Your Ultimate CBD Tincture Guide: What You Need to Know

cbd tincture

CBD tincture is a highly potent herbal extract that is produced by steeping high-CBD hemp flowers in a solvent mixture of water and alcohol.

Some producers use vinegar, glycerin, and plant-based oils as the solvent, but alcohol is preferred because it soaks up the most cannabidiol.

The concentrated extract is traditionally blended with carrier oils, such as peppermint oil, vanilla oil, avocado oil, hemp seed oil, olive oil, coconut oil, or grapeseed oil.

The carrier oil serves a dual purpose: it improves CBD bioavailability and enhances the flavor of the tincture.

CBD tinctures have become incredibly popular in the last two years or so because they are very potent.

They are so concentrated that only 30ml of the tincture can deliver a whopping 4,000 mg of CBD, which is why they are sold in miniature bottles with a dropper for dosage.

Given that the CBD industry is on track to become a $2.2 billion sector by 2025, consumers can expect a huge variety of CBD tinctures to continue hitting the market.

For this reason, it is important to understand many factors related to CBD tinctures, including their amazing medical and therapeutic benefits.

To learn more, keep reading this guide to learn everything you need to know about CBD tinctures.

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Herein, we shall cover:

  • What is CBD?
  • Is CBD tincture the same as CBD oil?
  • Is CBD tincture legal?
  • How are CBD tinctures made?
  • How to use CBD tinctures
  • CBD tincture side effects

What is CBD?

CBD Tincture

Unless you have been away from the rest of civilization for a while, then you must have heard about CBD by now.

It has made big headlines, and you might have seen it as part of a regular cocktail, workout smoothie, e-cig vape or even your morning cup of joe … it’s everywhere!

But what exactly is it? Why is CBD suddenly on everyone’s lips?

CBD, which stands for cannabidiol is a cannabis-derived chemical compound extracted from either industrial hemp or its close relative the marijuana plant.

The cannabis plant has hundreds of active compounds called cannabinoids, of which CBD is only second to tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) in prevalence.

Industrial hemp (or hemp plant) is primarily grown for its fibrous stalks that have many applications in the textile industry, as well as hemp seed oil which is used for cooking and as a skincare remedy, antibacterial and pain reliever.

Cannabidiol is often a by-product of this process, which is why it is sometimes called hemp-derived CBD.

Although THC and CBD are usually derived from the cannabis plant, they are not one and the same. Unlike THC, which is known for its characteristic “high,” CBD has no psychoactive properties.

That means CBD doesn’t mess with your brain chemistry or give you the sensation of high that is the trademark of smoking and ingesting marijuana. In fact, some researchers have found that CBD can actually help reverse or counteract the psychoactive effects of THC.

CBD is usually extracted and sold as oil of varying concentrations and potencies. However, it can also be infused into vaping cartridges, added to herbal medicine, packed in capsules/tablets, churned into gummies, or baked into cookies, cupcakes, and other edibles.

CBD tinctures are specially produced to have the highest potency and concentration of cannabidiol. It also turns out these tinctures have the best bioavailability, which refers to the measure of cannabidiol that is readily available to be absorbed into the body.

All CBD products can be placed into 2 broad categories: (1) isolates and (2) full spectrum.

Full-spectrum cannabidiol products comprise all the terpenes, cannabinoids and other oils that are extracted alongside CBD. As such, it may contain a certain amount of tetrahydrocannabinol (THC).

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In the eyes of federal law, full-spectrum CBD products must consist of less than 0.3 percent THC to be considered legal. This is a trace amount, which means it won’t actually get you high.

Note, however, that 0.3 percent THC is enough to be detected in a drug screening test. If this is something that will cause you sleepless nights, you might want to turn to CBD isolates.

Isolates have only CBD in them, so you will find no terpenes or other cannabinoids like THC. They are so named because CBD is isolated from the raw extract, getting rid of other cannabinoids.

Why is CBD all the rage?

CBD Tincture

Despite gaining immense traction in the last few years, CBD has been available for a while. Most recently, it has been touted for an array of common ailments and health complications.

Perhaps the most talked-about benefit is its effectiveness in managing and treating some of the most debilitating childhood epilepsies.

In mid-2018, FDA cleared Epidiolex (a CBD-based drug) for treatment of seizures associated with Dravet and Lennox-Gastaut syndromes in children older than 2.

More commonly, CBD products are used to ease pain, stress, and anxiety. Due to these anxiolytic and antidepressant properties, cannabidiol has shown potential in treating certain chronic ailments, as well as cognitive disorders such as Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s disease and dementia.

According to animal studies and early research, CBD can also help curb hyperactivity and improve attention for people with Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD). Further research on CBD and ADHD is still needed, though.

CBD is also known to encourage the brain to produce more feel-good hormones such as serotonin, dopamine, and melatonin. In turn, these biochemical agents influence the endocannabinoid system (ECS), creating a sense of well-being, relaxation, and calm.

Melatonin, in particular, has been known to play a key role in sleep health. It not only helps you fall asleep sooner but also stay asleep longer, so you can get plenty of rest and wake up reinvigorated and energized.

As if that isn’t remarkable enough, CBD can also spice up your sex life. As an aphrodisiac, it can help boost your sex drive, keep stress at bay, reduce postmenopausal symptoms, and treat erectile dysfunction. This makes CBD a game-changer when it comes to sexual health and well-being.

In all, there are hundreds of science-backed health benefits of CBD. This begs the next question:

Is CBD safe?

CBD Tincture

CBD has been found to be generally safe, depending on additives. Pure cannabidiol is safe for human consumption and has very few side effects (we’ll touch on this later).

In fact, according to the World Health Organization, there is no evidence whatsoever of health-related issues linked to the use of any dose of CBD.

You are probably wondering how long it takes CBD to work. You can expect to feel the effects of CBD soon after taking the product or much later, depending on several different factors, including the dosage and potency of the product, its quality, your weight, and the method of consumption.

The higher the bioavailability of CBD in the product, the sooner you will feel and reap the benefits of cannabidiol.

The best news? CBD is not intoxicating in any way, so there is no chance of overdosing.

With the recent signing of the Agriculture Improvement Act of 2018 (aka the Farm Bill) into law by President Trump, CBD is technically legal in all states.

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Is CBD tincture the same as CBD oil?

CBD Tincture

As mentioned, CBD is sold in several different forms to match the lifestyles, preferences, and needs of diverse users. Just shop around; you’ll find CBD available as oils, edibles, vapes, topicals, tinctures, capsules, salves, and cosmetic products.

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CBD oils and CBD tinctures are the most prominent products on the market.

Even though the two terms are often used interchangeably, CBD oil and CBD tincture are not one and the same thing. Key differences exist in their final form and extraction process.

To make CBD oils, cannabis plant extracts are diluted in a carrier oil, meaning it contains CBD in an oil base. The carrier oil helps elevate bioavailability and enrich the product.

Purified coconut oil is the go-to carrier solvent for CBD oil producers, however, other plant-based oils can be incorporated, including olive oil, grape seed oil, hemp seed oil, and even flaxseed oil

On the other hand, cannabis or hemp extracts are soaked in an alcohol and water base to create CBD tinctures. The alcohol of choice is usually distilled-grain ethyl alcohol or isopropyl alcohol.

Using an alcohol base for CBD tinctures offers a two-pronged advantage: it makes the product more readily absorbable by the body, and it also acts as a preservative, extending the shelf life of the product.

Base solution isn’t the only difference, though.

CBD tinctures typically include additives such as essential oils, flavoring agents and herbal extracts for better taste and added health benefits. The most popular essential oils are: vanilla, peppermint, rosemary, strawberry, and lavender.

CBD tinctures are usually more potent than CBD oils. That is why they are great for making CBD cocktails, beverages and edibles. Moreover, it is not uncommon for some users to add a few drops of the tincture in their tea, coffee or favorite drink. If you desire to bake or concoct your favorite beverage with CBD tincture, be sure to choose a water-soluble product.

Because they are based on an oil solvent, CBD oils are best used directly.

In theory, both CBD tinctures and CBD oils can be applied topically on the skin. However, due to the additional ingredients (e.g., flavorings) in CBD tinctures, they are not recommended because they can irritate the skin.

CBD oils and topicals are preferred for application to the skin. Just apply generously on the spot you want to target. Topical use has been found to help with skin problems like acne, itchiness, inflammation, pain, irritation, and so much more.

Remember, CBD in and of itself is packed with anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties, so it’s wonderful for skincare and health.

Of course, CBD oils and tinctures do share some few features. First off, they both contain cannabidiol and deliver similar healing and therapeutic benefits.

Both come in small to medium size tinted glass bottles.  Tinted bottles extend the shelf life of the contents, plus they block UV light, keeping CBD products fresh.

Every bottle comes with a dropper. This helps you get the dosing right and makes the consumption of cannabidiol hassle-free.

Both CBD oils and CBD tinctures are usually taken orally, preferably using the sublingual technique. That means you put a few drops of the oil or tincture under your tongue, wait around 10 seconds, and then proceed to swallow.

Typically, both tinctures and oils contain a higher concentration of CBD than other products like salves, edibles, topicals or even vapes. The prevalence of CBD in tinctures usually falls between 10 and 30 percent but it can be higher, depending on the extraction process.

Is CBD Tincture Legal?

CBD Tincture

Since it’s made from cannabis, the same plant associated with marijuana, the legality of CBD products may be confusing to many.

However, following the passage of Farm Bill 2018, which essentially declassified hemp as a controlled substance, it is now legal to farm, process, sell and market hemp products.

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That means CBD tincture is legal in all 50 US states.

In the eyes of the law, however, THC in hemp shouldn’t exceed 0.3 percent. If a CBD tincture has more than 0.3 percent THC, then it is classified as a Class I drug and is therefore federally illegal.

Thankfully, most CBD tinctures are extracted from the hemp plant which has plenty of cannabidiol and a very low concentration of THC.

CBD tinctures derived from cannabis plants with high THC content are legal in states where marijuana has been legalized for medicinal or recreational use.

Some states have signed off on explicit bills that authorize the retail sale and use of CBD tinctures and other cannabidiol products. Just recently, Texas passed House Bill 1325 which was heavily backed by the faction of Rep. Stephanie Klick.

Texas was following in the footsteps of other CBD-friendly states that have passed such laws, including Illinois, Georgia, Wisconsin, Vermont, Utah, Tennessee, South Carolina, Rhode Island, Oregon, North Carolina, New York, Missouri, Maryland, Kentucky, Oklahoma, Indiana, Colorado, and Alaska.

It is worth giving attention to the fact that law enforcement actions and comments by some state officials have raised concerned about the legality of CBD in some jurisdictions. For instance, harassment and even arrests have been made in some parts of Florida, Arizona, and Alabama.

Other states in which you should buy or consume CBD tinctures with caution include: Wyoming, West Virginia, South Dakota, Ohio, Nevada, Michigan, and California.

The bottom line is that hemp-extracted CBD tinctures are legal on the federal level. Note, however, that hemp is defined by the DEA as a cannabis plant that contains no more than 0.3 percent THC concentration — otherwise, it’s a “marijuana” cannabis plant.

When all’s said and done, the legality of CBD tincture depends on where it came from, and where you live.

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How are CBD Tinctures Made?

cbd tincture

The quality, potency and potential benefits of CBD tinctures rest upon how they are made and used. So, how exactly is CBD tincture produced?

There are at least two ways CBD tinctures are made: the DIY vs. commercial methods.

Homemade CBD Tinctures

If you’ve got a knack for DIY projects, you will be glad to know that it is easier to make CBD tinctures at home than most people think. This method borrows a big leaf from how traditional herbal tinctures are made.

There are plenty of recipes for CBD tinctures online. All you have to do is find one that suits your needs and preferences.

No matter your recipe, the first step is typically making DIY cannabis extract. You can go for gold dragon extracts that involve decarboxylation or heating the plant materials for high CBD content.

Alternatively, you can use a green dragon extract, which uses untreated/unheated cannabis materials.

The second step is to soak the extract in an alcohol base. More often than not, you would use high-proof, high-concentration alcohols like 151-proof rum or Everclear. The alcohol will help separate CBD and other cannabinoids from plant matter.

The waste and non-dissolved matter will be removed by straining or steeping.

To improve taste and quality, you can add essential oils, flavoring agents, etc.

Commercial CBD Tinctures

cbd tincture

There are two commercial techniques used to make CBD tinctures: alcohol extraction and CO2 extraction methods.

(a) Alcohol Extraction Method

Also called ethanol extraction method, this technique uses the power of alcohol to separate cannabinoids from the plant extract.

This occurs in a series of steps that may vary from one processor to another:

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Step #1: Initial Mixing

Cannabis or hemp plant materials are mixed with ethanol, isopropyl or any other human-safe alcohol in large containers or tanks. The mixture may or may not be heated for a more potent tincture.

Step #2: Separation

After the extraction is complete, the remaining plant material is strained out.

Step #3: Dealcoholization

If you have used CBD tincture, then you may have noticed that it doesn’t have that alcohol burn. That’s because most manufacturers get rid of excess alcohol.

Optional Step #4: Distillation

The product may be distilled as an additional process to deliver a richer, better quality tincture. In this step, the concentrate may get mixed with a carrier oil, usually coconut oil.

(b) CO2 Extraction Method

This involves a series of tubes and tanks that allow CBD to be extracted from the cannabis matter. At base, this method uses pressurized CO2 which acts as a solvent at a certain pressure and temperature.

Although slower, CO2 extraction is safer and delivers more concentrated tinctures than ethanol extraction.

How to Use CBD Tinctures

cbd tincture

CBD tinctures are very potent, which means they contain a high concentration of cannabidiol, so small doses are recommended.

Most bottles of CBD tinctures come complete with a separate or built-in dropper for dosing.

Remember, you can’t overdose on CBD, but taking too much of it doesn’t necessarily translate to more benefits. You’ll only be wasting your hard-earned money.

If you need to adjust the dose, it’s a matter of increasing or reducing the number of drops. It’s crucial; however, to talk with your doctor to figure out what dosage is right for your condition.

The right dose depends on your weight, severity of your condition, intent, and potency of the tincture. For instance, you will need between 5 mg and 50 mg for relief against anxiety and depression.

On a similar note, a higher dosage of 25–160 mg may be required for sleep-related issues like insomnia.

Don’t forget that CBD products are not meant for everyone. CBD can interfere with certain drugs and medications such as Warfarin, beta-blockers, antiretroviral, antihistamines, and some antidepressants.

Like most CBD products, there are numerous ways to use your tincture. Here are the top three:

(a) Sublingual method: Taking CBD tincture sublingually means placing a few drops underneath the tongue. CBD will be readily absorbed into many blood vessels under the tongue, bypassing the digestive system.

This is an ideal method if you want an instant therapeutic effect, especially if you need relief from pain or to induce sleep.

Simply hold the tincture under the tongue for 10-60 seconds, and then you swallow.

(b) Add to Food and Edibles: Considering that tinctures are potent, they are perfect for use in many recipes. You can add a few drops of the tincture to your beverage, whether that is a carbonated drink, tea, coffee, cocoa, chocolate, water, or other beverages.

You can also use the tincture during the preparation, serving or after serving food. For instance, you can bake a few drops of tincture into your cupcakes, cakes, cookies, and other baked goodies.

Alternatively, you can add some to your salad, smoothie, or dessert.

(c) Rub it on your Skin: Topical use is not popular.  However, you can rub some tincture on your skin to relieve joint pain, tendonitis, arthritis, and muscle spasms, as well as keep your skin looking healthy and youthful.

Some people prefer to infuse a few drops of CBD tincture into their baths, particularly if it contains some essential oils.

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CBD Tinctures Side Effects

cbd tincture

Most CBD tinctures are unregulated. So, the bigger question is: are they safe?

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In 2017, the World Health Organization reached a conclusion that CBD is a safe and effective substance.

However, you may need to watch out for dangerous impurities, chemicals, and additives such as propylene glycol, dextromethorphan, and 5F-ADB.

Although mild, some potential side effects of taking CBD tinctures include:

Dry Mouth: Nearly all products derived from the cannabis plant have this side effect, and it’s not hard to see why. It turns out all cannabinoids have been found to reduce or inhibit product of saliva.

You can remedy dry mouth by taking plenty of fluids before, during and after consuming CBD tinctures.

Diarrhea: This results from additives like MCT oil, flavoring agents, etc. that might irritate the gut, causing diarrhea. On the contrary, CBD has strong gastro protective properties.

Nonetheless, some people have reported mild diarrhea a few hours after taking CBD tinctures.

Dizziness: When taken in lower doses, CBD can be a stimulant which uplifts your mood and enhances your concentration and focus. However, in high doses, it can cause drowsiness and dizziness.

Lowers Blood Pressure: This can be something of a concern for patients with hypotension. This is often connected to drowsiness.

Other side effects include fatigue, irritability, and changes in appetite, nausea, and tiredness.


CBD tincture is one of the many popular forms of cannabidiol products currently on the market. It is made by extracting CBD from hemp and/or cannabis plant materials with an alcohol base.

CBD tinctures are extremely potent because they comprise high concentrations of cannabidiol, and they often contain other ingredients such as flavoring agents, essential oils and other cannabinoids.

CBD tinctures may contain THC and other cannabinoids, depending on whether the CBD was extracted from industrial hemp or “marijuana” cannabis plant.

CBD tinctures are not the same as CBD oil, although they are often confused with each other. CBD oil has cannabidiol in an oil carrier or base, whereas a CBD tincture has CBD in an alcohol base.

Both CBD oils and tinctures have similar therapeutic properties and applications. That’s why both are used to relieve pain, inflammation, irritation, stress, depression, and anxiety, as well as induce sleep.

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The question of whether CBD tinctures are legal or not is a little fussy. On the one hand, the passing of the Farm Bill 2018 made hemp crop production legal, which implies that all hemp-extracted CBD tinctures are legal in all 50 states.

On the other hand, CBD tincture derived from cannabis that contains THC higher than 0.3 percent in concentration is deemed illegal by federal law. The sale and consumption of all CBD tinctures, regardless of THC content, is legal in all states where recreational and medical marijuana has been legalized.

In short, there is a gray area when it comes to the legal status of CBD tincture.

CBD tinctures are either homemade or commercial. DIY tinctures made by soaking green or gold extract in alcohol. Commercially, CBD tinctures are produced through the ethanol or CO2 extraction method.

There are several ways to take CBD tinctures, but the sublingual method is the most popular. You can also add them to food and drinks, or rub on your skin. Either way, you can enjoy the full medical and therapeutic properties of cannabidiol.

Now the big question. Although CBD tinctures are deemed safe (according to the WHO), they can have mild side effects that include: irritability, diarrhea, fatigue, low blood pressure, drowsiness, tiredness, and loss of appetite.

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Marina Turea

Marina has been calling Chicago home since 2007. She's a world traveler and an avid reader.

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