These days, it seems like there are new CBD products being introduced to the market every single day. Since Epidiolex (a CBD-based medicine) was approved by the FDA in 2018 for the treatment of certain epileptic disorders, the world has been quick to offer an abundance of over-the-counter CBD products to the point where it has become extremely mainstream.
From bath bombs and massage oils, to chewing gums and gummy bears, it can certainly be confusing as to making a decision about all the different ways of taking CBD. This guide will hopefully give an insight as to all the different products that are currently available on the market, and help you to make a decision about which method to use. But first we must talk about bioavailability.
In simple terms, bioavailability is how efficient a drug is at being absorbed into our body’s circulation system in order for it to take effect. The reason this is important to consider is because our bodies are not perfectly efficient at absorbing 100% of whatever we ingest. When we eat food, for example, many of the useful nutrients are absorbed into the bloodstream once it reaches the digestive system. However, some nutrients and minerals may be destroyed in the stomach and intestines or excreted. One of the most efficient ways to absorb something would be to inject it straight into the bloodstream, hence why doctors often administer medicines this way.
When it comes to CBD, we will learn that certain methods of ingesting this supplement have higher bioavailability, meaning that our bodies will absorb more of the actual product and put it to good use. However, bioavailability is not the only criteria to consider when choosing which type of CBD to start taking. Something with high bioavailability, such as vaping, may not be suitable for someone who does not want to smoke. Hence, our lifestyle also dictates which way we will ingest cannabidiol. Below is a list of some of the more popular CBD products you will find on the market today.
CBD Oil Tinctures
Oil tinctures are the most popular way of ingesting CBD. Typically a certain amount of CBD (e.g. 1000mg) is contained within a carrier oil , usually coconut oil, and this can be taken orally or it can even be added to things like drinks. Taking it sublingually however is the most efficient way of using tinctures. Many people make the mistake of just swallowing the oil however this decreases the bioavailability of the oil since it means that it would enter our stomach and we would have to wait for it to be digested there before entering the bloodstream.
Sublingual application means taking a few drops of oil underneath the tongue and holding it there for as long as possible (generally 30-60 seconds) before swallowing the rest. This is because there are many capillaries, or tiny blood vessels, under the tongue which transfer directly to the bloodstream, therefore bypassing the digesting system and processing of the liver.
Also, if you’ve seen the word MCT around recently, that stands for Medium-chain triglycerides which are fats found in foods such as coconut oil and are rapidly broken down and absorbed by the body. Often, CBD companies will often use the terms MCT oil and coconut oil interchangeably.
E-liquids & Vaping
Vaping is one of the most controversial ways of ingesting CBD. Whilst it’s recognised as possibly the most efficient and also quickest ways of taking CBD (enters the bloodstream within seconds), it arguably carries the most risk as well since you may be causing damage to your lungs when you inhale vapour or smoke.
We usually do not recommend vaping to anyone but on the other hand if you are someone who is trying to quit smoking, then vaping can certainly be a good alternative to nicotine-based products such as cigarettes. Similarly, we have spoken to some people who are on strict medical diets and therefore are not able to take CBD orally so they usually look to vaping in order to be able to get their dose of cannabidiol.
An e-liquid is simply the term used for any sort of flavoured liquid that can be used in a vaping device. These will come in a PG/VG concentration. Vegetable Glycerin (VG) is a thick, sweet liquid which produces clouds of vapour and gives your liquid a sweet taste. Propylene Glycol (PG) is a much thinner tasteless liquid which produces more of a “throat hit” than VG does. This “throat hit” is a harsh sensation similar to smoking so you prefer a much smoother experience then go for something with a lower percentage of PG.
Vaping requires a bit more maintenance if you are considering going down this route though since you have to purchase an additional vaping device and replace the coil device every so often, which is the mechanism inside the vaping device that heats up and causes to e-liquid to evaporate.
One more thing that is good to know is that these PG/VG concentrations have been deemed safe to be ingested orally, so they can be taken sublingually just like regular oil tinctures. The taste may be a little weird though but we have seen maybe people mix their e-liquids into their drinks such as coffee or tea. However, please note that the opposite can be very dangerous. It is not suitable to put MCT oil into your vaping device because it has a different combustion temperature to PG/VG liquids and therefore might not evaporate properly and cause damage to your lungs.
Capsules / Pills
Capsules are another popular way of taking CBD and is suitable for a lot of people’s lifestyles. Although it has a slower absorption rate and slightly lower bioavailability than oil tinctures and vaping, the benefit of taking a CBD pills is being able to accurately measure the exact dosage you are taking everyday. If a CBD pill is labelled as containing 10mg of cannabidiol, then you know for a fact that you are ingesting that amount. On the other hand, with something like vaping, it’s hard to track exactly how much CBD you are taking because you can’t exactly measure the size of breath you are taking.
Pills are also favoured because they are extremely convenient to take just like a multi-vitamin and can also be taken whilst on the go so it’s maybe something to think about if you lead a very busy lifestyle and are always travelling a lot.
Finally another good reason to buy CBD capsules is that more and more companies are starting to make products that have other ingredients in them such as turmeric or vitamin C thus enabling you to take everything your body requires at once in the form of a simple easy-to-swallow pill.
Hands down, one of the tastiest ways to ingest CBD would be in the form of edibles, which means any sort of food product. Popular examples at the moment are gummy bears, chocolate, lollipops, chewing gum, mints and honey. However, since the industry is rapidly evolving, who knows which food items we’ll be seeing with CBD next.
The main benefit of edibles, apart from their delicious taste of course, is that they are extremely easy to take, whether you’re on the move or at home. Edibles are for people who may not like the slightly bitter taste from cbd oil or don’t want to use vaping devices. Also, if you are planning on giving CBD to someone who is younger, for example, a child, then edibles may be a good idea if the other methods are a little inconvenient. Although small amounts of CBD have been deemed safe for children to take, we do recommend consulting a doctor first.
The only downside then, to edibles, is that their bioavailability is very low, since our body is not efficient at absorbing all the CBD once it reaches the digestive system and also, they are currently one of the more pricier ways to ingest cannabidiol.
Certainly one of the most refreshing ways to take CBD can be in the form of a drink. Examples that can be found on the market are still water, sparkling soft drinks, coconut water and tea or coffee. Whilst it can be very comforting to sit down with a soothing cup of warm CBD tea, it must be noted that it has a low bioavailability just like edibles.
However, drinks are a good way to kill two birds with one stone; perhaps you want to enjoy the health benefits that coconut water provides, so when you couple this with CBD, then it’s bringing even more wellness to your body.
A topical is something that is applied directly onto the body, so examples of CBD topicals would be balms, creams, moisturisers, face masks or massage oils. Because cannabidiol is a potent antioxidant with anti-inflammatory properties, it has been known to soothe the body and help with certain skin problems.
The bioavailability is very low however, since topicals will rarely be able to penetrate the human skin in order to reach the bloodstream. Usually most topicals have other ingredients inside them like plant extracts that have positive health benefits so you can find topicals in the form of dermatological products such as anti-acne creams or anti-aging moisturisers. These topicals have been known to prevent drying of the skin and help with damage as well as shorten the time of healing for certain problems.
Bath Salts or Bath Bombs
Bath Salts or Bath Bombs could have been under the topical section since their aim is to come into contact with our skin whilst creating a soothing and relaxing experience. I find them so cool though, that I had to give them a section of their own. Whilst bioavailability is of course very low, is there a more indulging way to take CBD after a long stressful day at work?
Mixed into a warm bubble bath, these products are designed to alleviate stress and relieve the body of muscle soreness and pain. They have all the usual ingredients of a normal bath product such as plant extracts or Epsom salts, but with the added benefit of CBD, it means you are treating your body to ultimate bliss whilst also moisturising and protecting your skin. Definitely one that’s more geared towards the experience and external pampering of the body, rather than the actual accurate dosing of cannabidiol.