As the popularity of CBD increases, so do the methods on how to use it.

In the beginning years of CBD becoming popular, the most straightforward way to take therapeutic amounts of CBD, was smoking or vaping high-CBD strains of cannabis. And to this day, ‘inhaling’ CBD is still an often-used method to take CBD.

But now, you have many different types of CBD products that can be used in different ways:

  • CBD tinctures for sublingual consumption;
  • CBD sprays for sublingual consumption;
  • CBD capsules for oral consumption;
  • CBD gums for oral consumption;
  • CBD topicals for topical consumption;
  • CBD vape juices specifically made for ‘vape consumption’.

Which of these methods is best?

Today you will learn about all the pros and cons of the different methods to use CBD, and find your best method to use CBD.

Keep reading.

Sublingual Methods

Although the sublingual method of ingesting CBD starts in the mouth, it’s usually not what’s meant with ‘oral ingestion of CBD’.

The sublingual method of ingestion is a tried-and-tested method to diffuse pharmaceutical drugs, vitamins and minerals directly into the bloodstream.

It starts under your tongue. The mucous membrane beneath the tongue has the ability to directly absorb and diffuse chemical compounds into the bloodstream.

Taking CBD sublingually has certain benefits vs. swallowing it:

  • The effects will be felt faster because the CBD enters your bloodstream directly, instead of first going through the gastrointestinal tract and liver;
  • CBD has a higher bio-availability when taken sublingually vs swallowing it. This is because CBD has a higher risk of degrading with the enzymes and acids found in the gastrointestinal tract vs the enzymes found in the mouth. Then there’s the fact that anything through the gastrointestinal tract, has to pass through the liver as well, where it risks being metabolized before it enters the bloodstream.

And although there are ways to reduce the risks of degradation and metabolization of CBD in the gastrointestinal tract and liver, taking CBD oil sublingually, will always have a higher bio-availability than taking it orally.

The main downside of taking CBD oil sublingually, is that it’s not very discreet.

Almost any CBD tincture or CBD spray can be used sublingually, and it’s often the recommended method to use CBD tinctures and sprays.

Oral Ingestion

Oral ingestion of CBD refers to directly swallowing your CBD oil, without keeping it first under the tongue (like you would when taking it sublingually). 

Although oral ingestion of CBD seems like the most straightforward method to take CBD, CBD has the lowest bio-availability when taken orally.

As briefly discussed in the sublingual method paragraph, CBD ingested orally has to go through the gastrointestinal tract and liver, before it enters your bloodstream. In this process, CBD risks being degraded and metabolized before it enters your bloodstream, reducing its bio-availability when compared to other methods of using CBD.

When ingesting CBD orally, it’s important that you take it with other dietary fatty acids like olive oil. Research has shown that CBD taken together with other dietary lipids substantially increases its bio-availability.

Another downside of taking CBD through oral ingestion is that the effects occur 1-2 hours after ingesting it. This might be too long if you’re in immediate need of its effects.

Taking CBD only through oral ingestion (without using the sublingual method first) doesn’t have any benefits vs the other methods of taking CBD. That’s why almost every CBD oil manufacturer recommends to take its oil sublingually, before swallowing it.

In a way, swallowing CBD (oral ingestion), is an additional method to taking it sublingually, making sure you get the full benefits of your CBD product (it’s unclear whether some compounds like terpenoids and flavonoids can be absorbed sublingually and by swallowing the drops you put under your tongue, you’ll make sure to get the benefits of these compounds as well).

Almost any CBD oil, tincture, drop, gums, softgels can/should be taken orally (usually in addition to taking it sublingually).

Inhalation

CBD, of course, can also be inhaled either through smoking or vaping.

The main benefit of this method is that you’ll feel the effects immediately.

The main downside of smoking is that it exposes you to toxins that release when you burn plant material. That’s why if you want to inhale CBD it’s highly recommended to vape it.

To vape CBD, you’ll need either CBD flower or CBD vape juice.

The most straightforward option to vape CBD is to get CBD vape oil or CBD vape juice. CBD flower or high-CBD strains aren’t the easiest to find, but when you do, they’re potentially the better option, because you’re vaping the full plant, meaning you’ll make use of the entourage effect that makes CBD more potent.

CBD vape oil is a particular type of CBD oil, specifically manufactured to be vaped. Regular CBD oil cannot be vaped as it’s very viscous. To make CBD oil ‘vapeable’ it needs to be mixed with vegetable glycerine and/or propylene glycerol. Also, CBD vape oil is usually made from CBD Isolate, and usually is not a full-plant extract. This is because full spectrum extracts are too thick/viscous to be vaped in a regular vaping device. To vape full spectrum concentrates, you would need a wax pen or dab pen. Important to note here is that you should never vape edible oils, not even in a wax or dab pen. If you want to vape a full spectrum extract, make sure you get a full spectrum extract that’s specifically produced to be vaped (these are very rare).

The main benefit of vaping CBD vape juice instead of CBD flower or CBD concentrates, is that CBD vape juice doesn’t smell and can be used in a small and discreet vape pen that no one will associate with CBD. In the past years, vaping has become a relatively socially accepted behaviour all over the world.

Topical Methods

Although using CBD topically is a relatively unexplored topic, anecdotal reports are showing that applying CBD topically can help with a variety of skin disorders.

Taking CBD topically comes with the benefit that you enable CBD to directly target inflamed areas of your skin. With the other methods CBD acts through your bloodstream and if you’re using CBD for a skin condition, using it in any other method than topically, you’ll use CBD in a less direct method than applying it topically. 

At the same time, this is the downside of taking CBD topically, it only works for skin conditions. By applying CBD to the skin, it won’t enter your bloodstream and therefore won’t help much with conditions that are unrelated to your skin.