Cannabis Capsules or Tinctures: Which is better for me?
Dosing - May 09, 2019

Cannabis Capsules or Tinctures: Which is better for me?

Should I take capsules or tinctures? It’s a question that’s often asked when someone is looking into ingesting cannabis and which method is best for them.

Many people are switching over to ingestible consumption methods because unlike inhalation, ingesting cannabis won’t irritate your respiratory system and cause other associated health concerns. Ingesting also allows for convenient, discreet, and accurate dosing.

Choosing between capsules or tinctures is a bit like choosing between a chocolate bar and some gummy candy. The truth is that both provide the benefits of cannabis without needing to inhale anything. While you can’t go wrong with either, there are a few differences that may make one more suitable for you than the other.

What are cannabis capsules and tinctures?

These popular cannabis products are pretty much exactly what their names say – either oil filled capsules or tinctures that contain a concentrated cannabis oil extract. Either product is available in different potency levels of THC, CBD, or combination varieties.

Extracting the concentrated cannabis oil used in capsules or tinctures is done through a number of different methods, including ethanol extraction and CO2 extraction.

Cannabis oil capsules are taken orally and swallowed just like any other pill, while tinctures are generally taken sublingually by placing a few drops of oil under the tongue using a dropper. Tinctures can also be added as drops to food and beverages or included while cooking.

Both offer a product that is convenient and discreet to ingest while providing accurate dosing that can be combined into a daily or routine or used for on-the-spot medication. Medical patients or people taking them daily as part of a health and wellness routine are very high on capsules or tinctures.

How are they different?

Aside from the obvious physical differences (one is a pill, the other a liquid), these products deliver effects that are not dissimilar. Capsules are ingested orally (swallowed) while tinctures are administered sub-lingually (under the tongue).

Cannabis that has been orally ingested (capsules) will be gradually absorbed by the GI tract and thus has a much slower absorption rate requiring a lot more time to be metabolized before the effects are felt. Due to the severely decreased bioavailability when compared to inhalation, ingestion also requires a larger amount of cannabinoids to be effective. With the delayed onset of effects, and the variations in bioavailability from person to person, dosing becomes more difficult initially until users know how their body reacts.

Another key aspect of ingestion (capsules) is that the cannabinoids are metabolized through the liver which turns the regular delta-9-THC molecule into 11-OH-THC. This molecule is one of the reasons that ingested cannabis can provide a heavier stone than when inhaled.

Comparatively, sublingual delivery behaves similarly to inhalation. The area under the tongue is excellent at absorbing cannabis directly into the bloodstream meaning effects are usually felt within about 10 to 20 minutes (instead of hours). This is because the cannabinoids are not absorbed by the digestive tract and metabolized by the liver, all of which takes a long time. This means dosing is easier, the effects are more predictable and less cannabis is required.

Pros & Cons of cannabis oil capsules

Capsules are perhaps the most convenient way to ingest cannabis because all you have to do is swallow a pill. Caps also offer a set amount of cannabinoids (milligrams) and may provide a heavy-handed body stone similar to edibles. The effects last a long time, which is great for those seeking medication for chronic issues. Cannabis capsules also eliminate flavour, are easy to transport, and offer an economical dosing option.

Looking at the negatives, it’s difficult to fine-tune your dose with capsules and it may be difficult to find your preferred milligram requirement until you learn how your body reacts. Capsules also have a long onset duration which adds to the difficulty of dosing correctly. The lengthy duration of effects can also be a bad thing for casual users who may not want to be stoned for that long.

Pros of cannabis capsules Cons of cannabis capsules
Convenient and discreet to consume or carry Difficult to dose
High potency and purity Lengthy onset time
Long lasting effects Effects last a long time
Stronger effects due to metabolization into 11-OH-THC Stronger effects due to metabolization into 11-OH-THC (pro or con depends on the person)
Readily available in different strengths (THC, CBD or combination hybrids) Can only be consumed one way
No cannabis taste

Pros & Cons of cannabis tinctures

Tinctures are another great, easy to use alternative to smoking cannabis. Dropping a few drops of tincture under your tongue is simple and the cannabinoids begin working in minutes. Dosing is very accurate and can be adjusted easily on the fly. The effects are also similar to those of smoking cannabis in onset, duration and how they feel.

There aren’t a lot of negatives to tinctures except perhaps taste (subjective) or their decreased strength of effects and duration when compared to ingestible methods like capsules or edibles.

Pros of cannabis tinctures Cons of cannabis tinctures
Convenient and discreet to consume or carry Cannabis taste
High potency and purity Shorter effect duration compared to ingestible methods
Rapid onset of effects Should be taken more often for sustained effects
Similar effects to inhalation
Longer shelf-life compared to edibles and capsules
Readily available in different strengths (THC, CBD or combination hybrids)
Flexible and easy to dose

When it comes to choosing which option is best for you, it comes down to a number of things:

How experienced are you with cannabis and how important is accurate dosing to you?

For those with limited experience, tinctures are recommended until you learn how your body responds to cannabis.

How long do you want the effects to last?

If you’re looking for an all-day or night stone that lasts a long time, then cannabis capsules are for you. If a shorter high is preferred, consider tinctures. People using cannabis to treat medical conditions will often want long-lasting effects which makes capsules more suitable.

How quickly do you want to feel the effects?

If you want to get high quickly, then you should choose tinctures because capsules will take at least an hour to kick in.

Do you want to add cannabis to your food or beverages?

If you’re looking to easily incorporate cannabis into your food and drink, then tinctures are likely for you. Simply add your chosen number of drops (dosage) to whatever you’re creating and voila – cannabis-infused edibles.

All that being said, there really isn’t a right or wrong way to consume cannabis and if one method wasn’t working for you, then simply try another next time.

Whether you prefer capsules or tinctures is really a personal decision, and many users even end up using both together, typically taking a capsule and then regulating the effects with a tincture. Of course, this exercise is for more experienced users and beginners should be cautious, especially at first. Remember, start slowly and work your way up to the desired level of effects.

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