How Should I Take CBD Oil? Is there a ‘best’ way?
There are numerous ways to get CBD into your system and one of the most common questions we get is ‘How should I take CBD’ followed by ‘And is there a single best way to do so’. In this FAQ post we will break down the most common routes of administration as well as pointing out their positives and negatives. We’ll give you the tools to make the right decision for your particular situation. First, we need to talk briefly about the concept of ‘bioavailability’.
One of the main differentiators between different routes of CBD administration is the bioavailability that each route offers.
Bioavailability can be thought of as the amount of active CBD that actually enters your blood stream in comparison to the total amount you administered; as such bioavailability is always displayed as a percentage.
You place 20mg of CBD oil under your tongue and this route of administration has bioavailability of approximately 30%. This means 6mg of CBD will ultimately reach your blood stream.
There are no consumer-available routes of administration that have 100% bioavailability. In theory, intravenous administration of CBD is the only way to achieve 100% but this, quite rightly, is not used outside of experimental settings. Before reading on, bear in mind that bioavailability % are averages and can be affected by a wide range of factors including age, metabolic health, weight and the care in which you administer CBD.
CBD Edibles i.e. Gummies, Capsules and Foods
CBD edibles are increasing in popularity and include a wide range of products ranging from soft and hard gel capsules to CBD-infused sweets and foods. If you consume a CBD product by eating or swallowing, then this is an edible/oral route of administration.
Oral methods of delivery are super-convenient whether you are on the go or not. They are inconspicuous and offer a fixed dose of CBD in a very small package, so you know exactly how much CBD you are using at any given time.
Oral products are particularly popular with individuals who do not like the taste of oils are who simply want an ‘easier’ option. However, despite their ease, oral products do not have the best bioavailability as the CBD (and other ingredients) must pass through the digestive system before being absorbed into the blood stream. As such the bioavailability ranges anywhere from 5-10%. This can be offset by using stronger products. Dr. Ed® capsules, for example, are twice the strength of most seen on the market.
Finally, while the effects of CBD take longer to emerge when using oral products when compared to a sublingual oil, the effects last much longer; up to 8 hours.
CBD Oils i.e. Droppers and Sprays
Sublingual oils remain the most popular way of taking CBD across the globe. This method involves dropping CBD oil under the tongue and holding the oil there for at least 1 minute before swallowing. This ‘hold’ helps increase the amount of CBD absorbed into the blood through the abundant capillaries and membranes present under the tongue.
For those looking for accurate and precise dosing, this is a great method, especially if the company you purchase from has dosing guides and/or measured pipettes. Of course, we have both!
Bioavailability is also very attractive with sublingual oils at roughly 30%. The effects of CBD also have a faster onset that edible/oral methods at around 15-30 minutes and the effects can last anywhere from 3-6 hours. This timeframe is the reason we suggest ‘morning, noon and night’ application of sublingual oils as you are covered throughout the day.
The ‘earthy’ or ‘weedy’ taste of sublingual oils is the biggest stumbling block for consumers and some less refined oils really do not taste pleasant at all, enough that many people stop using them. We have paid particular focus to taste and spent months perfecting the make-up of our oils to increase palatability such that the earthy taste associated with many oils is almost non-existent.
Inhalation i.e. Vape Pens and Inhalers
Inhaling CBD is one of the fastest ways to get CBD into your system due to the rapid absorption and wide surface area of the lungs. There is generally no wait time for the effects of inhalants to kick in as compounds like CBD reach the blood stream very quickly.
The bioavailability of inhalants is slightly higher than that of sublingual oils at approximately 35-40% and vaping can be a great way to use CBD products, especially for those who suffer with quick onset issues like migraines.
All currently available data suggests vaping is a much more safe alternative if you already smoke and want to quit.
Update 2023: Check out our newly released Dr. Ed Vape range!
Topicals & Transdermals
Topical CBD products are applied directly to your skin and include things like balms, oils, creams, salves, rubs and anything else of that ilk. Unlike other application methods, topicals are designed to give localised effects to a specific area of the body i.e. an aching knee and are not intended to be absorbed into the blood stream. Therefore, topical products are ideal for physical issues such as persistent injuries but are not suitable to support neurological issues like anxiety which requires CBD to enter the bloodstream.
Note: Although Dr. Ed® do not use THC in any of their current product line, if you do use topicals with THC you will not fail a drug test as THC will not be absorbed into the blood stream through the skin.
Transdermal products are the newest to market and are often confused with topicals as both methods involve skin application. The key difference here is that true transdermal CBD products have been engineered such that the CBD does absorb through the skin and can enter the blood stream. This means transdermal products can provide local effects like topicals but whole-body effects like sublingual oils simultaneously. Transdermal CBD products are most commonly seen as patches (similar in concept to nicotine patches) or as specially designed creams.
As transdermal products absorb efficiently and directly into the blood stream, they have a very high bioavailability reportedly at 70% and maybe even higher. Transdermal products are typically much more expensive than their topical counterparts due to the technology and ingredients involved. If you see products claiming to be ‘transdermal’ at low prices they are likely to be purposefully mislabelled topical products.
Here’s a quick rundown of approximate bioavailability based on route of administration (note that these are averages only and only apply to CBD; other cannabinoids possess different absorption rates)
- Oral: 10%
- Sublingual drops: 30%
- Inhalation: 35%
- Topical: N/A
- Transdermal: 70+%
We hope this breakdown has been helpful! The decision is now up to you. No one route of administration is better than the other, but the wealth of options means there is one suitable for you. You also do not have to only use one method and can instead mix and match. Many of our consumers consistently use a sublingual oil but topicals for particular problem areas as well.
If you are ever concerned about using CBD or purchasing CBD online from a company you aren’t sure about, even if it is nothing to do with Dr. Ed®, feel free to reach out to our support team to lend a hand. Head to our Contact page to speak to us.