How to Use CBD Oil – A Complete Guide in 2019

Everybody and their mother are talking about CBD oil. It can be found in so many products now, ranging from the classic CBD oil tinctures to the out of the box CBD oil deodorant. With the crazy variety of CBD oil forms, do you know how to use CBD oil?

What is CBD Oil?

Before getting into the specifics on how to use CBD oil, let’s do a brief overview of what it is. CBD stands for cannabidiol, which is a type of cannabinoid. CBD oil is an extract from the Cannabis plant that is thought to have many health benefits. The main one is pain relief to assist with fighting chronic pain.

Cannabis plants include either industrial hemp plants or medical marijuana plants. With the passing of the 2018 Farm Bill in the United States, many producers are turning to industrial hemp plants for their source of CBD oil.

CBD should not be confused with tetrahydrocannabinol (THC). It does not share the psychoactive properties that THC does, and therefore many consider it to be the safer option. Of note, full spectrum CBD products do contain trace amounts of THC, but these are less than the federally required limit. THC levels under this limit should not have any effects. Full spectrum products contain most of the cannabinoids from the Cannabis plants, including CBD. Many CBD lovers prefer to use full spectrum products because all the cannabinoids work together to enhance each other – leading to a stronger effect overall.

Side effects of CBD oil are pretty mild. The main side effects are nausea (aka changes in appetite), tiredness or drowsiness, and stomach upset (such as diarrhea). However, many CBD customers do not experience any side effects when using their products. If you do experience these side effects, they can easily be managed by adjusting your dose down a little if the side effects get to be too much for you to handle.

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How Does CBD Oil Work?

CBD oil works through stimulating the body’s natural endocannabinoid system. It is thought to help create balance in the body, known as homeostasis. However, more research is showing that it works through other receptors outside this system as well, such as serotonin receptors in the brain.

It is also important to note that although CBD is extremely popular, and everyone seems to have a use for it – the research is seriously lacking. There are not enough clinical trials with long term data to support all the proposed effects of CBD. There is also no real evidence for the proper dosage of CBD, especially since dosage can vary based on so many factors including age, weight, kidney and liver function, genetics, other medications you are taking, what you are using the CBD oil for, and so on.

Therefore, any claims about treating health issues that you read about CBD oil should not take the place of medical advice you receive from healthcare providers. Please consult with a healthcare provider before starting any CBD products, especially since it can have interactions with medications you might be taking.

What Are the Uses of CBD Oil?

As mentioned before, one of the main uses of CBD oil is to help with pain relief and fight against inflammation. Many also use it to help improve mood, such as assisting with decreasing anxiety and depression.

However, there are other uses as well. Some use it for skin disorders such as psoriasis or acne, while others use it for sleep disorders such as insomnia. It also has been reported to help boost the immune system as well and may have additional antibacterial and antifungal properties.

As you can see, the proposed uses of CBD oil vary greatly and have given many hope for the versatility of this cannabinoid.

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What Kinds of CBD Oil Are There?

As mentioned above, CBD can come in a variety of forms. This includes tinctures, gel capsules, topical products such as creams, vaping products, gummies, beauty products, and even in drinks such as CBD water or CBD seltzer.

The actual amount of CBD varies from product to product and brand to brand. In general, the forms with the highest concentrations include tinctures and vaping products because they have a higher bioavailability than the other products. Bioavailability is the term for the amount of product that gets to your blood circulation to produce an effect on your body.

The most popular CBD oil product is tinctures.

What Are CBD Oil Tinctures?

Most tinctures are usually a great way to take different complementary and alternative medications (aka CAM) because of their ability to easily dissolve a good majority of active chemicals into an oil carrier. These carrier oils can range from coconut oil, olive oil, grape seed oil, and even hemp seed oil.

The carrier oils that companies use vary depending on which oil they find to be the most appropriate choice. However, the variance between the carrier oils usually do not affect how to use CBD oil. If companies are looking to try CBD isolates or finding a cost-effective way to create tinctures, then they may give olive oil a try as a carrier oil. Olive oil has a mild taste, a low cost, and also has a high potential for absorption. However, coconut oil is also a good option. Generally, people like the taste of coconut oil and it may help balance out the natural taste of the CBD oil. It also contains medium chain triglycerides (aka MCT), which are thought to help with absorption and offer additional health benefits on their own.

Another option of hemp seed oil also has its own health benefits as well. It depends on how the company labels their products, but hemp seed oil generally only comes from the seed of the hemp plant whereas hemp oil comes from the whole plant and contains the additional cannabinoids that hemp seed oil lacks. Depending on which one they use, you may get the entourage effect benefit of the additional cannabinoids. This may be a more expensive option for carrier oil of CBD oil tinctures, but it allows them to get a full spectrum product – which many consumers are looking for. Regardless of the carrier that is chosen, many tinctures will contain oils because they are easier to dissolve CBD than water-based carriers such as vinegar or ethanol.

How Much CBD Actually Gets Absorbed?

It depends on the experience of the CBD customer, but the variability of CBD oil products can either be appealing or just plain confusing. Especially with the wide availability of oral options such as gel capsules and edibles to topical products such as creams, it is easy to feel overcome. When deciding how to use CBD oil and which form to choose, how much of it actually gets absorbed can be a big factor in the decision.


Tinctures have a big difference in terms of absorption when comparing them to oral and topical CBD forms. The best advice for how to use CBD oil tinctures is to take it sublingually (aka under the tongue). This means that you place the drops under your tongue, let the CBD absorb (usually around 30 seconds), and then swallow. A lot of medications and supplements use this dosage form for absorption whenever their active ingredient is able to absorb through the tissue under the tongue. CBD is already naturally able to be absorbed there and can reach the blood vessels under the tongue.

Usually, CBD tinctures have a wide variety of concentrations available and can range anywhere from as little as 10 mg/mL up to 150 mg/mL – and sometimes even higher! When you place whichever amount of CBD under your tongue, usually around 20 to 30% is absorbed. This is higher than many of the other forms of CBD. After you swallow it, then around 10 to 20% of the remainder of CBD is absorbed through the digestive tract. Therefore, if you take 30 mg under your tongue, you can absorb 6 to 9 mg first, and then 3 to 4 mg through swallowing it. Making the total, 9 to 13 mg of CBD absorbed.

Oral Products

Generally speaking, the oral options have a lower absorption because CBD (and the other cannabinoids) have a low bioavailability when absorbing through the digestive tract. Bioavailability is the amount of drug or chemical that actually gets into the blood to act on the body. Even then, when CBD is absorbed, the liver quickly breaks down a good majority of the CBD. This means that each dose you take orally may only actually have 10 to 20% of it absorbed into the body. For example, if you take a capsule that has 30 mg of CBD, you might actually only be getting 3 to 6 mg of CBD that acts on your body.

Topical Products

On the other hand, topical products are also an attractive option for those looking to use CBD oil for skin conditions or help with pain relief on a certain part of their body – such as the joints. However, these products have an even lower bioavailability than the oral products. The products that are oil-based, such as ointments and salves usually penetrate the outer layers of the skin, whereas the water-based products such as creams and lotions, can penetrate into deeper layers of the skin where the blood vessels are located. This means that in order to get larger amounts of CBD absorbed into the body through topical products, you would have to place a larger amount of CBD cream over a large area of the body. Additionally, absorbing CBD through this topical method would allow the CBD to not get broken down through the liver, which would be an advantage when comparing them to oral CBD products. Although, this would not make sense to do because it would just a waste of time and money when you could just take an oral product or a tincture. For example, usually, you can only absorb about 5 to 10% of a product through your skin. Therefore, if you put on a topical product that contain 20 mg of CBD and applied it to your entire body, you would likely only actually absorb around 1 to 2 mg of CBD. Whereas with an oral product of the same dose, you would get twice that amount absorbed (and use less product). These products should likely be used to deliver CBD at the site of pain and not much more than that.

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Why Are CBD Oil Tinctures So Popular?

Just because you have a CBD oil tincture and use it sublingually, does not mean this is the only way you can use these tinctures.

The most popular alternative method for using tinctures is through cooking. Generally, people try to make various edible CBD products from the tinctures to enhance certain foods. Similar to how people use marijuana in edible items through cooking or baking, the oil from tinctures can be suitable as long as they keep in mind certain conditions such as using a low temperature (since heat can affect the effectiveness of CBD oil).  The tinctures can also be used to put in drinks. Many people are jumping on this bandwagon and even mixing them with other healthy items such as antioxidants and probiotics. However, the FDA has warned people against this edible CBD trend and said doing so is illegal. Although, many companies are choosing to ignore this statement.

The oil from tinctures can also be applied topically to the skin to help with a variety of skin conditions. Although the traditional topical products last longer on the skin, there can still be absorption of CBD tinctures through the skin since they have higher concentrations than topical products. Especially when you are dealing with skin that is inflamed (such as psoriasis or eczema), the oil can help provide relief to the stiffness and dryness of the skin. Oils can also spread easier into the pores and cracks of the skin to help decrease any issues present in the surface layers of the skin.

An additional option for how to use CBD oil is thinking of different applications through how other oil-based products are used. For example, since most grooming products, skin care products, and other kinds of self-care products are oil based, why not try CBD oil for these uses as well? As long as the intended use is avoiding sensitive areas of the body such as eyes and ears, these types of products can be made to help with a whole slew of desires. CBD oil tinctures can be utilized to assist in making innovative and fascinating new CBD products for all to discover.

Words of Advice When Using Tinctures

Even though tinctures are the more popular CBD oil product, you should be mindful of the tinctures you are choosing to ensure it is the right one for you.

CBD tinctures range in dose, as mentioned above, depending on the concentration and how you apply it. You should always be aware of what dose you are taking. With lower concentrations, you need more carrier oil to obtain your desired dose. With higher concentrations, you need to be sure that you do not pull out too high of a dose, since you will need less carrier oil to obtain your desired dose.

Being aware of the carrier oil is also important for administering the tincture. The thicker oils such as hemp oil or olive oil might require you to shake it a bit more to get a consistent dose, than the more liquid oils such as coconut oil. All of these considerations should be kept in mind when deciding which product is right for you.

Tinctures also have more of the natural taste of hemp plants than the other dosage forms. Particularly when you take the ones that are higher concentrations, you may have more of the “skunk” taste than if you were taking a lower concentration. Those who are new to CBD may not like this taste, and it may put them off to using CBD tinctures at all. So, if you are wanting to use tinctures in food or drinks you should keep this in mind and maybe try out lower concentrations over the higher concentrations due to the taste. Also, some companies may add in additional terpenes or flavors to help address the natural taste, but this will likely reduce the overall concentration of CBD.

Basically, you should consider all of these things before buying your CBD product to help you find the best product for your needs.

Closing Thoughts

As you can see, there is a wide spectrum of CBD products that are available and because of this, it can be kind of unclear on how to use CBD oil.

Tinctures are the most popular CBD item to buy. They are an effective way of obtaining the extensive variation of health benefits of CBD, especially with their different options and concentrations. CBD capsules may be a good way to introduce yourself to CBD products, but they will not give the same dosage absorbed as a tincture would. Topical products are great for skin conditions and focused pain areas, but also do not provide as much of a dose as a tincture would.

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