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CBD Oil vs CBD Tincture: Ask a Pharmacist

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

CBD Oil vs CBD Tincture: Ask a Pharmacist

The CBD industry has exploded with different types of infused 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. In order to know what you are buying, it’s important to know the difference between CBD oils and CBD tinctures so you don't waste your money on the wrong product!

What is CBD?

Before we get into how CBD oils and tinctures compare and contrast, what exactly is CBD anyway and how does it affect human health? Recent studies on the properties of compounds found in the cannabis hemp plant are revolutionizing the way we approach therapeutic relief. The compound CBD, short for cannabidiol,1 is a non-psychoactive chemical that has 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 bring the body into balance, which can help everything from stress, aches and pains, inflammation, and more. The compounds found in the cannabis plant mimic endocannabinoids we already produce, allowing hemp derived CBD to become a viable supplement option for the ECS.

The passage of the 2018 Farm Bill made it legal for farmers to grow industrial hemp with no more than 0.3% THC nationwide.2 This also opened the door for companies to manufacture and sell hemp-based products, such as CBD oils and CBD tinctures. People often are concerned 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 the 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 a liquid or ingested as capsules, with a difference of how long it takes before you begin to feel the CBD. It can also be added to topicals and edibles, even bath bombs! Some companies produce CBD products that can be inhaled by using a vaporizer pen. The flexibility in working with CBD oil makes it more common in the health market, especially because you cannot overdose on CBD.

CBD oil generally has very few ingredients. The two featured ingredients found in CBD oil are supercritical CO2 or ethanol extracted hemp compounds, and carrier oils. The choice of base oils vary by company. Some companies choose to use grapeseed oil, hemp seed oil, olive oil, sunflower oil, or vegetable glycerin. However, MCT oil from coconut oil is the best for diluting hemp extract because it absorbs in the body better, providing greater bioavailability. This allows the MCT oil to increase how much CBD you absorb. A high-quality CBD hemp oil will have a pleasant earthy taste, and will not need to add flavors or sweeteners.

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 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.

The amount of ingredients CBD tinctures have tend to be much more than how many are in CBD oils. The alcohol solution made from the extraction process may be combined with any number of other ingredients such as additional flavoring, sweeteners, essential nutrients, and vegetable glycerin. Some companies add vitamins, herbal extracts, essential oils, and supplements like melatonin to achieve different health goals with each product. Like oils, you can take CBD tinctures sublingually and add them to foods and beverages. 9

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 bottles with droppers. Because of this, it’s very important to study the ingredients carefully to determine what you are about to purchase. The application methods are also similar, both oils and tinctures can be taken orally with a dropper or applied topically, and they are both purported to have the same health 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. CBD tinctures are made more like traditional medicine: by steeping the plant matter in alcohol, straining it, and then bottling the entire solution. Tinctures also contain additional ingredients. An easy way to remember when looking at the bottle is that it's oil base (CBD oil) vs 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 are alcohol sensitive or who want the highest potencies will prefer to use the oil. We’ve laid out some pros and cons to help you decide.

CBD Oil Pros

1) Both CO2 and ethanol extractions produce cleaner, purer products than the methods used to make tinctures.

2) A high-quality CBD oil will be more potent than a tincture. Oils often have fewer ingredients than CBD tinctures, allowing them to have max CBD concentration.

3) Top of the line oils do not need to add any additional flavoring or sweeteners to mask, or “enhance”, the taste of its natural hemp flavor.

CBD Oil Cons

1) Since the potency is higher, the cost of CBD oil can be more expensive than the cost of tinctures.

2) Supercritical CO2 extracted CBD oil can have a harsh, bitter taste due to the intense process. Instead, look for sugarcane ethanol extracted CBD oil. This method produces a very smooth tasting oil without bitterness or harshness.

3) It isn’t advisable to add CBD oil to food as it can alter the properties of the oil itself.

CBD Tincture Pros

1) CBD tinctures can easily be added to food and drinks, since the plant taste has been masked by the additional flavorings and sweeteners. Also, the alcohol allows the CBD to retain its properties when mixed with food.

2) Some people prefer to take CBD tinctures orally over taking CBD oil because they like the additional flavors and found in tinctures.

3) The alcohol in the product can extend its shelf life beyond that of an oil base.

CBD Tincture Cons

1) On average CBD tinctures are not as potent as CBD oils. The additional ingredients degrade the purity of the extract.

2) The alcohol content prevents tinctures from being as versatile as CBD oils. For instance, CBD tinctures are not an option for vaping. And using it topically can be irritating to the skin compared to the oil.

How to Find the Best CBD Oil

When choosing CBD oils and tinctures it is important to find a reputable CBD manufacturer who produces a clean, safe product that is sourced locally. Buying products that source their raw materials from local hemp farms in the USA greatly increases the chance that you are purchasing a safe, quality product.

Since the hemp industry is new, there are no official regulations in place to ensure that CBD products are safe to ingest. An unscrupulous company could buy pesticide treated plants, use toxic solvents for extraction, and then sell the concoction without rigorous testing. Due to the lack of federal accountability, consumers should definitely be vigilant when researching hemp products for safety.

USDA Organic Certification & Third Party Lab Reports

The best certification to look for when you are looking for clean, safe hemp products for yourself or a family member is the USDA organic seal. CBD products with official USDA organic certification source their raw material from plants grown without the use of pesticides, fungicides, or any other toxins. 11 The extraction method must also be a certified organic process, and the carrier oil must be organic for the product to carry the official seal.

When researching CBD brands, make sure that third party lab reports are easily accessible on the company’s website. Full test analysis certificates should include safety reports and CBD content, plus the level of THC and minor cannabinoids. They should also include a passing grade on all safety tests for pesticides, microbials, toxins, heavy metals, and residual solvents.

If you study the quality of different brands' reports, you’ll see that some companies haphazardly scan out of date lab results and post them without any context for the consumer to understand them. Proper lab reports and test analysis should be up to date, tamper-proof, and detailed. You can also discover which brands are selling the most potent CBD products by comparing these reports, so you’ll know if you are getting your money’s worth.  

Where to Find True CBD Products

Cornbread Hemp sets the gold standard for having the best customer service and producing the best CBD possible. We source our raw material from Kentucky organic farmers in the heartland of the USA. In the late 1800s and early 1900s, Kentucky was among the nation’s top producers of hemp. The climate is optimal for cannabis growth, and the limestone-rich water supply is adequate enough to be sustainable without implementing destructive irrigation techniques. For our oils we use organic non-GMO hemp flowers grown without the use of chemical pesticides or any other toxic chemicals.

While supercritical carbon dioxide extraction is clean and safe, it produces a harsh, bitter tasting product. We extract our CBD oils using organic sugarcane ethanol as a solvent. This manufacturing process allows the finished product to have a smooth taste. We mix our extract with organic MCT coconut oil for the best CBD absorption rate. Also included in our product line are topicals, CBD capsules, and CBD oil for pets.

Third party lab reports are available on Cornbread Hemp’s website. Full COA's and test results are also easily accessible via a scannable QR code on every product. Each label also carries a CannVerify anti-counterfeiting hologram to further insure the authenticity of our merchandise.

Why Does Full Spectrum CBD Oil Work the Best?

Studies have shown that the ECS responds the best to full spectrum CBD oil. This is CBD oil that contains all of the cannabinoids present in cannabis sativa hemp plants. Broad spectrum CBD oil has had the THC removed, and a CBD isolate is the single cannabinoid CBD by itself. While people may think they just need CBD by itself to work, it actually needs all of the other hundred cannabinoids to interact with your system at it's highest capacity. This is called the "entourage effect", where all of the different compounds work together with your body chemistry as a unit to maximize the health benefits.

Full spectrum CBD oils and tinctures have the potential to cause you to fail a drug test. Full spectrum products will contain trace amounts of THC, less than 0.3%.

The dosage of CBD that you should take depends on your body weight. We like to recommend 25mg/ml a day to start. After a few weeks of regular CBD dosing you can choose to increase or decrease the amount of CBD you take to suit your individual response. CBD can have a synergistic effect on your prescription medication, meaning it can cause it to work better. Any side effects experienced from taking CBD can usually be attributed to the prescription medication being amplified.

CBD Tincture vs CBD Oil: the Bottom Line

Companies and retailers may use “CBD oil” and “CBD tincture” interchangeably, but they refer to different hemp products with different manufacturing processes that contain different ingredients. Knowing the terminology and what to look for in each can help consumers buy the CBD product that they are looking for, oil or tincture, without being fooled. The best way to know you are buying a high quality, American made product, is by shopping at Cornbread Hemp. Where 200 years of hemp farming traditions led to the first USDA organic certified CBD oil in Kentucky.

These statements and any information contained on this website have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. This information is intended for educational purposes only and is not meant to substitute for medical care or to prescribe treatment for any specific health conditions. These products are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease.

What is CBD oil?

CBD oil is a blend of a CBD extract from the flower of the hemp plant and a carrier oil like MCT coconut oil or olive oil. CBD oil is made by extracting the CBD-rich oil from the hemp plant using ethanol or CO2, and then blending it with the carrier oil after the solvent has evaporated. Most CBD oils are made with MCT coconut oil because the medium triglycerides allow the CBD to absorb quicker.

What is a CBD tincture?

A true CBD tincture is made with an alcohol carrier base instead of an oil carrier base, which would then made it a CBD oil. CBD oil and CBD tincture are often used interchangeably because they both involve sublingual absorption, which means placing the oil under the tongue to pass through the capillaries and into the bloodstream.



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