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How to Take CBD Oil: Ingestion, Sublingual, Topical and Inhalation Options

With more research discovering new potential wellness and therapeutic applications for cannabidiol ( CBD ), the demand and availability of CBD products continues to increase. The greater variety of products gives patients more choices to find a CBD option and method of consumption that aligns with their health and lifestyle needs.

In general, there are four primary methods for taking CBD oil to choose from:

  • Ingestion
  • Sublingual
  • Topical
  • Inhalation

Here we explore each of those four methods and discuss the advantages of each so that you can select a product that’s best for you or your family member.

Ingestion Options

Perhaps the most common way to take CBD oil is to ingest it orally. When you ingest CBD oil, it passes through the digestive system and is metabolized by the liver, eventually sending its active compounds to your bloodstream. This form of administration is exactly how vitamins and other daily supplements are most typically taken.

Common ingestible CBD oil products include capsules , edibles, and beverages. Capsules can be easily swished down with a mouthful of water and are among the most efficient ways to take CBD. CBD oil can be infused into a wide variety of edibles and beverages, including coffee.

Sublingual Options

When CBD oil is administered sublingually, it’s held under the tongue for up to 90 seconds so that the mucus membranes in the mouth can absorb the oil’s active ingredients. The benefit of consuming CBD oil sublingually is that the absorption process bypasses the digestive system and liver metabolization, allowing the compounds to reach your bloodstream and interact with the endocannabinoid system more quickly. For those looking for quick effects, a sublingual CBD oil product is ideal.

Pure CBD oil, as well as tinctures and concentrates, are CBD products that are designed for the sublingual method of application. They can easily be held in the mouth to give the active ingredients time to be absorbed by the capillaries in the mouth before being swallowed.

Topical Options

Some CBD oil products are designed to be applied directly onto the skin. The active ingredients in these topical CBD products are absorbed through the skin so that they can interact with cells that are nearby the surface without ever entering the bloodstream. Topical CBD oil products are ideal for those looking for isolated pain relief or to address skin conditions because they can be applied directly to where they are needed most.

The CBD oil topical products currently on the market primarily include lotions and salves. These products are more applicable for potentially addressing pain or serious skin issues . For daily skin health care, some companies also produce a collection of CBD oil bath and body care products, such as body wash, shampoo, conditioner, and moisturizing lotions.

Inhalation Options

Finally, CBD can also be inhaled by vaporizing. A vaporizer heats CBD oil just enough to release its active compounds, avoiding the harmful byproducts that are created with combustion. During vaporization, CBD enters your lungs and diffuses directly into your bloodstream. Because it doesn’t have to make its way through the digestive system or liver, the CBD enters your circulation faster. Also, less CBD is lost during vaporizing compared to the ingestion method. Vaporizing CBD is typically a consumption option recommended for adults.

CBD oil products designed for vaporization include CBD e-liquid, which contains CBD oil infused with vegetable glycerin (VG), or high-CBD concentrate. Vaporizers range in size from tabletop, plug-in powered units to small, battery-powered portable pens.

Here we explore each of the four common methods for consuming CBD and discuss the advantages of each so you can find the product that's right for you.

Barlean’s Better Life Blog

There seems to be more news every day about cannabidiol (CBD) and how it interacts with cell receptors in the body to create balance and support health. In fact, articles and studies on the potential health benefits of CBD seem to be popping up everywhere. But for CBD to work, it first needs to be adequately absorbed by the body. Thus, it’s important to know the best way to consume CBD so that it can be efficiently absorbed into the bloodstream, where it can go to work on the receptors in our endocannabinoid system (ECS) and flex its natural balancing muscles.

The most common way to consume CBD oil is orally, or through the mouth. In fact, there are myriad food and drink products hitting the market that contain CBD. Moreover, you may have heard or read about adding CBD oil to your morning coffee or other beverages to make taking it more convenient. But is eating or drinking CBD oil really the best way to absorb it? Not so much. Here’s why:

A Long Road to the Bloodstream

When CBD is ingested orally, it is absorbed and broken down by the digestive system. From the stomach, it goes to the liver where it is further metabolized (broken down) by enzymes before passing on what remains of the compounds into the bloodstream. The phenomenon of CBD being lost to the liver and gut is known as the first pass effect. 1,2 So, while ingesting CBD orally may be the easiest method, it isn’t necessarily the most efficient.

The Sublingual Method (A Fancy Way to Say Putting it Under Your Tongue)

If CBD oil is held under the tongue for 60 to 90 seconds before being swallowed, the mucus membranes in the mouth absorb the compounds. This sublingual method allows CBD to completely bypass the digestive system and liver metabolism, so the compounds can avoid being broken down by enzymes and reach the bloodstream more quickly.

A study performed with rabbits compared the bioavailability (absorption) of oral and sublingual CBD solutions. The results of this study showed that the CBD delivered sublingually showed significantly higher bioavailability than the CBD delivered orally. 3

Other Methods: Inhalation and Topical Application

Inhaling CBD by vaporization “vaping” allows the compounds to be absorbed by the alveoli in the lungs, which are then transferred immediately to the bloodstream. So, sure, this a faster way to absorb CBD (compared to ingesting it orally), but this method comes with its own set of drawbacks. Many people can’t tolerate or don’t like inhaling foreign substances for one. Plus, coughing fits from inhaling too much or vaping at too hot of a temperature can be extremely detrimental to the lungs of someone suffering from a lung condition.

When CBD is applied topically to the skin, it never reaches the bloodstream, but it can be absorbed through the skin’s surface to interact with nearby cannabinoid receptors. The very nature of skin is to block things from entering your body, but if CBD salves and lotions are applied heavily enough, they can permeate the skin through the pores to have a potentially positive effect. 4

Now that you know the variety of ways CBD can be absorbed, it’s up to you to decide the best method for you. Barlean’s Ideal CBD Hemp Oil was designed to be taken sublingually as we believe it is the most efficient and effective way to reap its potential benefits.

Have more questions about CBD? We’ve got answers. Click the buttons below to check out our extensive CBD FAQs or our free CBD webinar.

For CBD to work its magic, it first needs to be adequately absorbed by the body. Thus, it’s important to know the best way to consume CBD so that it can flex its natural balancing effects. Learn about the different ways to take CBD and how putting under your tongue might be the best option.