Tincture Bottle

How To Use Cannabis Tinctures Sublingually

  • Cannabis tinctures are rapidly becoming a popular item in the medical marijuana industry.
  • Cannabis tinctures deliver an accurate dosage of cannabinoids such as THC, CBD, CBG, and others.
  • Cannabis tinctures facilitate the sublingual absorption of cannabinoids for systemic relief.
  • Tinctures are one of the safest medical marijuana delivery methods.

Cannabis tinctures are the topic of today’s post. We’ll cover the different types of tinctures that are available, their benefits, and how they are applied. 

Smoking marijuana and vaping cannabis-infused oils are currently the most common ways consumers ingest marijuana. However, smoking and vaping can be hazardous to lung health, as well as inconvenient and indiscreet, making these delivery methods a non-option for many medical marijuana patients. Tinctures are oftentimes a better choice.

Because manufacturers often use an alcohol solvent to extract cannabinoids and the final product comes in an alcohol base, tinctures have been called the “moonshine of marijuana.” 

Interestingly, prior to 1937 when hemp and marijuana were banned in the U.S., tinctures were the most widely used of all forms of cannabis medicine. Before the turn of the 20th century, cannabis tinctures were regularly used in the British Royal Court. In fact, Queen Victoria was prescribed a cannabis tincture for menstrual cramps. The Queen’s physician extolled the virtues of this concoction and stated “When pure and administered carefully, [cannabis] is one of the most valuable medicines we possess.”

Let’s take a look at what tinctures are, how they work, and the different types available.

What are cannabis tinctures?

Cannabis tinctures are liquids infused with concentrated cannabis extracts or purified cannabinoid isolates such as THC or CBD. Tinctures generally come in glass dropper bottles for precise dosing. The drops are administered sublingually (under the tongue). 

Most tinctures are alcohol-based to maximize absorption into the bloodstream. However, oil-based formulas are also sometimes referred to as tinctures. Oil-based tinctures actually work better when taken orally with food than sublingually. This is because blood is water-based and, unlike oils, alcohol mixes easily with water.

To make cannabis tinctures, resins high in cannabinoids such as THC and CBD are first extracted from cannabis buds using solvents. The extracts are then filtered and distilled to produce cannabis concentrates. These concentrates can be further refined to produce purified cannabinoids such as THC and CBD isolate. Any of these products can be used to formulate a tincture. 

Many variations of tinctures are available. Some contain CBD and can be purchased over the counter, while those containing THC can only be purchased at marijuana dispensaries

CBD tinctures incorporate a highly effective cannabinoid with no intoxicating effects. Moreover, hemp-derived CBD doesn’t face any of the legal obstacles meant to regulate THC-infused products. Patients can buy CBD tinctures online without a medical marijuana card

That being said, most conditions respond better to formulas containing a balance of cannabinoids. 


How cannabis tinctures work

Tinctures are an easy, non-invasive way to experience the healing properties of cannabis. Using the dropper applicator, a specific number of drops containing the desired dosage are placed under the tongue and held for a time before swallowing.  The cannabinoids in the tincture are absorbed into the bloodstream via sublingual capillaries. 

Tincture drops can also be added to food or beverages prior to consumption, or simply swallowed. However, this makes for a slower onset time. 

Several varieties of tinctures are available, all offering an array of effects and benefits.

Cannabis tinctures made with concentrated extracts are referred to as full-spectrum tinctures. Those produced using purified cannabinoids with added ingredients such as terpenes are referred to as broad-spectrum tinctures

Full-spectrum cannabis tinctures

Full-spectrum cannabis tinctures contain multiple active compounds from the cannabis plant including cannabinoids and aromatic oils known as terpenes. Full-spectrum tinctures offer synergistic benefits derived from the combination of cannabinoids and terpenes. This combined effect is often referred to as the entourage effect. However, tinctures made from different strains can vary greatly as they contain different levels of cannabinoids and oftentimes a different set of terpenes. 

Broad-spectrum cannabis tinctures

Broad-spectrum cannabis tinctures are created by combining cannabinoids with specific terpenes (or other active ingredients) that are effective at treating different symptoms. For example, a tincture can be made with CBD and relaxing terpenes to help with sleep or reduce anxiety or they can be made with THC and energizing terpenes to help improve mood.

Cannabinoids isolate tinctures

Cannabinoids isolate tinctures are made with purified cannabinoids such as THC or CBD and are devoid of other active compounds such as terpenes. These products are ideal for patients who might have sensitivities to certain terpenes. 

Benefits of cannabis tinctures

Cannabis tinctures have several benefits over other medical marijuana delivery methods. Tinctures are generally safer than smoking and offer more accurate dosing.

Here is a list of the benefits offered by tinctures:

  • Unlike edible cannabis products which must traverse the digestive system, when used sublingually, tinctures are much slower to metabolize, making them far more effective.
  • Fewer Calories: Instead of eating high-calory edibles such as brownies, tinctures can be added to healthier foods for the same effect.
  • Tinctures are discreet. They have no discernable aroma and look just like other liquid medications in a dropper bottle.
  • Tinctures offer fast relief. When drops are taken under the tongue they take effect relatively quickly compared to edibles. Moreover, the effects are long-lasting.
  • Tincture droppers offer accurate dosing whereas methods such as smoking offer far less control over dosage.
  • Tinctures are simple to use in comparison to smoking cannabis flower or vaping.
  • Tinctures offer precise formulations of cannabinoids and terpenes for targeted relief. 
  • Tinctures are ideal for microdosing. When used in small amounts (under 5 milligrams), tinctures containing THC allow patients to receive some of the benefits of THC without the high.
  • Tinctures offer whole-body, systemic relief.
  • Tinctures can be administered over the course of several hours for constant symptom relief.
  • Tinctures offer high bioavailability. When marijuana is eaten or smoked, up to 70 percent of the medical benefits may be lost. Using tinctures allows almost the entire cannabinoid content to enter the bloodstream. 

To summarize, smoking and vaping marijuana are popular and extremely effective ways of providing relief from an array of medical issues. However, these methods are not particularly healthy. They can elevate blood pressure and cause issues such as chronic bronchitis. 

Tinctures, on the other hand, offer a far safer option that is easy to use, discreet, and gives patients much greater control over dosage. 

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