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Cannabis tinctures or extracts are well-liked for their discrete nature, health benefits, and relative ease of use.
It’s also pretty easy to learn how to dose cannabis tinctures, making them excellent for first-time cannabis users.
To properly dose them, start low and go slow, using the provided dropper as a guide to measuring your dose correctly.
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What Are Cannabis Tinctures?
Cannabis tinctures are marijuana extracts produced by extracting cannabis using food-grade alcohol, water, carbon dioxide, or vegetable glycerine.
The cannabis extract is infused with coconut, olive, or MCT oil. Cannabinoids may also be infused with alcohol to make alcohol-based cannabis tinctures.
In its final form, a tincture is usually contained in a small dark-colored bottle. A dropper will also usually be included to dispense the tincture.
When looking solely at CBD tinctures, some may be broad or full-spectrum products containing a greater variety of the cannabis plant’s original form, including terpenes and compounds.
Full-spectrum CBD tinctures contain less than 0.3% THC and all other cannabinoids, flavonoids, and terpenes. Broad-spectrum CBD tinctures will have a wide range of terpenes, cannabinoids, and other plant properties but will not contain THC.
Other CBD tinctures may be isolates, which exclude all terpenes and compounds from the product, leaving only the desired compound from the hemp or cannabis plant.
How Marijuana Tinctures Work
Tinctures work similarly to many other forms of cannabis by interacting with our cannabinoid receptors.
THC tinctures provide a faster onset time than consuming edibles, usually taking effect within 15 to 30 minutes, according to Mark Kasabuski, a doctor of pharmacy with over 15 years of experience working in pharmacies and medical cannabis dispensaries.
However, tinctures still be compared to edibles and THC-infused drinks as a relatively discrete and precise consumption method that serves as a potentially healthier alternative to smoking.
If you swallow your tincture instead of properly dosing under the tongue, you may have to wait longer to feel any effects.
Cannabis Tincture Dosing: Benefits and Uses
Applying your dose is straightforward, as most tinctures come with dosing measurement guides on the outside of a dropper, so you know exactly how much of a dose you are applying.
Using the dropper, place the desired amount of tincture under your tongue (a method of consumption called “sublingual consumption”) for a full minute. This sublingual administration allows the cannabis to be absorbed into your bloodstream via your mouth.
If it is your first time using a tincture, start with a dose as low as 2.5 mg of THC or less in your initial squeeze. If you don’t feel the desired effects after the tincture has kicked in, you may want to take another dose, but only after you are sure the initial dose has taken full effect.
To calculate doses with tinctures and extracts, you can use this formula:
We recommend using the graded dropper that usually comes with most tincture bottles to measure the amount you are using and to start with a low dose of about 0.25 ml, even with tinctures that might not be very strong or high in THC.
If you are a more experienced cannabis user and have a high tolerance for other forms of marijuana use, like regularly smoking cannabis flower or consuming a 5 mg edible daily, then you may feel comfortable starting with a slightly higher dose.
Still, you should be aware that switching up your consumption method could result in a different experience than you are used to.
While not as potent as edibles, tinctures can still be more powerful than other administration methods like inhaling cannabis. High doses of a tincture may also have a potency similar to edibles.
One reason you might want to use a tincture over other forms of cannabis is the relative ease involved with precise dosing, so high doses of THC are avoidable.
Starting with a small drop and waiting to feel the effects before dispensing any additional drops gives you a strong command over your THC intake.
Additionally, applying a tincture under the tongue can be a more discreet way of consuming cannabis when compared to methods like smoking or vaping.
Potential Risks and Side Effects of Tinctures
As with any form of cannabis use, there is a risk of taking too large of a dose and “greening out.” Even if you are a regular cannabis user, remember to take it easy with your first drop and go from there.
Similarly, use common sense and avoid taking multiple tinctures at once unless you are a highly experienced cannabis user who can withstand higher doses of THC.
And, if you recently started a new medication or are just starting to take tinctures, consider speaking with your doctor about possible side effects.
One study showed that CBD products alone can sometimes alter the effectiveness of a medication, as CBD can interfere with liver enzymes that metabolize other drugs.
So, if it is your first time using cannabis, you may want to try a more traditional method of consumption.
Tinctures are considered concentrates, so unless you have a tincture exceptionally high in CBD, you could be in for a slightly more potent first time with cannabis than expected.
According to Kasabuski, “Trying other methods would probably be the way to go, especially with THC. It’s always a ‘less is more’ situation to try and find what works for you rather than jumping right in. For a lot of first-time cannabis patients, I would recommend a 1:1 product, where there will be equal ratios of THC and CBD.”
Some people even start with CBD-dominant tinctures in CBD:THC ratios like 2:1, 10:1, or even 20:1.
Finally, don’t use expired cannabis products. If you’re unsure if a product is safe but notice any warning signs, like the tincture liquid changing color, it is better to be safe than sorry and dispose of it.
You do not need to refrigerate your tinctures, but doing so may help extend the product’s shelf life. At the very least, store your tinctures in a cool, dry place out of direct sunlight.
But, even with proper storage, THC and CBD tinctures may eventually go bad or spoil after a year or two. Only purchase tincture products if you have plans to take them in the near future.
The Bottom Line
Tinctures can be a great method of cannabis consumption for new and experienced cannabis users alike.
To determine the right dose for you, be sure to “start low and go slow” by using just a drop of the tincture, waiting an hour, then repeating the process if you have not yet reached your desired effects.
Of course, if you need help determining the optimal dose for your medical condition, Leafwell has you covered with personalized cannabis guidance. Book a session today to meet with a cannabis counselor for customized dosing advice.
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Frequently Asked Questions
What is the best ratio for cannabis tinctures?
The best ratio for cannabis tinctures depends on your goals and desired effects. If you are an experienced cannabis user or need relief from pain and nausea, you may want a balance that favors THC.
Alternatively, if you want to minimize intoxicating effects or utilize a cannabis tincture for a neurological disorder, you might want a tincture that strongly favors CBD.
And, if you want the best of both worlds, you likely can’t go wrong by trying out a tincture with a 1:1 THC:CBD ratio, although you should start low and go slow, especially if you don’t have a lot of experience using cannabis.
How many doses are in a 30 ml tincture?
That depends on the recommended dose. If you dispense 0.5 ml per dose, you would have 60 doses in a 30 ml bottle of tincture, for example.
Does strain matter in tinctures?
Strains (i.e., cultivars) are one of several important considerations that may determine how a tincture will affect you, in addition to whether or not the tincture is a full or broad-spectrum or an isolate.
Whatever cannabinoids, terpenes, and flavonoids are in the cannabis you are using will make their way into the tincture, providing different effects.