How to take CBD: Everything you need to know
The variety of CBD products on the market has exploded in recent years. While CBD oil remains one of the most popular choices, its crucial to understand that it's not the only option. Not only do different CBD products cater to a range of needs, but each one has a unique series of advantages and disadvantages. You will find everything you need to know about differing CBD products, and how to use them, here.
Before we get started on the industry’s most popular products, it's worth giving a quick overview of bioavailability, and what it means for CBD. Bioavailability is the amount of and rate at which a drug reaches the site of action; the higher a substance's bioavailability, generally, the more pronounced its effects.
For CBD, the goal is usually to get as much of the cannabinoid into the bloodstream as possible; thus, products with a greater bioavailability (100% is the maximum) may prove more effective. We say “may” because, although bioavailability is an important consideration, it isn't the only aspect of CBD. You'll still need to match the product type to the issue you're trying to address. More on that at the end of this article.
HOW IS CBD USED?
The list below features the most popular options for consuming CBD. However, innovation in the field is booming, so expect to see this range of CBD products grow even further.
• CBD oils and tinctures
Both CBD oils and tinctures offer quick, effective, and discreet administration. By dosing CBD under the tongue (sublingual), the cannabinoid is more readily absorbed into the bloodstream. Sublingual administration benefits from high bioavailability (40–50%) and a quicker onset of effects. It's also easy to cater CBD oils to your specific needs as they come in a range of concentrations. Low-concentration oils start at 2.5% CBD, while highly concentrated oils reach as much as 20%.
CBD oils benefit from secondary nutritional attributes depending on the type of carrier oil used. The most common is olive oil, but you'll also find hemp seed oil and black cumin seed oil varieties, among others. Hemp seed oil, for example, is packed with antioxidants and omega fatty acids 3 & 6. It's important to note that the carrier oil used does not change the effects or potency of CBD.
The trade-off with CBD oils is that effects don't last as long (compared to some alternatives listed below), with peak levels only sustained for 1–5 hours. There's also the taste to consider. While CBD doesn't taste bad per se, it is an acquired flavour, and some consumers prefer the tasteless nature of CBD capsules.
To administer CBD oil sublingually, place the dose under your tongue and hold there for a minute before swallowing. The membrane under the tongue is thin, allowing some CBD to be pass through it before you swallow the rest.
• CBD edibles
CBD edibles are another popular method of consumption. Most products come prepared to be eaten, but it's entirely feasible to add CBD oil or tincture to salads, sweets, and baked goods. Not only does this circumvent the issue of taste, but the effects of CBD edibles last substantially longer. Unfortunately, you'll need highly concentrated edibles to match the efficacy of CBD oils or vape liquids. The bioavailability of CBD edibles is estimated to be between 4–20%—one of the lowest rates of all administration methods.
The low bioavailability is due to the stages CBD has to go through in the body before reaching the bloodstream. When consumed, CBD travels through the digestive tract, before being broken down by the liver and distributed into the bloodstream. As such, don't expect instant relief—CBD edibles are more suited to those who require longer-lasting effects, but after a significant period of waiting (around an hour).
If you're adding CBD oil to food manually, it can be difficult to calculate precise doses. And, combined with the delayed onset of effects, some users find the uncertainty of CBD edibles off-putting. Actually taking CBD as an edible is simple, though. All you need to do is add your desired dose amount of CBD to your food before you eat it.
• CBD capsules
Offering a precise dose, CBD capsules counter many of the disadvantages of conventional CBD edibles. There's still the reduced rate of bioavailability and delayed effects to contend with, but they offer an odourless, tasteless, and ultra-discreet method of consumption. CBD capsules also come in a range of fixed concentrations, so if you're trying to tackle a particular issue, it's easy to calculate daily milligrams of CBD.
CBD capsules are easy to take. You simply pop them in your mouth and swallow with water.
• CBD vape liquids
With the quickset onset of effects, vaping CBD liquids has become a tempting option for many consumers. Results are almost immediate, as CBD avoids the digestive system entirely, passing directly into the bloodstream via the lungs. Vape liquids are also free from the dangers of combusted material, presenting a healthier alternative to smoking. Provided you invest in a quality vaporizer, CBD vape liquids can reach 50–80% bioavailability—a significant leap compared to other products on the market.
A distinct disadvantage to CBD vape liquids is the added cost of a vaporizer. Over time, however, this expense will pay for itself. The effects of CBD vape liquids may be rapid, but they fade far more quickly than edibles. Another major disadvantage of vaping is that vape oil production is largely unregulated. You should also pay close attention to the ingredients used in vape liquids. Cheaper options may contain additives or unwanted chemicals. In the worst cases, if the incorrect ingredients are used, vape oils can be extremely damaging to the lungs. Never vape CBD oil meant for ingestion. It is not designed for vaping and is dangerous.
• CBD nasal sprays
CBD nasal sprays are another recent development that work in the same way as conventional nasal products, only this time, with the added benefit of CBD. Thanks to tiny capillaries in the nasal passages, CBD is easily able to reach the bloodstream, providing a near-instant effect. These products are still new to the market, so reliable data on their bioavailability remains to be seen. However, due to the direct nature of it, it is thought to be high.
DERMAL ABSORPTION OF CBD
• CBD topicals
The purpose of CBD topicals is not for CBD to enter the bloodstream, but instead to support the body from the outside. Research suggests CBD may be able to reduce inflammation while also helping balance our skin’s delicate ecosystem. By blending CBD with established cosmetic ingredients, consumers can take a natural approach to skincare, muscle recovery, and fatigue.
If you're interested in using CBD for its influence over internal biological functions, then CBD topicals are not the right choice. If, however, you want to support muscle recovery or reduce the impact of skin conditions such as psoriasis and acne, then CBD topicals may be of interest. Due to their unique action, CBD topicals have the lowest bioavailability of all administration methods at approximately 5–10%. However, as they are applied directly to the areas they are needed, they are fast-acting and highly effective in that local area.
To use topical CBD, apply the desired amount to the area in question and massage into the skin.
WHAT'S THE RIGHT DOSE OF CBD?
While nearly all CBD oils, edibles, tinctures, and capsules advise a recommended dose, this is purely a guideline. The ideal dose will depend on variables such as your metabolism, body fat percentage, concentration of CBD, product bioavailability, and the issue you're trying to address.
Fortunately, the World Health Organisation (WHO) found that CBD exhibits minimal side effects, making experimentation with different products simple. If you're new to CBD, it's best to start low and slow. By that, we mean a low-concentration product administered only a few times a day. And, make sure you give your body a chance to adjust by sticking to a fixed regime for at least 2–5 days. You can then repeat the process with stronger products until you find a concentration and frequency that delivers the desired effect.
CAN YOU COMBINE DIFFERENT CBD PRODUCTS?
There's no issue with combining CBD products, provided you keep track of two things. The first is the daily total (in milligrams) of CBD being consumed. Tracking daily consumption of CBD will help you stay focused on a target dose, and makes the advice regarding "what's the right dose" above easier to follow.
The second aspect is being aware of a product's bioavailability. CBD oil taken sublingually may feel more potent, but as we know, the effects won't last as long as edibles. If you decide to combine different CBD products, think about what it is you want to achieve, and tailor your product choice to suit. Make sure you know how quickly a particular CBD product will take effect, and how long those effects will last. That way, you'll be able to plan a CBD regime that you can maintain day and night, if needed.
THERE ARE PLENTY OF WAYS TO TAKE CBD—PICK YOURS
We've covered a lot of ground, so it's worth a quick recap before we send you off into the vast world of CBD. Firstly, cannabidiol exhibits a good safety profile, so you shouldn't worry too much about experimenting with different products, so long as they come from reputable producers. If you are concerned about the possible side effects, or interactions with prescription medication, always consult with your doctor first.
You can use this guide to help find a CBD product that suits your needs. By that, we mean a product that delivers the effects of CBD in a timescale to match your lifestyle. Finally, if you want to mix and match CBD products, doing so is okay, provided you keep track of when you’re dosing, and how much.
Take the time to explore the different products and find what works for you. The potential of CBD stems from its ability to promote balance between our biological systems, and that means taking a balanced approach to administration as well.