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are cbd tinctures effective

It’s no longer surprising that CBD is gaining popularity, as its purported health benefits are almost mind-blowing, with some derivatives even thought to help ease cancer-related symptoms. However, with the wide range of CBD products out there, it’s hard to not feel overwhelmed. There's CBD oil, CBD-infused gummy bears and chocolates, and now we have CBD tinctures, which contain all the rich benefits of the cannabis plant in high concentrations and are administered orally.

In simple terms, a tincture is dervied by soaking the cannabis plant in an alcohol and water solution, while to concoct CBD oil, plant extracts are are infused in a carrier oil, like coconut, olive or hemp seed.

1. CBD tincture is not CBD oil.

The cannabis plant contains medicinal constituents called terpenes that provide the tincture's aroma and flavor. To boost its medicinal value, terpenes from other plants or herbs are often added to it. Since tinctures are usually taken to help ease a specific ailment, the the kind of terpenes added is targeted to those particular symptoms. For example, myrcene is added to help reduce anxiety, while limonene is added to help improve your mood.

Tinctures are extremely concentrated, so it's vital that you take the them in small doses. Although you can’t overdose on a tincture, it’s better to stay safe and restrict yourself. In fact, if you’re taking a tincture for therapeutic purposes, a large dose isn't even necessary. Plus, tinctures typically come with droppers that make it easy to administer and control.

Many people confuse the two products. Some even reference them interchangeably, but who can blame them? Both are stored in similar bottles, and the processes for cultivating them are virtually the same. However, the primary distinction is in how each extracts the cannabis plant's constituents.

Because of the legally murky nature of marijuana, the FDA has not stepped in to regulate products like CBD oil, Bonn-Miller said. States are struggling to put regulations in place, but they don’t have the deep pockets of the federal government.

Meanwhile, a 2017 study led by Bonn-Miller found that nearly 7 of 10 CBD products didn’t contain the amount of marijuana extract promised on the label.

The rest of the potential uses — as an antipsychotic, antidepressant or sleep aid “have all been studied in animals, with only one or two examples of studies in humans,” Bonn-Miller said.

CBD oil is legal in 30 states where medicinal and/or recreational marijuana is legal, according to Governing magazine.

The non-intoxicating marijuana extract is being credited with helping treat a host of medical problems — everything from epileptic seizures to anxiety to inflammation to sleeplessness.

This could mean that people taking anti-epilepsy drugs alongside CBD will need to adjust their dosage downward to avoid side effects, Welty noted.

There also is some indication that CBD might harm the liver. About 10 percent of people taking CBD in studies had increases in liver enzymes, which would indicate possible liver damage, Welty said.

According to Low Dog, a tincture may offer a broader range of compounds from hemp than an oil extraction. “Consumers who are alcohol-sensitive often prefer hemp oil over tincture. While both can be used topically, hemp oil is generally easier to apply and less irritating,” she says.

But first, a little CBD 101…

Despite its relatively recent place in our collective consciousness, CBD has been at work delivering its calming agents as far back as the ‘80s by some estimates and the ancient world by others. With it, an almost endless menu of formulations has emerged—from capsules and oils to lotions and seltzer—each promising an even more effective dose of CBD than the last.

CBD tincture vs. CBD oil—which is better?

“Quality is always an issue, especially in a relatively young market, such as the cannabis market,” Low Dog says. And she’s right. A 2017 study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association found that out of the commercially available CBD products, only 30 percent were accurately labeled.

The cannabis plant has hundreds of chemicals in it, including more than 120 cannabinoids, Hill explains. Of those cannabinoids, two are most familiar: THC, which produces the euphoric effects or “high” people experience from marijuana, and cannabidiol or CBD, which has some anti-inflammatory, anti-seizure, anxiety-relieving and analgesic properties, according to Low Dog.

“The rate and scale of the research just hasn’t kept pace with the interest at this point. A lot of the medical uses for cannabidiol are backed by animal studies only or really no studies. So that’s where it can be a problem.”

Here, Tieraona Low Dog, M.D., an expert on herbal medicine and women’s health, and Kevin Hill, M.D., Director of the Division of Addiction Psychiatry at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center and an Assistant Professor of Psychiatry at Harvard Medical School, get to the bottom of CBD tinctures’ mystique.