Topicals vs. Tinctures: Which Is Right for You?

by | Sep 14, 2023 | Guides

The rapidly growing cannabis market has diversified immensely, offering consumers various consumption methods. Topicals and tinctures are two products that often pique interest yet remain shrouded in a veil of uncertainty. As unique and efficient as they are, they cater to very different needs. Here, we’ll dissect these products, delving deep into their pros and cons, and by the end, you’ll have a clearer understanding of which one aligns with your needs.


Getting Acquainted


First and foremost, let’s unravel what these products actually are.

Topicals refer to a broad spectrum of products like lotions, balms, creams, or salves that are cannabis-infused and designed for external application. Unlike several other cannabis products, topicals are primarily intended for direct, localized relief.

Conversely, tinctures are alcohol or oil-based cannabis extracts that can be directly consumed—either by dropping under the tongue (sublingual) or adding to drinks.


The World of Topicals


Topicals are fascinating, and their adoption has been primarily because of their targeted efficacy. Here’s an in-depth look:

small glass jar containing cannabis infused topical lotion next to a bundle of marijuana leaves


Pros of Topicals


Localized Relief: What sets topicals apart is their capacity for targeted action. Have a bothersome pain in your elbow or an unsettling itch on your shin? Topicals let you address these issues directly. By applying the cream or balm to the problem area, users can expect localized relief, making it a favorite for those with joint pains or skin conditions.

Steer Clear of the High: Most topicals don’t breach the bloodstream. This unique characteristic means that you can experience the medicinal benefits of cannabis without the psychoactive effects that many want to avoid. This is particularly beneficial for those who need to stay clear-headed or those who aren’t comfortable with feeling ‘high.’

Diverse Range: Step into a cannabis dispensary, and you’ll be welcomed by topicals ranging from gels with a cooling touch to aromatic balms that combine therapeutic effects with sensory pleasure.


Cons of Topicals


Surface-Level Action: While they shine in providing localized relief, topicals usually don’t address deeper internal issues or offer full-body relaxation.

Consistent Application: Depending on the severity of the discomfort, you might find yourself reaching for the topical quite often, which isn’t always the most convenient.


Tinctures: The Unsung Heroes


Tinctures might not have the same mainstream appeal as edibles or vapes, but their potency and versatility shouldn’t be underestimated.

woman in denim jacket holding and looking at a cannabis tincture bottle


Pros of Tinctures


Quick to Act: One of the standout features of tinctures is how rapidly they can deliver results. When taken sublingually, the active compounds are quickly absorbed into the bloodstream, offering swift relief. For those who don’t enjoy waiting, tinctures are a game-changer.

Stealth Mode: The sheer convenience of dropping a bit of liquid under your tongue or mixing it with your drink makes tinctures a discreet companion. There’s no smoke, no distinct aroma, or any telltale signs of cannabis consumption.

Tailored Dosing: The dropper often accompanying tinctures isn’t just for show. It allows for precise dosage, ensuring you consume just the right amount and reducing the chances of overwhelming experiences.


Cons of Tinctures


An Acquired Taste: Let’s be honest—tinctures can have a potent flavor. While some might enjoy the earthy notes, others might need a chaser.

Potential for Psychoactive Effects: Tinctures can contain significant THC levels, which means there’s potential for a high, especially if you’re generous with your dosage.


Making The Choice Between Topicals and Tinctures


Here’s a simple breakdown to help you make a decision between topicals and tinctures:

Seeking localized relief? Topicals have your back (or knee or elbow).

Desire a systemic, full-body effect? Tinctures should be your go-to.

Discretion is a priority? Both are champs in their own right: topicals for their innocuous nature and tinctures for their stealthy consumption method.

Looking to avoid the ‘high’? CBD-dominant topicals offer relief without psychoactivity. Tinctures offer flexibility, with options both with and without THC.


In Closing


The world of cannabis is vast and wonderfully varied. Whether you lean towards the soothing embrace of a balm or the swift efficacy of a tincture, understanding your own needs is paramount. As the industry evolves, so do the options available, and staying informed ensures you get the best out of what cannabis has to offer. Whatever you choose, remember to source quality products and, as always, consume responsibly. Cheers to exploring and finding what’s best for you!

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