Cannabis tinctures are a great delivery system. Cannabis and hemp are soaked in either high-proof alcohol or a fat such as coconut oil, and the result offers a whole profile of the extracted plant, including a full range of THC, CBD, and other cannabinoids and terpenes. It’s an ancient way of delivering the active ingredients in the plants, as well as being portable, discreet, fast-acting, and easy to use.
Numerous companies produce tinctures for the Oregon marketplace, and their products have varying ratios and amounts of THC and CBD. One company, Protanicals, takes a unique approach by offering four distinct THC/CBD ratios and adding additional botanicals. Their work is overseen by two naturopathic physicians, with the goal of engaging the endocannabinoid system (or ECS) and using the “entourage” effect, i.e., when the cannabinoids work together for increased results.
Dr. Shena Vander Ploeg and her business partner Dr. Glen Nagel have more than 50 years of collective botanical medicine work between them. Vander Ploeg began formulating cannabis and botanical products in 2008, born out of her desire to use cannabis plant medicine to address the stress-induced anxiety she developed in medical school. That’s when her interest began in establishing cannabis as an ingredient in products made with other plants.
“We start with the scientific evidence when creating these botanical elements of these formulas,” says Vander Ploeg. “The ECS within us directly responds to endocannabinoids [molecules our bodies produce] and cannabinoids [cannabis-derived compounds]. The ECS is involved in governing homeostasis in the body, meaning it restores and maintains human health. It regulates function of things like: eating, sleeping, relaxing, forgetting, and protecting [e.g., our immune function]. The science so far supports that the ECS is the most important homeostatic body system.”
The “entourage” effect, says Vander Ploeg, “demonstrates superior desired effects when using full-spectrum cannabis extracts that have phytoconstituents present, beyond the isolation/use of primary cannabinoids or synthetically created ones. Cannabis has over 454 active constituents, [so] it is easy to imagine the potential synergy of the other supportive botanicals.”
Protanicals’ tinctures—for which they have partnered with Portland cannabis producer Müru—have various ratios of THC to CBD, but they all feature more than 0.3 percent THC, and are thus only available in dispensaries. Protanicals’ “Universal” tincture is 1:1 CBD/THC, while the “Relief” is 2:1, “Digest” is 5:1, and “Emerge” is 7:1. Each product is designed to support specific goals, addressing stress, pain, digestion, and general health maintenance. And the tinctures include additional botanicals that are complementary to each formula, such as skullcap, passionflower, gentian root, and others found in many over-the-counter herbal supplements.
When I saw the products at a dispensary, I asked my budtender if he had used them, or had feedback from those who had. “Both!” he replied, and began enthusiastically sharing his experiences. Soon two other budtenders crowded around sharing similar stories. Budtenders are an understandably fussy lot, but the whole shop was down with Protanicals.
The Emerge tincture has 21 milligrams of CBD to 3 milligrams of THC per serving. It also contains Ashwagandha, an adaptogen herb believed to help your body counter stress—I already take it as a daily supplement, even though everything is fine, thanks. The tincture’s other botanicals are also used to counter stress, and after taking some, I was less tense while still fully engaged. The low level of THC did not offer any impairment and made for a great daytime option.
Meanwhile, the Relief tincture (with 8 milligrams of CBD to 4 milligrams of THC per serving) was a great downshift option. It includes kava, another daily supplement I also take to help me sleep (I’m fine, really).
All of Protanicals’ ingredients are certified organic or are organically grown, and their website offers impressive “research source” links. With different levels of CBD and THC plus the added botanicals, their careful crafting helps users achieve the specific desired effect.