A growing number of people in the UK are starting to use CBD oil, and the trend doesn’t appear to show any sign of slowing down.
According to the Cannabis Trades Association UK, more than 250,000 UK consumers bought a product containing CBD in 2018. This is roughly double the number that used CBD in 2017, with the total amount of regular CBD users expected to rise again in 2019 and 2020.
Although most people associate CBD with oil tinctures, CBD comes in a wide variety of different forms. Today, UK consumers can purchase CBD in capsule form, as e-liquid, as topical lotion or even as a tasty set of honey sticks or edible gummies.
All of these products contain CBD, although not all are equally effective. Below, we’ve looked at the various ways to take CBD oil and provided data on which method is the best for absorption, convenience and more.
CBD Tinctures/Oral Drops
When most people hear “CBD oil”, they think of oil tinctures that contain CBD. Tinctures are the most common CBD product in the UK, widely available online and from a variety of retailers that specialise in CBD.
Oil tinctures are designed for use under your tongue. To use this form of CBD oil, all you need to do is work out the dosage you want (as measured in drops), then let it fall from the dropper onto the soft tissue below your tongue.
The biggest advantage of tincture-based CBD is its convenience factor. Instead of having to use a vaporiser or apply a lotion to your body, you can quickly apply a dose of CBD to your tongue if and when you feel like it. CBD oil tinctures also offer several other benefits:
- They’re inexpensive. Many CBD oral drops are available for £20 or less, with a single bottle offering up to 20 servings.
- They’re easy to use. Instead of having to learn how to use a vaporiser, you can simply drop your preferred dose of CBD oil into your mouth without any extra equipment.
- They start working fairly quickly. Sublingual medications (medications designed for use under the tongue) tend to reach the bloodstream rapidly. In one study, researchers found that most sublingual drugs reach peak concentration within 10 to 15 minutes.
- They’re very efficient. As well as being fast to act, sublingual medications are highly efficient. Compared to CBD capsules and edibles, which pass through your digestive tract before reaching your bloodstream, almost none of the CBD in oral drops is lost.
- They’re available in a range of flavors. Like other forms of CBD oil, tinctures come in numerous flavours. From blueberry to lemon lime, this allows you to pick a flavour that matches your tastes and doesn’t feel unpleasant in the mouth.
- They’re available in a range of dosages. Because CBD tinctures are so popular, most manufacturers offer them in a variety of concentrations. This makes it easy to tailor your tincture usage to your needs and preferences.
Despite these advantages, CBD oil tinctures also have a few disadvantages that are important to keep in mind. For example:
- While they’re fast, they’re not the fastest-acting form of CBD. Although CBD drops usually reach the bloodstream in 10 to 15 minutes, they’re still significantly slower than vaporised CBD. This can be an issue if you want the effects of CBD immediately.
- Using them in public can be inconvenient. Many people are hesitant to use tinctures containing CBD in public, which is understandable as this isn’t a particularly subtle way to consume CBD.
- Not everyone likes the taste and feel of CBD tinctures. Understandably, many people simply don’t like the taste of sublingual CBD. If this sounds like you, you’ll likely prefer an alternative form of CBD such as the options we’ve listed below.
Overall, tinctures are a great way to get started with CBD. They offer numerous benefits, one of which is relatively fast absorption. They’re also quite affordable. However, they also have a few downsides that could put some users off.
CBD E-Liquid (Vaporised CBD)
CBD e-liquids, or vape oils, are designed for use with a vaporiser. They typically contain CBD in addition to ingredients such as propylene glycol and/or vegetable glycerin. Many CBD e-liquids also contain artificial flavourings designed to give them a specific taste.
If you’ve used a vaporiser before, you’ll know what e-liquids are. CBD e-liquids are similar to the nicotine-based vape juice that’s used by millions of people worldwide, only they contain CBD as their key active ingredient instead of nicotine.
Consuming CBD in vapour form offers several advantages, as well as a few disadvantages that are worth keeping in mind. Advantages of CBD e-liquids include:
- They’re extremely fast acting. Because the CBD in vape e-liquid is absorbed through the lungs, it reaches your bloodstream faster than any other form of CBD. Studies show that compounds inhaled via the lungs are absorbed in as little as one to two minutes.
This means you’ll notice the effects of vaporised CBD faster than an oral drop or other type of CBD product. As such, CBD e-liquids are great for use before bed, or at times when you want to experience the effects of CBD without delay.
- If you already vape, they’re easy to use. If you’re already used to using a vaporiser for regular e-liquids, you’ll find it easy to switch to CBD. There are even CBD vape additives that you can add to your favourite flavoured e-liquids for a smoother, easier transition.
- They’re very affordable. Many CBD e-liquids are available for £20 per bottle, with some products even priced at less than £10. Overall, e-liquid is one of the most affordable and value-focused ways to consume CBD.
- They’re available in a range of flavours. Like CBD tinctures, CBD e-liquids come in a huge variety of flavours, making it easy to choose an option that matches your favourite tastes.
- They’re available in a range of dosages. Also like CBD tinctures, many CBD e-liquids come in a variety of concentrations. Mild CBD e-liquids can start from just 30mg of CBD per bottle, while bottles of stronger e-liquids can contain up to 1,000mg of CBD.
Just like other forms of CBD, e-liquids that contain CBD also have their own disadvantages. For example:
- You’ll need a vaporiser to use them. If you don’t have a vaporiser, or you simply don’t like vaping, this probably isn’t the best form of CBD for you.
- You can’t use them everywhere. Unfortunately, vaping is restricted in public spaces in many parts of the UK. For example, if you’re in a train station, on certain forms of public transport or in a space where vaping is restricted, you won’t be able to vape CBD.
Overall, vaping CBD e-liquid is a great choice if you already know how to use a vaporiser, or if you want a form of CBD that’s extremely fast acting. However, as you can’t vape everywhere, you might also want to carry an alternative form of CBD for use in public.
CBD Capsules and CBD Other Edibles
CBD capsules are, as you’d expect, soft capsules that contain powdered CBD. They’re perfect for use while you’re out and about, as there’s no need for you to use a vaporiser or drop a CBD tincture under your tongue.
Like other forms of CBD, capsules have their own range of advantages and disadvantages. The main advantages of capsules include:
- They’re extremely easy to use. Compared to consuming CBD with a vaporiser or using an oil-based tincture, CBD capsules are very easy to use. Just like any other supplement or medicine that comes in capsule form, you can swallow them with a glass of water.
- They don’t taste of anything. If you don’t like the taste of CBD oil tinctures or the flavor of e-liquid, capsules are a great alternative. Since you can swallow them with water, you won’t taste anything as you consume your dose of CBD.
- It’s easy to adjust your dosage. CBD capsules usually contain a relatively low dose of CBD, allowing you to easily adjust your dosage by adding or removing one capsule from your regular amount.
- You can use them anywhere. Unlike vaping, which is banned on public transport and in many public areas, or using an oil tincture, which is inconvenient, it’s easy to take a CBD in any location.
Just like with CBD oil tinctures and e-liquids, capsules containing CBD also come with a variety of disadvantages. For example:
- They’re very slow acting. Compared to CBD tinctures and e-liquids, both of which are absorbed quickly by your body, CBD capsules are extremely slow to make their way into your bloodstream.
This is because oral CBD needs to pass through your stomach and liver before it makes its way into your bloodstream. If you use a CBD capsule on a full stomach, it could take as long as one hour before you begin to notice its effects.
- The bioavailability is quite low. The bioavailability — that is, the total amount of CBD that reaches your bloodstream — is relatively low with CBD capsules and other forms of oral CBD.
For example, one study of oral CBD found that only 13 to 19% of the CBD consumed in oral form actually reaches the bloodstream. In contrast, CBD consumes as oil tincture or vapour reaches the bloodstream at a much greater concentration.
Overall, CBD capsules are ideal from a convenience standpoint. They’re also a good choice if you don’t like the taste of CBD tinctures or vapour. However, they’re also slow acting and don’t deliver the same concentrated amount of CBD as oil tinctures or CBD e-liquids.
This is also the case for other forms of edible CBD, such as honey sticks, multi-vitamins, teas and multivitamin supplements.
CBD Skincare Products (Topical CBD)
CBD skincare products, or topical CBD products, are designed to allow you to absorb CBD via the skin. This is an ideal option if you don’t like the taste of CBD tinctures or e-liquids, or if you don’t like swallowing capsules throughout the day. Advantages of topical CBD include:
- It’s easy to use. Just like taking a capsule, it’s extremely easy to apply a CBD balm or lotion to your skin. Most CBD skincare products have a pleasant scent, meaning there isn’t any unpleasant, medicine-like odour for you to worry about after use.
- It may have additional benefits. In addition to CBD’s benefits for anxiety, stress and chronic pain, it may also be useful for treating acne. Many CBD skincare products are also formulated using ingredients that can hydrate the skin and prevent aging.
- A large variety of products are available. Beyond the usual lotions and balms, you can also purchase CBD bath additives and other relaxation products, all of which can make using CBD easier and more pleasant than ever before.
Like with other forms of CBD, there are also some disadvantages to topical CBD products. For example:
- Bioavailability and absorption speed can vary. Like with oral CBD, topical CBD isn’t the best option if you want to absorb as much CBD as possible. Absorption rates aren’t very good and it could take a long time for the CBD to reach peak concentration.
- Using these products can be inconvenient. If you’re not used to using skincare balms and other topical products, getting used to rubbing a CBD ointment, gel or balm into your skin can feel a little unnatural and inconvenient.
- Some topical CBD products can transfer to others. Like with other topical medicines, it’s possible for topical CBD products to transfer to your partner and/or children through skin contact. For this reason, it’s important to be careful when applying topical CBD.
Overall, CBD skincare products are a good choice if you don’t like the taste of tinctures, or if you don’t like using a vaporiser to consume e-liquid. However, these products tend to have the same downsides as CBD capsules and other oral CBD products, in addition to a few of their own.
Which Form of CBD Oil is Best?
Ultimately, there’s no best way for everyone to consume CBD. Instead, it’s best to select a form of CBD that aligns with your tastes and preferences:
- If you want a fast-acting form of CBD, you’ll generally prefer using CBD tinctures or CBD e-liquids. Both of these deliver fast-acting CBD with little to no loss during the absorption process.
- If you don’t like the idea of consuming vapour or using a tincture, you might prefer CBD capsules. These offer the effects of CBD in a convenient form that you can consume in any location, albeit with slow absorption and limited efficiency.
- If you want a relaxing, convenient form of CBD that you can use before bed, you might enjoy CBD balms and skincare products. However, it’s important to be careful with this form of CBD, as it’s easy to accidentally transfer it to other people through contact.
Ready to get started with CBD? We stock a diverse range of CBD products in our shop, all with free UK delivery for orders of £25 or more. You can also contact us to learn more about the best CBD products for your needs.