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what is cbd tincture

Despite its relatively recent place in our collective consciousness, CBD has been at work delivering its calming agents as far back as the ‘80s by some estimates and the ancient world by others. With it, an almost endless menu of formulations has emerged—from capsules and oils to lotions and seltzer—each promising an even more effective dose of CBD than the last.

CBD tinctures are generally made from high CBD strains of hemp, with 60 to 70 percent alcohol, and are primarily used to help relieve anxiety or ease pain. “Tinctures are convenient, have a long shelf life, and are absorbed easily when taken under the tongue. The dose can be adjusted by increasing or decreasing the number of drops taken,” notes Low Dog.

What is it?

“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.”

At a plant level, the two chemicals operate as opposites, with CBD acting as a buffer of sorts to the effects of THC. “It’s sort of a ying and yang. THC is responsible for the high and CBD doesn’t do that,” Hill explains.

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.

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.

(Courtesy of Populum)

What is CBD?

Since the doses are relatively small, tinctures can be administered in a variety of ways. For patients looking to take their CBD with food, a dose of tincture can be mixed into a meal like soup or pasta. It can also be added easily to drinks like coffee and tea; an evening cup of chamomile paired with CBD tincture stands to be even more relaxing than usual.

When taken to relief the symptoms of epilepsy, CBD is typically administered orally. Researchers have found that this same method of dosing may be effective in using CBD to treat social anxiety disorder, generalized anxiety disorder, and related conditions. Evidence also suggests that this cannabinoid could be helpful in treating the symptoms of obsessive compulsive disorder.

A field of non-psychoactive, industrial hemp, the male variety of the cannabis plant. (torstengrieger/iStock)

There are no guidelines for the appropriate use of CBD oil. CBD oil is usually delivered sublingually (under the tongue). Most oils are sold in 30-milliliter (mL) bottles with a dropper cap.

According to a 2012 study in the Journal of Experimental Medicine, rats injected with inflammatory chemicals in their hind feet experienced less inflammation and neuropathic pain when treated with an oral dose and spinal injection of CBD.  

CBD is the short name for cannabidiol, one of the two chemicals—among the dozens in cannabis—that have the most health benefits. The other, tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), produces the psychoactive effects described as being “high.” CBD oil generally does not contain THC, although some trace amounts may be present in products sold in certain states.

Dosage and Preparation

CBD oil can interact with certain medications, including some drugs used to treat epilepsy. CBD inhibits an enzyme called cytochrome P450 (CYP450), which metabolizes certain drugs. By interfering with CYP450, CBD may either increase the toxicity or decrease the effectiveness of these drugs.

As CBD grows in popularity, so does the research on it but there are currently few clinical studies on the effects of CBD oil. As such, some of these claims are better supported by studies than others.

There is some evidence that CBD interacts with seizure medications such as Onfi (clobazam) and boosts their concentration in the blood. Further research is needed.

If you are thinking about using CBD oil to treat a health condition, be sure to speak with your healthcare provider to ensure that it is the right option for you.