If the word “tincture” has an old-time ring to it, it’s because this type of herbal remedy has been around for millennia dating back to ancient Egypt when people would extract the essences of herbs into alcohol for therapeutic purposes. Today, though the tinctures most are familiar with are either the cannabis-extracted liquids of the 19th and early 20th centuries, or the current medical marijuana (MMJ) product that has been gaining popularity. The renewed and growing popularity is also not surprising as tinctures are easy to use, easy to adjust dosages, effective and fast-acting - making them a good starting point for new medical or recreational users.
Tinctures are very simple products, requiring only two ingredients and only a few tools to make the mixture. You can even make tinctures on your own with the internet having loads of videos, websites and tutorials to show you how. Just keep in mind that if you make your own tincture, you likely won’t know amounts and concentrations of the cannabis and cannabinoids of your finished product without taking it to a lab. For new medical users, it’s recommended to purchase tinctures from your medical cannabis dispensary.
What exactly are tinctures?
Marijuana tinctures - like their ancient predecessors - are therapeutic liquids made from dried marijuana leaves and flowers that have been soaked in ethyl alcohol for a certain amount of time (usually 5-8 days, depending on the recipe and manufacturer). As tinctures are sensitive to lights, marijuana tinctures usually come in a dark bottle, and because they are highly-concentrated are usually administered by eye droppers.
Tinctures can be made with ethyl alcohol (not to be confused with isopropyl or “rubbing” alcohol that should not be consumed!), glycerin or oil, though alcohol works by far the best. Some oil-infused products may call themselves “tinctures” but the work tincture actually refers to the absorption of the active marijuana components into the ethanol alcohol, rather than oil-based products that are actually “infused” products.
Administering tinctures is very easy, too. You can take tinctures by ingesting in a drink or adding to food, though the absorption into your body is done through your digestive system which can take up to two hours to feel the effects - much like traditional cannabis edibles. You can also take sublingually (under the tongue) which is the most popular and effective method since the active ingredients are absorbed directly into the bloodstream, also allowing the patient to feel the effects quicker and for a longer duration. This can be particularly important for users who are looking for fast relief or for users who need more precise timing on their medication.
Why tinctures are awesome
Medical marijuana tinctures, like other cannabis products, have a plethora of benefits. Consider these tincture pros when selecting your medical cannabis product:
- Concentrated formula - tinctures give more relief with less product and can help you save money
- Great for microfilming - being able to dose by the drop makes finding the right dosage and CBD/THC ratio easy and precise
- Discreet - packaged in small bottles, tinctures are easy to carry and keep tucked away in a bag or purse, and being odorless you don’t have to worry about smelling like weed
- Smokeless and easier to administer - unlike joints or bongs, there is no combusting of product that can irritate your lungs; no rolling of joints or cleaning of the bong saves time too!
- Low-calorie - even being alcohol-based, the low dosage means low calorie - unlike brownies, gummies, candies and drinks
- Versatile - can be taken alone sublingually or added to drinks and food (just remember that when ingesting marijuana the absorption happens in the digestive system that can take longer and lower the potency)
Some of the drawbacks for tinctures are that if taken sublingually the alcohol can burn the tender mucous membranes under the tongue, especially if a higher proof alcohol is used. To avoid this, you can add a few drops of water to the solution, then drop onto the tongue. Regardless, you should try to keep the solution under your tongue as long as you can, but minimally 30 seconds. Another drawback is being easy to administer with an eye-dropper means longtime users who love rolling joints don’t have the same fun ritual as smoking the weed! But ultimately the goal is to feel better and achieve your personal effect goal, not to mention that the inhalation of smoke is - as we all know - not the best option for your health.
Self-titration through tincture micro-dosing
Tinctures are also one of the best products to use when self-titration (or finding the right dosage of marijuana medicine for you) and particularly for micro-dosing. Micro-dosing is taking minute dosages of a substance to assess the effects, then incrementally increasing the dose to achieve the desired results. In medical marijuana, this process of self-titration through micro-dosing is done easiest with tinctures.
Since taking tinctures is done with an eye-dropper, taking even the smallest dose of medical marijuana is very easy. Knowing the concentration of marijuana per millilitre and the ratio of CBD to THC it’s easy to finely tune your dosage for the results you want - whether your condition is one the CBD-rich or THC-rich products are good for. You can experiment with CBD-only tinctures and slowly add THC-only tinctures to create a formula that is entirely specific to your, your body, your condition and the relief you are looking for.