Reading time – 17 minutes
‘Tincture’ is not exactly a word we use in everyday conversation, is it? If you’ve never heard of it before, you’re not alone. So, what exactly is a tincture? According to the Merriam-Webster Dictionary, the term has two primary definitions. The first is the one we’ll be focussing on today: a herbal substance suspended in a solvent - most commonly alcohol or carrier oils. The second is also useful to know: a faint trace of something.
If you’re a newcomer to the world of hemp, the idea of using a ‘CBD tincture’ may seem a bit unfamiliar, and even intimidating. In this article, we’re here to remove every tincture (as in faint trace) of doubt, so that you can start enjoying the potential benefits of CBD extract in tincture form. Let’s begin by briefly reviewing the basics of CBD.
What is CBD?
Cannabidiol (or CBD for short) is a signature cannabis compound that manufacturers extract from the hemp subspecies of cannabis Sativa. When released from the crushed flowers and leaves of hemp plants, it emerges as an amber or golden oil known as CBD extract. Unlike its infamous chemical sister, THC (tetrahydrocannabinol), CBD has no known intoxicating effects, and most researchers refer to it as a relatively safe substance.
Next important question: is CBD legal? The short answer is: it depends where you live. UK authorities tolerate CBD, as long as it contains no more than 0.2% THC per product, and comes from licenced hemp crops. Similar rules apply throughout most of Europe and in many other countries, but it’s vital to double-check the regulations where you live before attempting to use CBD.
Informally referred to as the “calm compound”, CBD may potentially offer some possible wellness benefits. In the eyes of many users, it represents a natural opportunity to selectively incorporate hemp into your daily life. Some people anecdotally suggest that CBD might even have the potential to impact a diverse array of physical discomforts and wellbeing complaints.
The Potential Benefits of CBD Use
So far, preliminary evidence indicates that some possible CBD benefits may arise with routine use. As summarised by J. A Crippa and others in 2018, CBD consumption may potentially affect some symptoms of insomnia, anxiety, inflammation, pain, and more. With these possibilities in mind, it’s easy to understand why the wellness industry has experienced a sudden surge in demand for CBD in recent years. While hemp-inspired products come in all kinds of innovative shapes and sizes, one category remains a steady favourite: CBD oil.
What is CBD Oil (aka ‘Hemp Oil’)?
CBD oil is arguably the cornerstone of the cannabis-infused side of the wellness industry. It’s an expertly blended combination of base oils (such as hemp seed oil) and CBD extract. Developers often adjust the ratio to create different concentrations. You can take CBD oil as a food supplement by applying one or two drops ‘sublingually’ (under your tongue), and allowing roughly 60 seconds to pass before swallowing. For many people, CBD oil is a “go-to” option, due to its easy-to-use format and potentially straightforward absorption.
According to a recent study by Polaris Market Research, the international CBD oil market may potentially be on track to exceed the value of £17 billion by 2027. While it’s available as a stand-alone product, manufacturers often use CBD oil to develop a broader range of holistic, hemp-themed products.
Other Popular CBD Products
Hemp industry analysts suggest that there are over 700 CBD companies operating in the UK. A quick Google search with the key phrase ‘best CBD products’ currently yields over 153 million results. That’s enough to give you a headache, nevermind helping with symptoms of pain! However, there’s no need to go trawling through an infinite loop of un-vetted CBD listings. We’ve summarised some additional CBD product categories below:
CBD Vape Products
CBD vape oils are designed for seamless use with your vaping device. Inhaling CBD vapour may potentially be one of the quickest ways to notice any possible benefits of CBD. Whether you are a first-timer or a veteran, vaping might just be a refreshing way to combine cannabidiol with pleasant flavours and deep breathing. Why not consider building a luxury starter kit for the ultimate Amphora experience?
CBD Balms, Lotions, and Other Topicals
CBD-infused skincare products are increasingly popular, as the global cosmetics industry continues to innovate and diversify. By applying CBD topically, your body may potentially absorb the extract via your skin. While it may take up to 45 minutes for you to notice any possible self-perceived effects, CBD skincare may also be an excellent opportunity to explore the many benefits of massage, bathing, and physical contact with all-natural products.
As the name suggests, CBD edibles are botanically-infused foods and drinks that contain a pre-measured dose of CBD extract. They range from straightforward supplement capsules to grown-up treats like gourmet chocolate and handy CBD mints. Tinctures currently represent a less substantial proportion of the edible CBD marketplace, but they might just be one of the industry’s best-kept secrets. Before we demystify CBD tincture use, let’s lay some groundwork on tinctures in general.
What is a Tincture?
At its most traditional, a tincture is a concentrated solution containing plant extract. As you may know, alcohol is a fermented product that effectively inhibits the growth of bacteria with its antimicrobial properties. Consequently, tinctures can incorporate 30-60% edible-grade ethanol to preserve choice herbs or plant extracts. While modern developers experiment with high-performance techniques and advanced infusions, the basic principles of tinctures have endured throughout the ages.
Tinctures Through Time
The Britannicaencyclopedia suggests that civilisations first began to distil alcohol from as early as 800 BCE. These rudimentary distillation techniques often involved yeast and sugar - two widespread ingredients that still serve as staples in the alcohol industry. Ancient Egyptians, for example, were prolific developers of alcoholic substances and plant remedies for clinical and religious purposes. Soon after the initial emergence of rustic distilleries, herbalists all over the world began to add chemical spirits to their infusions. Tinctures quickly became indispensable as a means of turning perishable plant products into long-lasting extracts.
By the 16th century, Swiss alchemist Paracelsus developed Laudanum - a popular tincture made from air-dried poppies. During the Victorian era, tinctures of myrrh, saffron, and other aromatic plants were often sold as herbal supplements over-the-counter in Britain and the USA. In the 20th century, regulatory changes regarding the sale and consumption of alcohol and potentially intoxicating plant substances impacted the tincture market - as did the industrial shift away from herbal therapies and towards synthetic drugs. However, with natural wellness trends continually on the rise, tinctures are making a comeback. But how do they work?
How Do Tinctures Work?
Put simply; the classic tincture method involves submerging herbs in strong alcohol (or even vinegar). Over time, the liquid interacts with the plant cells and begins to chemically extract bioactive compounds (enzymes, cannabinoids, vitamins, etc) from the leaves, stems, flowers, and roots. This steeping process may potentially take up to four weeks or more, but the end goal is to discard the plant fibres - leaving behind a botanically-infused fluid.
The modern tincture methods often use plant-based oils, such as Medium-Chain Triglycerides (MCT) oil. MCT oil is generally safe for consumption, and ingesting MCT has potential benefits in and of itself, including possible appetite control, increasing energy, reducing inflammation and assisting in weight loss. CBD extracts are then combined with MCT oil as a carrier, to help “carry” the beneficial cannabinoids into your system, where they can be absorbed quickly to maximize health benefits.
Like pure CBD oil, tinctures are often consumed ‘sublingually’, allowing the membranes under your tongue to make contact with the plant extract. This method might potentially enable absorption without damaging the chemical integrity of the solution. While some people add tinctures to food and hot drinks, this may delay absorption, and degrade some of the plant molecules.
Practical Benefits of Tinctures
According to herbal medicine researchers Wynn and Fougere, tinctures represent a timeless, effective, and relatively convenient approach to preserving plants. The specific botanical profile of tincture fluids will vary depending on the herbs, vitamins, terpenes and carrier oils that manufacturers use. If you’re curious about the practical benefits of tinctures, we can summarise them as follows:
- Tinctures are long lasting (if you store them correctly).
- They are often available at different price points for different concentrations (offering dosing variety specific to consumer needs).
- They may possibly offer some impressive preserving properties.
- Tinctures have a nostalgic, apothecary-style appeal.
Now that we’ve taken a brief journey through time to appreciate the significance of tinctures, let’s turn our attention to CBD. By reading this section, you’ll also learn how to make a tincture at the most basic level.
What is a CBD Tincture?
CBD tinctures are a highly innovative take on a long-standing preservation technique. In line with what we’ve learned so far, the manufacturing process will sometimes involve submerging hemp flowers and leaves in an alcohol-based solution. According to the cannabis division ofHealth Europa,CBD molecules are suspended in preserving agents, which delay oxidation and potentially offer a unique user experience. It’s useful to note that ‘cannabis tinctures’ apply this technique using high-THC strains of cannabis in order to create a potentially intoxicating solution.
Alternately many brands, including Infused Amphora, combine CBD Isolate with natural terpenes and MCT oil. CBD isolate is CBD extract at its purest and does not contain any THC whatsoever, so there is no worry of becoming intoxicated from its use. By adding natural plant terpenes, Amphora is able to provide CBD tincture as a non-intoxicating alternative that closely resembles the entourage effect. Amphora has selected MCT oil as the carrier because Medium Chain Triglycerides are easy for most peoples’ body to digest and process, making it a simple solution for all-natural health and wellness products.
How are CBD Tinctures Made?
There are two different methods in which tinctures are made:
Method one (plant extract in alcohol):
As detailed in a 2016 quality-control study, developers make CBD alcohol tincture by adding regulation-compliant hemp plants to a solution of 70% ethanol (or isopropyl) and purified water. Once assembled correctly in an airtight unit, this botanical mixture is then left to soak in a controlled environment, where it is shielded from direct sunlight. On some occasions, manufacturers add a moderate amount of heat in order to influence chemical activity throughout the immersion process. Over time, the ethanol extracts the hemp compounds with minimal damage, and the solution becomes infused with terpenes (aromatic plant molecules), flavonoids, and cannabinoids, such as CBD. After the desired period has passed, specialists prepare the tincture solution for use. Firstly, they strain the fluid to remove any fibrous plant residue. Next, the tincture is usually pasteurised and refined to fine-tune its chemistry.
Method two (CBD oil hybrid):
With the second method, developers make CBD oil tincture by combining CBD isolate, which is completely THC free, with terpenes for a more refined approach. This method offers an option for those who want to try CBD without accidently ingesting any THC. With this method CBD is extracted from the hemp plant, followed by refinement to strip away all the other unwanted phytocannabinoids, including THC, leaving behind nothing but the purest CBD compound. Finally, manufacturers might add some additional substances, such as essential oils and micronutrients, for a potentially broader botanical profile. In many cases, brands also choose to add a carrier oil that in many cases have benefits of their own to “carry” the tincture into your body and help with processing and absorption.
How to Make CBD Tincture
At their own discretion, some people experiment with making CBD tinctures at home on a do-it-yourself basis. As you can imagine, emerging products lack the safety, precision, and quality assurance that premium brands can provide. However, if you reduce the tincture down to its most basic definition, it is possible to make your own version.
While this may seem to be an exciting and potentially educational activity to try, we highly recommend that you purchase your CBD products from a top-rated brand instead. By setting high standards, you can enjoy CBD at your convenience and make confident choices with the aid of essential lab reports, such as COAs (Certificates of Analysis).
CBD Alcohol Tincture vs CBD Oil Tincture
You may have noticed that CBD tinctures and oils often come in similar packaging - small glass bottles with pipettes that allow CBD drops to be dispensed under the tongue with ease. At a glance, it may be even challenging to tell them apart. However, their contents are very different. Let’s take a minute to review some of the fundamental contrasts between these two products:
CBD Extraction Method
In the case of CBD alcohol tincture, hemp compounds are naturally extracted using fluid (most commonly alcohol, or an alcohol-water solution). When manufacturers make CBD oil tincture, they supplement carrier oils with CBD compounds obtained via supercritical CO2 extraction. Carbon dioxide is used in this process to phase CBD particles between gaseous and liquid states.
Due to its high-grade alcohol content, CBD tinctures tend to have a lighter and more aqueous texture. On the other hand, CBD oil is (not surprisingly) oily. This observation means that tincture alcohol solutions might potentially be at risk of evaporating if stored incorrectly. We’ll revisit this point shortly.
Potential Potency (‘Strength’)
CBD alcohol tincture may contain fewer CBD compounds per unit than products such as CBD oil tincture. There are several possible reasons why this might be the case. For example, manufacturers tend to supplement tincture solutions with additional ingredients- making room for a diverse array of substances rather than CBD extract alone. Another possible explanation is that CBD alcohol tincture is an extraction process in itself, while CBD oil tincture represents the pre-measured assembly of oil and extract.
Now that we’ve clarified what CBD alcohol tincture is vs CBD oil tincture, let’s dive deeper by reviewing the top seven things you need to know about this method of CBD consumption.
7 Things You Need to Know About Using CBD Tinctures
1. There is No One-Size-Fits-All Solution to CBD Dosing
First and foremost, it’s vital to acknowledge that CBD dosing is rarely as straightforward as “take two drops every morning and evening”. Factors such as your age, body size, and unique lifestyle goals may influence the amount of CBD you wish to take (along with the frequency of consumption). As a general rule of thumb, it’s best to apply a ‘slow and steady’ approach - allowing yourself ample time to reflect on how you feel and observe any potential effects. If you suffer from an underlying medical condition, it’s imperative that you speak with your doctor before incorporating CBD (or any other new supplements) into your diet. For more information on this theme, you’ll love our exclusive Amphoraarticle: The Complexities of CBD Dosage.
2. You Can Add CBD Tincture Drops To Food and Drink
Due to its easily ingestible nature and light texture, CBD tinctures may be an excellent kitchen companion. Alongside adding it to breakfast smoothies and salad bowls, you may even wish to use it as a potentially calming supplement to perk up hot drinks, such as coffee and tea. Most likely, you’ll need to allow some extra time for any potential absorption to take place after drinking or eating CBD infused foods - perhaps up to 45 minutes.
Some people choose to cook with CBD tinctures and infusions, but what does the science say?
Numerous studies - including a 2016 reviewconcerning decarboxylation - indicate that temperatures exceeding 110 degrees celsius might potentially impact the chemistry of CBD molecules by destabilising their carbon atoms. Similarly, some of the terpenes and other natural plant substances that may be present in your CBD tincture may also be impacted by excessive heat. Consequently, it’s best to exercise some caution before cooking with CBD tinctures. To avoid tampering with potentially helpful substances, it may be best to stick with cold foods or the ‘sublingual’ (under the tongue) method we discussed earlier.
3. Some Developers Make “Alcohol-Free” CBD Tincture
There are many different reasons that motivate people to seek out alcohol-free alternatives of popular wellness products. Some of us struggle with the taste of alcohol, while others might even suffer from an intolerance or allergy. While many CBD tincture solutions are made using alcohol variants, such as ethanol, some manufacturers make “alcohol-free” solutions using plant-derived substances (such as glycerol) or MCT oil.
As you may know, vegetable glycerol (aka ‘glycerin’) is often obtained from soybeans, and serves a wide variety of functions in the modern food industry. It’s a popular additive with a sweet taste, and may potentially offer some properties that inhibit bacterial growth.
If you’re considering a glycerin-based CBD tincture, you should keep in mind that it may:
- Cause your mouth to feel slightly warm after consumption (which is normal, don’t worry)
- Have a briefer shelf-life than alcohol CBD tinctures
Infused Amphora uses only 100% all-natural CBD isolate and Medium Chain Triglycerides (MCT) oil in our tinctures. This is to ensure you never get the intoxicating effects of THC and provides an easily digestible carrier to help your system effortlessly absorb the cannabidiol. Amphora’s tinctures come in different concentrations and with either flavoring, so your supplement is more enjoyable or terpenes to support any additional entourage effects.
4. CBD Tincture is a Low-Calorie Way to Consume CBD
Alongside vaping, CBD tinctures present a low-calorie way to consume CBD. The world of hemp-derived edibles is expanding rapidly, but CBD-infused mints, brownies, cakes, and sugary beverages aren’t necessarily comforting from a nutritional perspective. They may be a delicious treat to indulge in from time to time, but if you’re hoping to use CBD as a daily supplement, it may be best to choose something less calorically rich. Here, concentrated CBD tinctures and oils may potentially be the lightest options.
While most of the calories in CBD oil tinctures understandably come from fat, it’s vital to bear in mind that you’ll only be consuming small amounts of it on a daily basis.
5. You Should Store Your CBD Tincture in a Cool, Dark Place
Do you know why CBD products often come in tinted glass bottles? Like many other botanical substances (such as vitamin C), CBD molecules may degrade and oxidise at an accelerated rate when exposed to direct sunlight. Likewise, warm temperatures may also serve to disrupt the chemistry of your CBD tincture over time. To get your money’s worth and safeguard your product’s botanical potential, it’s best to store your bottle in a cool, dark place - such as the fridge.
6. You Get What You Pay For
This observation applies not only to CBD tinctures, but to cannabis-derived wellness products in general. In response to soaring public demands for CBD, some scammers and disreputable retailers have attempted to jump on the bandwagon - producing suspect ‘CBD’ products at the expense of safety and integrity. A recent investigation into the UK’s CBD market suggested that up to 40% of the most widely-available products may have poor chemistry, and possibly even some toxic contaminants. As a result, it’s always best to choose a premium brand with Certificates of Analysis provided and avoid CBD tinctures marketed for their ‘cheapness’.
CBD Tincture: The Big Picture
Throughout this article, we’ve learned that the tincture method of preserving plant extracts in alcohol solution may stretch as far back as 800 BCE. We’ve also taken a closer look at the CBD oil tincture method in which exact plant extracts are mixed with other plant essential oils for a more refined and targeted approach. Given the purported benefits of CBD for some symptoms of anxiety, inflammation, pain signals, and more, many people enjoy a varied approach to consuming it.
Instead of bottling up your stress and tension, why not consider using CBD tincture drops? As we’ve explored, CBD infused tinctures are extremely versatile and can potentially accommodate a vast range of different tastes and preferences. Consequently, they may well represent the perfect opportunity to add something new to your CBD wellness routine!
Written by | Infused Amphora Team
The Infused Amphora Team is dedicated to creating resources to educate and engage consumers on the growing evidence of CBD benefits and the extensive health and wellness properties of CBD Oil.
Contributor | Angus Taylor CEO
Infused Amphora “Learn” is intended for informational purposes only and is NOT a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment.