We asked the experts at the world-renowned medical cannabis research group, Kanabo, to go beyond the jargon and explain the many ways to consume CBD, and to find out which is the best.
What is the best way to take CBD?
Kanabo explained that it’s all about bioavailability
Oil is taken under the tongue, capsules are swallowed whole, chocolate is devoured and drinks are often mixed with other ingredients, including caffeine and alcohol. Add to that the many CBD-infused skincare and cosmetic products which have infiltrated the beauty space. The list of ways to take CBD is growing.
So, which way is most effective?
Bioavailability and CBD
First, it’s important to understand what the word bioavailability means in CBD terms. This refers to the proportion of it which enters the circulation when introduced into the body, so it is able to have an active effect.
In this article, we will evaluate its bioavailability when taken under the tongue, consumed in the form of an edible or beverage, when inhaled using an e-cigarette or vaporizer and when applied to the skin.
As the skin is the protective barrier between the body and the outside world, we’ll look at this first, working our way in.
CBD in skincare and cosmetics.
Remember the definition of bioavailability? Take another peek at the first paragraph if you need to recap. When we talk about the skin, and how well it is absorbed through the various layers of the skin, we’re talking about penetrability.
Think of these two words as if they mean the same thing. One refers to how well CBD is absorbed in order to perform when consumed from the inside, while the other measures the same but from the outside.
Before we dig skin deep, now is a great time to remind ourselves of the Endocannabinoid system. The skin is the body’s largest organ, so it shouldn’t come as a surprise to learn that we all have cannabinoid receptors within the epidermis.
CBD and skin
So, how effective is CBD in skin terms?
It turns out it has the ability to be very effective in certain cases. One proven example of CBD helping the skin is in cases of acne.
Recent studies have shown evidence that CBD oil is helpful with treating acne due to its anti-inflammatory properties and ability to reduce sebum production.
In one study, CBD oil succeeded in preventing the sebaceous gland cells from making too much sebum, the leading cause of acne breakouts.
Another skin study identified CBD as an efficient and safe way to reduce acne flare-ups, due to its anti-inflammatory qualities.
So, we know it has benefits for the skin. But, in terms of how much it is actually delivered to the bloodstream via the many layers of the skin, the jury is still out. It largely depends on the other ingredients which are used as carriers. Many cosmetic manufacturers use propylene glycol, while natural skincare brands may opt for hemp seed oil. Others prefer to use a water-based formula that is said to enhance the absorption of many skin-friendly ingredients.
Researchers at Kanabo estimate the bioavailability of CBD in the form of a skincare product could be around 25 per cent but this will depend on the product, whether it is oil-based or water-based, and the quality and quantity of CBD in the product to begin with.
CBD capsules, beverages and edibles.
There are many benefits to taking CBD in food or capsule form. First of all, this is a wide-ranging and delicious category, from capsules and gummies to chocolate, protein supplements and beyond. The variety and flavours to taste are endless which makes for an enjoyable CBD experience.
Taking edibles also makes it easy to consume large amounts of CBD compared to taking the same amount in the form of oil drops which could be messy and tricky to measure. However, research from Kanabo suggests the bioavailability of edible CBD products could be as low as 5 per cent.
On top of this, when swallowed, it can take up to 2 hours to get to work. What’s more, some of this key ingredient is destroyed by the body’s biological processes in the first-pass metabolism and digestive tract.
So, while this way of consuming CBD could be delicious and nutritious, it’s not guaranteed to be effective for your needs.
Tinctures, oil drops and oral sprays offer high concentrations of CBD in small volumes. Perhaps the most common way of taking CBD, these flavoured oil supplements are taken under the tongue where the drops are held for at least 30 seconds before swallowing. From here, the active ingredients are absorbed via the thin mucosal membrane found in the mouth (this is the lining of the wall of the mouth).
While a popular choice for many aficionados, one problem with taking CBD oil is there can sometimes be a very strong cannabis taste left behind in the mouth. Add to that the physical nature of measuring how many drops to take by using a pinch-top dropper, and administering each drop beneath the tongue without any spillage.
For most people, these attributes present problems or nervousness about using CBD in professional and public settings, or even on the go. Taking CBD drops requires good eyesight for reading the label and measurement guide, plus good physical movement is essential for administering the drops, rendering this kind of product unsuitable for those with a disability, or the elderly. CBD oil can also take an hour or more for it to get to work.
According to a 2020 review of the evidence, researchers estimate the bioavailability of oil to be somewhere between 10 and 20 per cent. This is complex, however, as there are multiple factors to weigh up. That said, the available data suggest that the absolute bioavailability of CBD oil is 24 per cent when taken in conjunction with eating a high-fat meal.
E-cigarettes, also known as vapes, are growing in popularity as a way to get a CBD fix. Compared to CBD oil, vapes are relatively accessible and simple to use. Designed as a way to deliver low concentrations of nicotine to those on a mission to quit smoking, e-cigarettes are a fast and convenient way for those who already smoke or vape to take CBD.
CBD e-cigarettes are produced using isolated CBD with carrier ingredients and flavourings added. All of these ingredients are vaped at a high temperature and inhaled. Oils on the other hand often come in the form of broad-spectrum hemp extract, providing more benefits through the Entourage Effect. Broad-spectrum extract provides CBD, other cannabinoids, terpenes, flavonoids and maybe more natural than a purified, isolated product.
That said, the main attraction to vaping CBD is the fast onset, with CBD getting to work in minutes, making this delivery system ideal for those in pain.
Kanabo researchers estimate the bioavailability of CBD when vaped to be quite high at approximately 30 to 50 per cent. When it comes to how much of the active ingredient is successful from vaping, it could be as little as 5-10 per cent.
The winner: vaporization
We know what you’re thinking, ‘didn’t we just cover this?’
As the public interest and support for CBD grows, the many ways to take CBD are growing more advanced, more powerful, and effective. Vaporization, with a superior device, is the fastest, most efficient way to deliver CBD to the body.
For this example, let’s take the new VapePod device from Kanabo, the first medical-grade vaporizer in the world.
With metered dosage providing a temperature-controlled, limited and precise dose of CBD with every puff, this kind of device is multiple steps up from even the most advanced e-cigarette devices.
When you inhale from the VapePod, the CBD and terpene-rich oil in the vape cartridge is received in the mouth as a vapour at a lower, safer temperature compared to your average e-cigarette. From here, it travels to the throat and down into the lungs where it is dispersed into the bloodstream via the pulmonary tract. This action happens in seconds, with the active ingredient getting to work in minutes.
Compared with taking oil drops under the tongue, using a product like the VapePod by Kanabo avoids the first-pass metabolism and digestive tract, providing a quicker delivery of CBD when you need it most.
This is a precise, science-based, no-nonsense approach to getting a measured amount of CBD, and feeling the difference, fast. So much so, it is estimated that up to 75 per cent of the active ingredients in the product are absorbed and effective in the body.
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