There are lots of ways to enjoy CBD. Each product will act a little differently as every person is biochemically unique. Understanding this will help you make the best choice for your own wellness routine. Here are general guidelines for each product category to help determine your most effective method of consuming CBD. Download your own Method of Consumption Chart here.
Onset of Effect: 15 minutes-60 minutes
Duration of Effect: 2-6 hours
Tinctures and Infused oils are generally both marketed as sublingual applications. Tinctures, which by definition are solutions in which alcohol is the solvent, have better oral-mucosal absorption because alcohol has the ability to carry active ingredients transdermally through the lining of the mouth, directly into the bloodstream. This potentially results in a more effective dose and a shorter onset of effect.
Infused oils have lower transdermal activity and some or all of the oil may be swallowed and absorbed through the digestive system, also known as “first pass” metabolism. Products that are absorbed through this pathway generally have lower bioavailability and a longer onset of effect. In either case, sublingual products should be administered under the tongue so as to have exposure to the sublingual glands, and held there for a minimum of 30-60 seconds. Tinctures and infused oils are commonly available in both dropper form or oral spray.
Droppers offer the most control of your dose because you can administer the product drop by drop. Utilize the graduated dropper to manage your dose. Sprays, while offering convenience, can have less consistency across pumps and care should be made to direct the spray sublingually for maximum effectiveness.
Onset of Effect: Local and fast-acting, within 30 minutes
Duration of Effect: 1-4 hours
Using CBD topicals targets relief to a specific area. The skin absorbs CBD so that it can interact with cannabinoid receptors nearby to potentially relieve skin, joint or muscle discomfort. Topical products are not generally absorbed into the bloodstream and hence do not contribute to a systemic effect, i.e., a broader interaction with the nervous system.
Topical products will not effect a person’s mood or contribute to a feeling of being high, even with the presence of legal levels of THC.
Research is beginning to show that the acidic form of CBD, CBDa, may have greater permeative abilities. The inclusion of essential oils or terpenes may increase the penetrability of the product, but care should be taken to limit essential oil and terpene use to what is tolerable as these are very powerful compounds and can be irritating to the skin.
Onset of Effect: Systemic and fast-acting, within 30 minutes
Duration of Effect: 4-8 hours
Transdermal administration allows for cannabinoids to slowly absorb directly into the bloodstream when administered onto an area of the body with thin skin and veinous exposure, such as the inside of the wrist and top of the foot.
Transdermal patches are discreet, convenient and reliable, offering a slow release mechanism that can offer up to 12 hours of symptom relief. Many consumers find success with transdermal patches as part of a night time routine, and may assist with healthy sleep patterns.
Transdermal creams and gels can offer local and systemic effects. Because these products enter the bloodstream, there is the potential for psychoactivity, but intoxicating effects are rare because legal CBD products contain only trace amounts of THC.
Inhaling CBD through smoking or vaping hemp flower has the quickest onset of effect because CBD can reach the bloodstream almost instantaneously through absorption in the lungs. It can be a great method of consumption to manage breakthrough symptoms such as pain or anxiety. While it has the quickest onset of effect, it has the shortest window of effect, generally 1-3 hours. Repeated consumption may be necessary to maintain desired comfort levels. Inhaling smoke of any kind can lead to irritation in the respiratory system. Vaping hemp flower may offer a safer method of consumption for overall respiratory health.
Onset of Effect: 30 minutes-120 minutes
Duration of Effect: 4-8 hours
Capsules and soft gels offer a discreet and consistent method of administration because each dose is perfectly “packaged” in a pill form. When CBD is consumed orally, it first passes through your digestive system, your gut and liver, before it enters your bloodstream. This is referred to as “first pass” metabolism.
More research needs to be done to fully understand how cannabinoids are metabolized through this pathway, but generally it is understood that cannabinoids can be “lost” along the way through degradation by digestive processes and/or converted into other compounds/molecules through chemical reactions in the organ systems, especially the liver. This can lead to lower bioavailability and possibly increased potency which results in a slower onset of effect with a longer duration of effect.
Until you have gained experience with consuming CBD orally, it is wise to start with low doses and increase gradually overtime so that you can determine your minimum effective dose, that which gives you relief without adverse effect.
Capsules made from plant cellulose offer a vegan option but can be harder to digest than a capsule or soft gel made with gelatin. This may contribute to differences in effect for individuals based on their own digestive vigor.
Always consult your veterinarian to ensure CBD won’t interfere with your pet’s current medications or health considerations. The endocannabinoid receptors in humans and animals are very similar. With respect to dosing with oral applications, starting low at .5mg of CBD per pound of an animal’s body weight and one-two times per day is recommended. Transdermal methods can begin with 1mg of CBD for every 10lbs of body weight. Balms and salves can be applied as needed to address localized skin conditions and muscle/joint pain.
Onset: Immediate-5 minutes
Duration: 1-3 hours
Inhaling CBD through the vaporization of hemp extracts has the second quickest onset of effect next to smoking because CBD can reach the bloodstream almost instantaneously through absorption in the lungs. Vapor, while slightly delayed in absorption by the lungs compared to smoke, may have better absorption overall, contributing to a potentially more effective product. There is also less waste involved in vaping activated extracts (opposed to flower) because the CBDa in the flower may not be fully decarboxylated to CBD and cannabinoids can be degraded through combustion. Generally, vaping can be a great method of consumption to manage breakthrough symptoms such as pain or anxiety. While it has a very quick onset of effect, it has the shortest window of effect, generally 1-3 hours. Repeated consumption may be necessary to maintain desired comfort levels. While vaping is considered by some to be safer than smoking, there is no long term safety data on the repeated, long term use of cannabis/hemp extracts (inhaled as vapor), the excipients often used in formulation with these extracts, and the technology that accompanies them.
Onset: 30 minutes-120 minutes
Duration: 4-8 hours
When CBD is consumed orally, it first passes through your digestive system, your gut and liver, before it enters your bloodstream. This is referred to as “first pass” metabolism. More research needs to be done to fully understand how cannabinoids are metabolized through this pathway, but generally it is understood that cannabinoids can be “lost” along the way through degradation by digestive processes and/or converted into other compounds/molecules through chemical reactions in the organ systems, especially the liver. This can lead to lower bioavailability and possibly increased potency which results in a slower onset of effect with a longer duration of effect. Until you have gained experience with consuming CBD orally, it is wise to start with low doses and increase gradually overtime so that you can determine your minimum effective dose, that which gives you relief without adverse effect. Cannabinoids are fat soluble and their absorption rate can be greater when consumed along with fats such as butter, olive or coconut oil.
Onset: 30 minutes-120 minutes
Duration: 4-8 hours
Onset and durations of effect can vary with CBD beverages based on the type of beverage and the method of homogenization. To be homogeneous means that the CBD is equally distributed throughout the beverage. Cannabinoids are hydrophobic and hence, not water soluble. Hemp extracts can be incorporated into beverages through a variety of means; alcohol tinctures, infused oils, emulsifiers or a combination of nanotechnology and emulsification. More research needs to be done to understand the bioavailability of cannabinoids in infused beverages as well as the onsets and durations of effect. In many cases, these time tables are similar to edibles. However, the process by which cannabinoids are made miscible in water may increase the body’s ability to absorb them, leading to a faster onset of effect as well as increased potency. As with edible consumption, consumers should start low and slow in order to understand how best to incorporate CBD beverages into their health and wellness routine.
Onset: Systemic and fast-acting, within 30 minutes
Duration: 2-6 hours
Suppositories are effective for symptom relief because there are numerous cannabinoid receptors in the GI tract and female reproductive system that cannabinoids can bind to, and because they absorb rapidly into nearby organs and the bloodstream. Suppositories are quickly becoming popular for relief of issues with menstruation. In general, suppositories have a faster onset, higher bioavailability, shorter peak and shorter duration than oral administration. This is largely due to the fact that suppositories bypass roughly two thirds of “first-pass” metabolism that occurs during digestion.
Onsets and durations of effect as well as the therapeutic benefit of this category vary based on the type of product. Many follow the same guidelines for topicals, which is a relatively fast acting application for local, inflammatory skin conditions and pain management in soft tissues and joints. Depending on the formulation of the product, research has begun to show that skincare products infused with CBD may reduce the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles.
Individual responses to hemp cultivars (varieties) and methods of consumption vary. Currently, no scientific consensus exists that indicates certain products are more effective than others for relieving specific symptoms or conditions. Each consumer must determine, through their own use of hemp, which cultivars and products are most effective for their health needs.
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