Best Ways to Consume CBD
Choosing the best way to consume CBD is a matter of individual needs and preferences. There is no one best way to take cannabidiol, just like there is no universal CBD dosage that would work for everyone.
In this article, we’d like to introduce you to several different ways to consume CBD. We’re not going to persuade you to choose any particular option; rather, we want you to make a well-informed decision that will be tailored to your lifestyle and the goals you’d like to achieve with cannabidiol.
But before we elaborate on the best ways to consume CBD, let’s explore the possible options and explain the potential factors affecting the efficacy of each method.
How do People Consume CBD?
There are four common ways people use cannabidiol, namely:
- Topical application
- Oral ingestion
- Sublingual consumption
We can further break down these categories into certain products:
- Vaporization: CBD-rich flowers, vape liquids, concentrates, CBD isolate
- Oral ingestion: CBD capsules and edible products (gummies, chocolate bars, cookies, etc.)
- Sublingual consumption: CBD oil drops, tinctures, sprays
- Topical application: CBD balms, rubs, creams, lotions, lipsticks, ointments, etc.
Of course, each of the above methods has its pros and cons, but your ultimate goal as a CBD user is to deliver as much of the precious cannabinoid as possible.
Which brings us straight to the bioavailability aspect.
What is Bioavailability and Why Does It Matter?
Bioavailability refers to the amount of any active ingredient that ultimately reaches the bloodstream — given this, you want to know how bioavailable is your consumption method.
Let’s start with the bioavailability of CBD topicals, which is 0%. Yes, you’ve read that correct — when you smear CBD creams onto your skin, it will never reach the bloodstream. This way, the skin absorbs CBD so that it can affect the cannabinoid receptors nearby, which is why topical CBD products aim for localized relief.
Oral ingestion scores a bit higher, but this score is not impressive, too. According to a 2009 study, the bioavailability of oral CBD is between 4% and 20%. This means that in the best-case scenario, you’re getting ⅕ of the ingested dose. That’s because oral ingestion induces the “first pass effect” meaning that CBD must first pass through the digestive tract before it reaches the bloodstream.
Sublingual consumption ensures a bioavailability of 35%, which is significantly higher than the oral counterpart. Humans have a vein under the tongue called the sublingual gland. When CBD is administered under the tongue, it reaches the sublingual gland where it gets absorbed directly to the bloodstream, hence the higher bioavailability.
Now, the highest bioavailability is offered by vaporization. The bioavailability of inhaled CBD is reported to be as high as 56%, beating both oral consumption and sublingual administration. Since CBD enters the bloodstream along with the vapor through the lungs, the effects are felt almost immediately — typically within a few minutes after the first inhale.
Best Ways to Consume CBD
When choosing the best way to consume CBD, bioavailability should be your top priority. However, high bioavailability often compromises other factors, such as convenience, control over the dosage, and the type of effects you’d like to experience.
Below we list best ways to consume CBD based on 4 essential criteria.
1. Vaporization (Highest Bioavailability)
Vaporization heats CBD to the point where it gets contained into vapor along with other cannabinoids and terpenes.
The reason behind vaping CBD is to maximize the efficacy of your products. As mentioned, vaporization offers the highest bioavailability of all consumption methods. In addition, the effects and benefits of CBD become noticeable almost immediately; there’s no delayed onset time or other roadblocks on your way to enjoying cannabidiol.
On top of that, vaporization lets you revel in the entire aroma-and-flavor profile of your CBD flowers and vape oils. The only downside to vaporizing CBD may be the high upfront cost that comes with buying a vaporizer and the not-so-easy learning curve in cases of some newer models.
2. Sublingual Use (Best Control Over Dosage)
You can find sublingual CBD in different forms, from tinctures to oils to lozenges to sprays. However, the two most common sublingual products are oil drops and tinctures.
While the bioavailability of sublingual CBD isn’t spectacular (35%), tinctures and oils have one great advantage over CBD vapes — precise control over the dosage.
Once you know the total number of MGs in the bottle of your CBD oil — and the size of your dropper — it takes some simple math to calculate the dosage based on your recommended serving size.
Then, you just apply a few drops of the oil under the tongue, wait 30-60 seconds until it gets absorbed, and swallow.
3. Oral Ingestion (Fixed Dose & Convenience)
Oral CBD is actually the most comfortable way to consume cannabidiol. CBD capsules, gummies, and other edible goods come with a fixed dose of CBD. For example, if your daily recommended dose is 20 mg and there’s 10 mg in one capsule/edible, you just take 2 pieces throughout the day and you’re good to go.
That is, of course, if you can sacrifice the bioavailability for the sake of your convenience.
4. Topical Application (Best for Localized Problems)
Bioavailability is not the case with topical CBD products. The aim of CBD creams and lotions is to interact with cannabinoid receptors in your skin to target a specific area. But then again, your skin is not very permeable, so it won’t absorb cannabinoids very well. Given this, you have to apply topical CBD very generously to breach this barrier. If you are liberal enough with the amount of applied topicals, your skin pores will absorb CBD. On top of that, salves and balms containing very high levels of CBD are also invaluable moisturizers.
Final Thoughts on the Best Ways to Consume CBD
Choosing the best way to consume CBD may be a hard nut to crack for beginners. If you’re just getting started with CBD, we suggest that you look at the most bioavailable consumption method.
Vaporization works best for those who want to make the most out of their products’ CBD content and experience the effects of cannabidiol almost immediately; sublingual use offers the most precise control over dosing CBD; oral products are all about convenience and ease of use; topical cannabidiol, in turn, is an effective moisturizer and can target specific areas under the skin if applied generously.
What is the best way to consume CBD in your opinion? Share your thoughts in the comments!