a potential side effect in the Harvard Health Blog.
- Interaction with Drug Metabolism: CBD can inhibit activity of the cytochrome P450 enzyme. This enzyme family metabolizes most pharmaceutical drugs; if you take doses of CBD, it may neutralize P450 activity and change the way drugs metabolize in your body. (For the record, eating grapefruit has the same effect!).
How to Make a CBD Tincture
For those looking to make a CBD tincture of their own, it can be done using basic kitchen equipment. Really all you need is a jar, a strainer, high-proof alcohol, a heat source, and (obviously), some CBD. You can use high-CBD cannabis flower, hemp flower, or even CBD isolate in the form of crystals.
If you’re using cannabis or hemp flower as your CBD source, you’ll first need to decarboxylate the flower. You can do this by placing the plant material on a baking sheet in an oven at 220 degrees Fahrenheit for about 45 minutes.
Next, mix the flower with high proof alcohol such as Everclear in a mason jar. Close the jar tightly and allow it to sit. The alcohol solvent will “pull” the CBD (as well as other compounds) from the plant material.
If you do this at room temperature, you must let the flower/alcohol mixture sit for a few weeks to obtain efficient CBD extraction. If you heat the mixture in a water bath, full extraction can occur in as little as a few hours.
Finally, use a coffee filter to strain the mixture (and let it cool down!) before consuming it. Begin with a 1 mL dose to see how potent it is. If you’re trying to make CBD tincture without THC, you’ll need to know the cannabinoid profile of the strain you’re using. Charlotte’s Web is one of the most famous high-CBD, low-THC strains around.
Cryogenic Solvent-Based Extraction
If you don’t like the method mentioned above, you can try a cold extraction method that uses glycerin. Cold extraction preserves the terpenes of the cannabis, while the glycerin is sweet and can improve the taste of your CBD tincture.
Grind at least one ounce of high-CBD flower in a blender or coffee grinder, then place it in a mason jar along with food-grade glycerin. The amount of glycerin you use will ultimately determine how your tincture tastes.
Close the lid tightly, then allow it to marinate in the freezer for several weeks (making sure to shake it once a day). When you’re ready to proceed, strain the tincture in a sieve and pour it into a dropper bottle. Keep it in the fridge and use small doses initially to test its potency.
How to Use a CBD Tincture
CBD tinctures are easy to use, though it can feel odd at first to hold the oil under your tongue. Using the bottle’s dropper cap, squirt a full serving (as indicated by the specific product you’re using) below your tongue. For efficient absorption of the CBD, wait at least a minute before swallowing.
The goal of learning how to use a CBD tincture is to find your body’s minimum effective dose. Begin with a low potency tincture (see above), and gradually trend upwards until you notice positive effects. Once you feel adequate effects, stop increasing the dose. The more you increase, the more you risk developing a tolerance.
Remember, we all react differently to CBD. And as we discussed above, there is a slight chance your CBD tincture can cause negative effects. Or, it may not work at all.
If nothing happens, increase your dosage and ‘test’ the effects for a couple of weeks. You can take a dose once a day, twice a day (morning and evening), or even three times a day (morning, afternoon, evening). Whatever you decide, be patient and stick with your initial plan.
Some people who don’t like the taste of CBD tinctures will try adding it to food or water. This can work, but understand that your body will absorb less of the compound when you eat or drink it (compared to letting it absorb under your tongue).
A lot of CBD brands produce tinctures in various flavors, so bear this in mind if you have sensitive taste buds!
Benefits of CBD Tinctures
All in all, there is an increasing body of research suggesting that CBD (and other cannabis compounds) can provide health benefits. And of course, an enormous array of anecdotal evidence already exists to supplement this newfound data.
When purchasing pure CBD tincture, however, make sure to do your research and choose a quality product from a reputable brand. Look for an oil that has a full spectrum of terpenes, flavonoids, and cannabinoids. Including these compounds promotes the ‘entourage effect,’ which may improve the efficacy of the tincture.
Among other things, quality CBD tinctures may provide:
- Relief from pain and inflammation
- Improved mood
- A reduction in nausea
- A feeling of relaxation and calm
A Final Word on CBD Tincture Effects
Proponents of CBD oil tinctures routinely praise its ability to help with the symptoms listed above. Whether you buy online, from a store, or make your own, you’ll understand the effects of CBD tincture when you notice the subtle fading of whatever is troubling you.
And finally, when looking for a CBD oil tincture be sure to look for a Certificate of Analysis (COA) or lab report which proves the content of the product. The 2018 Farm Bill legalizes the commercial production of hemp, and we hope that this increase in availability results in an increasing number of people that experience positive effects with CBD tinctures.
Confused? Check out the link below for more detailed information on how to dose CBD tinctures.