How do I take my CBD? (5 ways to take CBD and how it works!)


Smoking & Vaping

Smoking CBD: One of the most common known routes of inhalation is the process of smoking. This is the combination of igniting the aerial parts of cannabis (flower/buds) with fire, heating the plant to its combustion point. Typically used in a pipe or joint fashion, this method allows the individual to consume a full profile of terpenes, flavonoids, and numerous other compounds.

One study shows that inhaling CBD has up to a 5x higher bioavailability than oral ingestion with a bioavailability of 31%. Bioavailability is defined as “the degree and rate at which a substance is absorbed into a living system or is made available at the site of physiological activity”. A substance delivered intravenously is assumed to have 100% bioavailability, and other routes of administration are compared to the intravenous route as a ratio for the percentage bioavailability. This route of administering CBD is usually felt within 2-3 minutes and can last anywhere from 2-3 hours. Smoking CBD is often effective for reducing or subsiding acute symptoms that need to be addressed quickly such as painful muscle spasms, nausea, and vomiting.

Vaping CBD: Vaporizing is the process of heating CBD flower, oil, or concentrate to or near its boiling point (160℃ - 180℃) with a vaping device such as a vape pen — much like what you see coming out of a kettle when you boil water. One of the main differences between smoking CBD & vaporizing CBD is that smoking heats the plant material to its combustion point whereas vaporizers control the heat at which the cannabis is being administered at. During vaporization, CBD enters your lungs and diffuses directly into your bloodstream rather than passing through your stomach and liver. This avoids the first-pass effect, allowing nearly four times as much CBD to enter your circulation for a full bioavailability of around 50 to 60 percent. Therefore, you can achieve the same health effects with a much smaller amount; this makes vaping a very efficient delivery method of CBD.

Sublingual Consumption

Tinctures, Oils, Sprays

The sublingual gland is one of three complex major salivary glands located underneath our tongue. These glands are vessel-rich tissue that allow absorption into the bloodstream very quickly. Consuming CBD sublingually involves placing cannabidiol liquids under the tongue allowing the cannabinoids to enter the bloodstream through mucous membranes within the sublingual cavity. Since no enzymes break the CBD molecules down and it does not travel through the stomach, CBD is able to reach the bloodstream much more efficiently. As for bioavailability, a sublingual dose may be anywhere from 20 – 35%.

As of now, these are the 3 most popular ways to ingest CBD sublingually.

Tincture: A tincture is a medicinal solution made from dissolving cannabis in high-quality grain alcohol. The alcohol functions as a preservative and typically has a multi year-long shelf life, unlike other methods of consuming cannabidiol. During the majority of the 19th century, physicians from throughout North America and Europe prescribed cannabis tinctures for many common ailments. Tinctures usually consist of a number of ingredients that play many different roles. The base product is usually vegetable glycerin, coconut oil, ethanol, vinegar, or alcohol, but can be a mixture of these as well. The purpose of the base ingredients is to dilute the solution so it can be mixed with other ingredients. Tinctures are excellent for applying to food, drinks, dressings, etc. because of its capability to mix well and have a low taste profile.

Oils: CBD oil is made from high-CBD, low-THC industrial hemp, in comparison to medicinal marijuana products which are usually crafted from plants with high concentrations of THC (tetrahydrocannabinol). CBD oil products consist mostly or entirely of oil, with oil being its main component. The amount of actual CBD it contains can differ depending on the strain of cannabis the CBD is extracted from and what other ingredients are present in the product.

CBD oil is usually produced using one of two methods: alcohol extraction or carbon dioxide extraction. The alcohol extraction method involves soaking cannabis in ethanol, butane, alcohol from grains, or another solvent. After soaking, the remaining liquid that contains CBD is evaporated, leaving behind pure CBD oil. The carbon dioxide (CO2) extraction uses extremely high pressures to extract the oil and as of now, it is the cleanest and purest form to obtain CBD oil.

“Bioavailability from oral delivery was estimated to be 6% due to significant first-pass metabolism.” —World Health Organization

Sprays: Sublingual sprays consist of various natural ingredients that are combined with CBD in a manner that allows the oils to be dispersed throughout the water, rather than sitting on top of the water like oil generally does. The molecules are then able to be quickly and easily absorbed into the body's tissues since our bodies are made up of over 60% water.

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External Uses

Topicals are cannabis-infused lotions, balms, and oils that are absorbed directly through the skin. Topicals are best known for localized relief of pain, soreness, or inflammation. This method of absorption is best for those that want the therapeutic benefits of cannabis without the psychoactive effect. It's been said that topical users should titrate the amount used until the desired result is reached. Topicals are a great option as they can be easily measured (in terms of ingredient compositions) and are higher in bioavailability than orally ingested compounds because they’re able to skip liver metabolization. Topically applied CBD has a localized effect and has been shown to reduce inflammation and pain in the area applied.

How does it work?

Cannabis infused lotions, salves, oils, sprays, and other transdermal methods of relief work by connecting to a network of receptors called CB2. These receptors are located throughout the body and are activated by the body’s naturally-occurring endocannabinoids or by cannabis compounds known as phytocannabinoids. However, transdermal patches do deliver cannabinoids to the bloodstream and could have psychoactive effects with a high enough THC content.

What type of CBD infused topicals are out there?

  • Lotions, balms, facial creams

  • Bath bombs

  • Chapsticks

  • Body Scrubs

  • Massage Oils

  • Hair products

  • Transdermal patches

  • Sprays

  • Epsom salt-infused bath salts

Products like these are being used by people with specific conditions like arthritis to athletes suffering from post-exercise soreness; current studies are pointing to full spectrum cannabinoid as being beneficial for treating skin conditions like psoriasis.


Capsules, Edibles, Drinks etc.

Ingesting CBD comes in many forms; from pure CBD capsules to infused teas and desserts, consuming CBD internally has been acknowledged for its long-lasting effects and its easy dosing for “beginners”. Most purchased CBD edibles come in pre-dosed servings, making it simple to calculate how much CBD you’ve consumed and how much is needed to ingest for achieving the desired outcome. CBD taken orally enters the bloodstream after being digested in the stomach and is absorbed in the intestines. A published study by the U.S. National Library of Medicine, suggests that ingesting CBD with fatty acids may bypass this “first pass effect” and increase absorption rates of CBD after ingestion.

For individuals with eating and digestive disorders such as gastrointestinal difficulties, edibles testing high in cannabidiol are not only a great source of nausea-reducing medicine, but are also a source of essential nutrients and calories. Those suffering from autoimmune disorders such as Crohn’s disease, find this method of medicating extremely beneficial. This is because Crohn’s Disease occurs in the GI tract, specifically where edibles distribute useful active and inactive cannabinoids targeting the source of the issue.

Many people choose edibles as their preferred method of consumption because they are typically a more discreet way to consume CBD. Others simply prefer the longevity of effects when ingesting CBD compared to the fast-acting effects of inhalation. Research has even shown that CBD benefits weight loss by helping the body convert white fat into weight-reducing brown fat, promoting noatherogenesisrmal insulin production and sugar metabolism.

CBD edibles are typically split into three basic categories: those targeted towards gastrointestinal uptake (digested through the stomach), those geared toward oral uptake (sublingual), and a handful that fit into both (hybrid).

Gastrointestinal uptake is most common in edibles that are geared toward gastrointestinal absorption. Edibles where the cannabinoids are absorbed through the stomach, fall into this category; this includes pills, capsules, foods, drinks, juices, infused oils, and many others. GI uptake edibles tend to take longer to activate within the body (sometimes as long as two hours), but produce a long-lasting effect up to 8 hours.

Oral uptake.

Orally geared consumption can be felt almost immediately, but tends to wear off quicker than GI uptake. CBD edibles that would fall into this category include tinctures, sprays, lollipops, lozenges, etc.


These type of edibles are a medium between oral and intestinal absorption, offering a quick relief that can last for four hours or more.

A side note on Effects: The outcome of effects from ingestion depends on a handful of factors such as the type and strength of the edibles, personal tolerance, and the body chemistry of the consumer. Even how much food is in one’s system will greatly influence its effects on the individual. This method of consumption also tends to release its effects in waves as the cannabinoids are processed by the stomach. One study reported only a 6% bioavailability when CBD was ingested. While it’s upsetting to know such low amounts of CBD are actively used in the body, there are ways to enhance the bioavailability of orally administrated CBD such as using saturated fats as a carrier. These fat cells help the CBD move through the body and result in faster processing and use.

What type of CBD infused edibles are on the market right now?  

  • Chocolates & desserts

  • Candies & gummies

  • Kombucha

  • Herbal Teas

  • Chewing gum & mints

  • Cooking oils

  • Drinks & Juices


Rectal and vaginal administration of cannabidiol can have advantages over other routes of consumption, especially for those dealing with hemorrhoids, inflammation of the rectum, tumors in the rectal cavity, PMS and menstrual pain. Once inserted, the capsule dissolves and is absorbed into the bloodstream from either the pelvis or rectum.

Cannabis suppositories are also incredibly bioavailable, most individuals will begin to notice initial effects within the first 10-15 minutes after insertion. These effects usually last about 4-8 hours, depending on the individual’s physiology and tolerance to CBD.


Still not sure what method of consumption is best for you?

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Written for: The CBD Training Academy 

Edited by: Jeffery Solow