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Dosing with Cannabis Tinctures

By Danyal Swan April 28, 2023
Dosing with Cannabis Tinctures

While cannabis tinctures are by no means new, as they date back to the Ancient Egyptians, they have become especially popular during the current surge of cannabis product development. Tinctures are often preferred by cannabis users who wish to administer a precise dose of CBD and/or THC without negatively impacting their lungs or respiratory system. These concentrated liquid doses are typically placed directly under the tongue for absorption via the thin membrane there, a process known as sublingual administration.

Before we dive into finding your optimal cannabis tincture dose, though, you need  an understanding of how CBD, THC, and other cannabinoid compounds will work within your body.

Cannabinoids and the Endocannabinoid System

After you consume cannabis in any form (though eating edibles, of course, takes more time due to digestion), cannabinoid compounds enter the bloodstream, where they are carried throughout the body. These cannabinoids interact with chemical receptors that are a part of the endocannabinoid system (ECS). 

The ECS is a major cell-signaling system that plays a part in regulating a wide range of processes and functions, including mood, sleep, memory, fertility, and sleep. There are three core components to this system: phytocannabinoids/endocannabinoids, receptors, and enzymes. 

Your body produces endocannabinoids to target the two endocannabinoid receptor types: CB1 receptors in the central nervous system and CB2 receptors in the peripheral nervous system. When the endocannabinoids bind to the receptor, they modulate the way that the receptor relays signals for a variety of bodily processes, then enzymes break down endocannabinoids once they have served their purpose. Though the ECS is complex and exactly how it functions is unknown, it is understood that the phytocannabinoids within cannabis can act on the ECS much like endocannabinoids because they are similarly structured.

In addition, cannabinoids and other compounds found in the cannabis plant, including terpenes, flavonoids, and more, interact with one another as well as upon the ECS. These compounds working synergistically to exert an impact on a cannabis user has been termed the entourage effect. 

In theory, this means that all the compounds within cannabis work together to produce a variety of different effects that may be more beneficial than if they occurred separately. For example, CBD appears to both exert its own effects on the body as well as mellowing the effects of THC; the combination may help improve the overall therapeutic effects of cannabis products, including tinctures.

Benefits of Cannabis Tinctures

Although tinctures can be swallowed directly or added to foods to create cannabis-infused products, tincture doses are most often taken by placing the liquid under the tongue and holding it there for a few moments so it can absorb into the bloodstream via the mucous membrane that resides there. There are a few reasons this route of administration is often preferable for cannabis users.

Better Absorption

Cannabis compounds that are administered sublingually are not swallowed and therefore do not pass through the GI tract. Instead, they are absorbed through the mucous membranes under the tongue and pass directly into the bloodstream, which means more crucial cannabis compounds are available to the body for use (a factor known as bioavailability). Improved absorption also means cannabis compounds reach the bloodstream more quickly, and their effects can begin impacting the body faster than other routes of administration.

More Health-Conscious

There have been many discussions about the safety of using vapes and other methods of inhaling cannabis. Depending on the ingredients used, even edibles can become a health concern when used frequently, especially if they are made into foods or candies with excess sugar. By contrast, tinctures are made with simple ingredients, chiefly cannabis flower and a carrier liquid, making them an excellent choice for health-conscious users and those with dietary restrictions. Sublingual administration is also easier on the lungs and respiratory tract than inhaling cannabis smoke or vapor.

Precise Dosing

While vaping and smoking are wonderful ways to consume cannabis, it is difficult to take a precise dose with these methods. While edibles do offer more control over dosing, they are prone to longer onset times and less reliable effect periods. Tinctures are formulated at a specific strength and are typically packaged with a precision syringe or dropper and reliable THC or CBD content printed on the packaging. Dosing drop by drop allows significant control over the amount of cannabinoids taken.

More Discreet

Tinctures do not produce any smell or lingering scent for others around you to detect. The bottles are often very nondescript, which is ideal for those who wish to keep their cannabis use on the quiet side. Tincture bottles typically come with a dropper that fits into the bottle itself, so they don't take up a ton of space - and allow for simple, easy, smoke-free dosing. And, because the bottles are small, they transport well in a purse or book bag. 

Long Shelf Life and Simple Storage

If you have purchased a well-made tincture and stored it properly, it can have an almost indefinite shelf life. The proper storage location is in a cool, dry place free from direct sunlight to prevent THC from degrading. Most containers for cannabis tinctures are dark glass bottles to make shelf stability even easier for the user. Though you will likely not need to worry about your tincture expiring, be sure to use it within a year, before THC starts to degrade to the more sedating cannabinoid CBN.

Want To Learn More? Check Out: An Introduction to Cannabis Tinctures

Cannabis Tinctures: Proper Dosing Guide

Though taking a tincture sublingually is fairly simple, there are four simple steps to keep in mind as you begin. When you are ready to take a tincture dose:

  1. Load the included dropper with your intended dosage. Double-check the dropper to ensure you have drawn up the appropriate dose before administering it.
  2. Carefully squirt the liquid directly underneath your tongue. Keeping the liquid toward the front of your mouth can help you avoid unintentionally swallowing the tincture.
  3. Hold the liquid under your tongue without swallowing for at least 30 seconds – ideally closer to two minutes – to promote absorption.
  4. Swallow the remaining tincture.
Tincture Dosing

It is important to hold the tincture in your mouth as long as possible to ensure maximum transfer of cannabis compounds across the mucous membrane. This transfer directly into the bloodstream lends tinctures their speediest and most potent effects. If the tincture is swallowed, you will still feel the effects of the dose, but it will take longer to work because it will be processed through your GI tract.

Related Reading: How to Dose Cannabis

Finding the Right Tincture

Finding The Right Cannabis Tincture

The most common tinctures on the market include:

With the influx of tincture products of varying potencies and ratios, there are many different tincture options for cannabis users to choose from. The best option will depend heavily on your cannabis goals and symptoms, if applicable. Too, with cannabis and cannabinoids as well, the effects vary from person to person - so what works for you may not be the right solution for a friend.

  • THC, used for pain relief, calming the nervous system, preventing inflammation, aiding in sleep, or simply for a bit of euphoria.
  •  CBD, used for physical discomfort, inflammation, depression, anxiety, sleep, or overall well-being. CBD tinctures are ideal for those who do not want to experience the euphoria of THC.
  • 1:1 THC/CBD, or the Golden Ratio, is reported to provide the best relief from a variety of psychological or physical ailments due to the synergistic effects of cannabinoids. In other words, they work better together.

Other minor cannabinoids used to infuse tinctures include THCA for its analgesic and anxiolytic properties, sans euphoria, while CBN is included for its reported sedating and relaxing effects.

Establishing the Right Routine

Finding the right tincture for your needs is only the first component that goes into effective tincture dosing. The next component involves determining the dose that provides you with the most beneficial effects or symptom relief without becoming overwhelming. To do so, it’s important to start with a low dose, then increase your dose incrementally until you arrive at your ideal effects. This process, known as titrating a dose, enables you to avoid unpleasant side effects that can reduce the relief you may experience from the tincture. And as you titrate, ensure that you’re…

Tracking Your Tincture Dosing Progress

If you're like many people, it will likely be difficult to recall exactly how you felt after taking each dose, how long you experienced it, and how it felt compared to other dose strengths. The most effective way to prevent this is by keeping a cannabis journal during your titration weeks.

Writing down the dose you took and what you feel as it happens can help you identify patterns that will be useful as you determine your steps moving forward. It can also help identify other outside factors that may be affecting how you feel while using cannabis. The more complete and personal your records are, the better you will be able to tailor your dosage to create a positive cannabis experience.

Find Your Favorite Tincture at Zen Leaf

Shop for Tincture at a Zen Leaf Near You

Although tinctures are quite simple to administer accurately, especially those packaged with glass droppers or syringes, it’s important to determine the correct dose for your cannabis goals, tincture formulation, and body type. This dosage guide is meant to provide you with a few simple steps to ensure a personalized and positive experience. With their wide variety and fully customizable doses, tinctures can be beneficial for a substantial number of cannabis users.

If you need more help finding your ideal tincture, landing on your perfect dose, or determining what you can expect from the titration process, reach out to your nearest Zen Leaf dispensary.


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  2. Gibson, L. P., Karoly, H. C., Ellingson, J. M., Klawitter, J., Sempio, C., Squeri, J. E., Bryan, A. D., Bidwell, L. C., & Hutchison, K. E. (2022). Effects of cannabidiol in cannabis flower: Implications for harm reduction. Addiction biology, 27(1), e13092. https://doi.org/10.1111/adb.13092
  3. Rapin, L., Gamaoun, R., El Hage, C., Arboleda, M. F., & Prosk, E. (2021). Cannabidiol use and effectiveness: real-world evidence from a Canadian medical cannabis clinic. Journal of cannabis research, 3(1), 19. https://doi.org/10.1186/s42238-021-00078-w

Digital Content Manager for MÜV Florida and Zen Leaf Dispensaries. A cannabis connoisseur with a passion for explaining the miraculous possibility of the plant, Swan began her journey with cannabis as a recreational user and quickly realized its positive impact on her depression and severe anxiety. She joined the cannabis industry as Receptionist and MedTender and witnessed first-hand the immense potential of the plant for a wide variety of ailments, deepening her passion for alternative medicine. Swan is dedicated to self-education on the plant and sharing its potential with all. She holds a Journalism degree from the University of Iowa.

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