CBD is available in many different forms – oil, tincture, vape liquid, oral spray, edibles, topical creams, and even suppositories. The extensive amount of CBD options can be pretty overwhelming for a first timer.
How do you pick the best CBD product for you?
- It should deliver cannabinoids to your system in the fastest and most effective manner
- It should produce the results you wish to achieve
- It should produce effects that last a long time
- It should be convenient and appropriate for your lifestyle
The most popular methods of administering CBD are oral (mouth), sublingual (under the tongue), inhalation (breathed into the lungs), and topical (applied to the skin).
More than half of the entire CBD market is composed of products that are taken through the mouth and ingested. This category includes CBD concentrates, tinctures, pills, and edible treats like gummy bears and cookies.
Oral sprays and oil drops belong to the sublingual class that delivers CBD to the body by placing the liquid under the tongue before swallowing.
CBD also comes in inhalable liquid form, often administered through a nebulizer-like device such as vape pens and vaporizers.
The hottest CBD category today is the topical group. The entry of CBD into the health and wellness industry has spawned an entire line of CBD-infused lotions, creams, serums and other beauty products.
Onset of action and duration of effect
When taken orally, CBD takes effect slower (around 10-60 minutes) but produces effects that last longer (couple of hours). Inhalation can provide relief in just a matter of minutes but effects only last a few hours. Since topical CBD is applied directly to the skin, you can feel it working almost immediately on a localized area of your body. Your choice of CBD product ultimately depends on what you are using it for and the effects you aim to achieve.
If you are looking for quick relief from pain or acute stress, putting a few drops of CBD under your tongue is probably better than mixing it with food. Ingesting CBD may take longer to kick in because it gets absorbed by the digestive tract, but the effects may last longer than the sublingual method of consumption.
CBD concentrates are the purest form of the plant extract. This resinous, gelatinous CBD paste may have a dark green, brown, slightly reddish or even golden color – depending on the manufacturing process and plant of origin.
CBD concentrates contain around 20% to 40% cannabidiol plus other cannabinoids of the plant it was extracted from.
How to consume CBD concentrates:
- CBD concentrates can be taken sublingually. Squeeze the paste on a spoon or finger and place it under the tongue. Let it stay there for one to five minutes. When completely dissolved in saliva, you may swallow it.
- CBD concentrates can also be applied topically. Squeeze the paste on your finger and rub it on the affected skin.
- If your inhaling device is capable of vaporizing resinous substances, then you can vape CBD concentrates as well.
- CBD concentrates can be dissolved in vegetable oil and mixed into a tincture. Keep in mind that CBD concentrates are not water-soluble – they can only dissolve in oil or alcohol.
While CBD concentrates may be the most potent form of CBD, the taste of hemp does not suit everyone. Expect a very strong taste that might be too bitter or spicy for your palate.
CBD oil tinctures and drops
CBD oil tinctures and drops are a diluted form of CBD concentrates. They are often mixed with vegetable oil, coconut oil, hemp seed oil, or olive oil to mask the unpleasant taste of hemp. Some companies add flavoring to their CBD tinctures, including chocolate, strawberry, and mint.
CBD tinctures contain around 3% to 10% of cannabidiol. Since tinctures are in liquid form instead of resin paste, they are easier to dose. They often come in bottles with a marked dropper for measuring the exact amount.
How to take CBD oil tinctures and drops
Step 1: Shake well!
Separation is fairly common in oil products, which is why it is important to shake the bottle well before drawing the liquid. If you do not shake it, you might end up consuming hemp oil or coconut oil instead of CBD.
Step 2: Fill the dropper with CBD oil
Open the bottle and squeeze the dropper to fill the pipette with oil. Hold the pipette under your tongue and dispense the oil. If you are having a hard time with dripping, you may also use a spoon. The fine blood vessels and mucous membranes in the mouth enable the CBD to quickly enter the bloodstream.
Step 3: Allow the tongue to absorb the oil
Hold the liquid under your tongue for 60 to 90 seconds to let it absorb the oil. You may swish it around or just let it stay still. If you find the flavor to be too strong, swallow the CBD oil with water, juice, or apple cider to wash out any hemp aftertaste.
You can also apply CBD oil directly on the skin or mix it with shakes, smoothies or other liquids.
CBD vape oil
The popularity of vaping has made smoking cannabis a thing of the past. With the invention of the personal vaporizer, inhaling cannabinoids like CBD has become more convenient and more discreet. Many vapor companies now offer CBD oil that is specially formulated for vaping devices. Make sure your vaporizer can handle the viscosity of CBD before loading it up with CBD vape oil.
How to vape CBD oil
- Place a few drops of CBD vape oil into the liquid cartridge or tank. Turn on the battery or mod. Press the fire button while inhaling CBD vapor from the mouthpiece.
- While you can also consume this type of CBD oil sublingually or topically, CBD vape oils are really better suited for inhaling.
In today's health and beauty market, CBD seems to be everywhere! Creams, lotions, ointments, balms, lubes – they are all promoting skin care with CBD as an active ingredient. Apart from managing skin problems, CBD is also applied topically for relief of joint and muscle pain.
Topical CBD products are mixed with different carriers and contain various CBD concentrations. Some are blended with essential oils or herbal supplements.
How to apply topical CBD oil
- Topical CBD products contain other ingredients that may not be safe for ingestion, which is why they are only to be used on the skin. Apply a generous amount to the relevant area.
- You may also rub CBD concentrates or tinctures on the skin. If you are applying a concentrated CBD resin, you do not need to put as much as because of the potency of the solution. The pasty texture of CBD concentrates makes them stick to the skin very well but may leave a stain due to the dark color. Leave the paste on as long as possible and then rinse it off with edible oil.
CBD capsules and pills
If you cannot stand the taste of hemp in a tincture or concentrate, then CBD in capsule or pill form is your next best option. The taste buds never come into contact with the CBD oil because it is encapsulated in a soft gel coating.
Another advantage of capsules and pills is accurate dosing. Mistakes can happen if you are measuring CBD by the spoon or in a syringe but pills will always contain the right dosage. CBD capsules are available in 15mg, 25mg, 50mg, 75mg, and 100mg varieties.
How to take CBD capsules and pills
- This is the simplest way to consume CBD. Just pop a pill in your mouth and you are good to go. You may take CBD capsules on an empty stomach, with a glass of water, an hour before and an hour after a meal. More CBD is absorbed through the intestine if it enters the body without the presence of food.
Ingesting, inhaling, and rubbing CBD on the skin are the most common ways to consume CBD, but there is another form of administration that is highly effective but often overlooked – the humble suppository.
Although many people might feel uncomfortable shoving medicine up their behind compared to simply swallowing or breathing, suppositories warrant careful consideration as they actually deliver the greatest amount of CBD into your body.
How to use CBD suppositories
- Medical suppositories must always be stored in the refrigerator so they stay solid inside the wrapper. This allows for easy insertion into the anus.
- Before handling a CBD suppository, wash your hands first and put on surgical gloves.
- Lie on your side, straighten out your lower leg, and pull the other knee up to your chest.
- Expose the anus by lifting the upper buttock.
- Hold the CBD suppository and insert the pointed end.
- Push the suppository in, about 2.5cm to 4cm beyond the muscular sphincter.
- Once inserted, squeeze your butt cheeks together.
- Remain in this position for about five minutes to let your body absorb the CBD.
- Wash your hands after application.
- Inhibit bowel movement for at least 20 minutes.
Be careful not to push the suppository too far in. If it reaches the superior rectal vein, some of the CBD will be metabolized by the liver. The goal is to deliver CBD only to the inferior and middle rectal vein for maximum absorption.
It may feel strange pushing a cold object up your bottom but the coconut carrier should make it easy for the CBD suppository to slip right in with minimal trauma.
The bioavailability of CBD products
Not all of the cannabidiol in a CBD product reaches the endocannabinoid system. The principle of bioavailability describes how much of that CBD can actually be used by the body.
CBD paste and tinctures
Once the CBD passes through the skin under your tongue, it rapidly makes its way to the blood, brain and the rest of the body. The effects of CBD can be felt within minutes and can last for a few hours.
When you vape CBD-infused liquid, the vapor enters your lungs then into the blood and brain. Because the CBD does not pass through the digestive track, it has a bioavailability that is three times more than CBD that is taken orally. This means that a very large part of the CBD that is delivered will actually be absorbed by the body. The effects of inhaling CBD can be felt within minutes and gradually wear off after 2-3 hours. Vaping CBD is effective for treating acute symptoms that need fast relief such as panic attacks.
CBD capsules, pills and edibles
When taken through the mouth, cannabidiol is processed by the liver and other digestive organs. This "first-pass effect" causes a significant portion of the CBD to be broken down into unusable components. With capsules and edibles, only a small percentage of the CBD reaches the bloodstream – limiting the amount that can be used by the endocannabinoid system.
This is not to say that ingesting CBD is just a waste of money. It only means that you need to consume more for CBD to be effective. When taken in high dosages, CBD can remain in the fat cells for days with gradual release to the endocannabinoid system.
This gradual release action makes CBD capsules the best option for treating certain chronic conditions. CBD edibles produce effects that last the longest – up to 10 hours! The effects of CBD when taken sublingually might only last around 4-5 hours. The disadvantage of taking CBD in pill or candy form is that it can take longer for the effects to be felt. Instead of minutes, you might need to wait 1-2 hours to experience relief.
CBD creams, lotions, and balms
When CBD is applied directly to the skin, it never reaches the bloodstream. It stays on the surface and interacts with nearby cannabinoid receptors.
Because human skin has low permeability, the absorption rate for cannabinoids is particularly low. For salves to be effective, they have to be applied liberally so the CBD is able to penetrate the pores of the skin.
Topical CBD is the method of choice for treating a localized area such as skin problems or joint pain. Topical application is the slowest of all CBD forms -- the effect is felt more than an hour after rubbing on the skin. These effects may last more than 5 hours.
The bioavailability of CBD through rectal absorption is more than double that of taking it through the mouth. Rectal membranes are highly absorbent and they can distribute the CBD around the body effectively. You can start feeling the effects of CBD after roughly half an hour, with these effects lasting around six hours.
How much CBD should you take?
CBD affects different people differently. There is no standard dosage for specific conditions. Work with your doctor to find the right dosage for you. Your healthcare provider should be able to help you properly adjust the dose until you achieve your desired effects.
The key is observing your body. Start with a small dose of CBD and monitor how your system reacts.
Instead of taking one big dose, you might want to split it into smaller doses taken throughout the day. When you start taking CBD, stick to a schedule for a few days in a row to accurately assess if it is working.
If you feel that the CBD is not delivering your desired results, you can slightly increase the dose. Keep in mind that CBD can work as a stimulant in small doses, and as a sedative in large doses.
Now that you know how the body absorbs the different forms of CBD, assess your needs and choose the method that is most suitable for you. Once you have decided on the CBD product that is most comfortable and effective, it is important that you stay consistent with your servings.