6 Popular Ways To Consume CBD + The Pros & Cons Of Each
With so many versions of the compound now available, it can be fun to play around with new ones from time to time. But it's important to remember that even though this plant medicine is non-intoxicating, it's still a medicine and should be consumed slowly, cautiously, and with the blessing of your doctor. It's also worth noting that every form of CBD has its pros and cons, and some tend to be more effective than others. So for the sake of your stress relief—and your wallet—here are a few things to know about each.
When consuming a CBD capsule product, you'll have a better idea of how much of the compound you're actually taking.
Compared to oils or vapes, capsules are less of a guessing game. This is why doctors will oftentimes recommend starting with capsules to find your ideal dose. "If I'm going to use a product, I want my patient to get exactly the same amount every single day," functional medicine doctor Robert Rountree, M.D., explained on the mbg podcast. "I like the stability of the capsules. And I like the consistency of the capsules."
When creating our own hemp product, mbg landed on capsules for this reason. They deliver a controlled amount of cannabinoids (our hemp multi+ is full-spectrum, meaning it contains CBD and other beneficial hemp plant compounds) and deliver a relatively similar experience each time.* And for more product recommendations, check out our cbd capsule roundup.
When you consume a CBD capsule, it needs to pass through the digestive tract before making its way into the bloodstream. Along the way, it loses some of its potency. This means you might need to take a higher dose of it at the start in order to feel its full effects.
"When you take CBD by mouth, only about 6% gets into the bloodstream—so it's low," says Dani Gordon, M.D., a double board-certified medical doctor and author of The CBD Bible. "It still works for many people, but it is low, and because of that, you often need larger doses than something that's absorbed more easily."
It can be difficult to gauge dose when consuming an oil out of a dropper. Bonni Goldstein, M.D., a California-based physician and author of the upcoming book Cannabis Is Medicine, has also found that taking CBD in oil form can lead to digestive side effects like gastric upset or diarrhea, depending on the person and the product.
Like oils, vape pens deliver CBD to the bloodstream faster so you can feel its effects almost immediately.
There's a lot we don't know about the long-term health effects of vaping, as shown by recent investigations into e-cigarettes and lung health. Those with preexisting lung conditions should definitely not vape, and the rest of us might want to hold off until we know more about it—especially in the age of COVID-19. Plus, integrative medicine doctor Amy Shah, M.D., previously told mbg, "The cartridges used in vape pens may contain chemicals such as polyethylene glycol and propylene glycol, which can be irritants and may cause allergic reactions when inhaled."
Topicals don't go deep enough in the body to enter the bloodstream, so they won't have the same benefits on mood as an oral CBD product.
They're gummies! Need I say more?
"When you're buying a gummy, you just don't know what's in it," says Rountree, who recommends getting your sugar fix elsewhere. If you are going the gummy route, at least make sure the product you're taking has been third-party tested for pesticides, heavy metals, mold, and volumes of THC higher than 0.3%.
These days, you can find a wide array of yummy CBD-infused drinks, and adding the compound to your morning, afternoon, or evening beverage can make for a nice ritual.
Like with capsules, the CBD in beverages needs to pass through the digestive system before it can get to work. Many drinks also contain very low doses of CBD so by the time the compound makes it to the bloodstream, there may not be enough of it left to have any kind of effect.
Emma Loewe is the Sustainability and Health Director at mindbodygreen and the author of Return to Nature: The New Science of How Natural Landscapes Restore Us. She is also the co-author of The Spirit Almanac: A Modern Guide To Ancient Self Care, which she wrote alongside Lindsay Kellner.
Emma received her B.A. in Environmental Science & Policy with a specialty in environmental communications from Duke University. In addition to penning over 1,000 mbg articles on topics from the water crisis in California to the rise of urban beekeeping, her work has appeared on Grist, Bloomberg News, Bustle, and Forbes. She's spoken about the intersection of self-care and sustainability on podcasts and live events alongside environmental thought leaders like Marci Zaroff, Gay Browne, and Summer Rayne Oakes.