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How to Take CBD

This article assumes that you, the reader, are already familiar with CBD. If not, please first read our page Cannabidiol: The Ultimate Guide to CBD, which lists four main ways of taking CBD.

Although this is not breaking news, we are frequently asked about what is the best way to take CBD, so we decided to publish this article that goes into a little more detail.

This article pulls a great deal of research from Nordic Oil’s wiki page, “How to Use CBD“.

What’s the most effective method of using CBD?

There is no rule on how to take CBD.

Although studies show that vaping is the most efficient way of quickly spreading CBD to the entire body, some people may not feel comfortable with that method. After vaping, oils are commonly understood as the second most effective choice followed by capsules, suppositories, topical creams and gum. However, forming a choice depends on three factors. One, as mentioned, your preferences for intake. Two, on what pain, discomfort or mood you are trying to treat. For example, if you are trying to treat Psoriasis, a benign but highly unpleasant skin disorder, then a cream is the best choice. Another example, a person suffering from Arthritis may prefer to use a cream on the joints to ease the pain. Three, what level of dosage you want and how long you need the effects to last (check out our other article “What You Need to Generally Know About CBD Dosage“). For example, some CBD users prefer edibles because the effects tend to last longer than with using other methods.

It’s also worth noting that you are not limited to using one method! Some people prefer to use one method in the morning and use another method in the evening. For example, some people may prefer to take an edible in the morning and vape at home in the evening.

So all that being said, products come in the form of e-liquids, oils, capsules, suppositories, creams, gum as well as crystals and CBD Isolate for cooking edibles or making your own vape juices, all of which fit into the following four methods…

To review: The four main ways of taking CBD


By inhaling CBD E-Liquids with a vaporizer, CBD enters your lungs and diffuses directly into your bloodstream rather than first entering your liver. It works fast! And, another result of bypassing your liver, nearly four times as much CBD enters your circulation. Essentially, this means you can achieve the same beneficial effects with a much smaller amount of CBD than if you were to take edibles, creams, etc.

If you want to vaporize CBD you can either purchase an E-Liquid or DIY your own juice. You can also vaporize or smoke cannabis plant that contains high levels of CBD, however this method is limited to the local laws in the country you live in.

How long does it take vaporizable CBD oil to work? / How long does it last?

Inhalation shows effects almost immediately and you can simply stop vaping as soon as you feel its effects are strong enough. Within about 30 min, you’re at the greatest peak and the effects will last about 1-4 hours depending on how much you take.

Sublingual (and with food…)

To achieve the best possible effect, we suggest applying the drops directly under the tongue. However, abstain from drinking or eating for at least fifteen minutes after application. If you prefer, the concentrate can be mixed with other foods or liquids for consumption. To learn more about what foods are best, read our other article Taking CBD Oil with Food.

How does it taste?

Flavored or unflavored? Good or bad? It depends on your personal preference. CBD oil tends to taste earthy and bitter. If you like the taste of cannabis, you will probably like the taste of CBD oil. However, there are many options with added flavors if the natural flavor is not your thing.

How long does it take tinctures to work? / How long does it last?

As mentioned earlier, the sublingual method of taking CBD oil is the second most effective method. You will feel the effects of the CBD within approximately 30 – 60 minutes and the peak effects will be felt in 1-2 hours. It should last anywhere from 1-4 hours. Some people take this method 3 times a day or once every 4 hours.


Edibles with CBD may come in the form of food, candies, chocolates or chewing gum.

How Long Does It Take Edible CBD To Work? / How Long Does It Last?

This method lasts the longest but it takes longer to kick in because your body has to metabolize the CBD. With this method, it may take anywhere from 1 – 2 hours to feel the full effects.

Note: It’s advisable to be careful when taking edibles containing THC. This is because when THC is consumed it gets converted to a stronger compound, unlike CBD. When consuming edibles with CBD you have the freedom to be more flexible and the strongest side effect is that you may experience is fatigue. It’s highly unlikely to cause anxiety or any other uncomfortable side effects like you may experience in eating THC.


CBD skin products come in ointments, salves, and lotions. Topical creams are not psychoactive and are typically used to treat pain, inflammatory skin rashes, and bacterial skin infections. Cannabinoids are thought to work well on the skin because of their potent anti-inflammatory properties. Both CB1 and CB2 receptors have been found throughout the skin and the endocannabinoid system is thought to play an important role in the immune response of our skin.

What can CBD creams be used for?

  • Pain relief (arthritis pain, muscle, joint)
  • Joint swelling
  • Inflammatory skin conditions
  • Acne
  • Psoriasis
  • Eczema
  • Rash
  • Bacterial infections such as MRSA
  • Skin Cancer
  • Neck and back pain
  • Nerve pain

As exampled earlier, CBD can be applied topically for all skin conditions, from acne to eczema, and even for joint pain. CBD is a potent anti-inflammatory agent as well as has antioxidant properties. So, for conditions like a rash, or really anything on the skin that is being caused by inflammation or the overproduction of free radicals, CBD can greatly help. CBD not only works well with skin conditions but also it can be used topically to relieve pain. For arthritis, back pain, or sore muscles we recommend using a CBD cream in the area. It works especially well on the knees, elbows, and hands. Studies have shown that CBD can also be used to treat skin cancer. These studies have shown that when CBD is applied to the skin, it diminishes the growth and spread of cancer cells. The hemp plant also has anti-bacterial properties that have the potential to fight against MRSA (MRSA is a nasty bacterial infection responsible that is difficult to battle due to its resistance to many antibiotics.)

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Quick Hits

Some recent highlights and curiosities from the amazing world of cannabis science and therapeutics:

  • CBD and autism. In his first article of the new year, Raphael Mechoulam and other Israeli scientists look at the “real life experiences of medical cannabis treatment in autism.” Published in Nature, the study found that just under a third of patients report significant improvements and over half report moderate improvements while using CBD-rich oil derived from cannabis (30% CBD, 1-2% THC). The improvements include decreased aggression and agitation, fewer seizures, and better sleep, appetite and ability to concentrate. Around 10-20% of patients stopped taking various medications (mostly antipsychotic and antiepileptic drugs) within 6 months of starting cannabis treatment. One quarter of people experienced some negative side effects like sedation or restlessness, but none were severe. And about one in 5 stopped treatment because it wasn’t effective. Even though there remains a lot to be discovered about how and why CBD can improve the lives of people with autism, it is clear that cannabis can be used safely by this population and should be studied further.
  • Cannabis and ADHD. A study in Molecular Psychiatry with tens of thousands of people found an association between ADHD and cannabis use. Their data suggests that ADHD causes later cannabis use, which may support the notion that THC is used to self medicate (although ADHD is associated with heavier use of many drugs). Previous research has found that THC may be effective for some cases that do not respond well to Ritalin.
  • Self medicating for endometriosis. Endometriosis is a poorly-understood condition causing severe chronic pain and alterations in a woman’s menstrual cycle. As an understudied disease, treatment is limited. Scientists surveyed over 400 Australian women to see what actions they took to treat their pelvic pain. Cannabis, heat, CBD oil, and dietary changes were rated most effective by women, in that order. Unfortunately, more women used alcohol than cannabis to manage symptoms; self-medicating with alcohol promotes chronic inflammation and led to worsening pain and fatigue in over half of such women. This underscores the importance of not treating cannabis like alcohol in the ongoing saga of legalization. (Note: endometriosis is diagnosed with an invasive surgical procedure, and so many women who likely have endometriosis go undiagnosed. The group that responded to this survey had a confirmed diagnosis.)
  • Concussions and alcoholism. Traumatic brain injury (TBI) leads to numerous problems, including alcoholism and suicide. New findings indicate that endocannabinoids aid TBI recovery: When researchers boosted 2-AG levels shortly after injury, rats displayed less anxiety and less interest in alcohol. This is significant since alcoholism is a serious comorbidity of brain injury. The researchers link the protective effect of 2-AG to changes in glutamate transmission in the central amygdala, the part of the brain that processes traumatic and fearful memories. Other preclinical research has demonstrated that endocannabinoids can play a protective role after traumatic brain injuries, like concussion, by ameliorating glutamatergic toxicity.

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Project CBD Releases Educational Primer on Cannabinoid-Drug Interactions

New: This report is now available in Spanish and Japanese translations! See bottom of this article for downloads.

Project CBD, a California-based educational non-profit, has published an in-depth primer on Cannabinoid-Drug Interactions for health professionals, patients, and public policy-makers. The 33-page report, summarized below, is available for free download at the bottom of the page.

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