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There are several different ways to ingest CBD. Which one is best? Let’s take a closer look at each, but first, let’s talk bioavailability.
Bioavailability is the extent and rate at which a substance enters and affects the body. For our purposes, bioavailability refers to the amount of CBD that can be successfully absorbed by your body.
Vaping is the most bioavailable way to use CBD. Most people who vape feel a difference within minutes and the effects can last a few hours. The trouble is, vaping is far from straight forward. There’s different pens, different cartridges, and a different set of concerns associated with each. It’s enough to make you reach for a Xanax if research isn’t your thing.
For first-timers and non-smokers, a refillable pen-style vape that uses pure CBD concentrates (instead of e-liquid) is the best choice. Pen-style vapes allow users more control over the chemicals consumed, but you should only use pure CBD isolate to protect the pen’s heating coil. Flavor additives and impure CBD speed oxidation of the heating coil.
Disposable tank-style vapes––also known as “cartomizers”––use prefilled, disposable cartridges, are usually made with cheaper materials, and should generally be avoided. If used incorrectly, the heating coil can break down, leaving the unit useless.
CBD can also be cooked into foods like gummies, chocolates, and candies. Edibles are one of the least bioavailable methods of consumption for CBD, behind vape pens and tinctures, and they can take anywhere from 30 minutes to 2 hours to produce the desired effects depending on their strength and the health of your digestive system. Don’t assume the ingested products are weak if you don’t feel it immediately. Anything absorbed through the stomach lining will take some time to reveal its full impact, so wait at least an hour or more before reaching for that second serving. Effects generally last for about three to six hours.
Sublingual Tinctures & Oils
The second most bioavailable form of CBD might also be the optimal form of ingestion––if you can wait 20 to 40 minutes. Sublingual tinctures and oils are ideal for a few reasons. First, they’re easy to use. Putting a drop or two under your tongue for up to a minute is as complicated as it gets. Second, they allow for simple micro-dosing throughout the day. You can start with one drop and increase your dosage depending on how you feel.
Third, tinctures tend to be more cost-effective than other forms of CBD due to their concentrations (though concentrates are up to 10 times stronger than other CBD products). Fourth, and perhaps most importantly, tinctures and oils are usually the least adulterated CBD products because they can be made with minimal processing. Drawbacks include the potential for mess and an unpleasant taste––but some brands add flavoring to please pickier palettes. On average, effects last between 4-6 hours.
Capsules are the least bioavailable form of CBD and generally take the longest to offer relief. Medical research suggests the bioavailability of oral capsules to be <20%. If you need to speed things up, try consuming on an empty stomach.