How Should I Take or Use CBD? Is there a ‘best’ way?
There are numerous ways to get CBD into your blood and system and one of the most common questions we get is ‘how should I take CBD?’ followed by ‘and is there a best way?’.
In this advice post we will break down the most common ways of taking CBD as well as pointing out their positives and negatives. We’ll give you the tools to make the right decision for your particular situation.
For all of this to make sense, we need to understand the concept of ‘bioavailability’.
What is CBD Bioavailability?
One of the main differences between the many ways of taking CBD is the bioavailability that each method ultimately offers.
Bioavailability can be thought of as the amount of active CBD that actually enters your blood in comparison to the total amount you took; as such, bioavailability is almost always displayed as a percentage.
You place 20mg of CBD oil under your tongue. This sublingual (under the tongue) method has a bioavailability of approximately 30%. This means 6mg of CBD will ultimately reach your blood stream. (30% of 20mg is 6mg)
There are no consumer-available routes of administration that have 100% bioavailability.
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 you take when using your products.
Sublingual – i.e. CBD Oil Droppers and Sprays
Sublingual oils (either used as a dropper or as a spray) remain the most popular way of taking CBD across the world. ‘Sublingual’ which literally means ‘under the tongue’ refers to any method where the CBD is placed on and absorbed through the sublingual tissues, a mixture of glands and capillaries found under the tongue. Typically, 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 for this method is also very good at approximately 30%. The effects of CBD also have a fast onset 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 improve taste and flavour such that the earthy taste associated with many oils is massively reduced.
Oral and Edible – i.e. CBD Gummies, Capsules and Foods
CBD edibles are increasing in popularity and include a wide range of CBD products including capsules, CBD-infused sweets and foods. If you consume a CBD product by eating or swallowing, then this is an edible/oral method of taking CBD.
One of the main advantages of consuming CBD in this way is the convenience – taking a cheeky capsule or gummy sweet is fast and easy. 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.
Edible/oral products are particularly popular with people who do not like the taste of oils are who simply want an ‘easier’ option.
However, despite these positives, edible products do not have the best bioavailability as the CBD 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.
Finally, while the effects of CBD take longer to emerge when using oral products, the effects last much longer; up to 8 hours.
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 this method is slightly higher than that of sublingual methods 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.
However, while we give advice on all routes of administration, we do not produce vape products in any form as we do not wish to encourage vaping.
Vaping is a smart and safe alternative if you already smoke and want to quit or are a vaper looking to benefit from CBD but not vaping is still safer than vaping, so we do not recommend you start vaping solely to benefit from CBD. There are many other alternatives.
Topicals & Transdermals
Topical CBD products are applied directly to the skin and include things like balms, oils, creams, salves and rubs. Unlike other application methods, topicals are designed to give localised effects to a specific area of the body, for example, an aching knee. The CBD in topicals is not 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.
Although Dr. Ed® Sport do not use THC in any of our 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 application of a product to the skin. The key difference is that true transdermal CBD products have been engineered so 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. At Dr. Ed Sport we are always pushing the envelope of CBD application technology and are currently developing our own high strength transdermal creams.
Below is a brief rundown of approximate bioavailability based on route of administration:
• 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 single method is better than the other and 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.
Making the Most of Our Products
Our topical products are very much an ‘as and when’ type application. For example, many of our customers use our Muscle and Joint Cream to help warm up the muscles before a game or training and then use the Muscle and Joint Cooling Gel after sessions due to the cooling effect it provides. Outside of training, these topicals can help provide relief from injury – i.e a bad knee or shoulder on your day’s off as well.
Our oils are used in the same way but at different times of the day. Our Performance oil is best used around 30 minutes before a game or training. 3-5 drops under the tongue, hold for 1 minute to aid absorption then swallow. Our Recovery oil is designed for use after training or exercise as you see fit. Again, 3-5 drops under the tongue at a time is a good place to start. If you are looking to use CBD to help support sleep, we suggest using the Recovery oil about 2 hours before you go to bed.
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®Sport, feel free to reach out to our support team to lend a hand. Head to our Contact page to speak to us or drop us a message on social media.