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Best Way To Take CBD: What To Look Out For

Janet Miller

Janet Miller

Last updated: December 23, 2019

Shutterstock / ElRoi

In recent years, CBD oil has shown it as an alternative to the medications. Studies have shown its beneficial properties when it comes to treating and managing conditions such as chronic anxiety, inflammation, epilepsy, and insomnia.

With the number of products available, one of the most common questions is ‘what is the best way to take CBD.’ Is it with edibles, vaping, using topical creams, or some other method?

Before taking CBD oil, it is crucial to realize what symptoms the person wishes to use it and possible side effects.

The Most Common Ways of Using CBD

There are a variety of ways to consume cannabidiol or CBD, and each method is suited for different conditions. There are two things that you should keep in mind when deciding the one that works for you:

  • Absorption
  • Bioavailability

The time taken for the body to absorb cannabidiol differs with various methods, with some taking longer than others. Bioavailability means how the system absorbs a CBD product. These are the best ways to take CBD:

Ingest CBD Orally

One of the common ways of consuming cannabidiol is taking it sublingually. This method has a systemic effect on the body, which means that it works on your whole body. Because of this, ingesting CBD oil is ideal for those that suffer from whole-body issues such as chronic anxiety and insomnia – conditions that are not localized in one spot. Ingesting it orally takes anywhere from 45 minutes to up to 2 hours to be absorbed by the body.

Taking CBD Oil: Another way to ingest is by using a CBD oil called tincture. Tinctures usually come with a dropper that you can fill up according to the dosage comfortable for you. One way to consume a CBD oil is by taking it sublingually – placing the desired amount under your tongue and let it sit there for a minute before swallowing it. This method usually ensures that more of the CBD oil is absorbed by your body, and faster as well. This quality makes the sublingual method one of the best ways to ingest CBD.

Mixing CBD Oil With Food: Some people don’t like the taste of pure CBD oil so that they can mix the tincture with food or drink and eat it as well. However, it takes longer for the compound to be absorbed by your system this way, compared to when you take it sublingually.

Taking CBD Capsules: Swallowing capsules that come in pre-measured doses is an excellent way to ingest cannabidiol if you’re starting.

It is a simple method and one in which you don’t have to worry about the dosage. Capsules typically take around 45 minutes to an hour to be absorbed by the system, and their effects can be felt for hours afterward.


Another method is inhalation, where you can inhale cannabidiol vapors by using a vape pen. Vape pens basically have a chamber where you can place CBD oil or sugar wax.

These pens then heat them into a vapor form, which can then be inhaled. Vaping is the fastest way of letting it into your bloodstream, with effects in the first few minutes, and reaching peak absorption in as little as within 10 minutes. The bioavailability of inhaling/vaping is higher than other methods, with one study recording about 18-44% of the CBD being absorbed.


For those who suffer from localized symptoms in a specific part of their body, applying CBD topically may be a good idea. There are some creams, lotions, and sprays available for this purpose. Topical application avoids the first-pass effect that happens when you ingest cannabidiol, so this ensures that the relief is focussed in the specific area of the body and doesn’t get spread over to other areas.

With topicals, there’s a steady absorption by the body, which avoids any potential side effects of high dosage. Those suffering from localized inflammation and joint pain may benefit from topical application.

However, our skin’s permeability is not very high, which means less product gets absorbed vis-a-vis sublingual method. That is why it is a good idea to go for topical products with a higher amount of CBD and apply generous amounts for the desired effect.


CBD is also available as chewable gummies and mints in a variety of flavors for those that want to mask its original taste. This is also a discreet way of taking the product publically. Edibles take up to 2-3 hours to show effects, and as a study has shown, about 20-30% of the compound is absorbed by the body.

Eating cannabidiol products subject it to a phenomenon called ‘first-pass effect’. This happens when the cannabidiol present is partially broken down when it passes through our digestive tract and liver. This is the main reason behind this method’s low bioavailability, i.e., the extent to which cannabidiol is absorbed compared to other methods.

What to Look for When Looking for CBD Products?

Isolate vs. Full Spectrum

CBD isolates are products that only contain cannabidiol and no other compounds that are found in the hemp plants such as THC, phytocannabinoids, or terpenes. Taking isolate products may be a good idea if you’re worried about the THC in CBD products getting you ‘high’ or being screened for THC detection, as these isolates are 100% THC free.

On the other hand, broad-spectrum or full-spectrum CBD oils contain not only cannabidiol but also other compounds that are found in the hemp plant. Studies have shown that taking broad-spectrum products may have more therapeutic value and may maximize the benefits, compared to isolates. This is because full-spectrum, which preserves the more volatile naturally occurring compounds found in hemp.

Research shows that taking full-spectrum CBD oil creates an ‘entourage effect’. It is when the body better absorbs and processes the full scope of its benefits when a combination of hemp’s compounds are taken together, rather than isolating a single compound.


How Much CBD to Take?

The ideal dose varies from person to person and depends on their needs.

  • For those that suffer from mild anxiety or temporary inflammation, a lower dosage may suffice.
  • For chronic and severe conditions such as rheumatoid arthritis and chronic anxiety, a higher dosage may be needed.

If you’re starting with CBD, it’s better to begin with a lower dose, and slowly work your way to a higher dosage if required, over the next few weeks or months. Eventually, you should be able to settle on a dosage that works for you.

How Do You Take CBD Under Your Tongue?

Shutterstock / About time

Taking CBD oil under the tongue is called taking it ‘sublingually’. This method is used if you’re consuming a CBD oil or tincture.

Tinctures usually come in a bottle with a dropper.

  • Take the dropper and fill it with the desired dose.
  • Then, place the oil under your tongue and let it sit there for about 60 seconds.
  • Holding the CBD oil for this long makes sure that your mouth’s mucous membranes have enough time to absorb the compound.
  • After this, you can swallow the oil normally.

How Is CBD Best Absorbed?

Out of the available methods of taking cannabidiol, sublingual and inhalation are the fastest ways of absorbing it. Both methods show effects within minutes of consumption and have a higher bioavailability than edibles.

However, since the health risks of inhaling/vaping CBD are still being researched, this makes taking CBD oil sublingually the most effective and quick way. However, there is no one best method – it depends entirely on what you are comfortable with.

Best Way To Take CBD: Choose What Works Best For You

There are different ways to take CBD oils and products: from eating edibles, taking it sublingually to vaping. Each method has its own benefits and constraints.

While edibles and sublingual method may be better for those with systemic conditions such as anxiety and insomnia, topical creams work better for localized symptoms such as joint pains. Vaping and taking CBD oil sublingually allow for the fastest absorption (within a few minutes), while edibles take up to 2 hours for the desired effect.

Each method has its own pluses and minuses. There is no single best way to take CBD oil. It’s essential to choose a method that works for you and your condition, which can be different for everyone.

Have you ever used CBD? Which method was the most enjoyable for you? Don’t hesitate to share your thoughts with us in the comments section below.


Janet Miller

Janet Miller

Janet is a medical specialist with 10 years of experience as a physician and writing passion. She aims to help people and expand humans mindset. Chat with Janet on Twitter @Janet_Miller_MD or via our contact page.


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