Dosing CBD for Health & Wellness
How can we best get these CBD compounds into the body???
In our previous articles, we covered the Endocannabinoid System and how it operates (Read Here) and that THC & CBD are phytocannabinoids from the cannabis sativa plant that interact with their system (Read Here), let’s break down how to get these plant molecules into the body. There’s no ‘right way’ to dose, as different routes of administration introduce CBD and cannabinoids into the body in different ways, and each has its rightful place and time.
There are four main ways to take cannabis compounds into the body: sublingually (swish & hold), transdermal absorption (through the skin), inhalation (vape/smoke), and oral ingestion (swallow). People can mix and match each of these modes because our body has many needs and each route delivers different effects, and levels of absorption. Keep the receptors fresh by rotating through a bit of everything rather than relying on all one route.
Sublingual: Sublingual literally means ‘under the tongue’. Onset of a tincture can be felt within 5-15 minutes, and duration of effects can be felt for 2-6 hours, depending on metabolism and serving size. This route has become very popular for CBD and is probably the best way to get cannabinoids into the bloodstream with the highest bioavailability. The lining of the mouth is very porous, so by holding liquid CBD oil under the tongue, or between the cheek and gums, the CBD will be absorbed right into the bloodstream without digestion. The best technique is to swish the oil around to coat as much surface area as possible, and then hold it in the mouth for 30-60 seconds. I’ll often tell a client to use some imagery and picture these molecules healing their body for a bit of a mind-body connection.
Tinctures contain concentrated or extracted CBD oil that is suspended with a carrier oil, usually MCT oil, grape seed, or hemp seed oil. Potency is calculated by the number of milligrams (mg) in each milliliter (ml) of fluid. For example; 1,200 mgs of CBD in 30 mls of oil means there is 40 mgs/ml. If you want to take 40 mgs per day, you might want to split that up into 2 divided doses of .5 ml or 20 mgs twice a day. Most of my clients take 2-4 doses per day to fine-tune their endocannabinoid system, spaced about 6-8 hours apart. For most people CBD is relaxing, but it is biphasic. Small doses might be energizing, while larger doses might be tiring. If you find it energizes you, take your doses in the morning and afternoon, and if it sedates you then switch to afternoon and evening, or take more milligrams at night for a good slumber. Experimenting with various times during the day and recording the results in a log is a good way to find the ideal balance for you.
Interactions with other pharmaceuticals can occur as doses or frequencies are increased, so track your dosing. Other RX effects can be made stronger (potentiated) or weaker (inhibited) by CBD. If you’re taking drugs that require blood levels, you will need to monitor those more closely. The key takeaway is that it is wise to talk to the physician prescribing any pharmaceutical about possible interactions with CBD. I recommend starting with 20-40 mgs per day as a good starting point for high-quality CBD oil and increasing 5-10 mgs per week up to 100 mgs per day. Stop increasing when you reach effective levels of symptom reduction and don’t have any side effects. If you’re tired, take less CBD.
Oral Ingestion: Oral consumption means to eat gummies, edibles, or take capsules. CBD Capsules would have a slower onset but will have a longer duration, lasting longer than any other route. Ingesting CBD through foods, chocolates, or edibles is a popular and pleasurable way to medicate. Onset may take 30-60 minutes to notice and will depend on the amount consumed and the amount of other substances in the stomach. Onset occurs faster on an empty stomach, but you’ll want to eat a snack to provide better bioavailability of these compounds into the bloodstream. Cannabinoids are lipophilic, which means fat-loving. Combining healthy fats with cannabis products is the best way to fully activate them. Consumed orally, CBD can have a duration of 4-8 hours.
Drug interactions occur more with oral ingestion because everything goes through the liver, and the digestive process breaks it down to metabolize into the ingredients. Consuming 25-100 mgs of CBD daily is generally safe, but always discuss it with your prescriber. Spacing CBD and cannabis products with other pharmaceutical doses by 1-2 hours helps ensure clearance of each on its own without interference. THC edibles carry a stern warning to ‘start low and go slow’. Doses over 5 mgs can trigger side effects such as anxiety, disorientation, or sedation, and really need to be considered prior to use. CBD edibles are a more predictable choice for well-rounded benefits that won’t surprise you.
Topical: Applying a balm, salve, or cream is a very popular way to use cannabinoids, and CBD works powerfully at the skin level. Onset is quick and most people feel results within 15 minutes with a duration of several hours. You have both CB1 and CB2 receptors in your skin, and a good topical or roll-on gel is ideal to treat localized pain, soreness, stiffness, swelling, inflammation, or skin conditions. Many people with aches and pains find that applying a topical several times a day can reduce swelling and improve circulation and mobility. A good topical can be ideal to use after a workout or to rub on during a massage to ease stiffness and promote wellbeing. Cannabinoids penetrate into the skin at the dermis to quiet pain and soothe skin conditions in a localized way, not penetrating the bloodstream. CBD absorbs better THC topicals as the molecules are smaller and penetrate better.
Topicals can also work on skin issues, with many of my clients using them to reduce psoriasis, itching, eczema, and to speed up healing on superficial burns, scrapes, and cuts. CBD and THC are anti-fungal and antibacterial, so they may be ideal to help heal from tumbles and road rash. Cannabinoids may help limit bacteria on the skin and be protective to the immune system as a good skin barrier to bugs.
Inhalation: The most common way people consume cannabis products (generally THC) is through inhalation. Onset is rapid, with most people feeling effects after a puff or two in just a few minutes. Duration is relatively short, averaging 1-3 hours. If you puff on a CBD vape, you will feel relaxed, but not ‘high’ like you would if you used THC. As a nurse, my preference for clients is to vape instead of smoke, as it limits exposure to carcinogens and toxins. Make sure any CBD cartridges are tested for potency, purity, contaminants, and that there are no fillers such as propylene glycol or Vit E Acetate. The vape crisis exposed bad actors, but licensed producers should be tested and safe.
Once drawn into the lungs, the bloodstream carries CBD all over the body, activating the many physiologies that help balance and replenish you. The frequency of use will differ from person to person, and day by day. Wellness clients might take a puff prior to exercising so they can push through their fitness with better focus and less pain, while some choose to wait till after their workout to promote faster recovery. Some of my clients can treat their symptoms by vaping CBD throughout the day to provide immediate relief of pain, anxiety, or even tremors. Inhalation provides an average of 1-2 mgs of cannabinoids per puff.
1 + 1 + 1 = 11! The entourage effect happens with well-made full and broad (THC Free) spectrum oils, where the sum of the parts is greater than the added-up individual components. It’s the opposite approach to using an isolate! This applies to products too. Taking a daily tincture for overall wellness or symptom reduction is complemented by using a topical for the localized issues. Capsules twice a day add the consistency needed to lower inflammation internally, and using topicals for painful areas after your shower or before bed is ideal externally. Addressing both inside + outside gives you a better chance at maximum efficacy and results.
Commitment is needed. As you consume these different CBD products with specific outcomes in mind for your healing, remember to stay patient. It might take several weeks to notice significant symptom reduction, and CBD and cannabinoids are subtle in their healing properties. And you might not notice that you’re less stiff or less anxious until you stop taking it. That’s when you realize how much it was helping, and you’ll want to resume and stay positive in your expectations. Consuming CBD can promote your health and well-being and mixing up modes of administration will maximize results.
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