What’s the Best Way to Ingest CBD?

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By Suzannah Weiss

CBD is becoming increasingly popular, with shops selling CBD oil, edibles, and vape juice in most cities where it’s legal. Some companies even sell CBD capsules. But if you’re looking to take advantage of CBD’s stress-reducing, sleep-enhancing, or pain-relieving properties, not all products work the same way.

While edibles offer a smoke-free method of ingesting, they don’t deliver the biggest or fastest effect per milligram of CBD. That’s because they need to pass through the digestive tract and the liver before making it into your bloodstream and ultimately your brain, said James Giordano, professor of neurology and biochemistry at Georgetown University Medical Center.

When CBD, including in capsule form, passes through your liver, it’ll get metabolized, so not everything will make it to your brain, Giordano said.

One study found that the bioavailability, or the amount that enters the bloodstream, of CBD taken through an edible was only 6 percent.

The potency of CBD oil, on the other hand, will depend on how you’re ingesting it. When it’s swallowed, the process is the same as edibles, taking the long and winding route through your liver before its effects set in.

However, some CBD oils can be applied under your tongue, where  it gets straight into your bloodstream, yielding a faster and stronger effect, because  the CBD doesn’t dilute through the digestive process.

“Anything that’s directly absorbed from the mouth will have a much higher potency and therefore a somewhat greater effect on the brain,” Giordano told Marijuana.com.

The effectiveness of vaping CBD oil also varies based on your inhaling technique. If you inhale and then swallow the air, that brings some of the CBD through your gastrointestinal tract and liver before it enters your bloodstream, Giordano said. But if you inhale it into your lungs, the way you would a cigarette or joint, your blood vessels should absorb the active ingredients  right away. One study found that the bioavailability of CBD was 31 percent when inhaled.

CBD interacts with the CB2 receptors in your endocannabinoid system. These regulate many functions including, which regulate many functions, particularly the immune system, which can allow CBD to reduce inflammation. CBD has also been shown to interact with 5-HT1A serotonin receptors, which can help reduce anxiety. It can carry side effects including “dry mouth, low blood pressure, lightheadedness, and drowsiness,” according to WebMD. It may exacerbate symptoms of Parkinson’s disease, and it’s unclear whether it’s safe for pregnant or breastfeeding women.

How you ingest CBD won’t change the type of effect it has on you; it can affect the intensity and the speed at which you absorb it.

If you want high intensity and immediate absorption, go for oil under the tongue or inhalation directly into the lungs. If you can wait or want a more subtle effect, on the other hand, swallowed oil, edibles, and capsules should work just fine.

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9 Comments

  1. Gary W McCullough on

    What about transdermal creams? I picked up a 2 oz. jar and used it to relieve arthritic pain in my wrist after a long day on my motorcycle. Seems to do a pretty good job of relieving the pain relatively quickly and lasts about 2 hours.

    • As long as possible, or until it seems to disappear. Use about half a droper two or more times and allow about 7 – 10 minutes for absorption between each dose

  2. I’ve had great results with an edible powder that uses a carbohydrate-encapsulated molecule so it starts digesting as soon as it touches saliva. OLEO is the company I’ve been buying from, much better results than any of the oils or vapes I’ve tried.

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  4. Best way to see pain relief is to apply it topically, works wonders for joint and muscle pain. You can use the same oil you drop under your tongue, just apply it to the area where you have pain.

  5. ” One study found that the bioavailability of CBD was 31 percent when inhaled.

    but putting oil under tongue does not give bioavailability of cbd??

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