CBD also known as Cannabiol is a substance derived from the Cannabis Sativa L plant, sometimes called hemp. CBD has been recognized by the World Health Organization as a substance with promising therapeutic benefits, in addition the WHO pointed out that it is not harmful for health, does not generate addiction and does not have psychomimetic effects on its own. The best way to use CBD for you will depend on several factors which we will discuss today. There are different ways to use CBD and each one has its advantages and disadvantages. Currently throughout the world, following the regulations of each country, we can find: Oils, capsules, edibles, creams, sprays, serums, patches, vaping oils, etc. Cannabinoids, like CBD, act through our endocannabinoid system (ECS), a system present throughout the body that is in charge of regulating other physiological systems in our body, in particular, modulating the activity of different neurotransmitters and receptors in favor of balancing bodily functions. The most important therapeutic properties of CBD, demonstrated with quality of evidence are:
- Anti-inflammatory: Inhibits and blocks cyclooxygenase activity.
- Analgesic: Reduces the production of prostaglandins, responsible for the sensation of pain and modulates TRPV vanilloid receptors.
- Antioxidant: Fights free radicals.
- Anxiolytic: Modulates serotonin and dopamine activity.
- Antibacterial: Eliminates bacteria.
- Anticonvulsant: Fights seizures and epileptic seizures.
- Neuroprotective: Slows down and prevents neurodegenerative processes.
- Anti-nausea and antiemetic: Reduces nausea.
- Antitumoral: Cytotoxic for altered cells and cytoprotective for healthy cells
First, let’s discuss the different factors involved in choosing the best option that fits your need:
- The format: Depending if you’re using an oil, a cream, edible, etc … the absorption and effect on our body will vary.
- Cannabis use: If you are a person who uses cannabis derivatives frequently, you most likely have generated a certain tolerance to some cannabinoids, including CBD, so it’s possible that low doses may have a subtle effect on your body. However if you have never used a cannabis derivative you will easily feel the effects with lower amounts of CBD.
- Personal characteristics: This will determine the optimal dosage with which each person will notice the effects, since each organism is different and being a natural substance, its effects may be slightly different depending on the person who uses it. We must take into account the uniqueness of the endocannabinoid system of each person, just as our circulatory system or our liver is different from that of our neighbor.
There are a variety of ways to use CBD, so let’s get into it:
Topical use of CBD (Regulated in Spain)
Topical use is localized, so the effects will remain in the area where it is applied. CBD is absorbed through the epidermis (our skin), which will not reach our bloodstream. We can find all kinds of products and concentrations for different needs. There are beauty and wellness products such as creams, oils, serums, balms and cleansers to regulate sebum production and repair skin cells. We also can find topical products to calm skin afflictions related to inflammation, like atopic dermatitis and psoriasis. You can also find oils, balms and bath salts that help relieve muscle and joint pain as well as accelerating muscle recovery.
- Absorption: Varies depending on where you apply the topical or how much. But being a topical, absorption is mostly localized.
- The duration: Between 2 and 3 hours.
- Advantage: The ability to use CBD exclusively in the affected area, without other physical or mental effects.
- Disadvantage: Limited bioavailability, as our skin absorption is much more reduced than other areas.
Sublingual use of CBD (Regulated in Switzerland, Canada, USA)
Sublingual use is commonly used to alleviate problems such as: insomnia, anxiety, muscle aches, and other diseases. So you keep your tongue stuck to your palate and place a few drops of oil under your tongue, try to keep the oil there for about 60-90 seconds before swallowing. Experts recommend a divided dose during the day to make the effects more effective and prolonged, you can divide in three doses: morning, noon and night. (Some may only need to divide in 2 doses, some in 4)
- Absorption: Sublingual use has high absorption because the mucous membrane under our tongue goes directly to our bloodstream avoiding our stomach which makes things slower.
- The duration: Can last anywhere 6-8 hours depending on the dose
- Advantage: The ability to use CBD continually and regularly, optimizing dosing and bioavailability.
- Disadvantage: We have to have time and be pretty methodical to find our optimal dose.
Others to consider:
- CBD Edibles: A more palatable and easier way to take CBD is through food and drinks. ?
- Absorption: Since edibles go through your stomach the absorption is slow. So onset time will usually take awhile.
- The duration: Edibles can last between 6-8 hours.
- Advantage: Taking an edible is easy and tasty. We know the exact amount we are taking.
- Disadvantage: The effect can vary in intensity and duration.
- Transdermal use of CBD: Patches can be interesting for those looking for a smooth and continuous effect. The patches should be applied in an area where they can be easily absorbed through the bloodstream, spots like the inner arm, back of the neck, or wrists are good spots to start. It usually takes less than an hour but the duration is continuous and prolonged, depending on the concentration of course. This is a really steady and discrete method.
- Absorption: Through the skin, but due to its format it enters directly into the bloodstream.
- The duration: The patches can last between 8-12 hours and you won’t even notice it.
- Advantage: You can sit back and relax.
- Disadvantage: It’s still quite new and we don’t know enough about how invasive it could be on our body.
- Inhaled CBD: Whether it be through vape or other traditional forms of smoking, offers the fastest way to feel the effects of CBD because it goes to the lungs and enters the bloodstream directly.
- Absorption: High and fast, it goes directly to our bloodstream, through the lungs.
- Duration: Maximum effects will usually be immediate from the beginning and will reduce gradually until disappearing about 2-4 hours later.
- Advantage: The effects are immediate and the dose can be regulated instantly.
- Disadvantage: The duration is short, so it’s a complicated way to feel a continuous effect.
Want to know more about CBD and the Endocannabinoid System? Check out these two blogs: What is CBD? History, Benefits and properties & Endocannabinoid System 101