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CBD Oil vs CBD Tincture: Ask a Pharmacist

Posted by Dr. Leslie Mudd, PharmD on Jun 29th 2020

The CBD industry has exploded with different CBD products to add to your wellness routine. CBD oil producers and retailers often use the terms “CBD oil” and “CBD tincture” interchangeably. However, there are many characteristics that distinguish them from each other.

It’s important to know the difference between CBD oils and CBD tinctures so you know what you are getting when you are buying CBD products.

What is CBD?

Before we get into how CBD oils and tinctures compare and contrast, what exactly is CBD and how might it affect human health? Recent studies on the properties of compounds found in the cannabis hemp plant may revolutionize the way we approach therapeutic relief.

The compound CBD, short for cannabidiol, 1 is a non-psychoactive chemical that has the potential to have a wide range of benefits for the body. These compounds are unique to the cannabis plant, but the human body already produces a set of our own. Scientists call the body system that is impacted by these cannabinoids the “endocannabinoid system.”

What is the ECS?

The endocannabinoid system, or ECS for short, is a network of receptors overlaying the nervous system. These receptors are found all throughout the body and its organs. Scientists discovered that these receptors react positively to compounds made by the body that they called “endocannabinoids.” The reaction of these receptors to the endocannabinoids may help bring the body into balance. The compounds found in the cannabis plant like CBD and THC mimic endocannabinoids we already produce, which is why CBD from hemp is now at the forefront of wellness research.

The passage of the 2018 Farm Bill made it legal for farmers to grow industrial hemp with no more than 0.3 percent THC nationwide. 2 This also opened the door for companies to manufacture and sell hemp-based products, such as full spectrum CBD tinctures, CBD oils, and more.

Some have concerns about the THC content of their hemp-derived products, however there is not enough THC in legal CBD products to get you high. In fact a little bit of THC helps CBD work better.

What is CBD Oil?

To manufacture full spectrum CBD oil from hemp, cannabinoid compounds, terpenes, and other valuable properties are first extracted from the plant material. 3 Most companies use clean methods of extraction by using the CO2 extraction method 4 or with gentle solvents like sugarcane ethanol. 5 The extract is then mixed with a carrier oil 6 and is bottled for sale. The pure hemp oil is rich in cannabinoids, fatty acids, and other essential nutrients from the plant.

CBD oil is extremely versatile and has numerous applications. It can be taken sublingually as an oil or ingested as capsules. It can also be added to topicals and edibles. The flexibility in working with CBD oil makes it more common in the health market, especially because you cannot overdose on CBD.

With CBD oil, the fewer ingredients the better it will be. Be wary of a CBD oil with lots of additives! The primary ingredients found in CBD oil are hemp extract and carrier oils. The choice of carrier oils vary by company. Some companies choose to use hemp seed oil or olive oil.

Cornbread Hemp uses organic MCT coconut oil because it provides greater bioavailability. This allows the MCT oil to increase how much CBD you absorb. It also has a better shelf life than other carriers.

A high-quality CBD hemp oil will have a pleasant earthy taste with no harshness or bitterness. And it will not need added flavors or sweeteners to make it palatable.

What Defines a CBD Tincture

The word “tincture” is defined as a medicine made by dissolving a drug or plant matter in alcohol. 8 CBD companies make CBD tinctures by soaking the raw hemp material in alcohol and water, sometimes heating it slowly to let it steep like tea. Over time, the alcohol solution leeches out all of the natural compounds of the plant. The plant matter is strained from the solution, and the liquid is usually mixed with flavors like peppermint oil or other additives.

CBD tinctures tend to have more added ingredients than CBD oils. The alcohol base solution is usually combined with any number of other ingredients, such as additional flavoring, sweeteners, essential nutrients, and vegetable glycerin.

Some companies even add vitamins, herbal extracts, essential oils, and supplements like melatonin to achieve different goals that vary per product. Like CBD oils, you can take CBD tinctures sublingually or add them to foods and beverages. 9

But buyer beware: there are companies that intentionally produce products that appear to be CBD infused, but they are actually just made with hemp seed oil, which has no CBD content at all. You must look at the product’s third party lab analysis to be sure you have a genuine CBD product.

How are CBD Oils and CBD Tinctures Similar?

A lot of consumers have trouble telling CBD oils and tinctures apart because they are often packaged the same- usually in brown tinted dropper bottles. Because of this, it’s very important to study the ingredients carefully to determine if you are holding a CBD oil, or tincture.

The application methods are also similar, both oils and tinctures can be taken orally with a dropper, and they are both purported to have the same effects associated with cannabis-derived products. Although they serve a similar purpose, they differ in many ways.

How are CBD Oils and CBD Tinctures Different? Which is Better?

The main difference between CBD oils and CBD tinctures is the production process and how many ingredients they each contain.

When making CBD oil, the extraction process results in a substance made of pure plant compounds with no residual solvents left behind. High quality CBD oils will contain only CBD-rich hemp extract and a carrier oil.

CBD tinctures are made similar to traditional medicines: by steeping the plant matter in alcohol, straining it, and then bottling the entire solution. Tinctures usually contain additional ingredients, and may have a longer shelf life. An easy way to tell the difference is by seeing if the contents have an oil base (CBD oil) or an alcohol base (CBD tincture).

So in the battle of CBD oil vs CBD tincture, which is the better choice?

CBD oils and CBD tinctures can both be effective, so it is up to the consumer’s preference when choosing between them. Tinctures are a popular choice for those who do not like the taste or feel of oil, 10 or those who want to add it to food. Customers who want the highest potency, or those who are alcohol-sensitive, will prefer to use CBD oils.

The terms “CBD oil” and “CBD tincture” are often used interchangeably. The differences in CBD oil vs CBD tincture can determine which product to buy. Learn more from Dr. Leslie Mudd, PharmD.