Advocates of cannabidiol, more commonly known as CBD, believe that it can relieve pain and has overall therapeutic qualities. While more research is needed on the effects of CBD, many people are turning to it to help with chronic pain, trouble sleeping, anxiety and other issues.

CBD can be added to foods and beverages, including smoothies. But there are additional factors to think about when choosing a CBD product. Read 4 Things to Think About When Choosing CBD Products

Below you will find 4 common ways to consume CBD, also called routes of administration, and how they differ from one another.

1. CBD oils and tinctures (under the tongue)

CBD oil and tinctures are similar products, both taken via a dropper under the tongue (sublingually). CBD oil is usually composed of CBD and a carrier oil, such as coconut, MCT or hemp seed oil. On the other hand, tinctures may contain other ingredients, such as vegetable glycerin alcohol, vinegar, ethanol, or artificial flavoring.

You can expect effects to take place within 20 to 40 minutes.

2. CBD edibles (ingestion)

CBD can be added to food and beverages. CBD-infused foods and drinks, often called edibles, are usually available for purchase where other CBD products are sold. In addition, people can add CBD to meals themselves.

CBD oils and tinctures can be added to smoothies, coffee, and baked goods. Avoid heating the oil too high (especially over direct heat), as it can lead to an unpleasant taste.

Ingested CBD must be digested and then absorbed into the bloodstream through the lining of the stomach and may take up to 2 hours to take effect.

3. CBD lotions and creams (topical)

CBD-infused lotion and creams are believed to treat sore muscles, arthritis pain, and inflammation.1 Advocates of topical CBD suggest that the products work by interacting with endocannabinoid receptors found under the skin (instead of being absorbed by the bloodstream), which makes them appropriate for targeting pain in a specific area.

Topical CBD products may take up to an hour to take effect and can last up to 5 hours.

4. CBD skin patches (transdermal)

Skin patches, also called transdermal patches, are small adhesive patches that deliver CBD through the skin. Unlike topical lotions and creams, transdermal patches cross the dermal barrier to enter the bloodstream and are activated by body heat to release small amounts of CBD over an extended period of time (4 to 6 hours on average).

There are 2 types of CBD skin patches:

  • Matrix patches are infused with CBD, often in the adhesive layer.
  • Reservoir patches have a small reservoir that contains CBD, usually combined with a gel solution.

Reservoir patches are generally more controlled, meaning that you will get a steady amount of CBD over a period of time.

5. CBD vaporizing (inhalation)

CBD can be inhaled using a tool, called a vape, that heats up a concentrated version of the cannabinoid so that it can be inhaled. Vaping may require some getting used to and is not as discreet as other methods.

Inhaled CBD is absorbed through the lungs quickly, taking almost immediate effect. While this is the quickest method to get CBD into the bloodstream, it also is effective for the shortest period of time. This means that you will have to take additional doses for continued effect.

Ultimately, you will want to try each method of CBD consumption to see which work best for you.

Learn more:

Complementary Health Approaches and Marijuana for Chronic Pain

Treatment Options for Chronic Pain

References:

  1. Hammell DC, Zhang LP, Ma F, et al. Transdermal cannabidiol reduces inflammation and pain-related behaviours in a rat model of arthritis. Eur J Pain. 2015;20(6):936-48.