Overwhelmed by the amount of CBD products flooding the market? You’re not alone.
If you’re thinking of trying CBD for the first time, it can be hard to know where to start. From pain creams to vape pens and even bath bombs, the choices are endless.
We’re breaking down the what’s what of CBD products and the different ways you can take it, so you can find the method that’s best for you.
CBD Oil vs Hemp Seed Oil
Before we dive into the different ways to consume CBD, it’s helpful to know a bit of terminology, since the “oil” label can get confusing.
Because CBD comes from the hemp plant, it’s easy to assume anything with the word “hemp” in it contains CBD. In reality, all parts of the hemp plant are used for different products, even including fabrics. A common product that generates a ton of confusion is “hemp seed oil,” which is actually an oil similar to olive oil made from the seeds of the hemp plant. It doesn’t contain CBD or THC, although it does have many antioxidants and other beneficial compounds that make it great for skin care and cooking.
You may also see CBD products labeled under “hemp oil,” but always make it a priority to check the labels of these for CBD content, because they may or may not contain CBD, or could contain other ingredients.
Another aspect of CBD that can get a bit confusing is exactly how much you should be taking. The answer varies, as some people need more CBD to feel an effect than others. Much also depends on your level of pain, body weight, and how you’re using it (more on that below).
The good news is, research shows no adverse side effects from consuming even high amounts of CBD. For instance, one study found no issues with patients consuming 1,200 mg daily for months. [*]
When in doubt, start at a low dosage and follow the instructions on the label. If you’re still not sure, speak to you doctor or trusted professional to determine what’s best for you.
Ways to Consume CBD: First Define Your Goals
Before you can choose your best method of CBD consumption, you need to define what you’ll be using it for. Is it for joint pain, inflammation, stress, insomnia, or anxiety? Will you be using it just to help you relax once in a while?
Also, consider your ideal time frame for feeling the effects of CBD. For example, if you’re in a lot of pain and want to feel fast relief, vaping would be a better option for you, since it bypasses digestion and the effects are felt almost immediately. However, if you’re looking for longer-term pain relief, CBD oil combined with vaping may be a better option, since the effects last a few hours but take a good hour to have an effect.
If you’re looking into CBD for anxiety or stress, or to simply sleep better, you can choose from edibles to pure oil, depending on how fast you want to feel the effects and how long you need it to last. If stress is chronic, you may want a longer-term option like capsules or a CBD oil.
Also consider what appeals to you as far as discretion: would you be comfortable inhaling CBD through a vape when you need to? Or would you prefer to take a capsule, apply a salve or ointment, or use oil drops?
Keep these questions in mind as we break down the methods below.
6 Ways to Consume CBD
Tinctures are one of the most popular ways to consume CBD, especially if you’re a beginner. This is because dosing is made easy with the addition of a dropper that allows you to dose drop-by-drop.
Tinctures are produced by steeping cannabis isolates or leaves in high-proof alcohol, then applying low heat for a span of time. By doing this, the active compounds of cannabis including CBD are infused and concentrated, while much of the alcohol is evaporated off. At the end of the process, you’re left with a concentrated CBD liquid.
How to use CBD Tinctures:
The best method for using tinctures is taking them sublingually or under your tongue. This helps the CBD absorb faster into your bloodstream because the skin beneath your tongue is so thin. However, you can also add drops to smoothies and baked goods if you want to get creative.
Tinctures are one of the faster-absorbing forms of CBD, taking anywhere from 20 to 40 minutes to have an effect.
- Ointments and Creams
CBD ointments and creams are made by infusing cannabis flowers in oils and other substances which extracts the active compounds. This is then blended into a topical product such as a lotion or even a balm, which you can rub on your skin. In the same way, a tincture is absorbed under your tongue, creams and ointments are absorbed through your pores.
While they are slower to absorb than tinctures or vape pens (topicals take roughly an hour to notice an effect) salves and even other topicals like bath bombs are perfect for muscle and other localized pain like joint pain. In fact, plenty of studies show CBD applied topically can significantly reduce joint pain and inflammation. [*]
How to use CBD ointments and creams:
Most CBD ointments, salves, and pain creams can be used as needed, without worrying about a set dosage. For general use, try applying them to your pulse points, like on the inside of your wrists where your skin is thinner so they absorb more effectively. For local pain, rub the salve or cream onto the painful area 1-3 times a day.
The other good news? You can have your snacks and CBD too. There are a whole range of CBD “edibles,” or foods that are infused with CBD. Think CBD chocolate, CBD-infused nuts, protein and snack bars, drinks, and even candies like gummies.
How to take CBD edibles:
If you want to avoid vaping or taking more capsules, CBD edibles are an excellent choice, especially if you like the idea of having a little snack simultaneously. Just be sure with edibles to pay attention to the dosages in serving sizes. For instance, a CBD chocolate bar may list the CBD dosage by bar or by serving size, such as one or three squares.
Edibles do take a little longer to have an effect due to your body having to digest the food and pass the CBD into your bloodstream. This can take up to 2-3 hours.
Capsules are a convenient way to take CBD if you don’t want to use a tincture or vape. These can come as pure isolates of CBD, or in supplements combined with other herbs and ingredients to do anything from enhancing performance to helping reduce stress.
How to take CBD capsules:
Follow the dosage instructions on your label, and also be sure to check for additional ingredients, including THC. Also know that capsules will take slightly longer to kick in, since they have to go through the process of digestion similar to an edible.
Vaping, or inhaling, CBD is one of the fastest ways to get CBD into your system. Since it bypasses digestion, the effects are felt almost immediately; however, they don’t last nearly as long as other methods. Peak blood levels occur at around 10 minutes after inhaling.
Vaping CBD also involves inhaling vape juice, which is different from CBD oils and tinctures. While you may hear vape juice referred to as “CBD vape oil,” it actually doesn’t contain any CBD oil. The oil is for ingestion, while juices are designed specifically for inhalation.
How to vape CBD:
Vape pens, which are tiny, cigarette-like pens that can be filled with vape juice, are the most popular way of inhaling CBD. They come pre-filled with a CBD juice cartridge that can be replaced as needed. Avoid cheap and disposable pens, and also any that list chemicals like propylene glycol in the ingredients.
- Transdermal Patches
Transdermal patches are like bandaids whose strips are infused with CBD. These also bypass digestion, making them more fast-acting than the oil or edibles. Because they are a patch and in continuous contact with your skin, the effect will also last longer, up to several hours.
How to use transdermal patches:
Transdermal patches are either pre-cut to a specific dosage, or you can cut them yourself to create your ideal dosage. Like topical creams for pain, there is no set dosage or time frame for patches. Apply them like you would a band-aid, and if you have localized pain, put the patch above and/or as close to the area as you can get.
As you can see, knowing your goal with CBD is crucial in order to choose the right method of delivery. Sometimes it’s even better to combine a couple of methods to get the best of both worlds, so to speak, or if you’re dealing with multiple conditions.
What methods have you tried that were your favorite? We’d love to hear!