Cannabidiol (CBD) is the latest rage, with good reason. There have been numerous health benefits shown in studies, and the 2018 Farm Bill legalized CBD products across the country. Innovative companies had already started hemp crops to supply the CBD product explosion, with many states seeing a tripling — or more — of requests for permission to grow the plants. Also, new companies refining and producing all sorts of things with CBD in them have lent a bit of a fad mystique to consumption. It’s understandable for people to be skeptical when you see hair pomade with CBD in it. Which brings us to the question: What’s the best way to take CBD? You can smoke it, eat it, rub it on your temples, or put it in your bath. 

There are also different types of CBD, of course. There’s raw vs pure, full spectrum, activated, and so on, but we’re going to focus on how you’re getting any of these into your body. The key here is how easy it is for your body to use the CBD, and that’s called “bioavailability.” As you might imagine, getting a compound into your bloodstream — where your body can use it — is easiest when simply injected into your bloodstream. But no one is running around “shooting up” CBD, so we’re left with a few other alternatives. 


Eating CBD is one of the more direct ways to get it into your body, but the process involves your stomach, which contains compounds that break down your food, and your intestines, which contain gut bacteria also designed to break things down. After being metabolized by the liver, CBD can get into your bloodstream. This all takes a bit longer than some other methods, but tends to be the preferred method for some people. Dosages can be hard to measure with edibles, just like with THC edibles, so while it’s easy it’s perhaps not the best method for bioavailability. Better would be capsules with measured dosages, but they’ll go the same route as a cookie. Eating CBD allows it to stick around longer in the body, but can take longer to have an effect.


Similar to eating CBD, tinctures are a staple of health stores that have previously sold nutritional supplements in this form. A few drops go under the tongue, and after 30 seconds or so you swallow what hasn’t been absorbed. Obviously this is a fairly direct way to get compounds into the bloodstream, but effects can vary due to our individual chemistry and the type of CBD you’re using. 


There are now hundreds of CBD-infused beauty products designed to help the skin. There are also plenty that are applied to the skin, but claim to be absorbed. It’s really difficult to go from skin to bloodstream (for very good reasons), so that’s not a great way to get CBD into your body. On the skin it actually works pretty well, in part due to the ability to reduce inflammation. This could help with puffy eyes, rosacea, and other skin concerns, but may only relieve tension if combined with essential oils as well to help permeate the skin itself.


There are two ways to smoke CBD: either by burning the flowers (joints, bongs, pipes) or by vaping oil or concentrates of some kind. For some, the traditional grinding and smoking method is both comforting and useful. Smoking will absolutely get CBD into your bloodstream quickly, as the lungs are made for this purpose. Vaping will do the same, and has the added benefit of removing additional chemicals that can occur when smoking buds. Carcinogens in regular smoking may not be a good idea for some, but it’s still an effective way to get CBD in your system. Vaping is likely the safest, most effective and convenient way of consuming CBD.


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