How to Take CBD: A Beginner’s Guide

Reading time - 8 minutes - March 13, 2023

Over the last few years, CBD has taken the health and wellness world by storm, rising to become almost a mainstream ingredient in countless supplement, skincare, and edible products. This immense popularity has helped to put the idea of cannabis wellness back on the world map, with people from all walks of life embracing the impressive potential of the plant.

CBD – also known as cannabidiol – has helped to refresh public opinion regarding cannabis, thanks to its non-intoxicating nature and host of potential health and wellness benefits. But while the general public is now more aware of CBD, and the compound itself is more popular than ever before, the sheer number of products available can make the prospect of selecting and using a CBD product a daunting one.

CBD oils, or tinctures, remain one of the most common and popular forms of CBD product. Almost all manufacturers and distributors of CBD products will offer a range of CBD oils which they claim can be used in a number of ways. But is this true? What is a CBD oil and how exactly do you use it? Well, that is exactly what we are going to answer in this beginner’s guide to CBD oil.

But first, let’s get back to basics.

What is CBD oil?

CBD is one of a large number of compounds found exclusively in the cannabis plant – cannabinoids. Between them, cannabinoids are believed to account for a high proportion of the effects of cannabis – from intoxication to relaxation. However, each of these compounds possesses its own portfolio of potential properties. For example, THC – the most common cannabinoid – is largely responsible for the ‘high’ often associated with cannabis use; on the other hand, CBD is not associated with intoxication at all (in fact, some evidence suggests it may actually neutralise the intoxicating effects of THC.

Cannabinoids interact with our bodies largely through a receptor and protein system known as the Endocannabinoid System (ECS). The ECS is expressed throughout our immune system and central nervous system and – while we still don’t know everything about it – it has been implicated in a number of important physiological and cognitive functions, including mood regulation and pain signalling.

So, what is CBD oil? Well, in order to be added to the multitude of products available on shelves and online in so many countries around the world, CBD first needs to be extracted from the cannabis plant. This can be achieved in a number of ways using various extraction methods. In each of these methods, CBD molecules are isolated from the rest of the plant matter, leaving behind a CBD-rich extract – often in the form of an oil.

This CBD oil can be added to a number of products, including skincare products, edibles, and, of course, the original CBD oil tinctures. For some other products, including CBD beverages, CBD oil is not a suitable additive as the oil won’t mix with water. In these cases, the CBD will first need to be made into a water-soluble solution.

The most popular ways to take CBD oil

While a large number of CBD products are manufactured using CBD oil extracted from the hemp or cannabis plant, in this article we are going to focus primarily on CBD oil tinctures. Namely, we will be walking you through the different ways of using these versatile products. CBD oils have managed to retain their popularity – despite the introduction of various other products in recent years – thanks to their impressive versatility. This means that they can be applied in various ways, allowing each consumer to find the perfect method of application for them. So, let’s take a look at some of the most popular ways to take CBD oil.

Taking CBD Oil Sublingually (Under the Tongue)

This is arguably one of the most straightforward methods of application for your CBD oil tincture – but it remains among the most popular. In fact, it might be argued that this is the primary way your CBD oil tincture was designed to be taken – hence the convenient dropper applicator. But what exactly is “sublingual” application and how does it work?

Sublingual literally translates to “under the tongue”. This is pretty self-explanatory; it simply means that the product is designed to be applied – you guessed it – under the tongue! But that isn’t necessarily all there is to it. The exact amount needed will depend on a few factors, including the strength of the CBD oil you are using, your optimum CBD dosage (which may take a while and a bit of trial-and-error to figure out), and the manufacturer’s recommendations (check out our recent blog: ‘Is CBD Safe?’).

Once you have figured out how much CBD oil you would like to apply, it is simply a case of filling the dropper applicator to the desired amount and dropping the oil directly onto the skin under your tongue. From here, you will want to hold the oil in this area, without swallowing, for a while to allow the effective absorption of the CBD molecules. Most manufacturers recommend holding the oil in place for between 30-60 seconds – but more time is also fine.

With all this said and done, then – how exactly does sublingual application work?

Sublingual application is among the most effective ways of taking CBD due to the thin skin barrier in this area of the mouth. This means that the CBD molecules have less distance to travel to reach the bloodstream, where they can be effectively carried throughout the body. Taking CBD oils in this way essentially allows the CBD in your product to absorb directly into the bloodstream without first having to encounter other biological systems – for example, the digestive system (more on this later).

Now, applying CBD sublingually may be the most popular, and arguably the most effective way of taking your CBD oil, but there are some alternatives. These include:

Taking CBD Oil Orally

One of the most attractive aspects of CBD oils is their versatility and adaptability. In fact, this is possibly their biggest selling point to most consumers. The simple manufacturing process and a short list of ingredients mean that they can be added to a wide range of other products, including foods and drinks.

Some people may choose to add a little CBD oil to their morning coffee or even add a splash into the pan when cooking up their favourite meal. All of these are perfectly acceptable ways to make use of your CBD oil, but there are some things that you should bear in mind.

First of all, CBD oils are exactly that – oils. This means that, while they can be added to your favourite drink, they won’t mix in effectively due to the water-base of most beverages. This isn’t necessarily a problem, but if you would rather avoid an oily film on the surface of your drink, you might want to consider another method of administration.

The second disadvantage of taking CBD orally is that they have to pass through the digestive system before they are effectively absorbed. This means that the CBD molecules that were added to your food will have to contend with the first-pass effect – a process in which molecules are broken down in the liver. As a result, a significant amount of active CBD will be broken down before it continues on its journey to your bloodstream where it is effectively processed. All in all, while oral CBD oil application may be convenient, it can mean that you are essentially receiving less CBD when compared to other administration methods – particularly sublingual application.

Taking CBD Oil Topically

Another common way to apply CBD is to use topical products. This means applying CBD preparations directly to the skin. This method of administration is typically favoured in circumstances when a more localised approach is required – for example, for skin issues such as acne or for joint and muscle recovery. While there is a range of specially formulated topical CBD products available (such as our CBD Muscle Balm), it is also possible to create your own topical products with a CBD oil base.

Most CBD oils are made using a natural carrier oil such as coconut (MCT), hemp, or olive oil. All of these natural plant oils are safe to be applied to the skin. In fact, many of the carrier oils used in the production of CBD oil tinctures are commonplace in the skincare industry! Making your own CBD oil is just as straightforward as you might imagine; simply add a few drops to your favourite skincare product, combine, and voila! – you have a CBD-infused topical!

Again, this type of administration isn’t as effective for general use as the sublingual method, as the CBD is localised in one place. However, if topical care is what you are looking for, then this might be the best option for you.

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How Long Does CBD Oil Take to Work?

Another common question that many people have when first starting out on their CBD journey is: “how long will my CBD oil take to work?”. Well, unfortunately, there is no straightforward answer to this question. The fact is that the time required for CBD to take effect depends on a wide range of factors, such as your metabolism, weight, genetics, and diet.

What’s more, CBD affects everyone differently; so, a dosage that achieves optimum results in a short amount of time for one person may appear to have no effect on another. This is why working out the right dose for you is an essential part of ensuring that you get the most out of your CBD oil (and any other CBD product).

It can be easy to assume that using a higher dose of CBD will mean that it will kick in more quickly and/or help you to achieve better results – but this isn’t necessarily the case. As we said: everyone is different! This means that some people may actually notice much better results with a lower dose of CBD and may not notice any effects at higher doses.

The good news is that CBD is generally recognised as a safe and well-tolerated ingredient, even at higher doses. In fact, the World Health Organisation states that “in its pure state, cannabidiol does not appear to have abuse potential or cause harm.” That being said, excessive use may present minor side effects, including drowsiness and an upset stomach. For this reason, it is always advised that you follow the manufacturer’s guidelines on dosing and administration.

So there you have it: a clear beginner’s guide on how to take CBD oil. Check out our Blog page for more information and educational resources.

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