Most crops are picked from the ground and used in one primary format, as food. Cannabis is one of the most versatile plants in our agricultural system, transformed into everything from dried flower to hemp rope to topical lotions. One of the most useful cannabis formats is also one of the least understood by people browsing the world of cannabis products: the extract.
We suspect that the lack of understanding about extracts is a function of packaging. This liquid format comes in small dark-glass dropper jars, which bring to mind aisles in health food stores packed with dropper jars full of liquids from plants whose names and benefits are a mystery to most people. That association may be overwhelming, but don’t judge this book by its cover because cannabis extracts are surprisingly straightforward to use. Simplicity, though, isn’t all that makes extracts worth exploring. They also give you access to options, from easily infusing foods to supplementing your skin care routine with CBD.
What are cannabis extracts?
Broadly speaking, there are two kinds of cannabis extracts: oils and tinctures. Tinctures are extracts that use alcohol as the liquid that suspends THC, CBD or both. Oils are exactly what they sound like, THC, CBD or both in an oil rather than alcohol-based solution.
Not all oils are equal. As with any extract, whether it’s an oil or tincture, you’ll want to read the label to know the cannabinoid content and understand the strength of the extract but also the ratio of THC to CBD. In CBD oils, there’s the additional consideration of the extraction method. Fortunately, there are only two methods to be aware of: isolate and full-spectrum. Like the terms suggest, isolate comes from a process where “pure” CBD is isolated, and full-spectrum is derived from a process where the other compounds in the plant are preserved along with the CBD. Some experts believe that full-spectrum provides more health benefits and that the body processes CBD more efficiently when it’s in the presence of the other compounds extracted from the plant. On the other hand, isolates can be derived and incorporated into extracts with more precision, so the products created with them can be extremely consistent. Moreover, because isolates come from extracting CBD in its purest form, they don’t contain the terpenes and other compounds that produce that classic marijuana scent.
How do you use cannabis tinctures and oils?
This is where the things get interesting. Tinctures are meant to be direct and efficient, and oils give you a near universe of options.
Tinctures are are made to be ingested, and the fact that they are alcohol-based ensures fast-delivery of cannabinoids. Infuse your food or drink with tinctures, just be careful not to add them to anything too hot, since alcohol burns off easily. Alternatively, go for efficiency and take a few drops sublingually, so that the cannabinoids can be absorbed quickly by the high volume of blood vessels under the tongue.
Similarly, cannabis oils can also be dropped straight into the mouth or added to food and drink. They can also be used with vaporizer pens, similar to e-liquids. It’s a faster alternative to ingesting oils, and it’s also more portable and socially shareable.
CBD oil, specifically, can also be rubbed into the skin topically. This means that it can double as a part of your beauty or grooming regimen, layered on with your hyaluronic acid, salicylic acid and other skin care serums. CBD’s anti-inflammatory properties make the compound useful for treating morning puffiness under the eyes.
CBD oil is also extremely hydrating and analgesic (pain-reducing), making it helpful for treating dry skin, eczema, and even your dry cuticles.
There’s also research to suggest that CBD can help to regulate oil production by the sebaceous glands, which means that this cannabinoid could be useful in fighting acne breakouts, too.
What unexpected ways do you use cannabis extracts? Send us a message on Facebook. And sign up for our newsletter to get more stories like this delivered to your inbox once a week.