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Cannabis Tinctures with Pros and Cons

Cannabis Tinctures

What are tinctures? 

Tinctures are liquid, high-concentration herbal extracts made by soaking a plant (in this case cannabis) in alcohol. 

Their ease of manufacture and long shelf-life make them a convenient option for cannabis consumption, especially for those who want to use marijuana but are not interested in smoking. Both edible and tinctures are taken orally. In other words, it moves through the body and passes through the liver before it reaches the bloodstream, delaying the onset of the effect and usually taking about 30 minutes to an hour. However, when you put a tincture under the tongue, it wraps around the liver and is absorbed directly into the bloodstream.

The tincture is measured with a dropper. It gives you the freedom to slowly increase and adjust doses from 2.5 mg to 10 mg, 20 mg, etc., as needed.

How to consume tinctures?

The most common way to make tinctures is sublingual or sublingual. Cannabis compounds are absorbed through the blood vessels under the tongue. Cannabinoids that are not absorbed by those blood vessels go to the gastrointestinal tract, where they are absorbed the same way as food. Tinctures onset fairly quickly, 15 minutes when taken under the tongue, but they can be delayed like edible products. For example, the tincture will provide full-body relaxation an hour after sublingual consumption. In contrast, if the edible is eaten, there’s usually only a 10–15 minute rush of feelings before the user begins to feel drowsy.

Benefits of tinctures

  • Like edible, tinctures have the correct dosage, making it easier to control your experience.
  • You can mix the tincture with food and drink if you don’t like the taste. Expect a delayed experience as cannabinoids are absorbed into your system as if you were eating an edible product.
  • Cannabis tinctures have been studied for decades for their medicinal value, but recent studies have begun to show promise. One study found that CBD (cannabidiol), one of the cannabinoids in cannabis, effectively treated PTSD symptoms in military veterans. 
  • The study also showed that the tincture was just as effective as a pharmaceutical solution but with fewer side effects and less potential for abuse than pharmaceuticals. A second study found that CBD was effective at treating the symptoms of schizophrenia, specifically negative symptoms like depression and cognitive problems associated with schizophrenia. 
  • If you’d like to use tinctures as a sleep aid, it may be a good idea to avoid using alcohol completely. The tincture should be consumed at night, ideally before bed.

Disadvantages of tinctures

  • Tinctures can start quickly or late, leading to long-term highs that not all consumers want.
  • Tinctures tend to be more expensive than other cannabis products.
  • Some people don’t like the taste of tincture, probably because of alcohol.

How to Make Tinctures?

Tinctures can be prepared using many methods. It can be boiled, which extracts more of the essential oils and less of the cannabinoids, or it can be steeped in cold or hot water, or even in oil, which will extract more cannabinoids. It’s recommended that you make tinctures using a ratio of 1:5 of fresh herb to alcohol, but you can use just about any ratio you like.

For best results, you want to steep the cannabis leaves for an hour at least, which extracts about 30 percent of the plant’s cannabinoids. If you don’t steep long enough, you won’t get the best effects from the tincture. The alcohol content of the tincture will vary depending on the type of alcohol used. Most people prefer using ethanol, the primary ingredient in wine, but some choose different alcohol like brandy or absinthe because it has less effect on the liver.

If you want to make tinctures in larger quantities, you can make them by first making an infusion or decoction. Infusion is steeping the herb in hot water; decoction is steeping the herb in boiling water. You can then either strain the herb or use a coffee filter to remove the herb from the liquid.

Safety Considerations

The most common concern surrounding tinctures is that alcohol use is excessive. Tinctures contain about 30% alcohol and some other ingredients (including essential oils), but most cannabis is steeping in the alcohol. However, the amount of cannabis used is minimal, and only 1/5th the volume of alcohol used. The cannabis-alcohol ratio is safer than traditional cannabis preparations like edibles, extracts, or concentrates.