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What Are The Various Ways To Consume CBD And How Fast Do They Work?

Added 15 June 2022

drops of CBD

There are many ways to consume THC. Similarly, there are an equal number of ways to consume CBD. Medical cannabis users are always looking for various ways that deliver the effects of CBD immediately to gain instant relief.

Consuming CBD, or cannabidiol, in different ways, will have different outcomes. For instance, consuming edibles is different than smoking and the effects take time to kick in. However the faster the effects set in, the faster they fade away.

This article is geared toward medical cannabis users wanting to use CBD in different ways. You can choose any of these methods depending on your preference, dosage, and the effects you are looking for. 

How long does it take for CBD to work?

CBD drops

No matter what supplement you take, you'd first want to know how long it takes for the effects to kick in. CBD users are no different.

CBD doesn't need a lot of time to work, but it also depends on the way you consume it. Typically CBD makes you calm and clears your head, but the effects can vary slightly, depending on your method of consumption.

In fact, you can change the way the cannabinoid affects you by changing the way you take it. Whether you smoke dry herbs, eat edibles, apply a CBD cream topically or go for the sublingual route of administration, they all have pros and cons.

To understand how long it takes for CBD to work, you must first familiarise yourself with the different ways to consume it.  

Various ways to consume CBD

Sublingual administration and even vaping and smoking are some of the fastest ways to ensure that you see the effects of CBD immediately. Medical cannabis users seeking quick relief can opt for any of these methods.

Let's take a look at each of these methods to consume CBD.

1. Inhalation either through vaping or smoking

Smoking a CBD joint

Inhaling CBD by vaping or smoking will produce instant effects. This is because inhalation sends the cannabinoids straight to your lungs and later into your bloodstream.

You can inhale CBD either through vaping or smoking; however, vaping is a safer alternative compared to smoking.

In addition, you are likely to feel stronger effects when inhaling CBD either through smoking or vaping. While smoking offers a bioavailability of about 31% vaping offers more than 70%, making it a better choice. Bioavailability is nothing but the rate at which your body absorbs the cannabinoid. 

You can feel the effects of inhaling CBD within 3-5 minutes and it could last up to 30 minutes or more, depending on your dosage.

Vaping CBD

vaping CBD

You can either vape dry herbs or CBD oil. There are various types of vaporizers that support dry herbs and oil but some types of vaporizers allow you to vape herbs and oil making it a great investment for both recreational and medical cannabis users.

Vaping is a much better and safe alternative than smoking because the harsh smoke won't affect your lungs and you get the benefits of CBD without the negative effects of smoking.

On a side note, always check before buying your CBD oil if it can be vaped. For example, CBD tinctures shouldn't be vaped. However, some oils mixed with ejuice can be vaped, so it's best to confirm with the manufacturer.

Advantages of vaping CBD 

  • Vaping offers high concentrations of CBD and lets you feel the effects immediately.
  • Vaping makes it easy to adjust your dosage.
  • The vapor does not hurt your lungs.

Disadvantages of vaping CBD

  • Vaping requires you to purchase additional accessories including a vaping pen and other tools that come along with it.
  • Sometimes, you may vape more than you need.

Smoking CBD

Smoking CBD

Smoking is one of the most popular ways to inhale high concentrations of CBD in one sitting. You can also smoke concentrates (otherwise known as dabbing) or fire up a bowl filled with CBD herb. What's more, you can use bongs to get better effects. 

Last but not least, you can roll a joint to get the best effects. As long as you make sure that your dry herb has high concentrations of CBD, you will be able to feel the effects within a few minutes.

Advantages of smoking CBD

  • Compared to other methods of consumption, smoking is the fastest.
  • Smoking gives you high concentrations of CBD immediately.

Disadvantages of smoking CBD

  • Just like smoking a cigarette is bad for your health, smoking CBD carries the same risks.
  • Smoking can irritate your throat and lungs.

2. Sublingual administration

CBD sublingual administration

Sublingual administration refers to the process of placing CBD tincture or oil under your tongue for about 30 seconds. Then you wait for the oil to be absorbed, and you're done.

Although it might seem like it won't make a huge difference whether you swallow the oil or place it under the tongue and wait for it to be absorbed, it does make a difference in terms of quick delivery. 

In addition, the tongue's underside contains mucus membranes that absorb CBD. Later, it transfers the CBD to your bloodstream effectively, compared to absorbing it through the gut. Sublingual administration offers a quicker delivery compared to consuming edibles.

You will begin feeling the effects of sublingual administration in under 2 hours.

Advantages of sublingual administration of CBD

  • This method is very easy and perfect for beginners.
  • You can adjust the dosage exactly according to your preference.
  • You don't need any special equipment for sublingual administration.
  • The effects will begin to show in under 2 hours and last a long time.

Disadvantages of sublingual administration of CBD

  • The results may not be the same for every individual.
  • Some people may not like the taste of CBD which could be bitter at times, compared to sweet edibles often laced with sugar and gelatin to make them palatable.

3. Ingestion

CBD edibles

Another popular method of consuming CBD is to chew edibles. Or, you could simply swallow CBD oil. You could also mix it in your beverages if you don't want to have CBD oil alone.

Several types of edibles including oil, gummies, and even chocolates are available today. Typically, gummies are made by infusing CBD isolate with gelatin and sugar. Therefore if you don't like the taste of tinctures, edibles may help. 

What makes edibles great is that you can carry them even if you are going to work and consume them discreetly without anybody knowing the contents.

However, one disadvantage of edibles is that it takes quite a bit of time for them to start showing effects. CBD travels to your gut through this method of consumption, so you can expect at least 1.5 - 4 hours to feel the effects.

Although the effects last longer, bioavailability is an issue. Since the gut metabolizes most of the CBD from the edibles, a relatively small percentage of CBD is sent to the bloodstream. Compared to vaping which offers 70% bioavailability, edibles offer only about 13 to 19%.

Since it takes a while for the effects to kick in, you should remember to not overeat the edibles and abide by the manufacturer's instructions.

Advantages of CBD edibles

  • Edibles are available as various products from oils to gummies, lollipops, and chocolates, giving you more options than any other method of consumption.
  • Consuming edibles is a discreet way to use CBD.
  • Edibles make it very easy to consume the exact dosage you need. For instance, if you want to consume 5mg of CBD you can purchase gummies containing 5mg CBD per gummy.

Disadvantages of CBD edibles

  • Compared to other methods of consumption, edibles take a long time to show effects.
  • Since the gut metabolizes the cannabinoids, very little CBD is sent to the bloodstream.
  • It's very easy to overeat edibles, especially when you think you are not feeling any effects.

4. Transdermal CBD application

CBD patch

You've probably heard of nicotine patches that deliver nicotine to your bloodstream. The transdermal application works pretty much the same way where you wear CBD patches on your skin to absorb the cannabinoid.

Transdermal CBD patches are designed in such a way that the CBD reaches your bloodstream through the skin. Typically transdermal patches require a few hours to display full effects; however, the exact time will depend on your body and dosage. It also depends on the way the product is designed.

Most transdermal CBD patches are often infused with other ingredients to make it easier for CBD penetration. This is because CBD does not dissolve easily in oil, and since the human skin contains an oil layer, CBD, which is lipophilic, needs help from other ingredients to penetrate the skin.

One major advantage of using transdermal CBD products is that it bypasses the gut. The gut metabolizes the cannabinoids and reduces the bioavailability to a great extent. However, with transdermal CBD patches, you wouldn't have to worry about that. In addition, the effects of transdermal CBD patches are slightly stronger than edibles.

Advantages of transdermal CBD patches

  • Allows for quick and easy delivery of CBD into your bloodstream.
  • Easy to use.
  • Bypasses the gut, allowing more bioavailability.

Disadvantages of Transdermal CBD patches

  • Compared to other products transdermal CBD patches are hard to find.

5. Topical application

cbd topical

A topical application usually involves applying a cream or ointment to localized regions. Rather than feeling the effects on your entire body, you'll feel the effects in specific regions.

For instance, many people use CBD balms to relieve pain in their knees, so they will feel the effects only in the knees and other regions around them.

You can use topical CBD to relieve sore muscles and migraines. You can use it just like you would use any other ointment or cream.

You can compare topical CBD with transdermal CBD patches but the main difference is that topical CBD does not reach your bloodstream. As mentioned earlier, it affects only a local part, as intended. However, you will feel the effects relatively quickly, depending on the dosage and product you use.

Advantages of topical CBD application 

  • Just about anybody can use topical CBD since they are user-friendly.
  • It works just like any other ointment or cream and you can feel the effects quickly once you massage the ointment on any specific region.

Disadvantages of topical CBD application

  • Although the manufacturer will specify the amount of CBD in the product it makes it very difficult to gauge the dosage. Therefore you may end up using very little or more than you need.
  • The effects don't last as long as other methods of consumption.

Summary: What Are The Various Ways To Consume CBD And How Fast Do They Work?

Medical cannabis users can consume CBD in various ways including inhalation, ingestion, and sublingual administration. You can also use CBD topically through transdermal patches or topical CBD ointments and creams.

By far, the quickest way to feel the maximum effects of CBD in a short period is through inhalation. For inhalation, you can either vape or smoke CBD herbs. However, vaping is a better choice as it offers more bioavailability and is safer than smoking.



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