As cannabis–based therapeutic products become more widely available and accepted, it’s natural to have questions. After all, a lot of the treatments on the market today weren’t around just a couple of years ago. While cannabinoids like CBD show a lot of promise in treating a host of conditions, it can be hard to know how to introduce them into an existing healthcare routine. Today, we explore the role CBD tinctures can play in your well-being.
Tinctures can also be taken sublingually, or by applying them underneath the tongue. This method of delivering CBD tincture is already common in epilepsy treatments. Some research has found that this delivery method makes cannabinoids more easily and consistently available to the body than other oral alternatives.
What is CBD?
Researchers around the world are investigating CBD’s potential for treating a wide variety of conditions. Near the top of the list is the promise it holds for pain relief. Numerous studies have found that CBD exhibits analgesic and anti-inflammatory properties. These properties make it useful in the treatment of both acute pain—like muscle pulls—and chronic conditions such as arthritis.
When it comes to conditions like insomnia, CBD’s clinical research scorecard is more mixed. Some studies have suggested that the substance can actually increase wakefulness. Others, though, have found that a CBD tincture or oil taken a couple of hours before bedtime can help induce a sense of balance that can help sleep come more easily. A 2016 report, for instance, found that a CBD-rich oil, administered orally, helped to alleviate the symptoms of both anxiety and insomnia in one patient suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder.
Instead, CBD possesses a wide variety of medical applications. While research is ongoing, studies have already demonstrated that CBD is an effective treatment for epilepsy. But this cannabinoid is what’s known as a promiscuous molecule, meaning that it interacts with many different types of neuroreceptors. That suggests that current studies may just be scratching the surface of CBD’s therapeutic potential.
But first, a little CBD 101…
An herbal tincture is made by using a mixture of alcohol and water to extract compounds from a plant—in this case, the cannabis plant.
What are tinctures specifically?
“At the end of the day [CBD] is a fairly safe compound,” Hill says. “Although, we still need to know a lot more about it, like how it interacts with other medications people may be taking and what are the long-term effects,” he adds. And perhaps his biggest concern: “Sometimes people want to use it instead of evidence-based treatment and that can be a problem clinically in certain situations.”
Here, Tieraona Low Dog, M.D., an expert on 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 an Assistant Professor of Psychiatry at Harvard Medical School, get to the bottom of CBD tinctures’ mystique.
“Sometimes, you will find extracts called tinctures that use glycerin, vinegar, or oil as the solvent, instead of alcohol,” Low Dog says. “These offer the advantage of being alcohol-free, but may not always offer the same potency as an alcohol-water extract.”
You may occasionally see CBD oil labeled as hemp oil. Typically, when you see this, it is because the CBD oil was extracted from a hemp plant, which is defined as a cannabis plant with less than 0.3% THC. This type of hemp oil is basically the same as any other type of CBD oil. The only thing to watch out for is hemp seed oil. This is an oil made exclusively from the plant’s seeds, and while hemp seed oil is nutritious, it does not contain CBD or any other cannabinoids. Hemp seed oil is not CBD oil, so carefully read the label to be sure you’re getting the right product.
The first official record of cannabis tinctures used in Western medicine appeared in an 1843 medical journal. The journal featured a recipe, and soon after its publication, apothecaries and medicine producers began to make and sell their own versions of the product.
What is a CBD tincture?
Wait approximately 60 to 90 minutes to evaluate the dose’s effects. If you need more, take another dropper-full and repeat the above steps. It’s helpful to consume CBD with a high-fat meal or snack, as CBD is fat-soluble, and the fat increases its absorption by four to five times.
CBD oil is a cannabis extract in oil form. There are many different methods for extracting compounds from cannabis. Many CBD products today are made using a supercritical CO2 extraction process to pull out all the cannabinoids and terpenes. The extracted compounds are then processed into the final CBD oil product. In some cases, producers will remove THC or other cannabinoids and terpenes, so that the final product contains only CBD.
CBD tinctures are usually taken sublingually and absorbed into the bloodstream by capillaries in the cheek, gums, and under the tongue. To promote maximal absorption, the liquid should be rubbed into the tissue inside your mouth. After letting it soak under your tongue, you can swallow the tincture so that the remainder of the CBD is absorbed through your digestive system. Once in your bloodstream, the CBD in the tincture interacts with your endocannabinoid system, potentially helping your body self-regulate and achieve homeostasis.