There are a number of ways to take CBD, and each one determines the potency and effectiveness of this promising plant compound. The most popular forms of CBD are oil, tincture, and edibles; depending on the product, CBD can be ingested, inhaled, or applied topically. When it comes to CBD oil and tincture, most companies and retailers use the terms interchangeably, but these products have distinct differences which influence how they work.
Here’s everything you need to know about CBD tinctures.
CBD oil vs tincture
The main difference between CBD oil and CBD tincture is the carrier liquid used to dilute them. CBD oil is oil-based and uses MCT, vegetable, coconut, hemp seed oil, or any combination of these as the carrier liquid. CBD tincture is alcohol-based, and uses 60-70% distilled alcohol as the carrier liquid, usually food-grade ethanol.
A carrier liquid, as the term implies, helps carry the CBD extract into the bloodstream. How well any substance or nutrient is absorbed and used by the body is determined by its solubility, which is basically its ability to be dissolved. The solubility, in turn, determines the level of bioavailability, or how well or how much of the substance or nutrient is absorbed into the bloodstream so it can be carried to other parts of the body.
CBD is fat-soluble, which means it has poor bioavailability on its own because oil does not dissolve in or mix with water, and water is the main component of blood plasma. Using a carrier oil for CBD oil serves the purpose of retaining the purity and potency of the CBD extract. Despite the high potency of CBD oil, it still has poor bioavailability and higher amounts may be needed to increase the CBD that can be absorbed by the blood and used by the body.
CBD tincture, on the other hand, has a lower potency; this is because the extraction process may cause some of the CBD to degrade and the additional ingredients further lower the CBD ratio. The upside is fat-soluble CBD is soluble in alcohol, which means CBD tincture has a higher bioavailability which makes up for its low potency.
Another difference between CBD oil and CBD tincture is that the former contains fewer ingredients, mostly the CBD extract and carrier oil, whereas the latter often has added ingredients.
CBD Tinctures Important Facts
Whether you’ve narrowed down your choice to CBD tinctures or are still trying to decide if they’re the best option for you, here are some important facts that may help you decide.
CBD Tincture Extraction
The basic process involves steeping the hemp plant in ethanol or another food-grade alcohol. Alcohol extraction is fast, efficient, and considered safe by the FDA. Tinctures can also be produced by using glycerine or vinegar, but these liquids are not as efficient as alcohol.
CBD Tincture Varieties
CBD tinctures are also available in full-spectrum and broad-spectrum formulations. Full-spectrum CBD tincture is a whole-plant formula, which means that all the other beneficial compounds in hemp are present in the tincture, including minimal amounts of THC. Broad-spectrum CBD tincture also contains other beneficial compounds in addition to CBD, but removes THC.
The presence of these other compounds enhances the effects of CBD — referred to as the entourage effect.
CBD tinctures also come in a wide range of flavors; the presence of other ingredients, however, lowers the potency of CBD and this may be something you’d want to consider. As mentioned above, the high bioavailability of CBD in tincture form makes up for the low potency.
CBD Tincture Advantages
- Compared to CBD oil, CBD tincture can be easily mixed or cooked with food; the alcohol base makes this possible.
- When taken sublingually, wherein drops are directly placed under the tongue, CBD tinctures are easier on the palate because they come in a variety of delicious flavors. And there’s no oily texture and aftertaste.
- The alcohol base also increases the shelf life of CBD tinctures, as it acts as a preservative.
- Because of the lower potency of CBD, CBD tinctures are cheaper than CBD oils.
CBD Tincture Risks
One of the risks of ethanol extraction is that trace amounts of the solvent may be left behind. A trustworthy company, however, would always test their products to make sure there are none.
The World Health Organization has labelled CBD as generally safe. Some people may still react adversely to CBD, and common side effects include diarrhea, nausea, fatigue, loss of appetite, and weight loss/gain. Other medications may also interact with CBD, so it’s always important to seek a physician’s advice before using CBD.
The suitability of a CBD product will still depend a lot on an individual’s needs and preferences. When buying a CBD tincture or any other CBD product, there are things you should look for to ensure quality. Do not skip this step as the market has already been flooded with an overwhelming number of options, and you can expect that many of these are of poor quality and may even be unsafe.
Your best bet, always, is a reputable company. They’ll have their products tested by a reputable third-party lab every 12 months and will be able to show proof of the testing through their certificate of analysis. The COA should be available to all customers, and will show the exact amount of CBD in the product, as well as the THC, if it’s present. The COA will also reveal if the product has contaminants.
There should also be transparency about where the company sources their hemp and how they process their products. To further verify if the product is good, read customer reviews and make a point to look for negative feedback.
Lastly, a trusted company should not make any false health claims. The health benefits attributed to CBD have yet to be conclusively proven by clinical studies, and any promise or guarantee of treatment is a warning sign that the company may not be trustworthy.