When taking CBD, it’s important to think about the ingestion method (i.e. delivery system) that is best for you. For example, when you consume any CBD product, it must be transferred from the administration site into your bloodstream. From there, it’s transported throughout your body to influence your cannabinoid receptors (CB1 & CB2) and other non-cannabinoid receptors. Taking this into consideration, there are two important concepts to understand:
The Route of Administration: The path that any CBD product is consumed or applied to the body is defined as the route of administration. This has a direct effect on the uptake, distribution, and elimination of the compound. This means the way you apply or consume a CBD product can determine how effective and beneficial it will be.
Bioavailability: The process of absorption is the transfer of CBD from the site of application into the bloodstream. Bioavailability is the amount and rate at which CBD is absorbed into the bloodstream. If injected directly into the bloodstream, CBD would have a 100% bioavailability. Other routes will suffer some loss in percentage.
Here are some of the most common ways to ingest CBD:
• Oral (Capsules, Gummies, Edibles, Drinks): When CBD is swallowed, it is ultimately absorbed by the digestive system. The compound passes into the liver which then metabolizes the CBD molecules. The enzymes in the liver reduce the concentration of the CBD compounds before passing on what remains to the bloodstream. While oral ingestion of CBD is one of the easiest methods, this passage through the liver reduces the efficiency of CBD absorption. So, you will likely not receive all the CBD milligrams in a gummy or capsule, for example. However, we realize the ease of oral ingestion and we appreciate the fact that many of these products are fun, favorable and tasty! Therefore, we love BeeKeeper’s Naturals Honey Sticks (because you can’t go wrong when you combine CBD with raw, sustainable, high-quality honey!) and delicious Steepfuze CBD-Infused Coffees and Teas!
• Transdermal (Patches): The nice thing about transdermal delivery is that it bypasses your liver and stomach (places where your body filters or breaks down the cannabinoid). Therefore, you get 100% of the medicinal value of the CBD. Plus, the YouAndMeAndCBD Transdermal Patches are effective for up to three days because the patch slowly releases a small amount of CBD through your skin and into your bloodstream the whole time you wear it! You can simply stick one on and forget about it.
• Sublingual (Oil Tinctures): Sublingual application is when a CBD tincture is administered under the tongue. The CBD is held there for 60-90 seconds before being swallowed. This method carries with it a higher bioavailability because when CBD is held under the tongue, it is directly absorbed into the mucous membranes. This bypasses the need to pass through the liver, and therefore, the digestive system. The result is the compound reaching the bloodstream more quickly without being broken down. In simple terms, sublingual administration is more effective than oral ingestion. For users who are not comfortable with the flavor of hemp, there are many companies, such as Lazarus Naturals, using tasty natural flavor additives to mask the cannabis taste. Chocolate Mint or French Vanilla Mocha is way more palatable!
• Inhalation (Vapes): Inhaling CBD has up to a 5x higher bioavailability than oral ingestion based on one study. This is thanks to the large, highly permeable surface of the interior of the lungs. Inhaling also has a consistently quick onset in only a few minutes. The comparison against inhaled vs. oral showed that oral ingestion has a slower onset with the effects of the CBD lasting for a longer period of time. Inhaling CBD has a faster onset with a shorter period of effectiveness. We are big fans of the Joy Organics Vape because it’s smooth, citrus flavor, and contains no vegetable glycerin or propylene glycol.
• Topical (Salves, Balms, Skincare): These products are designed to alleviate symptoms including aching joints, muscles, and skin irritations/issues. This method of application is viable because there are cannabinoid receptors found in the skin. Topically applied CBD has a localized effect and has been shown to reduce inflammation and pain in the area applied. There are also some additional studies out there pointing to full spectrum cannabinoid use as beneficial for treating skin conditions like psoriasis/eczema. Lazarus Naturals has some awesome balms that smell wonderful, and we also love the High Resin Remedies Facial Serum!
• Water-Soluble Formulations: Water-soluble formulations use nano-technology (i.e. the CBD particles are made microscopically small), they are easily dissolved into the bloodstream, and the body is able to utilize them quickly and efficiently. Plus, because they’re water soluble, they can be used under the tongue, swallowed directly, mixed into any drink, used in cold cooking, or put in a vaporizer. Hemplucid offers great water-soluble options, and Joy Organics makes a unique capsule that is water-soluble – this means these capsules won’t pass through your digestive system like other capsules!
Here is a handy chart that helps to summarize much of the information explained above:
|Method of Ingestion||Bioavailability||Onset||Duration|
|Oral (Capsules, Gummies, Edibles, Drinks)||Mid||30-90 Minutes||Up to 7 Hours|
|Transdermal (Patches)||High||Under 30 minutes||2-3 Days|
|Sublingual (Oil Tinctures)||Mid-High||20-40 Minutes||Up to 6 Hours|
|Inhalation (Vapes)||High||Under 30 minutes||Up to 3 Hours|
|Topical (Salves, Balms, Skincare)||Mid||60-90 Minutes||Up to 6 Hours|
|Water-Soluble Formulations||High||Under 30 minutes||Up to 6 Hours|
If you have any questions about delivery methods and/or which one might be the best choice for you, please don’t hesitate to reach out to us!