How to Use CBD: A Comprehensive Guide
CBD is now hugely popular in Australia and is already being used widely for its health-improving benefits. Its applications range from helping with day-to-day mood and energy to helping with conditions like arthritis, anxiety, inflammation and even sleep quality. Whether you’re an experienced user or new to CBD, it’s worth understanding how to use it effectively to get the most from it. There are several factors to consider. For example, do you know how much CBD to take, how often to take it and guidelines for usage? This comprehensive guide will provide you with all the information you need to effectively use it. We’ll cover CBD products and strength, planning dosages and frequency of use, methods for taking it, knowing how to store your product and understanding important safety precautions. It can be overwhelming to start with the product because of the range of choices available in product types, usage approaches and reasons for using it. But we’ll help you clear up the ambiguity and confusion to get a clear picture of how to use CBD in the best way for your personal health goals.
- 1 What is CBD?
- 2 How do you use CBD oil effectively?
- 3 CBD Strength
- 4 Dosage
- 5 How often should you take CBD?
- 6 Types of CBD Products
- 7 What’s the Best Way to Take CBD?
- 8 Tips on getting the most out of CBD
- 9 How long does it take for CBD to work?
- 10 How to store CBD Oil
- 11 Conclusion
What is CBD?
CBD is a naturally occurring chemical produced by hemp. It has calming, anti-inflammatory and therapeutic properties making it great for many health issues like chronic pain. In Australia, it is being manufactured into a variety of products including CBD oils, gummies, capsules, lotions, and CBD balms. People then use these products to ingest the cannabinoid which provides benefits to the body.
How do you use CBD oil effectively?
There are six main factors to consider to use CBD oil effectively and safely. These are:
- Strength of your CBD product
- Dosage or how much CBD to take
- How often do you use CBD
- The type of product you use
- Personal preferences and tastes
- Minimising side effects
Let’s run through each of these and the important things you need to think about to use CBD in the best way possible.
The strength of your CBD product is determined by how many milligrams (mg) of CBD are contained within it. It’s critical to know how much CBD is in your product as this will affect the amount you need to take. High-strength CBD products usually contain at least 1000mg or more per 30mL equivalent of CBD oil or tincture. Medium strength would be considered to be around 500mg per 30mL while low-strength CBD contains typically 250mg. Keep in mind the strength of the product becomes more diluted if the same mg quantity of CBD is used in a large liquid volume. For example, if carrier oils are used to increase the mL of the product to 50 or 60mL but it still contains 1000mg of CBD, the average dose of CBD per drop of product is reduced.
Choosing the right strength product for your needs and goals is the first step in using CBD effectively. For beginners, low-strength products will be suitable to help gauge your tolerance before assessing higher-strength formulas. In fact, for most people, low-dose products will be just as effective as their high-dose counterparts in helping with general well-being, sleep and minor inflammation. High-strength CBD oil is more applicable for those with particular conditions they’re seeking to treat or who have more severe symptoms. Always read the label of your product to understand the amount of CBD in it and take note of the CBD per millilitre or gram to ensure you calculate dosage correctly.
The next big question you’ll need to think about is how much CBD to take. Dosage isn’t clear-cut when it comes to using CBD. Each person is different and has differing body weight, physiology and tolerance to CBD. Its important to individualise your dosage to your own body and health needs. There’s a wide variance in the reasons people use CBD which will also play a part in determining the appropriate dose. Larger individuals or those with worse health conditions tend to need higher doses to see benefits from CBD. This will take some experimenting with product strengths and dosages to find the right fit approach for your needs.
How much CBD should a beginner start with?
It’s advisable, to begin with low-strength products that contain around 250mg of CBD per 30mL and be conservative with dosages initially if you’re just starting with CBD. You might only take a few drops per day to test for any initial side effects and to see how well you respond. Monitor how you’re feeling and whether you notice any of the more common side effects of the cannabinoid like dry mouth, stomach aches or lethargy. If you’re noticing a good response and feel confident, you can ramp up the amount you use over time. Stick with a low-strength product for at least the first month of use. You can ramp this up to a few times per day and then over time assess if you need a stronger product strength. Beginners need to be particularly cautious with side effects as they won’t be certain yet as to whether they have any allergies to CBD and how well their body absorbs it.
How often should you take CBD?
The consensus on the best frequency to take CBD is ideally daily. Using the product each day enables your body to produce a constant stream of endocannabinoids like anandamide which are responsible for CBD’s powerful anti-inflammatory and stress-relieving qualities. Daily usage ensures you’ll get maximum benefit and there is no real downside from doing so. The more pertinent question is what time of the day you use it which will come down to your goals and preferences. For example, targeting CBD dosages at night is often called for to aid with sleep and enhance REM sleep quality. Many people use a few drops about an hour or two before bed to stimulate this benefit.
Many others opt to use CBD in the morning when their cortisol is high and they look to smooth out the anxiousness that can accompany a stressful work day. Using CBD in your morning smoothie or coffee can be a good time to help kick-start your day, promote a better mood throughout your working hours and enable enhanced focus plus mental clarity. You can choose to split up your planned dosage into small partitions you consume throughout the day or take it in a single dose. There isn’t an advantage to either method providing you’re still hitting your daily dosage quota. But daily use isn’t even needed for everyone. Some people prefer to only use CBD when they need it, for example during pain flare-ups or if they have a bout of joint aches they need to get support in treating. Don’t use it daily if you don’t need to. Consistent use will net the best overall results in inflammation reduction, anxiety relief and help with conditions like arthritis but isn’t necessarily mandatory.
Types of CBD Products
We can break up the ingestion methods of CBD into oral, topical, inhaled and sublingual product types. Each avenue of ingestion has its nuances including the bioavailability of CBD or the amount available for your body to effectively absorb, length of absorption and action, as well as how suitable it is for particular conditions.
Oral CBD products are consumed by eating them or dropping them onto your tongue. These can include:
- CBD oils which contain pure CBD extract from hemp and no carrier oil
- CBD tinctures where CBD extracts or concentrates are diluted and dispersed into carriers like olive oil or MCT.
- CBD edibles where CBD is infused into gummies, candies, chocolates, snacks or baked goods.
- CBD capsules and pills contain CBD oil that is encapsulated into a gelatine shell so it can be directly swallowed and absorbed via the gut.
For all of these products, they are digested via the digestive tract and absorbed through the intestine. This means their bioavailability is reduced because some CBD is degraded by stomach acids. On the flip side, their absorption is prolonged and they will act on the endocannabinoid system for a longer period than other product types which is beneficial. They offer longer-lasting effects as the CBD is metabolized by the liver. They’re best used for general well-being and recovery, plus in helping with chronic conditions because of their slow but prolonged release. Edible products are less effective if you need fast absorption of CBD and quick relief.
Oils and tinctures in particular are great as they offer very accurate and straightforward dosage options, making it easy to find the right amount of CBD for individual needs. You can titrate your dose drop by drop to ensure you’re getting the specific quantity of CBD you require. Additionally, they are available in various flavours and strengths, catering to different preferences. You can even apply them sublingually by placing them under the tongue for quick absorption into the bloodstream. This is very useful if you need faster absorption and don’t want to wait for your body to slowly digest your oil. Capsules and CBD gummies are more suited for those who dislike the musky flavour of CBD, enabling you to disguise this flavour with sweet treats or bypass it altogether.
‘Topical’ simply means applied to the body’s surface or skin. Topical CBD products will usually come in the form of:
- CBD Creams where CBD is infused into moisturizing gels or creams to help with absorption plus skin nourishment.
- CBD Balms and Ointments that use waxy substances such as pawpaw or beeswax to create a thicker, stickier topical that can also help to protect minor wounds or shield the skin from exposure.
- CBD topical strips can stick to the skin’s surface and provide a slow release of CBD into the targeted skin region.
Like oral CBD products, topicals are slow to absorb as they must pass through the skin layers to enter the bloodstream. Similarly, they also offer prolonged release and strong endocannabinoid stimulation but lose bioavailability because of diffusion into the skin tissue. Most people employ topical CBD to help with skin conditions like eczema or psoriasis. They may also use it to target aches, inflammation or pain in certain regions like the knees or joints. This is great for people with arthritis or athletes who have sore body regions. When applied to the affected area, the CBD interacts with CB2 cannabinoid receptors in the skin, providing relief and rejuvenation. Most of the CBD will also still make its way to the bloodstream and be absorbed throughout the body.
While it’s possible to smoke or inhale CBD, we don’t recommend this due to the potential for lung harm and the toxic chemicals that are often used to deliver CBD in these products. The main product you can find to inhale CBD is vaporisers or e-pens. These will include an e-liquid or solution as a cartridge which contains CBD diffused into an agent like propylene glycol and vegetable glycerine. When heated it vaporises the solution and is then inhaled, enabling the CBD to be quickly absorbed via the lung’s porous membranes. Inhaled products have high bioavailability and act very quickly because they enter the bloodstream directly from the lungs. As such they can be very helpful if you need fast-acting CBD for relief from issues like pain or bouts of anxiety. A major drawback is inhaling vape smoke is detrimental to your lungs. If you need to use this method, ensure you do so sparingly to avoid long-term health risks.
Using CBD sublingually means placing it under the tongue or gums. When this is done the molecules pass straight into the blood as these are highly porous tissue regions. Sublingual CBD products include:
- Sublingual CBD strips are quickly dissolved by the saliva in the mouth to absorb rapidly.
- CBD oils or tinctures are used under the tongue to absorb more rapidly.
Sublingual’s have the advantage of being very rapidly absorbed. They are fast acting and can provide near-immediate effects. In addition, they have very high availability as there are no barriers to the CBD being taken through the blood and transported straight to the liver and cannabinoid receptors. They’re also discreet and convenient – you can quickly pop a CBD sublingual strip before a stressful meeting or event where you need to remain calm.
What’s the Best Way to Take CBD?
Different forms of CBD products offer distinct benefits and approaches to using them. There’s no ‘best’ way to take CBD. It will come down to your own needs, preferences, health conditions and how quickly you need results. Whether you prefer the quick absorption of sublingual oils, the taste or prolonged release of edibles, the targeted relief of topicals, or the fast-acting effects of vaping, you’ll be able to find a CBD product that suits your needs. The best approach is always found by tailoring the right product, CBD strength and dosage approach that aligns with the condition or health goal you’re using it for.
Suiting CBD to Your Tastes
Today you can find countless recipes online for using CBD in foods like smoothies, coffee, salads, baked goods and more. In general, you should aim to use CBD with foods containing healthy fats as these aid with the absorption of CBD into the cannabinoid receptors. Cannabinoids like CBD are fat soluble so taking it with fats like olive oil or peanut butter are great ways to boost the effects of CBD as well as your nutrition.
Try adding your CBD oil into a smoothie alongside peanut butter or MCT oil. This will help mask its earthy flavour while giving you an anti-inflammatory boost to your daily health drink. Another popular recipe is using CBD in bulletproof coffee which is a mixture of MCT oil, butter and coffee that creates a rich, tasty, caffeinated beverage. The MCT in this drink will help you absorb the CBD and it’s a great way to start your day with an invigorating mix of both nutrients and refreshing caffeine. Because CBD is anxiolytic it can help smooth out the wired or anxious feeling that caffeine can often cause whilst retaining its mental energy-promoting benefits. You might also opt to use CBD in desserts like peanut butter snaps, brownies or protein balls. Ensure you add the CBD after you cook the dessert or in the final stage of baking to avoid degrading it from your oven’s heat.
Tips on getting the most out of CBD
The way to get the most from your CBD is to be planned, consistent and structured in how you choose your product plus use it. Some tips on getting the most out of it:
- Knowing what you’re using it for and having a goal or reason for CBD is key to ensuring it meets your needs. Not everyone needs CBD and for many conditions, it is either unsuitable or ineffective compared to better-suited alternatives. For example, people with severe pain symptoms typically don’t see resolution or improvement by using CBD. They may need more powerful opioid-based painkillers or other therapeutic medicines that can help suppress their symptoms. Having a goal in mind will give you an aim to shoot for and enable you to know whether or not CBD is working for you.
- Check-in with your doctor: your healthcare professional will help gauge whether CBD is right for you and can help tailor dosage or products to your individual needs. They’ll be able to also understand whether it’s effective for your particular aims or health conditions plus support you in avoiding risks from medication interactions and side effects. It’s essential to work with your doctor and confirm CBD’s safety for you before starting with it.
- Research your product: read the label of your product, understand its strength and follow its guidelines for consumption. Every CBD product is different. Each will contain different concentrations of cannabinoids like CBD alongside other nutrients. For example, a high-strength isolate CBD oil may require a much lower dose for the same effects compared to a comparable full-spectrum product due to its CBD concentration.
- Ensure your product is lab tested: Reputable brands will always provide a Certificate of Analysis that identifies the quantity, concentration and type of cannabinoids contained in your CBD product, including THC. These will be produced by a third-party lab and can be trusted to give insight into the quality and potency of your oil. It’s a critical step to check and ensure you’re getting a good deal. It will also help you avoid products containing the psychoactive cannabinoid THC plus assure you of quality.
- Plan out your dosages: methodically planning the amount of CBD you’ll take, when you’ll take it and how often you consume it is important. Having a plan means you are setting yourself up for success and will enable you to track progress against your goal. Planning also means you know how much you’re taking which helps you adjust your dosages or product strengths if your plan isn’t working as intended.
- Consistency: sticking to your plan is just as important as forming it in the first place. A big reason people fail to see results from CBD is they either don’t follow a plan, aren’t consistent enough or simply don’t use enough CBD over time to stimulate their endocannabinoid system adequately. Consistency and discipline in your approach will mean you get better results which occur more quickly. Don’t give up if you don’t see results in the first few days or weeks. It can take significant time for CBD to provide its benefits and each person reacts differently. If you’re not seeing results after 4-6 weeks you should look at increasing dosage if you have no side effects or look at other products or product strengths to experiment with. It’s worthwhile to try a few different products as quality and strength can vary between them.
- Know when to readjust your approach: it’s a fact that not all CBD products will work, plus not everyone is suited to use CBD. If you’re not getting the results you want, the first step is to assess why. You may need to experiment with different dosages, try an alternative CBD product type or change brands. If you’ve tried a few different options but are still not seeing results, you may not need CBD. Speak to your doctor to find out what alternatives would be suitable.
How do you use CBD oil for the first time?
To use CBD oil for the very first time, place 2-3 drops under your tongue and leave them there. The drops will dissolve through your mouth’s membrane and quickly be absorbed into the blood through your capillaries. This approach using drops sublingually also means you can effectively avoid the taste of CBD by not applying it to your tongue. Plus, it will act quickly and be absorbed more easily. You’ll probably notice a slight musky or nutty after taste which is normal. Remember that if you don’t like the taste you always have the option of mixing your CBD with a tasty snack or whole food to mask the flavour.
How long does it take for CBD to work?
The time it takes for CBD to work for you will depend on what you’re using it for, your physiology and response to it, the quality and strength of your product, plus how well you plan and use your product. Higher-strength CBD oils will usually result in faster effects but also come at a greater risk of side effects which is why beginners shouldn’t start with them. The ingestion method also plays a role here. The fastest absorbing and most bioavailable method to use CBD is sublingual dosing.
How to store CBD Oil
Always keep your tincture, oil or edible CBD products in a secure, cool location out of direct sunlight. They will degrade in the sun and can go rancid quickly if left in a warm spot. Ensure the product can’t be accessed by children or pets. We don’t recommend refrigerating any CBD oil as it will separate the layers of oil and plant matter which will make it harder to consume plus ruin the taste. Never heat up or bake your CBD products as this will break down and destroy the cannabinoids in it. For vapes, topicals and sublingual similar principles apply. Keep your products safe, cool and out of reach.
Using CBD isn’t difficult but requires some planning, discipline, research and experimentation to get right. The first item to get clear is why you’re using CBD and what you’re looking to get from the product. Once you know this you can work with your doctor to plan out an approach that will best meet your needs, avoids any risks or side effects from CBD use and maximise the benefits you get. If you’re starting with CBD ensure you do your research and planning. Know your product strength, understand product types, do your diligence on quality and product certification, plus be disciplined and considered in your dosage approach. CBD doesn’t work for everyone and isn’t a cure-all for health conditions but if you use it smartly you can see significant benefits for your personal health needs.