How to Choose and Dose Cannabis Oils and Tinctures

Tina Magrabi
Tina Magrabi - Content Writer

Sep 15 2021 - 4 min read

What is the best cannabis tincture for you and how should you dose it? Cannabis tinctures in the Western world date back to the nineteenth century when Queen Victoria of England was reportedly prescribed one to treat menstrual cramps.

Today, cannabis tinctures may be used to manage many types of pain and other ailments. Learn how to select a cannabis tincture that serves your needs in Leafwell’s complete introductory guide.

Download Our Dosing Guide for Common Qualifying Conditions

What is a Cannabis Tincture?

Tinctures are cannabis extracts made from food-grade alcohol or plant-based oils like glycerin. Cannabis tinctures may contain a combination of CBD and THC and are frequently used for pain relief. Other tinctures may exclusively contain CBD or THC, which allows for a customizable regimen.

Many medical users choose to consume cannabis tinctures because they offer a smokeless way to experience the plant’s numerous health benefits. Indeed, cannabis tinctures are consumed orally, often through the sublingual method (placed beneath the tongue). However, some people prefer to use the tincture as a topical, similar to how you would apply a CBD cream or oil to the skin.

You may opt to orally consume a low-calorie cannabis tincture “raw” without any added flavors or foods. Alternatively, you may incorporate a tincture into a favorite soft recipe like ice cream, soup, or even mashed potatoes. Tinctures are easy to measure, as they come in a dark glass bottle with a dropper typically marked in increments of 0.25 milliliters, though measurements may vary. You should store your cannabis tincture in a cool, dark place and expect a shelf life of anywhere from three months to two years depending on the chemical components of the tincture.

Cannabis Indica Medicine Bottle from 1900s
Cannabis tincture oil from early 1900s.

What Are the Benefits of Cannabis Tinctures?

In addition to providing a smoke-free way to consume cannabis, tinctures boast other benefits. Here are a few ways that cannabis tinctures may help you:

    • CBD-rich tinctures may be especially useful for those suffering from chronic pain, according to animal studies and patient anecdotes. The spectrum of pain CBD may help is broad, including minor issues like tension headaches and major concerns like nerve pain in cancer.
    • Dartmouth-educated physician Dr. Charles Webb states, “Cannabis is an extremely safe and effective medication for many patients with chronic pain. In stark contrast to opioids and other available pain medications, cannabis is relatively non-addicting and has the best safety record of any known pain medication…”
    • Anxiety and depression are two more conditions that CBD-dominant tinctures may improve. Even more serious psychiatric conditions like post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) may benefit from the cannabinoid.
    • In limited dosages, THC can work its own wonders in tinctures and other cannabis products, especially in tandem with CBD. This natural phenomenon, known as the entourage effect, has been observed in medical issues as diverse as pain, seizures and breast cancer.

What is the Best Cannabis Tincture for Me?

The best cannabis tinctures contain no more than 0.3% THC, according to the FDA’s 2018 Agriculture Improvement Act. Regulation of tinctures is important, as unregulated cannabis products may contain heavy metals, pesticides and mold. Potency evaluations and safety testing are also key. Purchase a cannabis tincture from a licensed dispensary to ensure that these quality control procedures have been fulfilled. Ask your local dispensary if their cannabis products have a COA (certificate of analysis) which is the gold standard for quality assurance.

But even quality controlled products can be questionable. While there are endless flavor choices for tinctures (mint, coconut, chocolate, even chili pepper!), you may prefer a plain tincture without any additives. Ultimately, the best cannabis tinctures are both regulated and pure.

Dosing Cannabis Tinctures

Like other orally consumed cannabis, in particular potent edibles like pot brownies, tinctures take effect quickly. Some users report feeling the effects of a tincture in as little as 15 minutes after ingestion. This fast-acting power can be beneficial if you’re seeking immediate symptom relief. But the speed and potency also mean that proper dosing is crucial.

Fortunately, cannabis tinctures offer more precise dosing than almost any other type of consumption method. The eyedropper-style bottle lets you easily measure your dosage, but how much should you dose? Here are a few tips on dosing cannabis tinctures:

    • Use a 1:1 CBD to THC ratio if you’re a seasoned cannabis user. If cannabis is new to you, try a pure CBD tincture or a significantly CBD-dominant one at a ratio of 30:1. Tinctures absent of or low in THC offer more flexibility, as they won’t make you “high.” So, you can consume a CBD tincture during your work day or right before bed without concern of overpowering psychoactive effects.
    • Begin dosing and using tinctures just once per day. As you become more familiar with your body’s reaction to cannabis, you can increase to twice or even three times daily. But be sure to consult with a physician before making any dramatic consumption increases.
    • Take your tincture one drop at a time. If you’re sampling a combination CBD-THC tincture, start with the smallest drop, then two, and discover your comfort zone. You can always add an extra drop the next time you dose, once you understand how the tincture affects your body. In other words, the minimal dose of 0.25 milligrams can go a long way for a beginner.
    • When mixing tinctures into food and beverage recipes, the cardinal rule of one drop at a time also applies. Consider halving the amount of a THC-heavy tincture. Your digestive system will work quickly to absorb the therapeutic but intense cannabinoids from the tincture, so eat slowly and in small portions.

These guidelines are a basic blueprint for dosing cannabis tinctures. Note that we have not recommended exact measurements, as only your doctor (and your own body intuition) can determine what works best for you.

dosing cannabis

Using Cannabis Tinctures as Medicine

Under guidance from an experienced physician, tinctures offer discreet, smokeless ways to experience cannabis medicine. The doctors at Leafwell are on call to help you apply for a medical marijuana card and unlock access to tinctures and other cannabis products. Reach out today and we’ll get you started on the path to feeling better with cannabis medicine.

Written by
Tina Magrabi
Tina Magrabi

Tina Magrabi is a writer and editor specializing in holistic health. She has written hundreds of articles for Weedmaps where she spearheaded the Ailments series on cannabis medicine. In addition, she has written extensively for the women's health blog, SafeBirthProject, as well as print publications including Destinations Magazine and Vero's Voice. Tina is a Yale University alumna and certified yoga instructor with a passion for the outdoors.

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