Have you noticed there are over a dozen ways to take hemp oil? Everything from edibles to vapes are now canvassing the market, but what makes a hemp oil tincture special?
The benefits of hemp oil are mostly attributed to the compound cannabidiol (CBD). Although it has been heavily researched since its discovery in 1940, it wasn’t until around 2012 that CBD products began to enter the market.
The very first products were hemp oil tinctures, and they’ve maintained popularity despite an explosion of new options.
Here’s why tinctures are popular:
- They’re easy to use, because they’re crafted in a way that turns hemp extract’s thick, paste-like consistency into a more appealing liquid form.
- It’s easy to add ingredients to a hemp oil tincture, so you’ll often notice beneficial compounds, like terpenes, in the ingredient list that enhance the overall effects.
- You have full control over how small or large your serving sizes are. The dropper top on a hemp tincture gives you an element of flexibility you won’t find elsewhere.
What is a Hemp Oil Tincture?
A hemp oil tincture is a liquid supplement, taken by mouth, with an active ingredient of CBD. It’s blended with a carrier oil, such as grapeseed oil, for a smooth consistency and may also contain flavoring or terpenes. Typically, a tincture comes in a glass bottle with a dropper top.
You may be wondering, why add other ingredients if people are just looking for the benefits of hemp oil?
Well, by itself, hemp oil is a dense and paste-like substance that can stick to your teeth or stain clothing. By adding in a carrier oil, the consistency becomes more familiar and user-friendly.
The downside to tinctures is that, by adding those other ingredients, it essentially “waters down” the CBD content. In other words, a pure hemp extract will contain more CBD (by volume) than a tincture.
But there’s a silver lining.
Tinctures can still contain very potent levels of CBD and they come in larger containers with larger suggested serving sizes, so the amount of CBD you’re getting per serving may still be on par with a pure extract.
Between the ease of use and ability to fully control your serving sizes using the dropper top, it’s no wonder hemp tinctures have been the most popular way to take CBD since day one.
Different Types of Hemp Oil in a Tincture
It’s important to be aware that tinctures can be made with different types of hemp extract.
Here are the two most common:
- Full-spectrum, also known as whole-plant, is pure hemp extract containing cannabinoids, terpenes, and trace vitamins or minerals. It’s a thick, dark oil that ranges anywhere from 10-80% cannabinoids. Meaning, when you look at the oil, 10-80% of that content is cannabinoids, and the rest is other compounds from the plant. There are three common types of full-spectrum hemp oil that also affect the color and cannabinoid profile.
- Isolate is created by separating the CBD compound from everything else, so you’re left with straight CBD. The result is a crystalline, but it’s usually crushed down into a fine white powder that’s easier to work with. Isolate is 95-99% CBD.
Which one do you think is more common?
Isolate is the most common, primarily because it’s cheaper, but there’s a much higher demand for full-spectrum in the CBD community.
If you’re wondering which one would be better for you, consider this.
Some people find that isolate works excellent for them, while others say it’s less effective than full-spectrum. This reason for this is a phenomenon called the entourage effect, where the various cannabinoids and terpenes in full-spectrum hemp oil work together for an enhanced effect.
Types of Carrier Oils in a Tincture
We mentioned earlier that a tincture contains a carrier, or base, oil to create a smooth, liquid consistency. Let’s briefly elaborate on that.
Tinctures will most often contain one of the following carrier oils:
- MCT (coconut) oil
- Grapeseed oil
- Refined hemp seed oil
- Cold pressed hemp seed oil
- Olive oil
You may wonder why anyone would combine hemp oil with hemp seed oil —doesn’t that add to the confusion between the two? After all, hemp seed oil doesn’t contain CBD, yet is often labeled as “hemp oil” in the grocery store.
Well, despite that confusion, the impressive nutritional value of hemp seed oil makes it an excellent base that shouldn’t be overlooked. This dark green oil contains the important essential fatty acids, omega-3 and omega-6, as well as other trace vitamins and minerals.
Hemp seed oil has a strong, nutty flavor that not everyone enjoys, and that’s difficult to mask with flavoring. That’s why many tinctures are made with MCT or grapeseed oil instead, which aren’t too flavorful and make it easier to add flavoring.
Using a Hemp Tincture Effectively
Now that you know what a tincture is, you may be curious how to use one.
Using a hemp oil tincture is not quite as straight-forward as you may think, there’s a strategy that should be followed if you want the best results possible.
Tinctures are administered sublingually by placing the drops under your tongue, waiting 60 or more seconds and then swallowing.
Why under your tongue? And why wait?
Placing the oil under your tongue, as opposed to on top or directly swallowing it, is not a precaution but rather a tactic to allow the CBD to absorb into your system quickly and more efficiently.
By waiting before swallowing, you give the CBD time to soak into the capillaries under your tongue. Think of this as an expressway for CBD to enter the bloodstream, as opposed to the time-consuming absorption process of swallowing a hemp capsule.
As a bonus, you can’t taste hemp oil when it’s under your tongue.
What Does a Hemp Oil Tincture Look Like?
There are many shades of CBD hemp oil, it all depends on the type of hemp oil and carrier oil used.
Hemp Oil Colors:
- Full-Spectrum: Dark Brown
- Broad-Spectrum: Light-Medium Golden
- Isolate: Clear
Carrier Oil Colors:
- Hemp Seed Oil: Light-Dark Green
- MCT (Coconut) Oil: Clear
- Grapeseed Oil: Light Yellow
If there’s no hint of color (as pictured on the right), that’s usually a giveaway that’s it’s made with isolate and MCT oil.
The middle-range colors are harder to identify at a glance; however, a dark brown color is a sure sign of full-spectrum hemp oil.
What are the Benefits?
Hemp oil products are sought out for their high level of cannabinoids.
Cannabinoids, like CBD, interact with the body’s endocannabinoid system to support important functions in the brain, central and peripheral nervous system. This system is attributed to maintaining balance in the body by regulating pain-sensation, stress, inflammation, and more.
[Related Article: An Introduction to the Endocannabinoid System]
Where to Buy Hemp Oil Tinctures
Today, CBD hemp products are appearing on the shelves of health food stores, massage studios, gas stations, and in the new wave of artisan hemp stores.
There‘s no need to get a medical card for purchasing CBD products made from industrial hemp oil, so you can even purchase them online and have them ship to your door.
When choosing the right CBD product for you, it’s important to do your research to verify the quality of a product. You want to make sure it’s lab tested and that the company sources their hemp extract from farms in the U.S.