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Ask a Cannabis Coach: What is a Tincture? 

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cannabis tincture

As a Cannabis Coach, I get questions like “what is a cannabis tincture?” several times a week. Cannabis tinctures have become one of the most popular recipes for cooking with cannabis and it’s no wonder why.

There are so many cannabis tincture benefits. They’re easy to dose, convenient and discreet, and can be very affordable, especially when you use a THC tincture recipe and make them at home.

In this post, I’ll answer the question “what is a tincture” in detail. Then we’ll go over the different types of medical tinctures available, how to use them, and we’ll cover tincture dosage as well. Let’s go!

*Disclaimer: I am not a medical doctor or healthcare professional. This article is for informational purposes only and should not be taken as medical advice.

Tincture Definition: What is a tincture?

A tincture is made by soaking cannabis flower in a high-proof alcohol. The alcohol draws out all of the THC, CBD, and more from the plant material. Then, you strain out the cannabis, and you’re left with a potent, beautiful liquid. 

Tinctures are one of the oldest methods of consuming medical cannabis and have been used for centuries to treat various illnesses.

They are also extremely easy to make at home when using a weed tincture recipe and a great way to get all the benefits from the cannabis plant in one super versatile product. 

Tincture vs. Extract

If you find this question tricky, you’re not alone. Many products on the market are labeled as tinctures when they’re not.

A cannabis tincture, by definition, is when you soak cannabis (or any other plant) in a high-proof alcohol like Everclear or vodka. If you see a “tincture” on the shelf made with MCT or olive oil, it’s not a tincture at all. That’s an oil infusion.

Extracts, on the other hand, are made by using a solvent like butane, propane, or supercritical carbon dioxide to draw out the active ingredients from the plant.

Infusions are made with oil. You may see things like MCT tinctures. While these aren’t technically tinctures, it’s common for cannabis companies to label them that way. This is likely because many cannabis licenses won’t allow the combination of alcohol and cannabis, and the delivery method (dropper bottle/can be taken sublingually) is similar.

Confusingly, some commercially-produced extracts are made with ethanol alcohol as well, but because they pull all the alcohol out at the end, the final product is usually a thick, sticky concentrate.

For our purposes, remember that tinctures are always made with alcohol, and they’re always liquid.

cannabis tincture

Medical Tincture Benefits 

Health benefits of tinctures

The health benefits of taking a tincture can include relief from pain, inflammation, anxiety, stress, nausea and so much more.

Cannabis tinctures can also help improve overall mental clarity and focus while providing an enhanced sense of well-being throughout the day. With some tincture in my morning coffee, I often find myself in “the zone.” 

When tinctures are taken under the tongue, they can start working within about 15 minutes. This is great for the medical user who can’t wait the 1-2 hours for an edible to kick in.

Let’s look at some potential benefits of THC, CBD, and CBG tinctures.

THC Tincture

Of all the compounds that cannabis produces, we have the most high-quality research on THC. For many people, when they find the right dose of THC, they experience relief from the following conditions:

  • Pain
  • Inflammation
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Spasms
  • And so many more

THC is the molecule that will cause psychoactive effects at high doses. This is a benefit for some people, while others want to avoid it, so they stick with CBD or CBG.

CBD Tincture

CBD is a relative newcomer to the block, but because it works on so many different targets in the body, it is also shown to help with a myriad of conditions:

  • Anxiety
  • Inflammation
  • Pain
  • Convulsions 
  • And more

One of the reasons CBD is making such a splash is that it’s remarkably safe and well tolerated, though it’s not totally risk-free. See what fellow Cannabis Coach Kate had to say when asked, Does CBD Cause Liver Damage?

CBG Tincture

We don’t know as much about CBG (yet), but according to my favorite research nerds over at CannaKeys, we have clinical evidence for using CBG to address metabolic syndrome and Parkinson’s disease.

Anecdotally, I’ve heard students at the Cannabis Coaching Institute talk about successfully using CBG to help with pain, mood, and bladder issues. 

Now you know what THC, CBD, and CBG do on their own, but what if you upped the ante with the full spectrum of plant compounds?

What does full-spectrum mean?

Full spectrum definition: Full-spectrum means the cannabis product includes all the cannabinoids like THC, CBD, and CBG, plus terpenes and other compounds found in the flower of the cannabis plant. 

In fact, researchers have discovered more than 500 potentially healing compounds in cannabis! We don’t know what all of them do (yet!), but we do know they all work better together.

Each of those things on their own may have a positive effect, but when these compounds are combined, they can create more therapeutic possibilities.

This is called synergy.

And guess what is one of the most effective ways to get all those plant compounds out of the flower and into … you? A cannabis tincture!

Many people report having a more powerful and effective experience than what they would get from a different type of cannabis product.

The other benefit of using or making “full-spectrum” tinctures is that you can generally use less of them. This is because you’ll have multiple pathways for relief from all those compounds wrapped up in one tincture bottle. 

Dosing benefits of tincture

Consuming cannabis via tincture can give you more control over your dose than other methods like smoking or eating cannabis. It’s easy to be precise with how many drops you take.

But it’s important to note that tinctures come in different concentrations, so you must read the label well!

Long-term storage benefits of tincture

I also recommend tinctures to anyone looking for long-term storage of their cannabis crops. Even if you store the cannabis flower in pristine conditions, the medicine breaks down over time. 

If you make a cannabis tincture, you can keep all the goodness of your hard work with far less degradation. 

Plus, it takes far less room to store tincture than flower. Bonus!

Tinctures are discreet

Unlike smoking or even vaping cannabis, tinctures are incredibly discreet. The bottles they come in are easily tucked into a pocket or a purse. Then, it’s just a few drops under your tongue or in a drink, and you’re done! 

With tinctures, you can take medicine when you need it without everyone knowing about it. 

The versatility of tincture

Tinctures are incredibly versatile.

You can: 

  • Drop them under your tongue straight (depending on how strong the alcohol is!)
  • Put them in food or drinks
  • Mix them with honey to make an elixir
  • Turn them into sugar

And, if you evaporate the alcohol out of the tincture, you’re left with something called Rick Simpson Oil, another all-purpose cannabis product. Look for a post about RSO coming soon.

How to Use Tincture

The most common way to use tincture is by putting some drops under your tongue and holding it there for at least a couple of minutes before swallowing it to maximize its effects. 

A couple of minutes? 

Yup! The longer you can hold it in your mouth, the more THC or CBD will be absorbed into your system quickly. Whatever you end up swallowing will take longer (up to 3 hours) before it kicks in.

How to take Tincture (besides holding it under your tongue)

cannabis tea

If holding an alcohol tincture under your tongue for two minutes sounds intimidating, I get you.

The first time I made a tincture, I was so excited! I took a full dropper, put it under my tongue, and then felt the fire! 

If you make your tincture with really high-proof alcohol, like Everclear, it can burn. I destroyed the skin under my tongue, and it hurt for days. (I do not recommend it!)

If that doesn’t sound appealing, here’s what you can do instead:

  • Infuse your cannabis into a more palatable alcohol. You won’t extract as much THC or CBD, but you also won’t burn your mouth in the process.
  • Mix your tincture in a 1:1 ratio with honey. This is called an “elixir,” and it’s far more pleasant to take.
  • Drop your tincture into a drink like juice or coffee. Because most people take such a small amount, it doesn’t have to change the taste of your drink. (However, because you’re swallowing it, not putting it under your tongue, you won’t feel the effects in 15 minutes, it will take 1-3 hours before you feel your CBD orange juice set in.)
  • Make the Best Cannabis Gummy Recipe

Tincture Dosage

One of the biggest advantages to using tinctures over other ingestion methods like smoking or edibles is that it’s super easy to control your dose. If you take five drops (for example) and you don’t feel better in 30 minutes, you can take a couple more and see how you are.

At the Cannabis Coaching Institute, we follow dosing guidelines from cannabis physicians who work with patients daily. This is what they recommend as good starting doses for each cannabinoid. 

If you don’t get relief with your initial dose, you’ll need to slowly increase how much you take over the course of a few days or weeks until you feel better without side effects.

Starting dose1-2 mg5 mg5 mg
Increase your dose if needed by1-2 mg5 mg5 mg

It can take time to land at the ideal tincture dosage but don’t give up. The effort of tracking your tincture dosage can pay off hugely when you understand how different doses of cannabis tincture make you feel and can then use cannabis more intuitively.

If you need 1-1 help with cannabis dosing, consider hiring a Cannabis Coach. They are trained to help people understand and use the plant to achieve better health and wellness. 

Ok, I’m Convinced. How do I make my own cannabis tincture today?

It is insanely easy to make a cannabis tincture, but having someone walk you through the process step-by-step is so helpful.

Check out this Wake + Bake post for recipes: Cannabis Tinctures.

If you prefer to watch a video, my How to Make a SIMPLE Cannabis Tincture (THC or CBD) video has over 215,000 views. 

Please drop all your questions below. We love hearing from you!

With love,

Andrea Meharg

Certified Cannabis Coach and Lead Cannabis Science Educator at The Cannabis Coaching Institute

PS-  If you have a great tincture recipe that you’d love to share with the world (and make money doing it…) check out the Free Class: How to Get Paid to Talk and Write about Cannabis and learn how to turn your passion for this plant into a side hustle or career.


Andrea Meharg

Andrea Meharg is a Certified Cannabis Coach and Educator and the founder of Reveal Cannabis, a cannabis education agency. Andrea holds a B.A. in Psychology and Spanish, a Bachelor of Education, and is a Google Certified Educator. She is passionate about using education to help others lead happier, healthier lives through cannabis, having personally experienced its life-changing benefits. In addition to being the Program Director and Science Educator at the Cannabis Coaching Institute, Andrea is the founder of the Parkhill Women’s Cannabis Club, and a YouTube content creator.

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