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A discussion on CBD consumption (delivery) methods

If you are new to CBD and considering to give it a try after being introduced to its health benefits, the ever widening spectrum of products might be confusing at first. Don’t worry! Even for those who are long time users, the rapid emergence of new product types has been hard to follow. In this post, we will talk about the most common methods of CBD consumption (delivery) to help you choose what suits you best.

To make CBD or other cannabinoids work for you, first your body needs to deliver the compounds to your bloodstream and distribute them to where they need to be in the Endocannabinoid system (ECS). ECS regulates a number of things in the human body including sleep, pain and stress. It helps the human body reach and sustain a state of equilibrium called homeostasis. In this context, bioavailability of different delivery methods is a key determinant, so let’s remind ourselves of its definition. Bioavailability refers to the extent a substance or drug becomes completely available to its intended biological destination(s)[1]. This is, of course, very important to the decision of what type of CBD delivery method to use.  Further, your daily dosage should be guided by the available data on the bioavailability of your chosen method. 

Oral Ingestion of CBD

Swallowing CBD is one of the most common ways and various types of products utilize this method (e.g., gummies or other edible food items, beverages including CBD beverages or CBD infused tea/coffee etc.). It is important to note that this method has a relatively low bioavailability somewhere between 6% and 20% according to most sources. This is due to a phenomenon called the “first-pass metabolism” related to the breaking down of CBD in the stomach as well as its processing in the liver. Through this mechanism, some CBD is lost on its way to the bloodstream and this makes oral ingestion of the compound (despite its ease) a relatively less efficient delivery method. 

You may still choose to ingest CBD if other methods do not fit you as well but remember to take the bioavailability levels into account when you are adjusting your daily dosage. Many users use oral ingestion as a way to supplement their daily CBD routines, e.g., as a supplement on top of the sublingual intake of CBD oil which is our next method! 

OZ Botanical’s flavorful gummies offer an excellent edible CBD experience, learn more here!  

Sublingual Intake 

As the fancy name implies, this method entails holding the CBD oil under your tongue so that the mucus membranes can absorb the cannabinoids. CBD tinctures or mouth sprays are consumed in this manner. Studies show that this method has significantly better bioavailability characteristics[2] compared to oral ingestion, different sources indicating bioavailability rates between 10% and 35%. This is thanks to the more direct path to your bloodstream mitigating the “first-pass effect” we touched on above. 

CBD Tincture

An important point to highlight here is that CBD is a fat-soluble compound instead of a water-soluble compound. This requires, for the successful delivery of the compound, the use of self-emulsifying drug delivery systems (SEDDS), which are isotropic mixtures of oils, surfactants, solvents and co-solvents/surfactants, designed to improve the oral absorption of highly lipophilic (i.e., fat soluble) drug compounds[3]. This is why CBD oil predominantly comes in the tincture form! 

OZ Botanical offers tinctures in the neutral flavor as well as in raspberry, banana and lemon flavors. Further, we have a THC-free isolate tincture available! Learn more here

Topical Application 

Users who are seeking to unlock the anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties of CBD in more localized applications resort to topical CBD products. These applications include pain relief (e.g., arising from the author’s knee issues after a soccer injury) or skincare. When CBD is topically applied, it’s absorbed through the skin to reach nearby receptors but it does not enter the bloodstream, so the effects as well as the objectives of use are different from the previous methods we discussed. 

As expected, this method has a lower bioavailability at around %5 due to the barrier that is the human skin. However, for example in the case of pain therapy, topical applications allow a lot of users to relieve a localized pain relatively quickly. Further, other topical products such as face creams are entirely designed for a localized application. OZ Botanical offers two different full-spectrum topical CBD creams including a muscle cream[4] as well as a face cream. Learn more here

Inhalation 

This is the fastest method of delivery to the bloodstream through the lungs. Inhaling CBD also comes with higher rates of bioavailability. However, many CBD users have high health awareness and they take note of the disadvantages of inhalation such as coughing due to smoke and other dangers of vaping that are understood more and more with recent research. These drawbacks make this method especially risky for users suffering from existing lung conditions. OZ Botanical currently does not offer any products in this category.  

What’s right for you? 

At OZ Botanical, our very first advice to our customers is to test out different methods to find out what they like more. For example, CBD oil users love that they can continuously customize their dosage and edible fans love to have a tasteful experience as they enjoy the health benefits of cannabinoids. Our advice is similar when it comes to finding the right dosage. Some people like to start with a smaller dose and slowly climb up to a spot where they experience the most desired results. Other start relatively higher for faster relief and taper off as they go. People find that consistently tracking their dosage and taking notes of their body’s response are important tasks to settle on a desired daily routine. We love to support our customers as they find the right path for them, so feel free to reach out! 


[1]  Price G, Patel DA. Drug Bioavailability. [Updated 2020 May 21]. In: StatPearls [Internet]. Treasure Island (FL): StatPearls Publishing; 2020 Jan-. Available from: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK557852/

[2] Mannila J, Järvinen T, Järvinen K, Jarho P. Precipitation complexation method produces cannabidiol/beta-cyclodextrin inclusion complex suitable for sublingual administration of cannabidiol. J Pharm Sci. 2007 Feb;96(2):312-9. doi: 10.1002/jps.20766. PMID: 17051591.

[3] Gursoy, R. Neslihan, and Simon Benita. “Self-emulsifying drug delivery systems (SEDDS) for improved oral delivery of lipophilic drugs.” Biomedicine & pharmacotherapy 58, no. 3 (2004): 173-182.

[4] As a user of our very own muscle cream, I can testify to the immense relief I enjoy only a few minutes after I apply it on my bad knee!

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