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What Is a Glycerin Tincture?

Patients that have a prescription for medical marijuana might use a glycerin tincture.
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  • Written By: O. Parker
  • Edited By: A. Joseph
  • Last Modified Date: 10 August 2014
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Glycerin tincture is an extract that is made using glycerin, a clear, viscous liquid. This provides an alternative to alcohol-based tinctures. Tinctures are commonly made with vegetable glycerin derived from seed oils and fats. Vegetable glycerin is known for its intensely sweet taste.

A tincture is made by extracting healing compounds from plants. It is commonly done by submerging the plants in alcohol for several weeks. The alcohol draws the medicinal elements and simultaneously acts as a preservative. A glycerin tincture is made by submerging the plant material in glycerin instead of alcohol. Glycerin also acts as a preservative for the final product, so it can completely replace the alcohol.

A glycerin tincture provides an alternative for people who choose to abstain from all alcohol or who cannot tolerate alcohol. The sweet taste is more palatable to young children than harsh-tasting alcohol tinctures. Even pets can often be persuaded to take their medicine when it tastes as good as glycerin does.

Vegetable glycerin is made by a process of extraction. Glycerin is technically a fat, although it is water soluble. To make glycerin, fat molecules derived from seeds or nuts are split. The result is glycerol fats, or glycerin. The process is called hydrolysis and consists of using water, heat and pressure to break apart the molecules. Often, glycerin is the byproduct from processing other types of oils, although it also can be made as the primary product.

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People who are suffering from a medical condition and have been prescribed medical marijuana might use a glycerin tincture. The glycerin hides the taste of the herb, making it palatable for people who experience nausea. It also is suitable for people who are unwilling to smoke.

Although it does provide a suitable alternative to an alcohol-based tincture, a glycerin tincture has a much shorter shelf life. Herbs that have been extracted and preserved in alcohol tend to keep for four years or even longer. Glycerin, however, has a shelf life of just 14 to 24 months.

Plant extracts that have been made into glycerin tinctures are not just for internal medicine. They also can be added to skin care products, toothpaste, hair care products or cosmetics. This helps to moisturize, hydrate and soften the skin.

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