Choosing a CBD Product

There are many viable ways to use CBD - here we break down the unique properties of each.

Product Formats

CBD can be infused into a variety of solutions, and each has its own unique bioavailability, time-to-onset, and duration dependant on the way it is consumed.

Bioavailability

Bioavailability refers to the amount of a substance that effectively enters the bloodstream once consumed. In other words, bioavailability is the term used to describe the potential of your body to absorb nutrients or other supplements.

Time-to-onset

Time-to-onset refers to the duration of time it takes for a substance’s effects to start taking place after consumption.

Effect DurationThe duration of action is the length of time that particular substances retain their observable effects.

Tinctures

Tinctures are made by dissolving a concentrated CBD whole-plant extract, or isolate, into a food-grade oil, sometimes with added flavors or functional ingredients. Tinctures are applied sublingually (under the tongue) using a dropper. Oral ingestion is necessary for high concentrations of the extract to enter the bloodstream quickly . Tinctures are ideal for people who want a relatively rapid onset and high bioavailability.

Bioavailability: 20-35%
Time-to-onset: 5-20 minutes
Effect Duration: 2-4 hours
Dosage: Personal Preference

Ingestibles

Ingestibles consist of any product infused with CBD that is ingested and then digested. This could include infused candy, chocolate, snack foods, pantry items, and beverages. This category extends to pills and capsules as well. Ingestibles typically have lower bioavailability, longer time-to-onset, and an extended duration. This is because Ingestibles incrementally break down as they travel through the entirety of the digestive system.

Bioavailability: 3-19%
Time-to-onset: 30-90 minutes
Effect Duration: 4-6 hours
Dosage: Pre-dosed

Topicals

Topicals are lotions, salves, balms, creams or serums infused with CBD. These are absorbed by the skin but don’t enter the bloodstream. Topicals are best for isolated relief of pain or inflammation, applied directly to the affected area of the body.

Bioavailability: N/A
Time-to-onset: N/A
Effect Duration: N/A
Dosage: Personal Preference

Transdermals

Transdermals are an advanced form of patch applications that transmits CBD directly through the skin and into the bloodstream over a sustained period of time. They are applied to a venous area, such the inner arm or ankle. High quality transdermal patches will release a controlled amount of CBD incrementally over time, delivering up to 100% of the dosage into the bloodstream.

Bioavailability: 80-100%
Time-to-onset: 20-60 minutes
Effect Duration: 8-12 hours
Dosage: Pre-dosed

Inhalables

Inhalable CBD exists primarily in the form of vaporizers. These vaporizers are available as either disposable or cartridge-based products. CBD distillate, or concentrate, is heated up and inhaled through a vaporizer device, and offers the fastest time-to-onset with high bioavailability. Vaporizers require consuming the CBD through the respiratory tract, however, and the long-term effects of this form of exposure remains relatively under-researched.

Bioavailability: 40-60%
Time-to-onset: Instant
Effect Duration: 45-90 min
Dosage: Personal Preference

Full Spectrum vs. Broad Spectrum vs. Isolate

CBD products can be infused with either a whole plant extract or a purified isolate. Every variety of CBD has its own unique properties.

Full Spectrum

A whole plant extract that captures the full cannabinoid, terpene, flavonoid, and lipid profile of the plant (including trace amounts of THC).

Broad Spectrum

An extract that captures the majority of the profile of the plant, all except for isolated chemicals that are intentionally removed, like THC.

Isolate

Purified CBD that is processed in a way that allows removal of all residual parts of the plant such as other cannabinoids, oils, plant materials, waxes and nutrients. This is also referred to as lab-synthesized CBD.

Which is best?

It depends on the needs of the consumer. Isolate and Broad Spectrum extracts have the benefit of being entirely THC-free, for those who want to completely avoid the psychoactive elements of hemp or cannabis. Isolates offer highly standardized potencies, and also have no taste or smell, whereas whole plant extracts have a distinctive hemp flavor.

Recent research suggests that Full Spectrum CBD extract provides more effective relief than isolates. When administered to mice to relieve pain and inflammation, isolates produce a bell-shaped dose-response curve, meaning too high or too little a dose produced no perceivable effect. When the Full Spectrum extract was administered, there was a dose-dependent response, meaning that pain and inflammation relief increased proportionally with the dose. It is also worth noting that a much lower dose of full spectrum extract was needed in order to provide the same level of relief as isolates. These findings suggest that the other cannabinoids, terpenes, and flavonoids are complementary to the CBD when presented in full-spectrum or broad-spectrum extracts, and they potentially provide more benefit than isolated CBD alone.