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CBD Tincture vs Oil: Which One is Better for You?

CBD oil, CBD tincture, and a hemp leaf beautifully arranged on a wooden board

Kara Miller |

Word about the potential health benefits of CBD oil continues to spread, and the CBD industry is booming with more than $4.1 billion in sales in the United States alone. To meet the growing demand for CBD extracts, companies are introducing different products that contain cannabis oils. This means you have a wealth of options, making it difficult to know where to start when determining the best way to add CBD oil to your daily routine. In this guide, we compare two of the main kinds of CBD products — oils and tinctures — and give tips on selecting the type most likely to yield the best results.

What Is CBD?

Before you compare kinds of CBD, you first need a clear understanding of what the term means. CBD stands for cannabidiol, a naturally occurring chemical in cannabis hemp plants.

CBD usually does not contain tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), the substance in the Cannabis sativa plant that gives marijuana its intoxicating effects. As a result, it is not on the schedule of controlled substances enforced by the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration.

Golden colored oil in a glass dropper

Under federal law, you can legally purchase topical and oral CBD products as long as the product only contains trace amounts of THC. Typically, this means that CBD can have no more than 0.3 percent THC. That said, some states place additional restrictions on the industry. For example, state laws for CBD may be similar to those for possessing and using medical cannabis and require you to obtain a doctor's prescription.

What Is CBD Oil?

The main difference between CBD oils and CBD tinctures lies in the manufacturing process. To produce CBD oil, manufacturers heat cannabis plant matter to a high temperature or mix it with carbon dioxide to separate the resin from the plant. Then the resin is diluted in a carrier oil, such as MCT oil, olive oil, coconut oil, hemp seed oil, or jojoba oil.

What Is a CBD Tincture?

The extraction process for CBD tincture is much different than the one used to make CBD oil. Manufacturers soak hemp flower plant material in 60 to 70% distilled alcohol from a source like ethanol or a vinegar solution to make a tincture.

Comparing CBD Tincture vs. Oil

Beyond their varying extraction methods, CBD tinctures and oils have many other differences. Let's take a closer look at how they compare.


CBD oils often take longer to produce and require stricter controls than CBD tinctures. As a result, CBD oil is often more expensive than a tincture.


A CBD oil's base is usually a plant-based oil, while a tincture generally has a high-proof alcohol base. The oil base gives CBD oil additional nutritional benefits. A serving of oil usually contains protein, essential fatty acids, vitamins, and other essential nutrients. Herbal tinctures are less likely to have these additional nutrients.

Delivery Method

Both CBD cannabis tinctures and oils are suitable for oral ingestion. The base oil of CBD oil usually makes it easier to measure and mix into foods and beverages than tinctures. Both types of CBD can be taken sublingually. This term refers to placing something under your tongue and allowing it to absorb into the mucous membranes in the mouth.

You can apply some CBD oils and tinctures to your skin. However, as with essential oils, it’s good to make sure the product is diluted and safe for your skin. Some CBD oils and tinctures may be too concentrated for topical use and require dilution before applying them to your body. Even tinctures labeled as okay for topical application could cause skin dryness and irritation.


CBD oil tends to have a strong flavor. Some say it has a bitter taste due to how the oil interacts with the mouth. Some people may initially find CBD oil unpleasant but gradually adjust to the taste over time.

Woman in a blue sweater dropping CBD tincture in her mouth

Normally, alcohol-based CBD tinctures contain added flavorings to improve the finished product's taste. The flavors may be natural or artificial, depending on the formula.


Although CBD products vary greatly, CBD oils are generally more potent than tinctures. If you compare the chemical composition of equal amounts of the two side by side, the oil will likely contain higher concentrations of the active ingredient, CBD.

This doesn't necessarily mean that CBD tincture is inferior. Because it is an alcohol-based extract, a tincture may be more bioavailable. In other words, your body may be better able to absorb and utilize the CBD chemical compound found in a tincture.

Shelf Life

The alcohol found in CBD tincture acts as a preservative, stabilizing the product and fighting the growth of microbes. This leads to tinctures usually having a long shelf life. Manufacturers often place CBD oils in tinted glass bottles to protect them from light and help them last for longer, but they generally expire more quickly than tinctures.

The Potential Benefits of CBD Oil and Tinctures

Both clinical studies and testimonials from everyday people show evidence of the benefits of CBD. Although their potency and bioavailability may vary, different CBD products may provide similar benefits due to the role of the body's endocannabinoid system or ECS.

The brain, immune, and endocrine systems play a role in the ECS. Its job is to maintain equilibrium in your body. Sometimes called the master regulator, the ECS plays a role in body temperature, sleep, metabolism, pain sensation, and more. To keep itself functioning properly, the body produces endocannabinoids, which attach to specialized receptors on cells. CBD can also bind to these sites, which is the main reason why it may offer the following health benefits.

Pain Relief

Many people take CBD to alleviate various types of chronic pain. A large systematic review of previous studies published in 2008 found that CBD had anti-inflammatory potential. Since then, the study of the ECS has led researchers to believe that CBD's ability to bind to receptor sites is the reason for its anti-inflammatory properties.

Studies into how CBD oil benefits people with specific pain, such as joint and back pain, are just beginning. A case and literature review published in 2020 found that applying creams that contained CBD eased back pain. The size of this study was limited and only looked at one particular product, but it encourages further research on the subject.

Research into taking CBD for joint pain has also yielded promising results. One study of 428 people with osteoarthritis who took CBD found that 83% experienced less pain, and roughly two-thirds observed improvements in joint function and mobility.

Stress Management

One key job of the ECS system is to relax the body. Because CBD can activate receptors in the system, it may help alleviate some of the physical and mental symptoms of stress.

Although research is ongoing, some evidence suggests that CBD may aid in stress management. A cross-sectional study of CBD users in the UK found that more than one-third used products because of their perceived stress relief benefits. Another examined how taking 150 milligrams of CBD oil twice per day impacted frontline healthcare workers during the COVID-19 pandemic in Brazil. The study found that those who took CBD and instituted best practices for self-care were less fatigued and felt less burnout than those who only relied on self-care for stress relief.

Natural Insomnia Relief

Concerns about sleep management are another primary reason that people use CBD. The ECS is also responsible for regulating sleep, and some studies suggest that CBD may help ease insomnia and improve sleep quality. One large retrospective case series involving patients at a psychiatric clinic concluded that more than half experienced better sleep when given CBD. A systematic review of previous studies published in 2017 concluded that there is some evidence to support the use of CBD for insomnia, but additional studies involving larger cohorts are necessary to determine the extent of these potential benefits.

CBD Oil vs. Tincture: Which Is Better for You?

Ultimately, whether CBD oil or tincture is right for you depends on your personal preferences and needs. Keep your goals, preferences, lifestyle, and budget in mind when deciding which to choose.

When to Use CBD Tincture

CBD tincture may be a better choice if:

  • You have a sensitive palate and want something with a pleasant taste
  • You wish to purchase CBD products in bulk and store them for long periods of time
  • You plan only to take CBD as needed and want a long-lasting supply
  • You’re using CBD for the first time and want an economically priced CBD product

When to Use CBD Oil

CBD oil may be a better choice if you:

  • Need a highly potent CBD product because you're experiencing severe pain
  • Would benefit from the other nutrients commonly found in CBD oil, like essential fatty acids
  • Want or need to avoid flavorings
  • Have sensitive skin or dry skin and plan to apply CBD topically

Safety and Side Effects

CBD is generally safe for most people, but it can cause side effects for some. Potential side effects include:

  • Allergic reactions, which could be serious
  • Dry mouth
  • Diarrhea
  • Upset stomach
  • Reduced appetite
  • Drowsiness
  • Fatigue
  • Mood swings and irritability

In rare cases, CBD oil has been linked to liver injury. However, it is unknown whether it was the CBD or another substance in the product that caused liver problems. In animal studies, CBD has negatively impacted fertility in some males, but these findings have not been reproduced in humans.

Currently, the safety of using CBD when pregnant or breastfeeding is unknown. CBD products may also interact with some medications, such as blood thinners. There is also a risk that taking CBD oil could cause you to fail a drug test for work if the manufacturer allows more THC than the legal limit to end up in the final product.

Keep in mind that any herbal extract can pose some risk for side effects, allergic reactions, and drug interactions. CBD oils and tinctures are no exception. To ensure the best results, talk to your medical provider before taking CBD for the first time. They may provide information about which product to choose, how to use it, or how much to take.

Once you have chosen a CBD product, use it as directed. Follow the directions for use printed on the label unless your medical provider gives you different advice.

How to Choose a High-Quality CBD Tincture or Oil

Unlike other dietary supplements, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration doesn’t regulate CBD. Manufacturers don't need to submit clinical trials to prove their products are effective. You'll need to compare products before buying. Here are a few things to look out for when shopping for CBD.

Hemp Source

Where manufacturers get the hemp used for their production process matters. In the U.S., most hemp comes from Colorado, Kentucky, or Oregon, where the industrial hemp industry is strictly regulated. Farmers must adhere to strict standards regarding pesticides and fertilizers, and crops are often subject to inspection. Overseas growers may operate without oversight, which could significantly affect the quality and possibly introduce unwanted compounds to hemp.

Cannabinoid Spectrum

The cannabinoid spectrum refers to how complete a particular CBD product is. There are three kinds:

  • Full-spectrum: Full-spectrum CBD comes from the whole cannabis plant, creating CBD that is as close to unprocessed CBD as possible. Generally, full-spectrum products are the most potent types of CBD oils and tinctures and contain the highest amount of THC.
  • Broad-spectrum: The THC is removed in a broad-spectrum CBD product, but all other plant compounds remain intact. This type is generally the second-most potent liquid form of CBD.
  • Isolate: CBD isolate is pure CBD with all other components removed. Full-spectrum and broad-spectrum products have a higher potency of CBD, which likely means increased effectiveness.

Third-Party Testing

Not all CBD products live up to their promises. A chemical analysis of 84 CBD products found that 26% contained less CBD than the label reported, and 21% contained THC even though the cannabis products were supposedly free of the chemical. The findings of this study point to the need to choose CBD products that are third-party tested. This means that an independent laboratory has evaluated them and found that they contain the ingredients listed in the amounts specified.

Shop online for high-quality CBD products for pain, sleep, stress, and more at Because Market.


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