In last week’s blog readers learned how to avoid buying CBD with false or misleading labels, choosing the safest and most effective CBD product. But the question still stands; what type of CBD should I buy?
CBD products range anywhere from bath bombs, to smokable oils, to CBD capsules. Choosing the right product and method of administration plays a direct and important role in its effectiveness.
In this post, we’ll go over the four most common methods of administration, and how to know which one is best for you. In the end, the choice is up to you. If one product hasn't been working the way you’d like it to, switch it up! Try out different products with different extraction methods and methods of administration. Just make sure to always check for a CofA, and make sure what you’re buying is extracted from USDA certified organic hemp.
Understanding the endocannabinoid system
To understand exactly why the method of administration matters, we first have to understand how CBD works within our bodies.
It all starts with the endocannabinoid system…
The endocannabinoid system is a molecular system within the human body that works to maintain balance and homeostasis. This system includes endocannabinoids (these are naturally occurring cannabinoids within our bodies), enzymes, and receptors that cannabinoids bind to.
We have much to learn about the exact function of the endocannabinoid system- what we do know is that it’s responsible for regulating and protecting the function of many important systems. The endocannabinoid system affects our cognitive processes, appetite, memory, fertility, and more.
This system is the whole reason we experience any psychological and medicinal effects of CBD and THC.
So, what happens when you use CBD?
To take affect, CBD molecules must enter the bloodstream and bind to receptors within your endocannabinoid system (CB1 and CB2 receptors), as well as other non cannabinoid receptors- like your serotonin receptor.
The ease with which your CBD product transfers from the site of application into your bloodstream is known as the product's bioavailability. The easier it is for a product to enter your bloodstream and bind to it’s relevant receptors, the more effective it will be.
Now that we have a grasp on the way in which CBD interacts with our bodies, let’s go over some of the main methods of administration!
Oral ingestion of CBD includes CBD capsules and edibles.
Before being absorbed into our bloodstream, CBD molecules must pass through our digestive system and into the liver, where they are then broken down and metabolized. This process is known as first-pass metabolism, or the first pass effect.
During this process, enzymes in the liver break down CBD, greatly reducing its concentration before entering the bloodstream. For this reason, orally ingested CBD typically has very low bioavailability.
Many companies have taken measures to counteract this problem. Namely, companies have begun to make water soluble CBD.
CBD is typically hydrophobic, meaning that it doesn't mix with water. During the production of water-soluble CBD, however, CBD molecules are broken up (and I mean really broken up- into less than 100 nanometers) and suspended in water. This allows for the CBD molecules to be more easily absorbed into our bloodstream, thereby increasing bioavailability and effectiveness.
Even so, orally administered CBD generally has
Sublingual CBD is anything administered under the tongue. This includes tinctures, concentrates and oral sprays.
When sublingually administered, some of the CBD is absorbed directly into the bloodstream through the membrane under the tongue, while some is swallowed (and undergoes first-pass metabolism).
Because some of the CBD is able to bypass first-pass metabolism, sublingual CBD has a much higher biovailability than orally administered CBD, making it significantly more effective. Like orally administered CBD, you can find water soluble sublingual CBD with an even higher bioavailability.
The downside to water-soluble, sublingual CBD is that production costs are high, meaning that products are generally more expensive.
Inhalation involves any CBD product which is consumed by vaporizing or smoking CBD.
The membrane of our lungs is highly permeable, allowing CBD molecules pass into the bloodstream with ease. This means that inhalation boasts a high level of availability, and a very quick onset.
There are, however, risks associated with smoking or vaporizing of any product- including CBD. For one, companies can use artificial and harmful thinning agents to vape oils- namely, polyethylene glycol and propylene glycol. When smoked at high temperatures, these compounds may break down into harmful carcinogens.
Many companies claim that propylene glycol is harmless, but research backing this assertion is limited. In one study conducted on mice, researchers found that the propylene glycol and glycerol have negative and unsuspected effects on our circadian rhythm, directly affecting the onset of various psychiatric and metabolic diseases. Other studies have linked propylene glycol to an increase in asthmatic symptoms and other respiratory conditions.
One way to avoid this problem is to look for products made with vegetable glycerin, or simply smoke CBD 'flower,' or CBD plant matter. Even so, inhalation is not advisable for everyone. If you do choose to buy CBD concentrate, vape, juice, or flower make sure to consult your doctor before hand.
Topical CBD includes CBD administered directly onto the skin using any sort of lotion, balm, or salve.
There are cannabinoid receptors (CB1 and CB2) all throughout our skin, making CBD lotions and balms a viable and effective method of administration. When applied directly to the skin CBD molecules are able to bypass the liver and bind directly to the receptors in our skin, avoiding the first-pass effect.
The benefits of CBD lotion are localized- meaning that rubbing CBD lotion on your knee may not help manage anxiety or increase memory. That being said, CBD lotion is the best option for local ailments (such as back pain, arthritis, wrinkles, acne, wounds, and more).
Numerous studies have found that topically applied CBD is effective in treating localized ailments and serious skin conditions. One study conducted by La Clinica Terapeutica concludes that “the topical administration of CBD ointment [...] is a safe and effective non-invasive alternative to improve the quality of life in patients with some skin disorders, especially of inflammatory background” (B. Palmieri et. al). In an article about the clinical benefits of CBD, Dr. Anup Mulakaluri, ND, discusses the advantages of topically applied CBD on his patients, stating “many of my clients who use cannabis for medicinal purposes, use it topically. They gain great benefit for their mobility, balance, and pain management with topical applications of salve and oils."
Because the lotion has to permeate the skin to reach it’s relevant receptors, it’s important to use enough product- really lather it on. This can be a downside with some CBD products, which tend to make your skin a little oily, especially if you use a lot.
But no worries, ALLAY has your back- our lotion glides on beautifully and soaks right in, letting you feel the benefits of CBD without sticky or greasy skin.
So, what does all this mean? How do you know which CBD product is really right for you?
It depends on what you’re using it for.
If you’re looking for something to help improve your memory, manage mood disorders, or effect any non-localized ailments, water-soluble sublingual CBD is probably best. It has some of the highest bioavailability, quickest onset, and most long-lasting effects.
If you’re looking for something to treat a localized ailment or any sort of skin condition, look no further than topical CBD.
Allay creates potent, highly effective CBD topicals that soak right through your skin, effectively treating whatever ails you while leaving you with soft, happy skin!
Lechasseur, Ariane, et al. “Exposure to Electronic Cigarette Vapors Affects Pulmonary and Systemic Expression of Circadian Molecular Clock Genes.” Physiological Reports, vol. 5, no. 19, 5 Oct. 2019, doi:10.14814/phy2.13440.
Mulakaluri, Anup. “Clinical Application of Cannabis, Cannabiniods (CBD).” Natural Rhythms Integrative Medicine, 11 Dec. 2017, https://nrimseattle.com/blog/2017/11/27/clinical-application-cannabis-cbd/.
PALMIERI, B.; LAURINO, C.; VADALÀ, M.. A therapeutic effect of cbd-enriched ointment in inflammatory skin diseases and cutaneous scars. La Clinica Terapeutica, [S.l.], v. 170, n. 2, p. e93 - e99, apr. 2019. ISSN 1972-6007.
Pond, SM, and TM Tozer. “First-Pass Elimination. Basic Concepts and Clinical Consequences.” PubMed, National Center for Biotechnology Information (NCBI), Jan. 1984, https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/6362950.