When CBD is ingested, it passes through the digestive tract where it’s absorbed into the bloodstream and travels throughout your body. Because Cannabinoids, like CBD, can dissolve in fats but not water, the best way to ensure you’re getting the most CBD absorbed into your body (i.e. the highest bioavailability ) is to look for capsules that are formulated to be water soluble (avoid gel caps). Because even if something has a high dosage of CBD, that doesn’t guarantee your body will be able to absorb it all (or even most of it) if it’s not made to be “body ready”.
If you’re overwhelmed by the wide variety of CBD products on offer, you’re not alone. And although there is no one-size-fits-all recommended dosage or timing , there are ways to maximize the efficacy of CBD by mindfully selecting your delivery method with our guide below:
CBD Capsules—Find a Water Soluble Formula
There are so many different ways to take CBD: capsules, creams, edibles, tinctures, and supplements—but is the choice just down to personal preference or are there differences in how effectively your body will absorb them?
The most common form of CBD you’ll find on the market is suspended in oil (i.e. a tincture) which has an oil dropper that you either put under your tongue or a sprayer that sprays directly into your mouth. Under the tongue, there is a vein called the sublingual gland which absorbs the oil directly into the bloodstream, avoiding the first-pass of your metabolism. Keep in mind that some people don’t love the taste of CBD oil or the feeling of oil in their mouths—if this is the case for you, a CBD as a capsule might be a better alternative.
Another common way to consume CBD is via topicals like creams, lotions, sprays, and salves. Our skin is our largest organ and what we put on our skin directly affects our wellbeing (which is why we’re focused on making topicals with super clean, non-toxic ingredients ). Topical CBD products are a great delivery method if you’re looking to release localized tension since you can apply the product directly to different parts of your body.
If you’re ingesting something that only has CBD in it and no THC, you won’t have significant effects in the brain. This is why CBD is often referred to as being “non-psychoactive,” although that’s clearly a bit of an oversimplification because it does do something to the central nervous system.
If you (like me) feel like your CBD cream is truly having an effect, it’s likely unrelated to the CBD itself. And because there are plenty of other pain management options out there that we know more about—including medical cannabis—it’s important to talk to a health care provider to make sure you’re not overlooking something else that might be more helpful.
What is CBD?
But at this point, we have no idea how deep the commercially available creams are penetrating. And even if they’re getting to that sweet spot in your skin, we don’t know how much CBD is getting there or how much is necessary to provide an effect.
One major issue is that it’s actually somewhat difficult to create a topical cannabinoid product (containing CBD or THC) that penetrates the skin enough to produce an effect, but not so deep that it gets into the bloodstream, Boehnke explains. If the product does get into the bloodstream—if it’s transdermal rather than truly topical—it could potentially reach the brain, possibly producing psychoactive effects if it contains THC.
Both THC and CBD act on a system of receptors in your body called cannabinoid receptors. You have cannabinoid receptors throughout your body and, so far, researchers have identified two major types: CB1 (found primarily in the central nervous system, including parts of the brain and spinal cord) and CB2 (found mainly in immune system tissues). Interestingly, both have been found in skin. Researchers have also found that while THC can bind to and activate both types of receptors, CBD seems to modulate and somewhat block the effects of CB1 and CB2 receptors. So, any effect that CBD has on CB receptors may actually be more related to regulating and even counteracting some of the actions of THC and other cannabinoids in the brain.