CBD comes in many forms, with products ranging from oils, edibles, capsules, topical creams and vape liquids.
But with so many options available, how do you choose an effective method for your needs?
The method of consumption you choose is largely down to personal preference but each method offers its own individual benefits too.
In this article, I break down 6 effective ways to take CBD, so you can decide which is best for you.
What is CBD (Cannabidiol)?
First, a brief introduction to CBD and the endocannabinoid system (ECS).
CBD is the abbreviation for cannabidiol, one of the many cannabinoids, or chemical compounds, found in cannabis and hemp. While beneficial for wellbeing, CBD doesn’t have the psychoactive properties of it’s more famous cousin THC. Even at high doses CBD will not get you high and it’s safe for all the family to use on a regular basis.
CBD provides many health benefits through its interaction with the body’s native endocannabinoid system (ECS). The ECS regulates many vital functions within the body including; mood, appetite, sleep, hormone production, and even pain, stress and immune system responses.
If you would like to find out more about how CBD works within the body please read my article: How CBD Works: The Endocannabinoid System Explained
What does bioavailability mean and why does it matter?
Throughout this article you will see the term bioavailability mentioned. I just wanted to briefly explain what this means.
In short, bioavailability is the degree and rate at which a substance is absorbed into the bloodstream. So the bioavailability determines how much CBD is absorbed and how quickly the effects are felt.
The bioavailability (absorption rate) of CBD varies based on the the consumption method and concentration of CBD in the product in question. So bioavailability becomes an important consideration not only when it comes to choosing your method of taking CBD, but also the amount of CBD you take.
Methods of consuming CBD
As I have briefly explained, there are many effective ways to take CBD. By knowing the options available you can find a CBD product that is not only effective, but also fits into your lifestyle.
1. CBD oil
First up, CBD oil. CBD oil is probably the most popular way of consuming CBD. It is taken by placing drops under the tongue (sublingual administration). CBD oil comes in many strengths and variations, so it offers a wide choice when it comes to dosing.
To take CBD oil, simply place the desired amount under the tongue, and leave there for 2-3 minutes before swallowing. It’s best to take CBD oil 2-3 times a day as the effects of CBD only lasts about 4-6 hours.
- CBD oil administered sublingually allows for quick absorption through the mucous glands (under the tongue). This means you experience the positive effects of CBD more quickly than some other methods.
- There is a lot more flexibility when dosing, using CBD oil, compared to some other methods. It’s easy to increase your CBD dose in small increments just by adding an extra drop.
- CBD oil is one of the most cost effective ways of consuming CBD.
- Some people struggle with the earthy taste of CBD oil, although this can be overcome by brushing your teeth beforehand or drinking a glass of water after. Here are a few more suggestions if you struggle with the taste of CBD oil.
- Those wishing to be discreet about their CBD intake when out in public may not find this method suitable.
- Some CBD oil bottles have a tendency to leak if not stored upright. This means they are not always a portable option.
2. CBD Paste (whole plant extract)
CBD paste or “whole plant extract” is a concentrated form of CBD. Basically, it’s what CBD oils are made from. Paste is diluted in a carrier oil to make the CBD oils you see on the market.
To take CBD paste, rub a grain of rice size (8mm) into your gums. The amount you take will vary depending on the strength of the product you are taking. As with other methods of taking CBD, it’s best to take CBD paste 2-3 times a day.
- Some people find CBD paste is a more effective way of taking CBD than oil, and the effects are felt more quickly than some methods.
- CBD paste is generally the most cost effective way of taking CBD.
- As with CBD oil, the taste of CBD paste can be challenging.
- Taking CBD paste can be fiddly. Some people find transferring it from the syringe/tube onto their gums, challenging.
- It can strain your teeth.
3. CBD capsules
Another common way to take CBD is to ingest it orally in the form of a capsule. Capsules are probably the easiest way to take CBD, but the bioavailability is a lot lower compared to other methods.
When you ingest CBD capsules, it passes through the digestive system first and is metabolised by the liver, meaning it takes longer for the beneficial effects of CBD to noticed.
Capsules contain a premeasured dose of CBD but as the absorption rate is lower you may need to take a higher dose to feel the effects. It’s best to take CBD capsules 2-3 times a day as the effects of CBD only lasts about 4-6 hours.
- CBD capsules are a really easy way to take CBD, which makes them the most convenient option.
- They are tasteless (great if you struggle with the taste of CBD oil), portable and discreet.
- The CBD dose is pre-measured, making capsules a convenient and easy-to-dose option.
- Although the effects tend to occur later, they also last longer. So, this solution works best for people who need a consistent dose of CBD throughout the day.
- The bioavailability is reduced when CBD is consumed orally as it first passes through your digestive system before circulating throughout the liver.
- CBD capsules are also, generally, a less cost effective option than CBD oil and paste.
4. CBD E-liquids and concentrates (vaping)
Vaping CBD is favoured by many as it offers a quick and efficient method of consuming CBD. During vaping, CBD enters your lungs and diffuses directly into your bloodstream. Because it doesn’t have to make its way through the digestive system or liver, the CBD enters your circulation faster. This means you can achieve the same beneficial effects with a much smaller amount of CBD.
The effects from vaping CBD only last about 1-2 hours so it’s important to vape regularly throughout the day to feel the full benefits. Although, many people use vaping as a “top-up” to their CBD oil or capsule intake.
- With the CBD directly entering your bloodstream, the beneficial effects are felt very quickly.
- Less CBD is lost during vaping compared to the ingestion method. So the absorption rate (bioavailability) is a lot higher than for other methods, like CBD oil and CBD capsules.
- Flavoured vape liquids make for a pleasant experience and many people find it a very relaxing way to consume CBD.
- Unlike other methods of taking CBD, you will need to buy equipment alongside your CBD E-liquid. Although, if you are already a vaper this is not an issue, as a standard vape pen is often sufficient.
- Not everywhere allows vaping, so if you are looking to consume CBD at work, vaping may not be the option for you.
5. CBD edibles and beverages
CBD can also be ingested in the form of gummy bears, chocolates, cakes and even CBD beverages like hemp tea, CBD coffee and CBD beer. They offer another choice for anyone that struggles with the taste of CBD oil.
But this option isn’t the most cost effective and is normally used in addition to other CBD products like oils and capsules.
As CBD edibles have a premeasured dose, and this dose will vary from product-to-product, the amount you take will be dependent on the strength of the CBD edible in question.
- Edibles are a tasty, discreet and convenient way to take CBD.
- They contain a pre-measured dose which takes any guesswork out of CBD dosing.
- While it takes longer for CBD edibles to take effect (between 30 minutes to two hours), the effects last longer than methods like vaping. In fact, CBD edibles can last between two and four hours longer than inhaled CBD.
- As we have mentioned previously, CBD ingested orally has a lower absorption rate than other methods, so it can take longer to notice the benefits of CBD, and you may need to take a higher dose.
- CBD edibles are a less cost effective way to consume CBD.
- CBD edibles are not be the healthiest way to consume CBD because they often contain high levels of sugar.
6. CBD topical balms or creams
CBD topical creams offer another way to administer CBD. When CBD is applied topically, it is absorbed directly through the skin. Cannabinoid receptors are located throughout the skin, the body’s largest organ, making CBD a potential therapy for a range of conditions. Because it is applied right on trouble areas, the CBD works directly where it is needed the most.
When using CBD topical creams, just apply a thin layer to the affected areas 2-3 times a day. Please take note of any additional ingredients if you have sensitive skin or allergies.
- CBD topical creams can be applied directly to the area where they are needed. This allows for quick absorption and targeted relief.
- CBD creams also contain many other active therapeutic compounds that can work alongside CBD to increase the benefits you receive.
- CBD topical creams tend to contain lower amounts of CBD and are only really effective in the areas where they are applied.
- If you have multiple health conditions you wish to target, you may benefit from taking another form of CBD along with your CBD balm.
Should CBD be taken with or without food?
There is a lot of contradictory information about whether CBD should be taken with or without food. The truth is, it’s largely down to personal preference.
But as CBD is a fat-soluble cannabinoid, meaning it breaks down and is stored in fat rather than water, the addition of food containing fatty acids may increase bioavailability of certain CBD products, particular those ingested like capsules and edibles.
What is the best way to consume CBD?
Now you are aware of all the options available, you may be asking; What is the best way to consume CBD? Ultimately, there is no right or wrong answer to this question. Each person is entirely unique, and as such, there is no method of consumption that can be declared “better” than another. Each has their own advantages and disadvantages.
The method you choose may have more to do with your lifestyle than bioavailability, and you may find a combination of methods most effective for your health needs.