So you’ve finally plucked up the courage to buy some CBD. Maybe you’ve been taking prescription meds for a while and find that they don’t agree with you. Perhaps it was some serious research for a health condition that led you to CBD. Or could be you just want to get your body into balance by supporting your endocannabinoid system.
Either way, your mind’s made up, your credit card is at the ready, but suddenly you’re faced with a page full of products offering differing strengths and delivery methods.
Oils, extracts, capsules, crystals, suppositories and even chewing gum. All you wanted was to buy some CBD. Who knew there were so many different ways to take it?
What if you buy the wrong one and waste a bunch of your hard earned cash? Before long confusion reigns and buying CBD gets put off to another day.
But fear not, choosing the best CBD product for you is just a few scrolls away. All you need to do is check out this ‘all you need to know’ guide.
Bioavailability – getting the maximum amount of CBD in your body
Most of us when we buy any kind of product, want to get the most bang for our buck. In CBD terms, that means finding a delivery method that ensures the maximum amount of CBD reaches our bloodstream. This is called ‘bioavailability’.
There’s only one way to get 100% absorption into the bloodstream and that’s intravenously (directly into your veins), which isn’t an option here.
The next most effective method of getting maximum absorption is through inhalation by smoking or vaping, which offers about 35% bioavailability.
After that comes a method which I personally like, but many people find a bit of a scary prospect: rectal absorption via the humble suppository. This is because our rectal membranes are highly absorbent and effective at the transportation and distribution of cannabinoids around the body.
The sublingual method comes next in terms of bioavailability, i.e. taking CBD under the tongue, where thanks to a healthy supply of superficial capillaries, it is absorbed straight into the bloodstream. Finally oral administration brings up the rear, which with a bioavailability of just 6% sees much of the CBD passing straight through the body.
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Speed of action
Ok, so while it sounds all well and good to get the maximum amount of CBD into your body, another important factor to consider is how fast acting your chosen method is and how long the effects last.
Inhalation, as well as offering good absorption, is the quickest way of feeling an effect from CBD. This is because it is absorbed directly to the blood stream through the lungs, and then soon after into fat cells and the brain.
If unlike Bill Clinton you do want to inhale, there are two main methods: smoking and vaporization. As vaping CBD oil becomes more popular, anecdotal reports suggest its rapid effect makes the method particularly good for treating conditions like anxiety and panic attacks, where you want a quick and effective treatment of your symptoms.
Sublingual and Oral delivery
There is a subtle difference between taking CBD sublingually and orally. Sublingual literally means under the tongue, where thanks those previously mentioned capillaries, it can be absorbed directly into the bloodstream, taking quick effect. The most common form of taking CBD sublingually is in the form of CBD oil.
Taking CBD orally means swallowing it, usually in the form of capsules or in edibles. This is possibly the slowest way to feel an effect from CBD as it can take between 1-2 hours for food to travel to the small intestine where 95% of digestion occurs. But on the plus side, the effects can last for much longer.
Unfortunately the hydrochloric acid in the stomach (pH 1.0 – 3.0 ) can destroy cannabinoid molecules before they have time to be absorbed, since cannabinoids don’t tolerate acidic environments.
This is why it’s so important to take CBD on an empty stomach so the active cannabinoids can pass quickly to the small intestine rather than getting destroyed by the stomach acid.
My old friend the suppository can take about 20 minutes to take effect, but can last for up to eight hours depending on your physiology and previous experience with CBD. It is also especially useful for anyone who cannot ingest CBD orally for any medical reason.
We live in an age where ease of use and convenience is key. Fiddling around with cannabis paraphernalia isn’t for everyone, particularly if you’ve never been a recreational user.
Most reputable companies offer standardized CBD doses in oil or capsule form, that are easy to take and can be carried on your person if you need to top up during the day. Edibles can also be a handy way to get some CBD into your system. I love Endoca CBD chewing gum (I’m slightly biased I know). It’s discreet, pocket sized and made from natural, biodegradable gum sourced from the rainforest, so it’s also kind to the environment.
But at the end of the day, it’s all about personal preference and some people just don’t like the taste of hemp. While many CBD oils boast natural flavours from the terpene content – citrusy limonene for example, they can still be unpalatable to a few. In which case, capsules make the experience just like taking any other nutritional supplement, just don’t forget that you forfeit much of the absorption as a result.
When you’re making that first CBD purchase, think about the following:
1. Maximum absorption = more bang for your buck. Choose a product that allows for the most amount of CBD to get into your bloodstream.
2. How fast do you need a result? If you want to feel the effects straight away, go for a speedy delivery method such as inhalation or sublingual.
3. Convenience. Do you want something that is easy to use, discreet and can be taken anywhere? Then maybe CBD oil, capsules or chewing gum are for you.
4. Choose what’s best for you. You know yourself better than anyone else. If you can’t stand the taste of hemp, try capsules. In the end, it’s your body, your health, your decision.