After all, if there’s one thing that can be said about the wild west of CBD, it’s that experimentation is key—whether you’re looking for your perfect dose or your perfect delivery method.
Even so, Kater says that “most of the literature supports the notion that CBD has better bioavailability when consumed sublingually versus orally. [and] MCT oil-based tinctures are thought to provide better uptake than a traditional oil.” But, again, there’s no evidence that this applies to the exact CBD oil or tincture that you, specifically, have in your cabinet. As mentioned before, every formulation is different, and those small differences matter when it comes to bioavailabilty.
How does this apply to CBD? Surprise, surprise: It’s hard to say. “There has been very little scientific research on the sublingual absorption of CBD,” says Dr. Birdsall. The research that does exist has some inconsistencies, adds Kater, since there are so many factors that affect absorption—such as the quality of the CBD or the pH and consistency of the formulation. Plus, many of these studies focus on formulas that contain both CBD and THC—a psychoactive compound found in cannabis that’s supposed to be absent from CBD-only products—so it’s unclear whether their findings would also apply to a product that contains predominantly CBD.
To find out—because there’s been relatively little rigorous research on CBD to date and I’m a skeptic by nature—I reached out to a doctor and a scientist for the 411. As I suspected, this isn’t a topic that has been studied in depth. Yet there is some reason to believe that certain CBD products may truly be more bioavailable when absorbed under the tongue than if taken through food or drink.
Long story short: You may as well try holding your CBD oil or tincture under your tongue before swallowing it—you could find that you feel it working slightly faster. Anecdotally, says Dr. Birdsall, experts recommended that you hold it there for at least 60 seconds. (A word of warning: There will be drool.) Your other option is to try a product that’s specifically created to be absorbed sublingually, like Kin Slips, which are kind of like those breath-freshening films that dissolve in your mouth.
According to Timothy Birdsall, ND—a member of hemp education platform Prima’s medial advisory group—when you take certain substances sublingually, they can enter directly into your bloodstream, where they’re immediately shuttled to your tissues. Think of it as a shortcut to digestion, which is a longer process in which the substance needs to be ingested, broken down by the stomach, absorbed by the small intestine, and metabolized by the liver. “Not only do many compounds lose potential bioavailability during [the digestion] process, but the time to onset is delayed,” adds chemist Jessie Kater, senior vice president of manufacturing for Curaleaf and Curaleaf Hemp.
Sublingual delivery isn’t always a better option for all substances, points out Dr. Birdsall—some B vitamins, for instance, need to be “activated” by the liver in order to do their jobs—but for certain vitamins and medications, it can be a super effective delivery method.
Besides the lessened time for effects, the same dose of CBD is more bioavailable when taken sublingually than if you just swallowed it. The more bioavailable your CBD is, the more juice you get from the same CBD, which translates into needing to buy less CBD.
For about 6 months I swallowed my CBD without really thinking about it. It seems almost implied that the best way to use a CBD oil tincture is just to swallow it.
At the end of the day, we all like saving money.
The sublingual method may be safer than vaporization or smoking and possess greater bioavailability than oral use. Sublingual usage also comes without having to inhale anything into your lungs, which is a concern for some, as smoking is known to tar the lungs. The potential health impacts of vaporization are also unclear.
Sublingual consumption is far more effective than simply consuming your CBD oil orally – which is why it makes sense to make it a part of your routine especially with MCT tinctures.
The pair of sublingual glands you have in your mouth are major salivatory glands, although they provide only 3-5% of the mouth’s saliva. That isn’t the reason we’re interested in them though; we’re interested in the vessel rich tissue that lays below.
However, I quickly found out that was not the case. I found out that there was a better way.
The beauty of taking CBD in this way is that once you’ve tried it, it couldn’t be easier.
Once the time has passed you can swallow any residue that is left in your mouth. This prevents any remaining cannabidiol from being wasted. Because some CBD oils leave a strong earthy taste, many people choose to complete the 90 seconds and then take a large swig of water to wash down any remaining oil.
How do I take CBD under the tongue?
The word ‘sublingual’ refers to the large blood vessel found under your tongue. When liquids are placed there, they can cross the thin membrane and enter your bloodstream. The speed with which this happens has played a key part in this method’s popularity.
Placing substances under your tongue understandably sounds a bit odd because it’s not something we often do. So, what is it about this method that makes it so widely used?
While all there are many compelling reasons to take CBD oil under your tongue, it can still take some getting used to. The first few times you try can be tricky, it’s not always easy to tell exactly how many drops you’ve used or if your dropper is positioned correctly.