Two new studies prove that cannabis tinctures have several advantages over traditional edibles. Here is how they stack up.

Cannabis edibles come in many forms: tablets, capsules, pretzels, cookies, brownies, gummies, etc. However, cannabis tinctures are fundamentally different – they are a liquid form of cannabis. Tinctures are alcohol based extracts of cannabis that can be drunk by themselves, or added to other drinks or food.

The Problem With Edibles

Dosing of edibles can be challenging. It is difficult to determine when the maximum effect has been reached. Did you dose too low, or has it just not kicked in yet? Absorption of the THC in edibles is different for everybody and is often unpredictable.

Finally, it matters whether you take edibles on an empty stomach or after a meal. Taking edibles on an empty stomach changes the ratio of THC to CBD absorbed and can predispose people to experiencing greater anxiety.

However, there is one major disadvantage of taking edibles after a meal. Food will extend the time it takes to start feeling the effects of edibles. It also adds to the variability since what you eat will impact the rate and extent of THC absorption

Tinctures can solve many of the above issues. Read on to find out about new science that proves tinctures are the way to go!

New Scientific Studies Compare THC Tinctures With THC Capsules

Dronabinol is a capsule of synthetic THC that is approved by the FDA as an appetite stimulant in AIDS-related anorexia and to treat chemotherapy-induced nausea and vomiting.

Due to some of the above issues (slow and inconsistent absorption) INSYS Therapeutics has recently developed a tincture of dronabinol that is now approved by the FDA. They call it an “oral solution”, but it’s basically the same as a tincture. The main difference is that it is synthetic THC instead of a cannabis extract, which contains a mixture of cannabinoids.

As part of the development of this product, they did several studies comparing the capsule and solution (i.e. tincture) forms of THC. One study was under fasted conditions and the other study was after a high-fat meal.

These studies give us a great opportunity to see how tinctures differ from edibles in controlled clinical trials. Read below to see what we have learned!

#1 – Tinctures Provide Better THC Bioavailability

With tinctures, you get more bang for your THC buck. Specifically, 18% more THC was absorbed with a tincture than with a capsule. Not a huge difference, but enough to give it a little extra kick!

The caveat is that this only happens on an empty stomach. A fatty meal will increase THC absorption enough that it won’t matter what form you take THC in.

THC bioavailability is higher with tinctures


#2 – Tinctures Have More Rapid THC Absorption

With edibles, THC has to dissolve in your gastric fluid before it is absorbed. Since the THC is already in solution with a tincture, this step is not a limiting factor.

After taking the tincture, THC could be detected in the blood of all of subjects within 15 minutes (empty stomach) or 30 minutes (with food). It took several hours to detect THC in the blood of 100% of patients who took the capsule, whether on an empty or full stomach.

#3 – Tinctures Have More Consistent Absorption From Person to Person

There will always be some variability from person to person in how they absorb THC no matter what form they take it in. However, the ideal edible will have as little variability as possible so that there are predictable effects.

These studies showed that the person-to-person variability in the total amount of THC absorbed was actually similar between tinctures and capsules. However, there were drastic differences in the amount of THC absorbed within the first two hours after dosing. The variability at 30 minutes after dosing, for example, was 3 times higher with capsules than with edibles!

This shows that if two people take the same dose of a tincture, they are more likely to feel the same effects come on at the same time and with the same intensity. With a capsule or other edible, the same two people may feel the effects come on at completely different times or one person may feel it much more intensely.

Between-subject variability in THC absorption is lower with tinctures


#4 – Tinctures Have More Consistent Absorption From Time to Time

Imagine you take the same cannabis edible 10 times in a row (well not literally in a row, but on different days). You would hope that the same amount of THC is absorbed each time, but realistically it will always be a little different.

In one study, both the tincture and capsule were given on two separate occasions. This allowed an assessment of how consistently THC was absorbed for each person.

The tincture had a time-to-time variability that was 63% less than the capsule!. This shows that the effects of a tincture are likely to be more consistent each time you take it.

Within-subject variability in THC absorption is lower with tinctures

Conclusions on tinctures vs. edibles

One limitation of these studies is that dronabinol capsules and solution contain pure THC – so they could not assess the absorption of CBD or other cannabinoids from tinctures.

Nonetheless, these two studies provide us clear scientific evidence of the advantages of tinctures compared with edibles. Tinctures give us more rapid and consistent THC absorption.

Last modified: June 22, 2017

8 Responses to " Cannabis Tinctures – Four Reasons They Are Better Than Edibles "

  1. mara says:

    My problem is sleep maintenance insomnia (I don’t stay asleep). I find sativa tincture with a little THC makes me sleepy but I wake up every two hours and have to take more. What would last 8 hours, or is there anything?

    • Prof of Pot says:

      There are definitely things that could work, I’m just not sure whether they exist yet. The first is a controlled-release THC tablet. I haven’t seen one yet, but I would make a bet that someone is developing this. The second is a patch, since transdermal absorption naturally gives a more even blood level over a longer period of time. I know there are patches available, I just haven’t seen the data to know whether they are any good or not.

    • Mars says:

      I was under the belief that all sativa_dominant strains were for those of us looking to stay energized and focused. Indica-dominant strains are the sedative type that help with insomnia. Either way, it doesn’t hurt to try.

  2. Veronica says:

    I see where you state that a fatty meal increases thc apsorbtion so that it doesn’t matter what form it is in. So, you are saying this is not good, becaus of what? The time it takes to work, or…? I am a baker, and the time I used a Magical butter machine to make a tincture it was disgusting with the Everclear, so nasty that no dilution would help. I thought of trying with glycerine. But I prefer edibles, so just wondering about the statement of increasing thc by eating after a fatty meal, because to me that sounds like a good thing! Thanks.

    • Prof of Pot says:

      Hi Veronica, what I meant to say was that if you take THC with a fatty meal, the total amount absorbed will be the same with a tincture or edible. However, tinctures still give you the other advantages of more rapid and consistent THC absorption, regardless of whether you are fasted or fed.

  3. JR says:

    But what of the potential negative consequences of high proof alcohol on the tissues of the mouth? Probably not an issue with occasional use, but if a person is medicating daily for years, can increase the risk of oral cancers. I believe that the alcohol levels in mouthwash poses a risk if over 20% or so. Vodka based tinctures are around 40%, and THC extraction is even better at higher proofs. Consistency and predictability are good, but how much are they worth?

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