Which Form of CBD is Best for Me?

With the ocean of information available, you may find yourself wondering, "which form of CBD is the best for me?" Cannabidiol (CBD) is often touted as a miracle substance that can remedy various ailments. While most of these claims have been exaggerated, there is promising research that shows possible advantages to using CBD products.

For ages, there has been a stigma around CBD use. This is due to it coming from the cannabis plant and a lack of understanding of the human endocannabinoid system. However, this stigma is slowly fading away. More lawmakers are beginning to understand the differences between the active substances in cannabis. As a result, there is no question that the study of the possible benefits of CBD has played a significant role in the demystification of the cannabis plant. 

But, because this area of study is relatively new, many questions surround the best ways to administer CBD for an individual. Whether you're using CBD oil for stress, anxiety, pain, or even epilepsy, there's still the question of which form of CBD is best for you. There are many ways to consume CBD safely and effectively, each having benefits and drawbacks. Let's look into each one of the most common forms of CBD to see which delivery method will be the best fit for your needs and lifestyle.

Why CBD Consumption Method Matters

Our bodies process CBD in different ways, depending on how the CBD oil is consumed. The term that describes when the active compounds in CBD begin to affect your body is called bioavailability.

Finding the best CBD consumption method for you may take some experimentation. If you are new to CBD products, it is best to start with a lower dose and adjust it as you see fit. 

Pros and Cons of Smoking CBD

By burning the CBD, you create smoke, which is then inhaled. Inhalation is a method of consuming CBD that provides the quickest onset of its effects. The CBD goes straight into the lungs, where it is quickly absorbed into the bloodstream. 

Bioavailability of Smoking CBD

  • Approximately 30% of CBD is made available to the body
  • Peak blood levels in about 3 minutes
  • Half-life of about 31 hours in your system

Pros of Smoking CBD:

  • Provides the highest concentration of CBD
  • Quickest absorption methods of CBD

Cons of Smoking CBD:

  • Can irritate the throat and lungs
  • User may not need such high concentrations
  • Requires the use of additional smoking tools
  • Inhaling smoke can have adverse health effects

Pros and Cons of CBD Vapes

The other CBD inhalation method is vaping. Unlike smoking CBD, the product is not burned in vaping. Instead, it is heated just to the point where it transforms from a liquid to a gas. It is believed that preventing the burning of the compounds could be a safer method than smoking.

Bioavailability of Vaping CBD: 

  • Approximately 30-50% of CBD is made available to the body
  • Peak blood levels in about 3 minutes
  • Half-life of about 31 hours in your system

Pros of Vaping CBD:

  • Provides the fastest method of administering CBD
  • Able to administer high concentrations of CBD
  • Considered to be safer than smoking CBD
  • Easier to regulate the dosage
  • Typically not as harsh on the respiratory system as smoking CBD

Cons of Vaping CBD:

  • Requires different tools from conventional e-liquid vaping accessories
  • It has not yet been proven that vaping is significantly safer than smoking

Pros and Cons of Topical CBD Products

Topical CBD products are applied to the skin and not inhaled or consumed internally. They often come in the form of balms, ointments, creams, or liquids. The active compounds of CBD are then absorbed into the skin and distributed in a localized way. 

Unlike other forms of CBD consumption, topical applications do not require the compounds to travel through the entire body to reach the desired area. 

Bioavailability of Topical CBD

  • Approximately 40% of CBD is made available to the body
  • Peak blood levels in about 1.4
  • Half-life of 24 hours

Pros of Topical CBD Applications:

  • Allows for targeted relief in specific areas 
  • Straightforward method, requiring no special tools
  • Fast and efficient delivery of CBD to where it is needed
  • Can be combined with other methods to achieve a greater effect

Cons of Topical CBD Applications:

  • If you need a higher dose, you'll need to apply a lot of it
  • Effects are not as strong or long-lasting
  • Additives could cause skin irritation if you have sensitive skin

Pros and Cons of Edible CBD Products

Edible CBD comes in a wide variety of products. There are CBD gummies, CBD tinctures, CBD oil, and many others. This method is very popular because it doesn't require you to do anything special. If you don't like the taste of CBD oil alone, adding it to food or drink is a great way to make it go down more easily.

Ingesting CBD requires your body to break it down in the digestive system, which can take from 1.5 to 3 hours before it reaches your bloodstream. 

Bioavailability of Edible CBD: 

  • Approximately 13-50% of CBD is made available to the body
  • Peak blood levels in about 2-4 hours
  • Half-life of 1-10 hours

Pros of Edible CBD:

  • Discreet and simple way to consume CBD
  • Can be mixed with your favorite food or drinks or taken by itself
  • The body will process it slower, and the effects last longer

Cons of Edible CBD:

  • Dosing can take some trial and error
  • It takes a long time to distribute through the body
  • Not recommended for those with liver disorders

Pros and Cons of Sublingual CBD

If you don't mind the taste of CBD, you can take a CBD tincture sublingually. Sublingual CBD is taken by putting drops of it under the tongue and holding it there for 30 seconds before swallowing. The CBD is absorbed through the tissue under the tongue and into the bloodstream.

Bioavailability of Sublingual CBD

  • Approximately 13-35% of CBD is made available to the body
  • Peak blood levels in about 2 hours
  • Half-life of 1.4-10 hours (or 2-5 days for chronic administration)

Pros of Sublingual CBD:

  • Absorbs quickly into the bloodstream
  • No special tools needed
  • Dropper allows for precise dosing
  • Long-lasting effects

Cons of Sublingual CBD:

  • Dosing may take some trial and error 
  • Earthy taste may be undesirable for some

Other Types of CBD Consumption

There are a few other products that you can try to find the best method of CBD administration for you. Each one is administered similarly to their respective counterparts discussed above but may offer varying degrees of ease of use, depending on your needs.

  • Nasal spray - Mist administered in the nose. Bioavailability in about 10 minutes.
  • Oral spray - Mist administered orally. Bioavailability in about 3-4.5 hours.
  • Nebulizing - Non-heated mist that is inhaled. Bioavailability in about 30 minutes.
  • Transdermal Patches - Slow-release topical CBD. Bioavailability will vary depending on type and dosage.

The Bioavailability of CBD is Different for Each Person

Many factors can affect the bioavailability of each of the products mentioned. One significant reason for this is that CBD is a fat-soluble compound. Therefore, it attaches easier to fatty components. For example, the absorption rate of edible CBD can vary if the CBD is mixed with a fatty substance. 

Other factors that can affect CBD bioavailability include, but are not limited to:

  • Health issues
  • Dosage
  • Fasting
  • Whether the CBD is heated
  • Interactions with medications


It's obvious there are many different choices for consuming CBD. Whichever form and delivery method you choose is dependent on both your needs and your preferences. You can also use multiple delivery methods for a better effect, depending on the reasons why you are using CBD. 

Take note that CBD can have interactions with other medications like antibiotics, antidepressants, blood-thinners, and so on. Therefore, before you try CBD, you may want to consult with your physician to make sure it's alright to take CBD for your condition.

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