The effects of cannabidiol (CBD) can be obtained by inhaling it, sublingual tincture (drops placed under the tongue), ingesting it in capsule form or in food or beverages, and applying it to the skin.
Studies indicate inhaled CBD tends to enter the bloodstream faster than other forms – as quickly as 30 seconds or less – useful for immediate relief for pain or anxiety. Some people smoke the flowering parts of the hemp plant to obtain CBD.
However, CBD is increasingly available using e-cigarette vaporizer devices, or “vape pens” that became popular a few years ago with tobacco users as cigarette replacements. Battery-powered vape pens heat a small portion of concentrated CBD oil until it boils, allowing the user to inhale the vapor. It is an effective delivery system, but some CBD cartridges used in vape pens contain a solvent, propylene glycol, that can break down into formaldehyde when heated.
Formaldehyde can irritate eyes and nasal passages and is eyed as a substance that increases the risk of asthma and cancer. Experts say vape users should seek CBD cartridges that use “solvent-free oils.” Note that the long-term effects of inhaling even solvent-free products have not been studied.
With all that said, we at Uptown CBD decided to not offer vape products. We offer only CBD products that are ingested by mouth or used on the skin as topicals. We don’t doubt the efficacy of vaping or smoking CBD any more than we doubt the efficacy of ingesting it or massaging it onto an achy spot. But we weighed some health and safety, even environmental and what might be called “social” factors, into our decision to not carry vape options. (See our article, “The Case For Vape, and Why We Don’t” for full information.)
Drops and Sprays
Dosing with drops of CBD oil tincture placed under the tongue or sprayed on the inside the cheeks is the second fastest way for the body to absorb it, in the range of 15 to 30 minutes to take effect. CBD is extracted from hemp using pressurized carbon dioxide or a solvent such as ethanol. It is then usually mixed with an oil like coconut or sesame to improve taste and preserve the CBD.
Tinctures are quick and easy to use, and usually come in 1 oz bottles or smaller that are labeled with the total CBD contents of the bottle. A 250 milligrams (mg) CBD label on a 1 oz bottle, for example, indicates 250 mg total per bottle, not per dose. Oils with higher CBD content, say 1000 mg total, are priced higher than CBD bottles of the same size with lower amounts of CBD in them, because they contain more CBD per ounce.
The droppers included with bottled oils often are calibrated to help you determine how much of the oil you are getting, which can help you calculate how many milligrams of CBD are in each dose. Individuals react differently to CBD, so It takes a bit of experimentation to determine each person’s useful dose.
Experts suggest starting with a dose of 10 mg CBD and observing the effect, keeping in mind it may take 30 minutes to enter your bloodstream. Stick with the initial dose for a day or two while you observe CBD’s effect on your well-being. Has that ache in your knee or hip or neck diminished? Did you feel calmer at bedtime? Did you awaken to realize you had slept better?
With a calibrated dropper, it’s easy to adjust the dosage. Increase the dose in increments of 10 mg if necessary. You may find that it takes 20mg or 30 mg to meet your needs. Some CBD users find that after a couple weeks of taking a higher dose, they can comfortably reduce the dosage and still have a good result.
Keeping the tincture under the tongue for 30 seconds or so increases the absorption rate and decreases the chances of swallowing it right away, which can dilute the effect. And be sure to shake the bottle first, as the contents may settle or stick to the sides of the bottle.
Taste is certainly a factor if you’re going to use the CBD tinctures. Our full-spectrum Ananda Hemp tinctures have a characteristic herbal or grassy taste. This comes from the terpenes that are part of the hemp plant’s biologic structure and carry the characteristic plant flavor. Ananda Hemp CBD is carried in a tincture oil derived from coconuts. (The Ananda Hemp spectrum gel capsules are are coconut-free for consumers who may have a coconut allergy.) Many advocates of CBD maintain that these terpenes, aside from adding flavor, also help to support the effects of CBD. This is often described as the “entourage effect” in that the terpenes and other compounds themselves, without CBD, lack observable benefits. But they may help carry CBD to a more immediate and profound effect in our bodies. Hemp-derived, full-spectrum CBD products like those that we carry also may contain insignificant amounts of THC – less than 0.3 percent on a dry-weigh basis that is legally permitted by the U.S. Farm Bill. THC, or tetrahydrocannabinol, is the psychoactive compound that produces a high in marijuana users. Remember: Unlike THC, CBD is NOT psychoactive, and the trace amounts of THC in our full-spectrum products will NOT produce a high.
If the organic, vegetal taste of full-spectrum tinctures is not to your liking, try a CBD isolate. This is exactly what it sounds like: The CBD extraction process is refined further to deliver CBD with virtually no terpenes or residual THC. The result is an effective, flavor-free CBD, like our Medterra products, that is easy to swallow.
Edibles and Capsules
Consuming CBD in food, candy, tea, juice and countless other edible forms, including capsules and pills, is easy and is limited only by the imagination of producers and consumers. With edibles, watch for products from CBD companies that provide information about the source of their CBD and independent tests for quality control, as well as the total CBD content in the product.
You can now find CBD gumdrops, peanut butter, dark chocolate bars, lemonade, gummy worms, honey sticks, and on and on. Culinary creativity knows no bounds. Consuming CBD this way is tasty, but because it passes through the digestive system, it does slow the absorption process. You may expect more than 30 minutes to feel effects.
Because more CBD is needed in an edible to ensure an effective amount makes it through your tummy, these products are usually more expensive. Also, calibrating dosage is not very precise. A CBD edible may be labeled as containing 30 mg CBD, but if you want to break it into three, 10-mg doses, you’ll need to do your own guesswork.
Taking CBD in a capsule or pill form, while not as quickly effective as under-the-tongue tinctures, does take the guesswork out of dosages.
Finally, rubs and balms (topicals) rubbed directly onto sore muscles or joints may have an anti-inflammatory effect to ease pain. Balms typically are a mixture of CBD with fats such as coconut oil or beeswax, and may be combined with essential oils, spices or herbs for fragrance and to help penetrate the skin.
Medterra brand cooling cream topicals work well for us, so we offer them here for you to try.
Topicals aren’t absorbed into the bloodstream like other forms of CBD, and often contain higher concentrations of CBD to make them effective, which also pushes up their price. By now you know that CBD’s effects vary from person to person, and topicals are no different.
For more profound, nonspecific pain such as fibromyalgia, a topical may not provide much relief, while an ingested product such as a tincture or edible will.
For relief of joint pain brought on by inflammation due to arthritis, perhaps, or physical stress to joints and muscles from over-work, we have found topicals to be quite effective. Individual experience varies.
Many users report near immediate relief, while others find the effect is delayed or cumulative, requiring a couple of repeat applications. As with all forms of CBD applications, a few users of topicals report no noticeable effect.
For a bit of therapeutic luxury, soaking in a hot tub of CBD bath salts can be both relaxing and pain-relieving. We have tried a few brands of CBD bath salts, and have our preferences. We plan to carry a bath salt product in the future.