CBD is one of the most popular products on the market right now. With more and more studies coming out every year about the possible benefits of CBD, users are discovering CBD oil capsules, tinctures, gummies, and more. But no matter the method, an important question stands: how does CBD get absorbed by the body in order to begin taking effect? In this guide, we discuss the answer in detail.
How is CBD Absorbed?
CBD interacts with receptors in the endocannabinoid system throughout your body to produce various effects. However, for this to happen, the body must first break down the edible or oil containing the CBD compounds. Once freed, the compounds can then be absorbed into the bloodstream. They are then transported throughout the body to react with cannabinoid receptors to elicit their desired effects.
CBD Absorption Depends on How It’s Consumed
There are a few different primary methods for CBD consumption. The speed of CBD absorption depends on how fast the CBD can make it to the bloodstream.
For example, taking CBD in solid form means you will see slower results than if you inhaled the CBD, because it will take your stomach 3-4 hours to break down anything you’ve eaten. Inhaling CBD, on the other hand, is faster because the vapor enters your lungs and is absorbed into your bloodstream along with oxygen in a matter of seconds. However, this might produce effects too quickly for some users to handle.
The method that works best for you will depend on your circumstances and preferences. Here are a few common methods to consume CBD:
- CBD tinctures can be taken under the tongue (sublingually) or added to food and drinks.
- Vape oils are consumed by taking them through a vape pen via inhalation.
- Edibles are eaten.
- Topicals are applied directly to the skin.
The Sublingual Method of CBD Consumption
Oral consumption is currently the most common way to take CBD. You can consume CBD orally in either liquid and solid form. Between the two, liquid CBD is absorbed much faster, because it’s easier for the body to break down chemical bonds between liquid molecules than solid molecules.
Many people consume CBD via liquid emulsions. When consumed sublingually (putting drops of the oil under the tongue), absorption is faster than if you drank the tincture. This way, CBD bypasses the digestive system, which allows the compound to reach your bloodstream much more quickly.
The area underneath the tongue is rich in blood vessels. Dropping CBD under your tongue and holding it there for 3-60 seconds allows it to be absorbed directly and quickly into the bloodstream.
Ingestion Method of CBD Consumption
Another way to take CBD orally is to ingest it. Eating or drinking CBD means it is absorbed through the digestive system and then metabolized by the liver. This eventually sends its active compounds into the bloodstream so that it can begin taking effect.
This consumption method is how vitamins are taken, which is why CBD comes in capsule forms as well as tinctures.
Capsules can be taken with a mouthful of water and are the easiest way to get your daily CBD. Liquid CBD can also be infused into just about anything, including your morning cup of joe.
Ingestion is probably the easiest method to consume CBD. However, as the stomach takes 3-4 hours to digest anything, it’s not necessarily the most efficient when it comes to absorption. In most cases, for fast absorption, it’s recommended to consume CBD with fatty acids that can help bypass the metabolism and reach the bloodstream much quicker.
Topical Method of Absorption
Some CBD oil products are designed specifically to be applied onto the skin. These are salves and lotions infused with CBD oil. These products interact with the cells near the surface of the skin without entering the bloodstream.
The catch is that human skin has a low permeability, which means it blocks outside substances from getting in – a defensive mechanism necessary to preserve the internal condition of our bodies. Therefore, CBD topicals don’t have the same potential benefits as ingestibles and sublinguals.
The skin has a low absorption rate when it comes to CBD and other cannabinoids. However, when applied liberally, CBD can still permeate the skin thanks to our pores. Oils that contain polyunsaturated acids like omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids get absorbed much more quickly than others. CBD oils that contain at least 50% of these acids get absorbed faster. For this reason, many CBD salves and lotions contain coconut or MCT oils.
Inhalation Method for CBD Consumption
Finally, CBD can also enter the bloodstream via inhalation. This is commonly done through the process of vaporizing, commonly known as vaping. Vaping CBD is only recommended for adults.
A vape device will heat the CBD oil enough to vaporize the active CBD compounds inside while avoiding harmful byproducts associated with combustion. When you inhale the vapor, the CBD compounds enter your lungs and diffuses directly into the bloodstream, just like oxygen from the air you breathe is absorbed by the blood.
This process bypasses the digestive system and liver, letting the CBD enter the circulation much more quickly than most of the other methods available.
Further, less CBD is lost during the vaping process compared to the ingestion method, which means that a large amount of CBD is directly transferred into the bloodstream immediately. This may produce a substantial effect very quickly, and will require some getting used to.
You Decide What’s Best For You
Depending on your specific situation, you may prefer one method of consumption over the others. Some people don’t like the earthy, natural taste of CBD tinctures and prefer to get their CBD in a softgel capsule. Others will prefer to vape their CBD for fast action. No matter how you take your CBD, the time it takes for it to kick into action will depend not only on these factors but on your body and unique circumstances.
Do you have any questions about how CBD works? Let us know in the comments!