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    How Do You Take Your CBD? Understanding The Different CBD Delivery Systems By Bonnie Hagen

    By Bonnie Hagen


    Every day, more and more people learn about the benefits of CBD (Cannabidiol) for relieving pain, reducing inflammation, treating insomnia, and alleviating anxiety. Sales of CBD products have skyrocketed since hemp-derived CBD was de-scheduled in the 2018 Federal Farm Bill.  Along with the sales gains has come a variety of CBD “delivery systems,” as companies try to innovate and address consumer preferences. 


    A delivery system is a fancy way of describing the technology a CBD consumer uses to absorb the compound into their body. Some of the most popular ways to consume CBD are through such systems as tinctures, topicals, edibles, capsules, and inhalants. 

    Which delivery system is best for you depends on personal preference, lifestyle, and your body’s reaction to the compound. Let’s take a closer look at these CBD delivery systems.


    TINCTURES. A tincture is any drug or compound that is extracted from its plant source and mixed with alcohol, water, or a carrier oil. Tinctures are administered sublingually, or under the tongue, before they are swallowed. The benefits of sublingual absorption are that it’s easy, fast, discrete, direct, and very efficient due to the dense network of capillaries under the tongue. Absorption begins 30 seconds after the CBD tincture is introduced, and the onset of benefits begins 15 to 20 minutes after that, making sublingual absorption an extremely fast method for consuming CBD. 

    Another advantage of tinctures is their versatility. They can be added to food or drinks, making it easy to incorporate CBD into your daily routine. Tinctures can also be taken at any time of the day, making them a convenient option for those with busy schedules.

    Tinctures are also available in a variety of flavors, making them more palatable for those who may find the natural taste of CBD to be bitter. They are also available in different strengths, making it easy to find the right dosage for your individual needs.

    Tinctures come in bottles with droppers that allow for precise dosing, so you can easily adjust the amount of CBD per serving. This makes tinctures a great option for those who are new to CBD and want to start with a lower dosage and adjust it as they learn more about its effects on their body.

    TOPICALS. Topicals are also a popular delivery system for CBD. A topical can be applied directly to the skin. This can be in the format of a cream, lotion, salve, oil, or even an oral tincture. All these forms allow for different types of application and absorption. The main benefit of applying a substance to the skin is that the skin is the largest organ in the entire human body and we readily absorb all types of things through our skin.  Topicals are a good option for those looking to target specific areas of the body, such as sore muscles or joints, or applied all over the body for full-body relief.


    Many people like topicals because they offer localized relief without ingesting the compound. People who are hesitant to use an oral cannabis product often prefer to apply it topically, since it then bypasses the digestive system. Topicals also provide a great alternative to oral administration for people who have difficulty swallowing.


    Some people prefer to target a problem both internally and externally and often use both an ingestible and a topical simultaneously to maximize relief.


    While a topical CBD may be easy to use, it is difficult to determine a precise dose because of how thin or thick someone can spread it on, in addition to how large or small an area may be. 

    Additionally, for those that experience mental health or psychological ailments such as anxiety or insomnia, an ingestible may be better suited to address the issue because you can’t rub topical CBD into your insomnia at 3:00 am. 


    EDIBLES. Edibles are food items that are infused with CBD, such as gummies, chocolates, cookies, brownies, and other treats. They offer a convenient, discreet, and tasty way to consume CBD, making them a popular choice for many people.  One of the main advantages of edibles is their convenience. They can be easily incorporated into your daily routine and taken at any time of the day, whether at home or on the go.  


    Another advantage of edibles is that they offer a fun and tasty way to consume CBD. They come in a variety of flavors, making them more palatable for those who may find the natural taste of CBD to be bitter. However, dosing may be inconsistent because it is difficult to distribute CBD evenly when making a batch of brownies.


    Additionally, artificial ingredients such as food coloring, flavoring, stabilizers, and preservatives that are added for visual attractiveness, taste, and prolonged shelf life may be a barrier for those looking to eat cleanly. If you prefer your daily dose of CBD free of chemicals, edibles may not be for you.


    It is important to note that the effects of edibles may take longer to be felt than other forms of CBD delivery such as tinctures or capsules. This is because the CBD has to be broken down in the digestive system before it can be absorbed into the bloodstream. Metabolic absorption takes time, sometimes hours. However, the effects of edibles tend to be longer-lasting than other forms of CBD delivery.


    CAPSULES. CBD capsules are typically made with a gel-like substance that is easy to swallow and can be taken with food or water. They offer a convenient and consistent way to consume CBD, making them a popular choice for many people. Capsules have the advantage of looking and feeling like a vitamin. Millions of people already take vitamins, so CBD capsules may seem reassuringly familiar.   

    One of the main advantages of capsules is that they offer a consistent and measured dose of CBD. Each capsule contains a specific amount of CBD, which allows for accurate dosing and predictable effects. This is particularly useful for those who are trying to manage a specific condition and need a consistent amount of CBD each day.

    Capsules also offer a discreet and easy way to consume CBD. They can be taken at any time of the day, whether at home or on the go, and they do not have a strong odor or taste like some other CBD delivery methods.

    Another benefit of capsules is that they are easy to store and transport. They come in airtight containers, making them easy to take with you when you travel or to keep in your bag or purse.

    One drawback of capsules is that they’re best consumed with food, because CBD is lipophilic, meaning it binds with fat cells to metabolize. Like gummies, metabolizing slows down absorption, so capsules have relatively long onset times (1-3 hours) but a longer duration. 


    INHALANTS. CBD can be inhaled through devices such as vaporizers or through smoking. This method of delivery is fast-acting, and it can be convenient for those who want to consume CBD on the go, but it does have its risks. 


    When inhaled, the CBD is absorbed through the lungs and into the bloodstream, allowing for quick and efficient absorption. This makes it a popular choice for those looking for immediate relief from symptoms such as anxiety or pain.


    Vaping CBD e-liquids is a popular method of inhalation delivery, as it is convenient and easy to use. Vaping devices, such as e-cigarettes or vaporizers, can heat the CBD liquid to a point where it turns into a vapor that can be inhaled. This method allows the user to have more control over the dosage and can be a great option for those who are new to CBD or have a sensitivity to the taste of CBD oil.


    Smoking the CBD flower is another popular method of inhalation delivery. The CBD flower is dried and can be rolled into a joint or used in a pipe.  


    Inhaling CBD is the least healthy delivery system and carries inherent health risks, specifically to the lungs. That’s because inhalation – smoking or vaping – exposes users to ultrafine particles contributing to respiratory impairment. Many CBD vaping products are also flavored using diacetyl, a chemical that’s been linked to obliterative bronchiolitis, also known as popcorn lung. This condition has symptoms similar to chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD).




    CONCLUSION. It is important to note that not all CBD delivery systems are created equal. When purchasing CBD products, it’s important to look for products that are made with high-quality, organic ingredients and are third-party lab tested for purity and potency. Additionally, it’s important to pay attention to the dosage and ingredients list, as some products may contain additional natural ingredients such as terpenes that can enhance the effectiveness of the CBD or artificial ingredients that can be detrimental.


    Which delivery system is right for you? That’s partly determined by your habits and preferences. If you can’t decide, try several delivery systems until you find the one most agreeable to you. Remember, the best delivery system is the one that delivers CBD to you reliably and consistently.


    Bonnie Hagen is the principal and founder of Bright Formulations LLC, a health and wellness company that specializes in hemp extract with CBD.  The Bright Energy ® brand of hemp extract with CBD was launched with the intention of helping people achieve their health and well-being goals, using the all-natural hemp plant. Bonnie helps people use the hemp plant to free themselves from pain, insomnia, stress, and discomfort. Seeing repeatedly how this incredible plant provides protection, grounding, balance, regeneration, clarity, purpose, and peace to those who use it wisely, Bonnie decided to build a different kind of company around it. Using clean and sustainably grown ingredients in her formulations, Bonnie brings to the marketplace hemp extract with CBD that is grown without chemical pesticides, herbicides, or fertilizers, is extracted without using harmful solvents, and is bottled without any artificial ingredients or fillers.