CBD Tinctures vs. CBD Edibles: What’s The Difference?

Today’s market appears to have countless ways to consume CBD, from tinctures and oils to vapes, edibles, and lotions. Some of the most popular are edible products such as candies, baked goods, and drinks, as well as tinctures of CBD suspended in alcohol. Which of these options are the right way for you to consume CBD?

What is CBD?

Cannabinol (CBD) is a compound extracted from cannabis or hemp. It interacts indirectly with a part of the body known as the endocannabinoid system (ECS), a wide-ranging network of cells that affect multiple complex body functions, including sleep, motor control, mood, memory, and appetite. The ECS functions in every person regardless of cannabis use, as it responds to naturally made endocannabinoids in addition to cannabis-derived exocannabinoids.

Some research has demonstrated that the presence of CBD induces the ESC to respond in particular areas, such as the digestive system, brain, and muscle groups. A decrease in inflammation, pain, and nausea has been observed to accompany these interactions, but further studies are necessary to confirm and explore these mechanisms in humans.

What are CBD edibles?

Edibles are a broad range of products that refers to a food or drink to which CBD has been added. It may also describe products that contain other active cannabis compounds, such as tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), although non-CBD products are not discussed thoroughly in this article. 

Edible products are one of the most popular methods of using CBD, with one 2019 survey indicating that over a third of CBD consumers consider edibles their usual method of using CBD. Within this category, there is an enormous range of options, from drinks and baked goods to gummies and other candies. This helps maintain the popularity of edibles, as the variety of options allows for novel experiences even with fairly familiar products.

CBD is usually added later in the production process for two reasons—it can be sensitive to the temperatures at which some edibles are prepared and the fats that are often included in edible products can bind to CBD, leaving less available to the body. Up until this point, they are typically made in a similar way to their non-CBD counterparts. Extracted CBD is introduced later to create an infused final product.

What are CBD tinctures?

Tinctures are liquid suspensions of CBD that can be used in several different ways. Ethanol is a common accompaniment in tinctures, but other solvents such as vinegar or propylene glycol are also frequently utilized. The same 2019 surveyshowed that 30% of consumers chose drops or sprays as their usual choice, which is the category that CBD tinctures fall under. 

One of the main benefits of CBD tinctures is the number of ways they can be taken. They are often directly swallowed or placed under the tongue to be absorbed sublingually, as this is an efficient and quick method. However, they can also be applied topically on the skin or incorporated into your usual foods and drinks if you want to avoid the unpleasant taste that accompanies some tinctures.

CBD tinctures are produced by passing cannabis plant material through the solvent of choice, where it becomes incorporated to produce a liquid infused with CBD. Tinctures typically come in glass dropper bottles for measuring specific dosages.

How do they differ in usage?

Application

This (hopefully) doesn’t need to be laid out for edibles, which as the name suggests are usually eaten. On the other hand, tinctures can be taken orally, sublingually, or by rubbing them onto a particular external area. The product’s packaging will also have guidelines for preparing and using it.

Dosage 

This is affected by multiple factors based on the amount you personally want to consume. It’s also affected by your natural metabolism, gender, and weight. As mentioned before, the packaging should specify the amount of CBD in a particular serving size. This is usually per gram for edibles or per drop/mg for tinctures. 

If you want to measure or adjust certain amounts of CBD and you don’t mind using a dropper, CBD tinctures are the way to go. If you’re happy with a consistent amount of CBD per serving, edible products are your best bet.

Rate of absorption

The absorption rate can differ quite a lot between edible products and tinctures. Any CBD products that have to pass through the digestive system will have a reduction in the overall amount that can be used by the body (bioavailability). Edibles typically have low bioavailability of 10-15%, while tinctures taken sublingually can access blood vessels under the tongue, reaching bioavailability of up to 35%. 

Effect duration

There are three main timepoints when measuring the duration of effect for CBD products—initial effect, peak effect, and end of the effect. CBD tinctures and edibles vary at each of these, with tinctures usually taking effect and wearing off more quickly than edible products. 

One review indicated that edible CBD products can take between 30 to 90 minutes to have an initial effect, as they must be digested before being processed in the liver. They then reach their peak within 2 to 4 hours and taper off several hours after that. 

CBD tinctures taken sublingually may take around 15 minutes to kick in, although the effects typically peak after around 30-45 minutes and wear off after 2-3 hours. When used externally, tinctures can take 90 minutes or more to have an effect, although this depends on the application area. 

It’s important to note that these times are very approximate, as biological variations can cause the timepoints to be different between individuals, and there is limited research that monitors these timepoints accurately.  

Best situation

Edible products are fantastic for busy people as they can be very portable and discrete, making them easier to take to work, social events, or your nephew’s basketball game. However, they may be hard to differentiate from similar products without CBD, so it’s important to keep them separate from each other.

Most CBD tinctures use droppers to help measure out specific dosages, so you may find them slightly more inconvenient than edibles. This is easily countered by preparing in advance or using it when you have a little bit more time to spare.

What product type should I choose?

Categories

CBD products are usually categorized based on the other cannabis compounds they contain. This helps you to choose products for a specific purpose, such as recreation effects or decreasing inflammation and pain. No matter which product you choose, it must state the concentration in percentages of THC and CBD, as well as any other active compounds if they make up more than 5% of the total cannabinol content.  

Full-spectrum products include all of the naturally occurring active components of cannabis, including THC and CBD. These are thought to cause an “entourage effect,” where the chemicals all work together to cause the body’s response to cannabis. 

Broad-spectrum products are similar in that they contain a wide range of active elements, also encouraging an entourage effect, but they specifically do not contain THC. This allows consumers who aren’t after a psychoactive effect to access the effects of other cannabis compounds.

CBD isolate constricts this even further, containing only one cannabinoid—CBD. The purification process renders CBD to a solid, crystal state, which can be resuspended as a tincture.

Cost 

It’s difficult to fairly consider all of the factors that contribute to different price points in cannabis products, such as brands, extract types, and product versions. Therefore, it’s easiest to take it straight to the dollar value of cost ($USD) per milligram of CBD, giving a direct measure of bang for buck regardless of the other details.

One market review suggested that the average edible beats the average tincture on price. Edibles ranged quite significantly from around $0.05-$0.20 per milligram of CBD, with premium options topping $0.30. Tinctures were a little more expensive on average, at approximately $0.10-$0.22. Therefore, if you’re aiming to make your dollars count, edibles might be the best option for you.

Best for beginners 

The doses are already done for you; it’s as simple as chewing. Edible products are an excellent introduction to CBD for their sheer simplicity. Many people begin to use CBD with edible products for their convenience and similarities to other consumables they’ve had previously.

They may be slightly unfamiliar, but CBD tinctures can also be a good choice for newbies. The internet has thousands of tutorials, recipes, and guides, so you’ll be an expert with just a little practice.

The bottom line

With the enormous range of CBD products available, consider that the different forms are intended for different purposes. 

If you want to explore CBD without fiddling with droppers and doses, a convenient (and tasty) edible product could be a great starting point. Once you’ve figured out what you want and are interested in experimenting with CBD a little more, tinctures are a good way to go.

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