Does a potent, discreet, budget friendly, long lasting, readily available form of medical marijuana with precise dosing sound too good to be true? It’s actually been around for hundreds of years and is available at almost every dispensary and can even be easily made at home!
Throughout the 18th and early 19th centuries, cannabis was an extremely popular form of medicine throughout the United States. This medicine came primarily through tinctures. Tinctures, or cannabis extracted and preserved with alcohol, was used around the world for centuries and was the main form of medical marijuana in the U.S. until cannabis prohibition in 1937. Although tinctures are often underrated, they are rising in popularity and are an extremely discreet, potent, and cost-effective form of consumption for both medical patients and recreational users.
What is a Tincture?
The term tincture means an herb or plant that has been extracted or broken down through the use of alcohol or other solvents and then traditionally used for medicinal or health benefits. Although cannabis is the most well known plant used in tinctures, tinctures can be made with sage, garlic, chamomile, or just about any other plant or herb.
Cannabis tinctures are a specialized type of edible. They are a highly concentrated liquid form of cannabis and come in a variety of forms including THC tinctures, CBD tinctures, or tinctures that have balanced THC and CBD ratios based on the strain of cannabis that is used. Tinctures are packaged in a dark bottle with a dropper syringe and are used by placing the liquid under the tongue, swallowed, or by mixing into food or drink. One of the defining characteristics of a tincture is that the extraction method is also the final product. Most tinctures use alcohol to extract and create their cannabis tincture product, but tinctures can also be made with food grade glycerin, vinegar, and coconut oil, although these alternative tinctures may lack in effectiveness and potency when compared to traditional alcohol tinctures.
Tinctures are created when the bud or flower (and at times the trimmed leaves) are cut, dried, and ground, and then soaked in extremely high proof alcohol such as Everclear for a certain period of time, depending on the extraction method (Warm, Cold, or Hot Extraction) being used. The alcohol acts as an extremely effective solvent and breaks down the cannabis material while separating and extracting the plant’s chemicals such as the cannabinoids like THC and CBD, the terpenes, trichomes, etc. These chemical compounds are suspended and preserved in the alcohol tincture solution and result in an extremely effective and potent form of cannabis.
How Do Tinctures Work?
Tinctures can be consumed in one of three ways, sublingually, swallowed, or mixed into a food or drink. The most common way that tinctures are used is sublingually, which means under the tongue. A person will use the dropper syringe to place 2-4 drops under the tongue. The liquid should not be swallowed, but rather held under the tongue for about 1 minute. The tincture, including the alcohol solvent and all of the cannabis compounds, is absorbed through the mucous membranes under the tongue and then rapidly absorbed into the bloodstream. The medicine moves through the sublingual artery in the tongue and then into the external and internal carotid arteries in a person’s throat where it will quickly reach the brain. This allows the effects of the cannabis to be felt quicker than many other forms of consumption. When used sublingually most users will feel effects within 15-30 minutes.
If a person chooses to drop the tincture into their mouth and swallow it rather than letting it absorb under their tongue, or if it is mixed into juice, water, or other food and drink, the tincture will act like a more traditional edible. The cannabis will go through the digestive tract and will be metabolized through the liver. This will result in the delayed onset that is typical in other marijuana edibles.
Tinctures allow you to control your dosage in a very precise manner. Experts recommend using 2-4 drops under your tongue and waiting for at least an hour or two to determine the effects of the tincture before consuming more. Because tinctures are highly potent and often contain a very high amount of THC it is always better to start slow and work your way up.
Benefits of Tinctures
Tinctures have many benefits for both the medical patient and the recreational cannabis user. Tinctures are more calorie friendly than the typical edible, have a much longer shelf life since the alcohol acts as a natural preservative, and they are much easier to dose. Tinctures can last for over a year as long as they are stored in a dark glass bottle and in a cool dark environment! Due to their high potency, users only need a few drops to feel the effect so dosing is extremely accurate. It is easy to find the exact dosage that is correct for your body through self-titration, the “try-and-see” method, since you can literally add one drop at a time until you get the desired effects. This allows the patient to find the perfect dosage to relieve or help with their specific medical need.
Tinctures are a great option for children who have been prescribed medical marijuana. Glycerin or coconut oil based tinctures are a fantastic form of medicine for pediatric patients due to the precise dosage and easy consumption for children who shouldn’t smoke or vaporize.
Tinctures are discreet, cost-effective, and potent. They offer patients the ability to use their medicine without the smoke or noticeable odor that smoking or vaping produces. Tinctures allow people to consume their cannabis quickly and without unwanted attention. They allow patients to get the benefits and the effects of cannabis without the side effects of smoking or vaping and also allow those who may have respiratory or gastric issues to use medical cannabis without engaging in the digestive or respiratory system. The glass bottle looks like CBD oil or other medicine and doesn’t draw attention.
Tinctures are highly potent and are cost effective when compared to other consumption methods. According to one article from Honest Marijuana Co., there are about 100 drops of tincture in a small bottle that costs approximately $20 in many places. If you take 2-3 drops per dose you could get between 33-50 doses out of one bottle! That is $0.40-$0.60 per dose! You can’t beat that price when compared to the average cost of edibles, prerolls, or other forms or cannabis. It is also possible to make large batches of high quality tinctures at home which can also stretch your cannabis budget!
One of the most appealing aspects about tinctures for many people is the fact that they are easy to make at home! There are a ton of recipes online but they are all based on the same general simple concept. To make homemade tinctures you use dried ground, and most often decarboxylated cannabis flower or trimmed leaves, and the highest proof alcohol possible such as Everclear, which is 95% alcohol or 190 proof. If you are unable to find Everclear, 151 rum is also commonly used. Because the alcohol will be consumed, it is of course vital that the alcohol used is safe for human consumption.
To make the tincture, you place at least one gram of cannabis material per one ounce of alcohol in a jar with a lid that will close and screw tight. Some people will use up to 5-10 grams of cannabis per ounce of alcohol depending on their desired potency. The tincture will then sit for a varied amount of time depending on the recipe and the extraction method.
Some recipes call for a Warm Extraction which means the solution will sit at room temperature for around 7-30 days. Other recipes call for a Cold Extraction where the cannabis and alcohol are put in the freezer both before and during the extraction process. This extraction process may only take 48 hours. Still other recipes call for a Hot Extraction where the tincture is heated in a warm bath of water which speeds up the extraction process to 30-60 minutes. This extraction process can be dangerous though due to the flammable nature of high proof alcohol.
During the extraction process the tincture is often shaken to help the cannabinoids and the other chemical compounds continue to separate from the plant material. Some people add flavoring or other ingredients to the tincture after the extraction process is finished as well. The final product is potent liquid marijuana that will range in color from light green to light amber in color but will have amazing benefits for the medical and recreational user.
Cannabis tinctures are often overlooked or passed by, yet this form of consumption is definitely worth consideration. Tinctures were the main form of medical marijuana for centuries. It was the primary form of medical consumption in the US until cannabis prohibition in the 1930s and is once again an extremely popular form of marijuana consumption for both the medical and recreational consumer. Cannabis tinctures are made when alcohol is used to extract the cannabinoids, terpenes, and other cannabis compounds from the plant material. That alcohol becomes liquid marijuana which is extremely potent and highly effective. Many find it excellent medicine for treating a variety of medical issues.
Tinctures are best used sublingually, or under the tongue, where it is absorbed through the thin mucous membranes and directly enters the bloodstream. Because the THC and CBD reach the brain so fast, patients and users quickly experience the desired effects with only a few drops per dose. Tinctures have always been a popular form of medical and recreational marijuana, but are often underrated. As more patients learn about the benefits of cannabis tinctures, including its budget friendly price, the accurate and precise dosing, and the opportunity to produce tinctures at home, this amazing liquid marijuana may just gain the notoriety it deserves.