What’s the best way for you to consume CBD?

Everyone’s raving about this amazing thing called cannabidiol or CBD, so you’ve decided you’re going to try it for yourself. After looking around you realize that there are so many products, where does one even begin? There are countless different ways to take CBD, of course you’re wondering which one will be right for you. Each method has its benefits and its limitations, and you must keep in mind that everyone’s biochemistry and metabolism are different. If you wanted to learn more about how to take CBD and where to start with your dosing, you’ve come to the right place.

Identify the Objective

First off, the question you need to ask yourself is what are you trying to get out of taking CBD? Are you using it for headaches, joint pain, menstrual discomfort, muscle soreness, low mood, stress or any other various ailments? Understanding what you’re using it for will help you better target the issue and direct the therapy towards it. Next, it’s also important to think of the ‘duration of effect’, are you looking for more of an acute effect, which you’ll quickly feel the effect for a shorter amount of time, or something that may take a longer time to hit maximum effect, yet lasts longer?

The Route of Administration

Molecule delivery works in two main ways: systemic and localized. Systemic means that you’re entire body will be affected by it, as it gets into your bloodstream and reaches more receptors. This gives an overall effect, but you can’t control what it focuses on. On the other hand, you have localized delivery, it only affects the area you want it to thus giving you greater control.

Systemic Delivery

Types of Products

Localized Delivery

Types of Products

Oral ingestion

capsules, edibles, drinks

Liquid Topical

Creams, salves


Concentrates, vape pen

Solid Topical



Tincture, wax




First Dose

The safest way to start off is by always taking the smallest dose. You don’t want to start with a large dose only to realize that you don’t like the effect on your body, it’s easier to build up than it is to undo a dose. This would equate to one gummy, a quarter of a tincture dropper, a rice sized dollop of wax, a small pull on the vape etc. It is not necessary to take one full serving size on your first try. Then you should wait for the peak effect, and when this starts to die off, you can increase the dose if you deem necessary.

Time Frames

Delivery Method

Onset of Effects

Duration of Effects

Oral Ingestion/Swallowing

45 mins to 1 hour

6+ hours


2-5 minutes

2 hours


15-30 minutes

4 - 6 hours


30 mins to 1 hour

4 - 5 hours


Oral Ingestion

How it works: Once the CBD is swallowed, it must pass through the digestive system. Once it reaches the intestinal tract, it is metabolized by the liver (aka first pass metabolism) and then it can be absorbed into the bloodstream. From there, the blood can transport it to all the receptors in different parts of the body: organs, dermis, muscles, and even the brain since CBD has the ability to pass through the blood brain barrier.

Timing: Although it is the slowest method to activate the targeted pathways, it also lasts the longest. It is ideal if you want a long-term effect, especially if it is not convenient for you to re dose.

Things to keep in mind: The oral route is highly influenced by what types of food you recently ate and how much you ate as well. Although it may be seem intuitive that taking CBD on an empty stomach will allow it to absorb faster, this is actually not the case. CBD has greater bioavailability when taken after eating because as the stomach is releasing bile to break down the food, which also helps to solubilize the CBD.


Sublingual ‘under the tongue’

How it works: The gland under your tongue and tissues inside your mouth like the cheeks and gums are rich in capillaries that directly transport the CBD into the bloodstream. Some of the oil is also swallowed and will go through the same route as oral ingestion.

Timing: CBD is absorbed inside the mouth very readily, so it does not take long for it to reach the peak bloodstream levels. The time frame for this is quick, but when you factor in the portion that is metabolized through the oral route, you have a larger range of duration of effect. Because of this, it has the flexibility for one off dosing, but can be easily increased depending on your needs.

Things to keep in mind: The more CBD that is exposed to the linings of your mouth, the faster it will affect you. That’s why it’s recommended to swish the oil in your mouth for up to a minute before swallowing. This allows for the maximum amount to be absorbed sublingually and circumvents most of the first pass metabolism.


How it works: Vaporizing CBD heats up the molecules past their boiling point so that it becomes vapor, which is then inhaled. It is absorbed readily in the lungs and enters the bloodstream.

Timing: Vaping is one of the fastest ways to administer CBD. With that said, peak blood plasma levels decline after an hour or two. It is very good for those who want a short-term effect, yet who want to occasionally top up.

Things to keep in mind: The smoke from vaping can be hot and irritating to the throat and lungs, it is better to take smaller tokes if it is too harsh. You can also try an inhalation technique where after you

take a pull on the vape, you take a breath of fresh air before exhaling, this allows for greater lung expansion, so that the CBD can reach deeper areas of the lungs.



How it works: When applied to a certain problem area, the CBD can diffuse across the skin and reach knots in the fascia, inflamed tissues and tendons, and nerves which are experiencing noxious stimuli (pain).

Timing: You can expect to wait a short amount of time before you notice it taking effect. However, it should last a significant portion of the day, depending on the severity of the pain and the location on the body. You can always reapply if you need more.

Things to keep in mind: Your skin was designed to be a barrier, its role is to keep things out, while absorbing certain types of compounds. Molecules have to overcome many obstacles to penetrate deeper layers. You should apply topicals liberally to max out the absorption.







https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/16237477 (McGilveray, 2005 ‘Pharmokinetics of Cannabinoids’)

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