The Different Ways to Consume CBD: A Patient Guide

CBD, or cannabidiol, is one of many cannabinoids that are found in cannabis and hemp plants. For many years cannabis users only knew one way to consume the herb, and that was smoking it in the form of joints. Joints are still popular in certain circles. However, the market has diversified and now users are spoilt for choice. Since scientists began identifying and separating cannabinoids such as THC, CBD and CBDA, newer and more effective methods of consumption have emerged. This is a detailed overview of the different ways to consume CBD. The article covers the following aspects of each method:

Consumption method
How the method works
Why do people tend to select that method?  What condition is it good for?
How long it takes for that method to work
The pros and cons of that method
Tips and tricks to get the best out of that method

Before we get to how to take cbd oil, let’s first explain what CBD is and why it is consumed in the first place.

What is CBD?

Whenever cannabis is mentioned, CBD and THC usually come up. One might assume that these are terms that refer to the cannabis plant but this is not the case. CBD and THC are just two of the hundreds of bioactive molecules that are present in cannabis. They belong to a group of bioactive molecules that are known as phytocannabinoids. It is important to mention that phytocannabinoids are present in numerous other plant species; but THC and CBD are only found in the cannabis sativa species. To date, about 114 unique cannabinoids have been isolated from cannabis. Another class of bioactive molecules that are present in cannabis is terpenes.

Unlike THC, CBD is a non-psychoactive cannabinoid. This means that it does not produce the euphoric feelings that are associated with marijuana consumption. CBD was first identified in 1940 by Roger Adams. The legalization of cannabis for medical use led to a surge in interest in CBD. To date, hundreds of studies have been conducted to investigate the therapeutic potential and safety margin of CBD.

Benefits of CBD

Research has revealed that CBD has a potential role in relieving the following conditions:

        Pain and inflammation
        Poor sleep
        Stress and depression
        Nausea and vomiting
        Opioid addiction
        Neurological disease

In 2018, the FDA approved a CBD-based drug called Epidiolex for the treatment of intractable childhood seizures. These are severe seizures that do not respond to conventional treatments i.e. Dravets Syndrome and Lennox Gastaut syndrome.

In 2018, hemp was legalized at the federal level by the passage of the 2018 Farm Bill which adopted the Hemp Farming Act. This means that hemp-derived CBD is legal across all 52 states. In addition, 39 states to date have legalized medical marijuana. Residents in this state who have a condition that qualifies for medical marijuana treatment can access it through the state’s medical marijuana program.

If you live in the US, you can access CBD for any of the reasons mentioned above. Additionally, you can use CBD for pure relaxation and winding down a hectic day. You can also use it to support homeostasis which is a state of physiological balance. Unlike traditional chemical-based drugs, studies have shown that CBD is very safe, even when it is used in higher than usual doses. CBD may also be offered to children and pets without triggering any adverse effects.

How To Choose a Good CBD Product

Before you purchase a CBD product you should ensure that it is both safe for you as well as effective. Unfortunately, the CBD market is not well regulated. Consequently, low-quality products have infiltrated the market. A study that was published in 2020 by the National Institute of Health showed that medical fraud, mislabeling, and contamination was a common denominator in many CBD products that are in the market. Low quality products will not only give you less CBD but may also expose you to harmful contaminants. Here are a few things to be on the lookout for when selecting high-quality CBD products:

Check the source of the CBD: It should be hemp derived, grown in the U.S, and grown using organic practices. European sources are also safe.
Check the method of extraction: The extraction method should not leave any residues behind. Carbon dioxide extraction is good since the carbon dioxide can be easily evaporated once the extraction process is completed. It is also inert and non-toxic.
Third-party testing: All high-quality CBD products must be tested by a third-party lab to check for the concentration of cannabinoids and terpenes. The results should also indicate the presence of contaminants such as pesticides and heavy metals
Transparency: results of third-party testing (COAs) should be posted on the website. The company should also specify the source of hemp and extraction method used.
Full-spectrum CBD: Full-spectrum CBD contains additional cannabinoids and terpenes that boost the healing effects of the CBD through the entourage mechanisms. Studies have shown that CBD products that have been infused with additional bioactive compounds provide a stronger and prolonged healing effect. In short, a little CBD goes a long way.

These are some of the essential things to check when purchasing a CBD product. With that sorted, how can one choose an ideal consumption method? Before choosing a method, you need to understand how it works and the risks and benefits that are attached to it. As mentioned earlier, the market has evolved over time and as a result methods of consumption have also diversified. The most common ways to take cbd oil include the following:

CBD tinctures
CBD Topicals
CBD Vapes
CBD joints
CBD Pills, Capsules, and Tablets
CBD Edibles
CBD Patches
CBD Suppositories

Below is a breakdown of each method that includes how it works, what it is suitable for, and its pros and cons.

CBD Pills and Capsules

CBD pills and capsules are popular for obvious reasons; they are very similar to traditional pills and capsules. This makes them a discrete and uncomplicated way of consuming CBD.

What is a CBD capsule?

A CBD capsule is CBD that is contained in a capsule. Traditional capsules were made of gelatin. Most CBD capsules that are in the market presently are gel capsules. Capsules are two halves that make a sphere. The capsule is filled with CBD oil which is released in the stomach when the capsule is swallowed. Gastric enzymes in the stomach break down the capsule to release the CBD.

Benefits of Gel Capsules

Easily digestible
Easily absorbed with a higher bioavailability
Offer targeted CBD dosages


What is a CBD pill?

CBD pills contain CBD in powder form that has been compressed into a flat sphere. Pills contain pure CBD which makes them more potent than capsules.

How they work

Capsules and tablets are easy to use. All you need to do is to toss one or two in the mouth and drown it with your favorite beverage, it doesn’t need to be water. They usually come in small but effective dosages such as 5, 10, or 20mg of CBD. It is always advisable to start with a small dose of CBD or CBDA and observe how your body responds to it and adjust the dose accordingly.

Why do patients prefer CBD Pills and Capsules?

Patients love CBD pills and capsules because they are easy to use and require no specialized equipment. They are also easily portable and unlike oils, CBD pills and capsules will not spill. They are also easy to dose.


    Easy way to consume CBD
    Easy to dose
    Convenient to carry around
    A discrete way to consume CBD


    Have low bioavailability since they must undergo hepatic metabolism in the liver
    Effects take a longer time to kick in

Tips to get the most out of cannabis capsules and tablets

The body may take a long time to adjust to CBD. Therefore, patience is always advised. Don’t rush to increase your dosage when starting out. Give your body at least three days before adjusting to a higher dose.

CBD Edibles

Edibles are a new and exciting way to consume CBD. CBD edibles are made by infusing different foods and beverages with CBD oil. The first step is to obtain high quality CBD butter or CBD oil. With this in hand, you can proceed to infuse your favorite meal with CBD.

Common foods that can be infused with CBD include:

    Chocolate bars
    Gummy bears

Why are CBD edibles so popular?

The reason is plain and simple, this is an exciting way to consume CBD and the options are limitless. Those who use CBD to manage chronic conditions will enjoy CBD edibles. Edibles are also a good way to offer CBD to children who struggle to take pills and tinctures. 


    They offer long-lasting relief.
    Require no specialized paraphernalia
    Enjoyable to consume
    Can offer precise dosing


    Effects take a long time to kick in’ at least half an hour
    Requires time to prepare

Tips to get the most out of marijuana edibles

When infusing foods with CBD it is important to bear in mind that CBD and terpenes can be destroyed or lost at very high temperatures. CBD has a boiling point that is between 320 degrees and 356 degrees Fahrenheit. Be careful not to exceed this temperature when cooking with CBD.

CBD E-liquids

CBD e-liquids are very popular among the younger demographics for the simple reason that they appear cool. CBD e-liquids, also known as vape oils are CBD infused liquids that are ingested in vapor form with the use of e-cigarettes. Once the vapor is inhaled into the lungs it is transported to the bloodstream within minutes. A typical vape kit contains a vape pen and a cartridge which carries the vape oil. Some cartridges can be refilled while others are intended for single use.

Why are CBD vapes popular? 

CBD vapes are popular among the younger demographics because they appear cool. They are also believed to be a safer alternative to smoking CBD.

How it works:

CBD vaporizers work by converting the CBD e-liquid into vapor form, the vapor is then inhaled through the mouth. The CBD is heated to a temperature that is just below its boiling point.


    Once the CBD vapor is inhaled it is transported through the lungs and into the lungs. This provides instant relief
    Considered safer than smoking


    An expensive way to consume CBD
    Requires specialized equipment

 Tips to get the most out of your vaporizer

It takes some mastery to make the most out of a vaping experience. Make sure that you begin with a good vapekit. To prevent a bitter taste, always ensure that the wick of the vape device soaks up the e-liquid before lighting up. Otherwise, the wick will burn and this will create a bitter taste that will trigger ceaseless coughing.

CBD Tinctures

CBD tinctures are among the most popular consumption methods, most beginners will start off where. Tinctures are similar to CBD oils, but contain different solvents. The biggest difference between CBD oil and CBD tinctures is the carrier method that is used. CBD oil is more pleasant to consume since it usually uses coconut oil as the carrier method, whereas CBD tinctures alcohol-based extract, which makes it quite bitter.

Why are CBD tinctures preferred?

CBD tinctures are easy to consume. The effects are also felt quickly.

How they work:

 CBD tinctures contain CBD extract that is dissolved in an alcohol base. Tinctures are taken sublingually. The tincture comes in a bottle that has a dropper. One or two drops are placed beneath the tongue and held there for 15 seconds and later swallowed. This area has many blood vessels. This allows the CBD to be absorbed directly into the bloodstream. Consequently, you will begin to feel the effects within one to two minutes after consumption.


    Easy to consume
    Easy to dose.
    Don’t require specialized equipment
    Effects set in quickly


    Can be expensive
    Not easy to transport because they can spill

How to make the most of cannabis tinctures

Ensure that you consume tinctures sublingually. This will ensure that you feel the effects sooner rather than later.

CBD Topicals

CBD topicals include all CBD formulations that are applied to the skin such as lotions and creams. They provide an effective way for dealing with skin conditions that respond to CBD treatment such as eczema, chapped skin, sunburns, and topical dermatitis.

How they work:

The skin, which is the largest organ in the body, has numerous cannabinoid receptors. This creates a great opportunity for CBD to exert its healing effects topically. Once the CBD is applied to the skin, it interacts with the endocannabinoid receptors and the effects are almost immediate.


    Good for skin conditions
    Easy to use
    Offer localized pain relief


    Does not address ailments that are not topical
    Can be tedious to apply

How to make the most of CBD topicals

Always ensure that the skin is clean before applying the topical. This will improve the absorption of the CBD.

Smoking CBD

CBD cigarettes are not as popular as most other consumption methods. This is because smoking cannabis is mostly associated with THC. However, hemp flowers can also be smoked. Joints are a popular way to smoke CBD. The hemp flower is crushed and rolled into a joint, which looks like a tobacco cigarette. The wrapping paper may be infused with additional flavors to improve the smoking experience. Joints usually have a filter at the end that allows you to smoke the joint to the end without burning your fingers.

Why would someone choose a CBD joint?

Joints are preferred by those who want immediate relief from pain or anxiety. CBD joints are also relatively inexpensive.

How it works

CBD joints are very similar to normal tobacco cigarettes. The joint is held between the two fingers and lit. The CBD flower burns and releases smoke which is inhaled into the lungs and finds its way to the bloodstream. Effects are typically felt within five minutes of inhalation. However, this process introduces contaminants to the body since the CBD is combusted.


Delivers instant relief
Easy to use for those who are familiar with smoking
Some people may consider this method cool


Products of combustion are introduced to the lungs. While CBD itself may not be harmful to the lungs, chemicals that are released during combustion may be harmful. Therefore, prolonged use of CBD cigarettes is highly discouraged.
Not a discreet way of consuming CBD

Tips to get the most out of a joint

It is important to learn the right smoking technique so as to make the most of the experience. Improper technique will cause bouts of coughing. Also avoid sharing joints from one person to the other.

CBD Transdermal Patches

Transdermal patches are a newish consumption method that is effective for delivering metered doses of CBD topically. CBD is infused in adhesive patches that are applied to the skin. The patches deliver specific doses of CBD into the bloodstream at fixed durations.

Why are CBD transdermal patches popular?

CBD transdermal patches are popular because they deliver specific doses of CBD into the bloodstream, and at specific intervals. They are also very easy to use; once the patch has been applied the user does not require to put in any more effort. This makes them a fantastic option for those who easily forget to medicate.

How they work:

The skin should first be cleaned and dried. The patch is then applied to the recommended portion of the skin and nowhere else. The region should be well vascularized to increase the absorption of the CBD.


    Easy to use
    Once applied the CBD is released continuously
    Provides metered dosing
    Higher bioavailability


    Not ideal for those with super sensitive skin
    Patches can be expensive

Tips on how to make the most of cannabis patches

To make the most out of CBD patches, ensure that you apply the patch on a skin surface that is adequately clean and does not have excessive hair. You should target a region that is well vascularized to ensure that the CBD is easily absorbed. Avoid fatty areas of the skin as this will reduce absorption.

CBD Suppositories

CBD suppositories are consumed by inserting the CBD-infused medication into the rectum, vagina, or urethra. The CBD is then broken down and absorbed into the body. While this is a rather unconventional method of consuming CBD, it’s ideal for those with swallowing difficulties or those needing immediate relief.

How they work:

CBD suppositories come in the form of a small cylindrically-shaped medication. Once inserted into the rectum or vagina, the suppository is broken down to release the CBD which is absorbed through the tissue walls and absorbed into the bloodstream. The effect is almost immediate and the bioavailability is high since this method bypasses breakdown in the liver.


    Great for those who have difficulty swallowing
    The effects kick in quickly and last for a longer duration
    Great for addressing vaginal or rectal problems


    Can be difficult to administer
    Can be embarrassing

Tips to make the most of cannabis suppositories

Always use gloves when inserting the suppository. Once you have inserted the suppository into the rectum, squeeze the sphincter muscles for a few minutes before releasing. This speeds up the breakdown of the suppository.

Which Are The Healthiest Methods of Consuming CBD?

Cannabidiol, in and of itself, is very safe even when consumed in high doses. Healthy ways to consume CBD should not introduce any contaminants to the CBD. Most of the consumption methods that have been mentioned above are healthy and safe. However, smoking CBD may not be completely safe. The combustion process introduces harmful “products of combustion” that are inhaled into the lungs. Over time, they cause progressive damage to the lungs. A safe way to smoke CBD is to use e-cartridges. However, you will still need to ensure that the cartridges are not contaminated.


In summary, CBD can be consumed in different ways. When choosing the best method it is important to factor in your personal preferences, lifestyle, and the effectiveness of the method. Before embarking on a CBD journey, ensure that you start off with a high-quality CBD product.



Evans D. G. (2020). Medical Fraud, Mislabeling, Contamination: All Common in CBD Products. Missouri medicine, 117(5), 394–399.
INSERM Collective Expertise Centre. INSERM Collective Expert Reports [Internet]. Paris: Institut national de la santé et de la recherche médicale; 2000-. Cannabis: Effects of consumption on health. 2001. Available from: Vulnerability Disclosure
Volkow, N. D., Baler, R. D., Compton, W. M., & Weiss, S. R. (2014). Adverse health effects of marijuana use. The New England journal of medicine, 370(23), 2219–2227.

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