Cannabis Basics

How to Use Cannabis Tinctures Properly

Written by Healer Staff Writer

Cannabis tinctures offer a host of benefits. These products make it possible to consume cannabis and reap the plant’s potent benefits without inhalation and in a more controlled, discreet way. However, in order to get the most from your experience, it is imperative to learn how to use cannabis tinctures properly.

How to Use a THC or CBD Tincture

When learning how to use a cannabis-infused tincture properly, a good first step is to consider how many milligrams of cannabinoids are in each drop or milliliter of tincture, that way you can take the right amount. The best products will offer easy-to-understand guidelines on the label that explain the dosage in clear terms. 

For example, Healer Night Drops, which have a 6:1 ratio of THC to THCA (tetrahydrocannabinol acid), contain 1mg of cannabinoids per drop or 50mg of cannabinoids per milliliter. Within that 50mg is 43mg THC and 7mg THCA. If you wanted to consume 5 or 10 milligrams of cannabinoids, you can just count out 5 or 10 drops.

If a tincture is not working for you, this could mean you need to try taking more or switching to a more potent formula.

How to Consume Cannabis Tinctures

Once you feel comfortable determining how many cannabinoids are in a drop or milliliter of liquid, take some time to get familiar with the different ways to consume your dose. You should take the tincture sublingually (under the tongue) and hold it for 1-5 minutes in your mouth before swallowing.

For sublingual dosing (recommended), lift your tongue and place the liquid underneath using the included dropper or a syringe. Looking in a mirror can help you count the drops. Once the tincture  is in your mouth, it’s okay if it gradually spreads around the inside of the mouth and towards the back of the tongue, making more contact with the oral mucosa. This allows the cannabinoids to enter the bloodstream rapidly, producing an onset of benefits in as little as 15 minutes or less. Alternatively, you can add your dose to a spoon and then place the oil in your mouth.

Find your optimal amount

People vary widely in their sensitivity and response to cannabis and hemp products. The best way to find your ideal amount is to start low and gradually increase while paying attention to how you feel. Tinctures (drops) are ideal for finding your optimal amount because it’s easy to adjust the amount in small increments. Healer co-founder, Dr. Dustin Sulak recommends the following process for finding the amount that’s right for you:

  • Begin with 1-5 mg total cannabinoids. 
    • 1 mg of THC tinctures
    • 5 mg of THCA, CBD, CBDA, CBG tinctures 
  • Check in with your body and your mind before and 2 hours after taking your product to help you determine how you’re responding to a particular amount.
    Dr. Sulak calls this, “Checking Your Inner Inventory” and explains how to do this in the Usage Guide that accompanies Healer products.
  • Continue taking this amount 1-2 times daily for 2-3 days before increasing.
  • If you are not satisfied with the effects of 1-5 mg, increase your amount by 1-5 mg  for 2-3 days.
  • Continue to increase your amount by 1-5 mg every 2-3 days until you achieve satisfactory results or adverse effects. If you experience adverse effects, reduce the amount you’re taking.
  • Most people do well with 1-25 mg per administration.
  • Once you reach an amount that produces satisfactory effects, you can experiment with increasing the frequency from 1-2 times daily to 2-3 times daily, especially if you notice the effects wear off before the next administration.

How to Consume Tinctures in Other Ways

If you have a difficult time taking a cannabis tincture sublingually or orally, rest assured that there are other ways to consume THC, THCA, CBD, CBDA, and CBG tinctures. Many people find that adding the tincture to food or a beverage works well. Keep in mind that you may need to increase your dosage because some cannabinoids will be lost in the digestive process.  It’s best to add a tincture to a healthy food, especially one with healthy fat, for best absorption. 

Tinctures can also be applied topically for skin conditions or local musculoskeletal symptoms. Tinctures can be used alone or also added to your favorite skincare products.  

Tinctures Vs Drops: What’s The Difference?

Botanical tinctures, traditionally speaking, have been alcohol-based extracts of medicine herbs. However, in the cannabis world, the term “tincture” has been liberally applied to all liquid preparations, and a cannabis tincture may not contain alcohol at all. You may find tinctures made with alcohol, glycerin, or something like medium-chain triglyceride oil (MCT oil).

For example, at Healer, we refer to our products as drops because they are a formula of cannabinoids suspended in organic MCT oil.  Many companies do call their oil-based cannabis products tinctures or simply cannabis oils, so it is important to read the label and know the ingredients of the particular product you decide to use.

Sourcing The Best Tinctures

We know there is a plethora of different tincture products out there, and combing through all of the different descriptions and brand names can be a daunting task. Don’t worry – we’re here to assist. In general, look at cannabis tinctures that contain more than just the two best known cannabinoids, THC (tetrahydrocannabinol) or CBD (cannabidiol). These are known as “wide-spectrum” tinctures and should contain more minor cannabinoids, terpenes, flavonoids and other phytonutrients. 

While both THC and CBD offer their own unique benefits, there are many other compounds found in the cannabis plant that contribute to the effects of a tincture. These compounds include but are not limited to acidic cannabinoids (THCA, CBDA, CBGA), terpenes, flavonoids, and minor cannabinoids like CBG, CBC, and THCV. The idea that cannabis’ variety of compounds offer more profound therapeutic effects when consumed together is referred to as the entourage effect, or more accurately, phytoconstituent synergy. Therefore, look at both acidic and regular cannabinoids, terpenes, as well as minor cannabinoids that are present in the tincture before making your final purchase decision.

Make Sure Products Are Adequately Tested

High-quality tinctures are thoroughly tested by a third-party laboratory that provides a Certificate of Analysis (COA). This report is needed to ensure the accuracy of the product’s potency, which cannabinoids and terpenes are present, and whether contaminants are present. Contaminants, such as pesticides, heavy metals and residual solvents, are something to watch out for, as many products are not tested for these unhealthy compounds. Make sure the tincture you purchase has a batch ID that correlates to third-party laboratory test results published by the manufacturer. 

How should one store their tinctures?

THC and CBD tinctures should be stored in a cool, dark place.  If the tincture contains THCA and other acidic cannabinoids, then it is recommended to store the tincture in the refrigerator to keep these acidic cannabinoids from converting (decarboxylating) to neutral cannabinoids. For example, THCA converts to THC slowly at room temperature.  Refrigeration ensures therapeutic properties of acidic cannabinoids are maintained, though short periods of time at room temperature do not cause significant changes.

Consider Personal Reasons for Use and Pick Accordingly

What do you wish to achieve with a THC or CBD tincture? This is the primary question that should lead you to the best product. Various ratios can yield different effects and benefits. For example, Healer Drops and Healer CBD, CBDA and CBG contain different ratios of acidic and minor cannabinoids, such as:

  • Night – 6:1 THC: THCA
  • Day – 4:1 THC: THCA
  • Pain – 1:1 THC: THCA
  • Balance – 1:1:1:1 THC:THCA:CBD:CBDA
  • Relief – 1:4 THC+THCA:CBD+CBDA
  • THCA
  • CBDA
  • CBD – 6:1 CBD:CBDA
  • CBG – 6:1 CBG: CBGA

Different combinations yield unique effects. For example, if you are taking a cannabis tincture for sleep, you may need more THC, which is why Healer Night Drops have a higher THC content. Likewise, if you want to feel clear-minded and unimpaired to manage chronic symptoms, you may opt for something like Relief, which has four times as much CBD as THC. Or, you could go with whole-plant hemp CBD with very little THC at all. It all depends on your goals.

Get Further Guidance on How to Use Cannabis Tinctures

In our programs at Healer, we further outline how to use cannabis tinctures safely and effectively, how to find the proper dose, and how to take an inventory and record effects for the optimal outcome. Check out our Introduction to Cannabis and Switching from Inhalation to Tincture programs for further guidance. All Healer medical cannabis products come with Dr. Sulak’s Dosage Guide and Response Tracker; Healer whole plant hemp products come with his Usage Guide and Response Tracker.

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