Cannabidiol (CBD) sales in America are expected to increase five-fold in the years ahead.
It’s expected to grow from over $358 million in 2017 to more than $1.8 billion by the year 2022 according to data compiled by Statista.
This is good news because it means that people who are interested in taking CBD will have a wide abundance of products, enabling them to choose the type of CBD that is most appealing to them. Yet, it can also make the choice of product type a little confusing because the selection is so large.
So, what is the best way to take CBD? To begin to answer this question, we must first look at bioavailability.
CBD and bioavailability
Bioavailability refers to the amount of CBD that the body can actually use versus the amount of CBD in the product itself. And this amount changes based on CBD product type.
For instance, “products applied under your tongue or inhaled are absorbed directly through the mucous membranes into the blood stream and are available to the body immediately,” says Roberta DeLuca, PhD, JD, FACHE, physician educator and cannabis advocate with RADical Relief and Wellness Company. Yet, if you choose to inhale CBD, bioavailability “ranges greatly due to the dynamics of smoking,” she says, referring to the size and spacing of puffs, hold time, and volume of inhalation.
Another option is to ingest CBD orally via pill or liquid form. “When you ingest CBD, it will take a while to feel the effects as it has to go through the digestive system and circulate through the liver,” says DeLuca. Though this reduces the amount of CBD available to the body, DeLuca does say that this option does provide “lasting effects.”
CBD type and condition it treats
In addition to bioavailability, there are also certain ways of taking CBD that are more beneficial for specific conditions. For example, sublingual administration (CBD taken under the tongue) via tinctures, concentrates, lozenges, and sprays is best for “long-term conditions like chronic stress, anxieties, inflammation, pains, and discomforts,” says DeLuca. Some CBD oils even recommend sublingual use because it increases effectiveness.
Alternatively, dabbing—which involves heating concentrated cannabinoid extracts and inhaling them—is usually fairly potent and, thus, can provide instant pain relief. DeLuca further indicates that, while dabbing is also good for nerve pain, fibromyalgia, arthritis, and other inflammation-based conditions, it should also be used with care if it contains THC (tetrahydrocannabinol) due to its higher potentcy.
Topical CBDs are good for treating chronic pain, inflammation, anxieties, conditions of the skin, and digestive issues according to DeLuca. Additionally, CBD oil capsules, pills, and edibles are also beneficial for a number of health conditions since they provide fairly quick results (within 1-2 hours) and typically last longer than a lot of the other delivery methods.
How do you choose one type over another?
Which type is best for you? “The result you are looking for is most important,” says DeLuca. Plus, the effects vary from person to person. Therefore, choosing the right product type may involve a trial process.
The next step is to find the right dosage. In this case, “it is important for people to be objective in observing the effects in order to find the right individual dose,” says DeLuca
What about side effects?
Are the side effects or risks different by product type? According to Mike Robinson, former Director of Communications for the American Academy of Cannabinoid Medicine and cannabinoid patient himself, the answer is yes, but the risk is small.
“Topical use of CBD has an extremely little chance of causing any side effects other than epidermis-related rashes in an extremely small percentage of people,” says Robinson, adding that this response is generally caused by a skin allergy instead of any reaction to cannabidiol.
“When it comes to ingestion or sublingual use of CBD products, this question becomes rather tricky,” says Robinson, “as there are quite a few companies producing CBD in differing ways.” In other words, their extraction methods and formulations can impact the effects they may have.
“There are several drug interactions with CBD that medical professionals should be aware of when it is ingested,” warns Robinson. “Most apply to seizure or other medication taken with CBD and other serious side effects can occur with individuals who have had organ transplants.”
That’s why Robinson recommends learning everything possible about cannabinoid medicine before using it. “Be extremely cautious of those marketing CBD as a cure,” he says, “and even more careful regarding making sure the product is clean. Analytical labs is a requirement in all states. ‘No labs – No Dice’ is my personal motto for any cannabinoid medicine product.”