How To Take CBD – Comparing Methods

There’s a dizzying array of CBD products on the market thanks to the exploding interest in cannabis’s second most prevalent active ingredient. Choices include lotions, tinctures, creams, balms, oils, edibles, pills, and more. These items are available online, or at health food stores, beauty shops, pharmacies, supermarkets. You can even find them at some specialty restaurants.

When choosing a CBD product, you need to consider how much of the product’s active compound is absorbed by the body and available for use. This concept is called bioavailability.

Products administered directly into the bloodstream have higher bioavailability than those that pass through the digestive system and the liver. These types of products have stronger and faster-acting effects. This feature may be attractive to some users, but others may find it unattractive if looking for a product with longer lasting results.

Different Ways To Take CBD

Despite the variety of products available for purchase, there are four main ways to take CBD:

  • Inhalation
  • Sublingual
  • Topical
  • Oral

Knowing the pros and cons of each of these different methods can help you decide which product suits your needs the best.


The fastest way to experience the effects of CBD is to inhale it. This method of consumption as a high bioavailability rate (between 34–50%) as smoke goes directly into the bloodstream from the lung tissue. People report feeling the effects of CBD within one to five minutes. Smoking or vaping are two ways to inhale CBD.

Those choosing to smoke CBD have two options. The first option is to smoke-dried up CBD flowers rolled up in a joint. The second option involves smoking oil concentrate. This method requires a device called an “oil rig” that resembles a water pipe. You can also smoke CBD crystals, a pure (up to 99 percent) extract, in a dab rig, a process called dabbing.

Vaping utilizes a vape pen or vaporizer device. The device heats CBD vape oil producing vapor. You use a vapor pen to inhale it.

Pros of smoking CBD

  • CBD enters the bloodstream faster.
  • Contains no potentially harmful additives.
  • Bypassing the digestive system and liver makes the effects more potent so users can take a lower dose and still get the same result.

Cons of smoking CBD

  • Cannot be used by people with bronchial issues.
  • Creates smoke that can damage the throat and lungs.
  • It’s an intense experience that can be overwhelming.
  • Negative attitudes associated with smoking.

Pros of vaping CBD

  • Effects are fast acting and have high bio-availability.
  • Vape pens are easy to use and discreet.
  • Bypassing the digestive system and liver makes the effects more potent so users can take a lower dose and still get the same result.

Cons of vaping CBD

  • CBD vape cartridges can contain propylene glycol, a solvent that under high heat degrades into formaldehyde, a chemical nasal and eye irritant.
  • Cannot be used by people with bronchial issues.
  • Vaping requires extra purchases (CBD vape pen and accessories).
  • Dizziness and dehydration is an occasional side effect.
  • Negative attitudes associated with vaping.


This is a favorite method for us here at (COA) because we like to get FAST bloodstream absorption when taking CBD.

Placing CBD drops under the tongue and holding them there for about 30 seconds is the sublingual method. Bioavailability rates of sublingual consumption range from 12%-35%. After inhalation, this method is the second fastest way to feel the effects of CBD.

CBD is absorbed directly into the bloodstream via the sublingual gland, one of three salivary glands in the mouth. This method of consumption bypasses the body’s digestive system. As a result, more of the compound is available for use increasing the potency of the drug’s effect. Users report feeling the effects in only five to twenty minutes.

Tinctures, lozenges, and sprays are best suited to this consumption method and may be ideal for pain, migraines, and acute stress.

Pros of Sublingual consumption

  • Provides fast-acting relief.
  • Requires no extra tools or accessories.
  • Portable and discreet to use.
  • Easy to measure accurate doses.
  • Bypassing the digestive system and liver makes the effects more potent so users can take a lower amount and still get the same results.

Cons of Sublingual consumption

  • Results may vary from person to person.
  • Not as fast acting as inhaling
  • Some tinctures contain alcohol or other compounds from the extraction process that may serve as irritants.


The current most popular method of consuming CBD is via CBD-infused foods and drinks. The attraction to this consumption method is the variety of options. Choices range from edibles, including gummies, gumdrops, and chocolate, among others. You can also use hemp protein powder, hemp flour, or hemp oil to make your different food and drink items.

Pills, including capsules and tablets, are another way to take CBD orally. Effects of these items build over time due to a slow absorption rate. However, since pills and tablets pass through the digestive system and liver, effects are not as potent.

Bioavailability rate of oral consumption is low, ranging from 6 to 113%, because the product undergoes metabolism first in the liver, lungs, and gastrointestinal tract before entering the circulatory system. This allows for a slower release of CBD into your bloodstream creating a longer lasting effect.

Pros of oral ingestion

  • Consistent and longer lasting effects
  • An almost endless variety of CBD edibles options.
  • Easy to take with you and can be used discretely.
  • Helps with chronic pain issues, promotes restful sleep and reduces insomnia.

Cons of oral ingestion

  • Effects take a longer time to take effect, sometimes up to an hour.
  • The digestive system and the liver breaks down CBD.
  • Less CBD makes its way into the bloodstream so effects are less potent and may require users taking more in order to achieve total relief.

Topical application

The easiest way to use CBD is to apply it to the skin using products like lotions, creams, oils, salves, and balms. These items are infused with CBD, essential oils and fats and effects usually take about 15 – 30 minutes. The absorption rate of these products is low, so CBD blood and tissue concentrations levels are not high.

Transdermal patches are another form of topical application. Unlike lotions and creams and other similar products, the design for these allows for greater absorption through the skin and mucosal membranes. These products have a higher bioavailability rate than lotions and creams and other similar products.

Topical applications are best for conditions like generalized pain, sore muscles, migraines, and skin issues like acne.

Pros of topical CBD

  • Offer targeted relief for pain and inflammation.
  • Effects are felt soon after application.
  • Topicals usually contain vitamins, minerals, proteins, and fatty acids, that are good for overall skin health.

Cons of topical CBD

  • Challenging to determine dosing accuracy.
  • Applying topical products can be messy.
  • Effects experienced are mild and don’t last long.

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