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.
But first, a little CBD 101…
What is it?
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.
“Quality is always an issue, especially in a relatively young market, such as the cannabis market,” Low Dog says. And she’s right. A 2017 study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association found that out of the commercially available CBD products, only 30 percent were accurately labeled.
On that note, Hill cautions to know what you’re getting: “If you’re rubbing a CBD cream onto your skin, it’s not going to be absorbed into your bloodstream,” he says. “It can operate as a local anti-inflammatory, like other over-the-counter products… but CBD may not provide any more relief than those products, and it probably will be considerably more expensive.”
In terms of how long it takes for a CBD tincture to work, this can also vary. Some people notice effects in as little as 15 minutes, while others may have to wait up to 45 minutes or more. In comparison, the effects of inhalation can be noticeable within minutes.
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).
Once the CBD takes effect, you will not feel the high that’s associated with THC. THC modulates neurotransmitters in our ‘fight or flight’ response, thereby producing noticeable psychoactivity. CBD interacts differently in the endocannabinoid system, so you should feel calm and free from anxiety. The precise feeling, however, will depend on a variety of biochemical factors.
CBD Tincture Side Effects
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.
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.
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.
Without sufficient high-quality evidence in human studies, we can’t pinpoint effective [CBD] doses.Dr. Peter Grinspoon, Harvard Health