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How Does the Body Absorb CBD? [4 Different Ways]

How your body absorbs CBD depends on how you administer or consume it. CBD can be inhaled, consumed or applied topically. Depending on how it’s used, the CBD compounds are distributed and eliminated differently. In order for the CBD to be active, it must either enter the bloodstream or it must absorb into the skin. How CBD is applied can play a significant role in how someone feels the effects of a particular product. To fully understand the different ways the body absorbs CBD we will need to first discuss the different ways you can apply it.



How Do You Take CBD? 

Your body can absorb CBD in different ways, each with its own advantages. Thanks to modern consumerism, you can take CBD in a variety of ways. The extensive choices of CBD products can be overwhelming, especially if you’re trying it for the first time. To help simplify things, we’ve outlined some of the most common ways to take CBD below.


Ingesting CBD

CBD edibles and capsules are simply consumable products containing CBD. Cannabidiol (CBD) can easily be added to many foods and drinks. Some of the most popular choices are fruity CBD gummies and CBD chocolates. You can buy CBD capsules and CBD-infused goodies where other CBD products are sold. Here are some popular choices for CBD consumables:


  • teas
  • honey
  • coffee
  • sodas
  • dried fruit
  • baked goods


Another option is to just swallow a dose of CBD oil and it will work the same as an edible because it goes through the same process. However you choose to consume it, ingesting CBD is easy and it can turn out to be delicious. Some crafty people make their own CBD infused edibles using CBD isolate or CBD oil. Surprisingly, there are tons of recipes online for making your own CBD infused drinks and edibles.


Edibles are also great if you prefer a tasty, discreet and on-the-go method of taking CBD. However, since it has to be digested and then absorbed into the bloodstream through the stomach lining, it can take a while to kick in. If you want the CBD to kick in sooner with more efficiency you may want to try taking CBD oil drops sublingually (under the tongue).



dropping cbd oil into mouth



Sublingual CBD

CBD oils, or CBD tinctures, are usually taken sublingually. These products come in bottles with dropper you can use to apply the CBD directly under your tongue.


The sublingual method allows CBD to enter your bloodstream faster than ingesting it because the CBD bypasses the digestive tract and goes straight to the liver instead. This allows higher bioavailability and it provides effects quicker than ingesting CBD. As a result, the CBD does not last as long in the system, therefore, the effects do not last quite as long as edibles.


Topical CBD

Topical CBD diffuses on the skin and you can apply it to target specific areas on the body where discomfort or irritation is present. You have direct control as to where you want the effects to localize. Many people use CBD-infused lotions to soothe muscle and joint soreness.


Unless you use a cream designed explicitly for transdermal activity, no CBD should enter your bloodstream when you apply it topically. The effects of a topical CBD can vary depending on where and how much you apply. CBD topicals provide quick and direct relief but if you are looking for the fastest method you should research inhaling CBD.


Related: Can You Use Oral CBD Topically? [Yes, But Should You?]


Inhaling CBD

CBD can be inhaled using vape pens, CBD flower, or using a CBD inhaler. Inhalation avoids the first-pass metabolism, allowing the majority of the CBD to reach your bloodstream. When inhaled, the CBD travels through the lungs and quickly enters the bloodstream for an almost instant effect. Inhaling CBD is the fastest way to get the beneficial cannabinoid into your system, but it is also the shortest-lasting method. 


Transdermal CBD

Although not as common as the methods mentioned above, CBD patches are rising in popularity. Transdermal patches use similar technology as nicotine or birth control patches. They deliver CBD directly to your bloodstream through the skin.


Transdermal products are different than topical ones because they enter the bloodstream. Remember regular topicals only penetrate some layers of the skin, not the bloodstream. Transdermal CBD patches are activated by body heat and they release small amounts of CBD over a more extended time. Transdermal patches may offer a simple and discreet way of taking CBD.



How Does The Body Absorb CBD? 

CBD has no effect on the body until it reaches your internal endocannabinoid system (ECS), more specifically until it reaches the cannabinoid receptors of your ECS. Without CBD the normal functionality of the ECS constantly produces endocannabinoids to help regulate emotion, sleep, appetite, mood, pain response and more. By taking CBD you can complement and possibly improve the functionality of your ECS.


There are cells spread all throughout your body with cannabinoid receptors attached and these special receptors interact with CBD when it is present. In order for this to happen the CBD must enter your bloodstream or penetrate the skin. Depending on what way you apply it will determine the route CBD will take to infiltrate the bloodstream. To comprehend this process let’s go over how each application absorbs into the body in order to interact with the ECS.



Different Ways the Body Can Absorb CBD


Oral Ingestion Process

When ingesting CBD, the body’s ECS reaps its many benefits and effects. Whether you drink CBD, swallow it pure, or eat an infused edible, the absorption process will basically work the same.


When you swallow CBD your digestive tract begins to break it down and some of the CBD is lost during this time due to the digestive process.


After the CBD passes through the digestive tract it must go through the liver for further filtration before it reaches the bloodstream. Once in the bloodstream, CBD can be distributed to the ECS and its receptors accordingly to produce effects.


Oral consumption of CBD takes the longest amount of time to kick in but the bonus to that is the effects last the longest in comparison to the other applications. Ingesting CBD usually takes one to two hours to fully kick in. The timing may vary slightly depending on the product and contents already in your stomach.


Sublingual Ingestion Process

Many people take their CBD oil sublingually which means they drop it under their tongue and hold it there for a minimum of 60 seconds. This provides enough time for the sublingual gland to absorb the majority of the CBD. When you take CBD oil sublingually it bypasses your digestive system’s metabolization process.


Administering CBD oil this way allows the cannabinoids to enter your bloodstream and interact with the ECS faster than ingesting it. Simply because most of the CBD gets absorbed by your sublingual gland and goes straight to your liver for filtration purposes before entering the bloodstream. Once in the bloodstream, the CBD can interact with the ECS and its receptors.



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Topical Absorption Process

When Cannabidiol-infused salves, lotions, or creams are applied topically the CBD interacts with cannabinoid receptors on cells that are spread throughout the skin. Topical applications are the only CBD products that do not enter the bloodstream.


With topicals, CBD only penetrates deep enough to interact with cannabinoid receptors in the dermal layers. This application ushers speedy effects. Most people feel relief from soreness or skin irritation within minutes because the CBD only has to penetrate the skin. No other process is involved. Although with quick relief comes a shorter duration of effect, topical effects typically last 3-4 hours.


One bonus about topicals is that they will not show up on a drug test. Most people are aware that some CBD products contain slight amounts of THC and even though CBD doesn’t get you high some applications can contain enough THC to test positive for a drug test. However, there is no need to worry about this with topicals because it never enters the bloodstream so it can’t show up on a blood or urine test. 


Topically applying CBD can help maintain homeostasis––which the skin relies on for proper skin cell function.


Inhaling CBD Absorption Process

If you are looking for instant relief, you want a CBD product you can inhale. Once you inhale CBD it enters the lungs and instantly absorbs directly into the bloodstream. As with the other products, once the CBD is in the bloodstream, it interacts with the ECS to provide effects.


In general, whether you inhale CBD vapors, smoke CBD flower, or use a CBD inhaler, the effects should begin within seconds. And you can expect it to last 2 to 3 hours. As with any other legal CBD product from hemp, inhaling CBD will not get you high but it will make you feel better. Find CBD joints for sale here!



Are There Any Other Ways to Take CBD? 

We’ve already discussed the basic methods of using CBD and how the body absorbs it. Still, if you’re feeling a bit more daring, there are more creative ways the body can absorb CBD. Here are some unique or unusual CBD products on the market:


  • Candles
  • Toothpaste
  • Love Potions
  • Hand Sanitizer
  • Infused Bed Sheets
  • Personal Lubricant
  • Suppositories
  • Infused Workout Clothes
  • Nasal Spray


By now, the question ‘how does the body absorb CBD?’ should have hopefully been answered. CBD can reach your ECS through many routes, each with its pros and cons (bust mostly pros). Ultimately, it’s up to you to find out which method you like best. Learn about CBD here.