There seems to be more news every day about cannabidiol (CBD) and how it interacts with cell receptors in the body to create balance and support health. In fact, articles and studies on the potential health benefits of CBD seem to be popping up everywhere. But for CBD to work, it first needs to be adequately absorbed by the body. Thus, it’s important to know the best way to consume CBD so that it can be efficiently absorbed into the bloodstream, where it can go to work on the receptors in our endocannabinoid system (ECS) and flex its natural balancing muscles.
The most common way to consume CBD oil is orally, or through the mouth. In fact, there are myriad food and drink products hitting the market that contain CBD. Moreover, you may have heard or read about adding CBD oil to your morning coffee or other beverages to make taking it more convenient. But is eating or drinking CBD oil really the best way to absorb it? Not so much. Here’s why:
A Long Road to the Bloodstream
When CBD is ingested orally, it is absorbed and broken down by the digestive system. From the stomach, it goes to the liver where it is further metabolized (broken down) by enzymes before passing on what remains of the compounds into the bloodstream. The phenomenon of CBD being lost to the liver and gut is known as the first pass effect.1,2 So, while ingesting CBD orally may be the easiest method, it isn’t necessarily the most efficient.
The Sublingual Method (A Fancy Way to Say Putting it Under Your Tongue)
If CBD oil is held under the tongue for 60 to 90 seconds before being swallowed, the mucus membranes in the mouth absorb the compounds. This sublingual method allows CBD to completely bypass the digestive system and liver metabolism, so the compounds can avoid being broken down by enzymes and reach the bloodstream more quickly.
A study performed with rabbits compared the bioavailability (absorption) of oral and sublingual CBD solutions. The results of this study showed that the CBD delivered sublingually showed significantly higher bioavailability than the CBD delivered orally.
Other Methods: Inhalation and Topical Application
Inhaling CBD by vaporization “vaping” allows the compounds to be absorbed by the alveoli in the lungs, which are then transferred immediately to the bloodstream. So, sure, this a faster way to absorb CBD (compared to ingesting it orally), but this method comes with its own set of drawbacks. Many people can’t tolerate or don’t like inhaling foreign substances for one. Plus, coughing fits from inhaling too much or vaping at too hot of a temperature can be extremely detrimental to the lungs of someone suffering from a lung condition.
When CBD is applied topically to the skin, it never reaches the bloodstream, but it can be absorbed through the skin’s surface to interact with nearby cannabinoid receptors. The very nature of skin is to block things from entering your body, but if CBD salves and lotions are applied heavily enough, they can permeate the skin through the pores to have a potentially positive effect.
Now that you know the variety of ways CBD can be absorbed, it’s up to you to decide the best method for you