Cannabidiol (CBD) is one of the cannabinoids found in cannabis and it is known for its many therapeutic properties. Many people look to CBD for relief from chronic pain, insomnia, anxiety, PTSD, skin problems, and other medical conditions and symptoms.
If you are considering using CBD to get relief from certain health issues, you can try any of these different methods of consumption. See which ones suit you.
1. Oral consumption
Pros and cons of taking CBD orally
CBD and other cannabinoids are lipophilic molecules. This means that they are able to dissolve in fats and not in water. Because of this, they are not readily absorbed by the body when you eat them directly.
CBD, therefore, is dissolved into fats that we can easily digest. These digestible fats include seed oils. CBD can also be made into butter that can be used in cooking or baking. In this form, CBD can be metabolized by our body more readily. However, it should be noted that the absorption rate ranges only from 6 to 15 percent.
Low absorption can also be caused by what is called “first-pass metabolism.” This happens when compounds that are digested by the stomach have to pass through the liver first before they can enter the bloodstream. The effectiveness of these compounds is reduced because the enzymes in the liver break down a portion of the CBD before it can be absorbed by the body.
When cannabinoids like CBD and tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) are consumed orally, it typically takes one to two hours before you can feel their effects.
The good thing about oral consumption, though, is that you can feel these effects for a much longer period of time compared to other methods because your body processes CBD slowly. In other words, taking CBD orally is great for those who are looking for long-term effects and for a more widespread relief from pain.
Another advantage of taking CBD orally is that it is a very discreet method of administration. This method is, therefore, a great option for those who need multiple doses throughout the day and need to take CBD in places where there might be other people around.
Different oral products
There are several CBD products that you can take orally.
CBD oil. CBD oil or CBD-infused oil is just CBD that’s been extracted from the cannabis plant using various solvents plus a carrier oil. Carrier oils include coconut oil, hemp seed oil, almond oil, olive oil, and medium-chain triglyceride (MCT) oil.
Some CBD oil products also contain other non-psychoactive cannabinoids.
CBD oil can be swallowed directly.
CBD capsules. These are CBD oil put into capsules. You can take these capsules like regular pills. They are perfect for people who do not like the smell, taste, or consistency of CBD oils since CBD capsules are tasteless.
CBD tinctures. CBD tinctures are alcohol- or vegetable glycerin-based extractions. They contain other ingredients like ethanol, vegetable glycerin alcohol, or vinegar, and are therefore less concentrated than CBD oil. On its own, CBD tincture can be very bitter, so it is commonly mixed with artificial flavoring, too, or with a sweet- or pleasant-tasting carrier oil like orange or peppermint. CBD tinctures can be taken directly through a dropper.
CBD-infused edibles. CBD edibles are basically CBD oil or tincture that is mixed into food, tossed into salads, or added into beverages like shakes and smoothies. There are also CBD teas, CBD gummy candies, as well as CBD butter, which can be used for cooking or baking food items like cookies and brownies. Some people also prefer to mix CBD with stronger smelling drinks like coffee or cocktails so that its “newly cut grass” flavor or scent becomes undetectable.
2. Sublingual application
Placing CBD under the tongue allows faster absorption into your bloodstream compared to taking it directly. Sublingual application also allows for a stronger onset. This is because CBD is absorbed directly into your mouth’s capillaries and the mucus membranes, bypassing the first-pass liver metabolism. From there it, CBD will travel to your external carotid artery, then through your internal carotid artery, and then into your brain. You can start feeling the effects in about 15 to 30 minutes.
Applying CBD sublingually is also a discreet method of taking CBD. You can take it without calling the attention of other people and it does not take too much time.
What products can be applied sublingually?
- CBD oil
- CBD tincture
- CBD sublingual spray
You can place a few drops of CBD tincture or CBD oil under your tongue, hold it there for at least a minute in order to allow it to absorb, and then swallow what’s left.
Meanwhile, CBD sublingual sprays are just concentrated CBD tinctures that can be sprayed under the tongue.
CBD can be smoked from dried marijuana flowers. This method of consumption is more commonly associated with the recreational use of cannabis than with medical due to its social stigma and its adverse effects on the lungs.
Smoking cannabis with high CBD content has the highest rate of absorption, as well as the fastest onset, because it is directly absorbed into the bloodstream from the lungs, particularly from the alveoli, then into the bloodstream, and to the brain and all throughout the body.
4. Vaporizing or inhalation
CBD concentrates can be inhaled using certain devices like vapes or electronic cigarettes, or dab rigs. The device heats up a small amount of concentrated CBD oil until it boils, thus allowing you to inhale its vapor.
Just like smoking, vaping also allows CBD to be absorbed quickly and you can feel its effects faster than when you take it orally or sublingually. In fact, inhaled CBD enters the bloodstream in as quickly as 30 seconds.
The difference is that vaporizing CBD oils does not come with the adverse effects associated with smoking. This is because while smoking involves combusting cannabis, vaping only heats it. Using whole plant or oil vaporizers significantly reduces your carcinogen intake as it doesn’t combust.
Vaping is a helpful way to take CBD if you need fast-acting relief from inflammation or pain. However, this method is not recommended if you want to be discreet about your CBD use as it involves plenty of smoke.
Additionally, the health risks of vaporizing marijuana extracts have not been extensively studied and some research have found that it still has irritating effects on the lungs.
What’s more, the CBD cartridges used in vape pens can contain propylene glycol, a solvent that is also used in e-cigarettes that contain nicotine. At high temperatures, this solvent can degrade into a chemical called formaldehyde, which can irritate the eyes and nose and increase the risk of cancer and asthma. So it is important to look for CBD vape pens that are labeled “solvent-free oils.”
5. Topical application
CBD topicals come in different forms. There are CBD creams, lotions, rubs, balms, and massage oils. They are applied directly onto the skin to treat sore muscles, arthritis pain, psoriasis, eczema, acne, and other skin issues.
The CBD in topical products penetrate the skin surface and then the muscles underneath. Because CBD is fat-soluble, it accumulates in the skin and surface tissues, then interacts with endocannabinoid receptors that are found under the skin. This way, it no longer gets absorbed by the bloodstream and it gets to target localized pain or inflammation, or a problem in a specific skin area.
CBD in topical products is usually combined with penetration enhancers like ethosomes. Ethosomes allow medications to easily move between cells by mimicking molecules already present in the body.
Topical CBD products usually take up to an hour to take effect, and this effect usually lasts up to five hours.
Topicals are not absorbed into the entire body, making them safer than other forms of cannabis or CBD products. This is an advantage considering that there is still a lot to know about the long-term safety of CBD and cannabis in general.
6. CBD transdermal patches
Skin or transdermal patches are small adhesive patches infused with CBD. They deliver CBD through the skin, but unlike topicals, the CBD from these patches cross the dermal barrier and enter the bloodstream. These patches get activated by body heat, allowing them to release little amounts of CBD over a certain period of time.
There are two types of CBD transdermal patches:
Reservoir patches. These skin patches have a small reservoir containing CBD, which is usually combined with a gel solution. These patches are generally more controlled and will give you a steady amount of CBD over time.
Matrix patches. These skin patches are infused with CBD in the adhesive layer.
7. Intranasal consumption
Intranasal products are inhaled through your nose. CBD intranasal sprays are being developed as a fast-acting method of delivery that could be accepted as an alternative to vaping or smoking. These sprays demonstrated having a more immediate and stronger effectiveness compared to other methods because it is directly absorbed into your bloodstream via the mucus membranes in your nasal passages. Moreover, nasal sprays are fast-acting without any negative effects on the lungs.