Whether you’re just beginning your investigation into therapeutic CBD, or you’re an experienced user, the multitude of cannabidiol products available on the market today can feel quite daunting. You may be thinking:
- “What method of taking CBD is right for me?”
- “How should I first try CBD?”
- “Would oil or capsules be more effective for alleviating my chronic pain?”
- “What is the best CBD product for helping to treat anxiety, depression or insomnia?”
- “My friend drinks CBD Tea… How do I make that?!”
- ‘And just what in the world is a “topical”?’
Have no fear! We understand that trying any new supplement invariably comes with a multitude of questions. This is likely even more true when it comes to products made from hemp, including those containing cannabidiol, or “CBD”. Industrial hemp farming and research were legalized in the United States only as recently as 2014. And, products made from the hemp plant were only made officially legal for sale to consumers in the United States in 2018. (However, it is important to check your local laws. CBD production and distribution are still quite regulated in several states.)
In this article, we are going to help you navigate all of the most common CBD options currently available. If you have any questions that we do not address, please check out our other CBD blog posts, or send us a message letting us know what we should cover next!
What are the differences between CBD products, and which is best for me?
While CBD products have become widely available in recent years, determining the best method for your individual needs is often a consumer’s first question. To begin, you may find it a bit less complicated or overwhelming to think of all CBD products in terms of four categories:
- CBD for ingestion – Including tinctures, oils, capsules, and many other packaged consumables (such as gummies, chocolate, and drinks) containing varying amounts of cannabidiol.
- CBD “buds” or “flower” – refers to small, trimmed pieces of the hemp plant itself. While buds are often smoked, you can decarboxylate the flower. You can use them in home-made CBD tinctures, oils, teas, or other edible recipes.
- CBD oil meant for vaporizing. In recent years, “vaping”, or using an electronic vaporizer pen (or a variety of other similar devices) has become a popular alternative to old-fashioned smoking. However, when considering any vaporizer oils (commonly referred to as “vape juice”), it is important to be aware of the safety concerns regarding flavoring chemicals. These potentially dangerous additives are present in many oils intended for vaporization, regardless of whether these products also contain CBD.
- Topical CBD – which includes any products intended for absorption through the skin, such as lotions, creams, salves, and oils.
Tinctures & Oils
Many consumers, and even some CBD professionals, are often confused about the difference between CBD oils and CBD tinctures. While these two formulations are similar, and in some cases the associated terms may even be used interchangeably, there are some distinct differences that may help you to decide which preparation is best for you.
Administering Tinctures & Oils
CBD Tinctures and CBD Oil are both liquid carriers that have been infused with cannabidiol to create an extract of CBD. This can then be used in many different applications. One of the most common methods of consumption of CBD is to take an extract sublingually. This means you place a dose of the oil or tincture under your tongue, as opposed to simply swallowing the extract or adding it to a food or beverage. Although these methods of consumption are perfectly suitable, as well!
The sublingual method bypasses the digestive tract. This helps the CBD absorb into the bloodstream more quickly through the sublingual mucous membrane. And, the CBD can provide relief faster than if it had to pass through the stomach and undergo the body’s digestive processes. That said, many people enjoy adding CBD extract to their food or drink recipes. CBD extract is the most popular way to begin using CBD. It often remains the preferred use method for many long-term CBD consumers.
Understanding the Difference
CBD Oils are, quite literally, oils – usually MCT (unrefined coconut oil) or hemp seed oil – infused with CBD. On the other hand, tinctures are extracts created using alcohol (and usually heat) to release the herb’s desired components. While you can take both tinctures and oils sublingually or add them to food or drink, generally one does not use tinctures topically on the skin. This is because the alcohol content can have a drying effect and exacerbate many dermatological conditions, such as eczema. On the other hand, many people have found that CBD Oils which are labeled for internal consumption can also be effective at helping to treat localized pain and to improve certain skin conditions when applied topically.
While many people begin their CBD experience with oils or tinctures and stick to that same method for years, some customers may find that carrying around a liquid in a glass bottle presents its own challenges. Specifically for people who are frequent flyers, it may be a good idea to consider switching to capsules. Or even just keeping a bottle of capsules on hand for those times when taking a dropper of liquid oil is less convenient.
Ultimately, capsules are CBD liquid extract. The extract is contained within a gelatin or cellulose (vegetarian) capsule. CBD Extract capsules may list their strength in one of two ways. Sometimes the listing will state how many milligrams of CBD are present per serving (ex. 150mg/capsule), and sometimes a listing or label may state how many milligrams of CBD are present in the entire container (ex. 4500mg/bottle), It might be a good idea to begin your CBD routine with a liquid tincture or oil with a milliliter dropper. This will provide you with the most control over dosing.
Then, once you know what amount of CBD works best for your personal needs, you can consider trying a capsule of similar strength to the CBD routine that you are acclimated to. You may find that the convenience of CBD capsules makes them an easy preference. Or you may find, as we have, that capsules are best for maintaining consistency when taking our daily dose of CBD or traveling. However, keeping CBD oil on hand is an excellent addition for treating breakthrough pain or anxiety, or acute illness.
CBD Tea can be thought of very similar to almost any other edible CBD product – such as candy or baked goods – in the sense that it is often safest to make these recipes at home using either CBD flower or extract obtained from a reputable source. While some retailers do sell pre-packaged edible CBD products, including juices and teas, we believe that the best way to ensure our family and friends are getting the best quality CBD and a dose they can be confident of – not to mention minimal artificial preservatives, flavorings, or filler ingredients – is to avoid recommending or stocking pre-packaged edible items in favor of high-quality extracts, and instructions on how to prepare your own CBD recipe at home!
*Nearly every CBD recipe, whether for preparing food, beverages, or extracts, begins with the same step: Decarboxylation. “Decarbing” your plant matter is necessary in order to convert inactive CBDA into active CBD. This allows for the intended benefits of the plant to be accessed by the body. While “decarboxylation” sounds like an intimidating process, it is actually quite simple. If you intend to smoke (or vaporize) your plant matter, then you don’t have to take this additional step. This is due to the heat applied to the flower when smoking (or vaping) is precisely what is necessary in order to cause the desired conversion into accessible CBD. However, if you want to eat or drink your CBD, or to make an extract, you’ll first need to heat up your buds in order to achieve this conversion.
When referring to making tea from hemp or cannabis, some people may claim that all you need to do is grind the bud and steep in boiling water – just like herbal tea. While it is true that the heat of boiling or near-boiling water is sufficient to release the beneficial components of some other herbal teas, hemp flower must steep for several hours in boiling water in order to activate the CBD and other beneficial cannabinoids. Instead, we can bake our hemp flower at a higher temperature in the oven first, in order to achieve this conversion. Thankfully, decarboxylation is as simple as a few steps, which should only take around half an hour to complete.
How to Decarboxylate your Hemp Flower
- Hemp Flower
- Baking Sheet (lined with parchment paper or aluminum foil)
- Herb Grinder
- Conventional or Toaster Oven
- Preheat oven to 250 degrees F
- Grind hemp flower to medium coarseness
- Dump ground plant matter onto a lined baking sheet
- Bake in the oven for approximately 10-25 minutes (time will vary based on your oven, refer to this chart for guidelines)
That’s it! Congratulations, you have now decarboxylated your hemp flower, effectively converting the inactive CBDA to therapeutic CBD. You have completed the first step in preparing your own CBD recipe, and what you choose to do next is entirely up to you.
Uses for Decarbed CBD Flower
- steep the decarboxylated ground plant matter in alcohol or carrier oil, making your own tincture or CBD oil for internal consumption and/or topical use
- simmer your decarboxylated flower in butter or another cooking oil to release the cannabinoids, then strain out the plant matter, and use the remaining butter or oil in any traditional sweet or savory recipe
- or, you can turn your decarbed CBD flower into a delicious and relaxing cup of tea!
One of the benefits of brewing CBD into tea is that this method allows you the opportunity to add other beneficial herbs and natural flavorings to your recipe. Matcha green tea, Chamomile, Calendula, Peppermint, Turmeric, Ginger, Cinnamon, Lemon and local honey are just a few suggestions, but feel free to get creative!
If you do not want to take the time to decarboxylate your own hemp flower but you still want to reap the benefits of herbal tea with CBD, you can add a dropper of CBD extract to a mug of your favorite herbal tea blend. CBD Extracts also come in an array of flavors, so this is one way to really change up your daily routine!
In medical terminology, the word topical means “of, relating to, or applied externally to a particular part of the body; local. Example: a topical anesthetic”. Topical CBD products include many varieties of lotion, cream, salves, and oils. You have likely heard many people rave about the benefits of topical CBD products, which are available in limitless varieties on the market today. As mentioned previously, often the same oils that are marketed for internal consumption can also be used as a topical analgesic, or pain reliever (just remember this applies to oils only. Avoid using alcohol-based tinctures on the skin).
Benefits of Topicals
One of the benefits of using CBD topically, or externally, is that this method allows you to target your treatment specifically to areas of intense pain. Inflammation is a common and notoriously stubborn and recurrent cause of many types of chronic pain. Effectively treating pain that is stemming from inflammation is often dependent upon moderating the body’s inflammatory response. Consistent internal consumption of CBD extract via oils, capsules or edibles can be helpful in this endeavor, and many people find adequate relief from these products alone. However, various environmental factors – including not just physical strain and injury but also psychological stress – can trigger a flare-up of this inflammatory response system. This inflammation in turn can impact your immune system’s defenses and ability to remain healthy.
Topical CBD products can be integrated with oral delivery methods to help minimize inflammation in problem areas for people living with many chronic conditions. Topical CBD can be used by people suffering from arthritis pain related to swollen joints. It has also been used to alleviate the muscle stiffness and trigger point tenderness associated with fibromyalgia flares and myofascial pain syndrome, as well as to help relax and soften tense, inflamed neck and facial muscles which lead to recurrent tension headaches and stubborn migraines.
We believe that topical CBD products are best used in conjunction with internal consumption of CBD because it has been our personal experience that this is the most effective way to achieve lasting and reliable relief from pain. That said, topical CBD products are also a viable treatment option all on their own! A recent study showed that transdermal CBD was effective in reducing arthritis-related joint inflammation in rats. This is exciting news, as it shows that not only does CBD have promise as internal medication, but that it can be utilized in multiple additional ways to maximize its many health-improving benefits.
Cautions with Topicals
One slight drawback to some topical products is that they often leave an oily residue on the skin. Keeping this in mind, it is usually a good idea to allow plenty of time after the application of topical CBD before getting dressed. Also, as with most other skincare products, we only recommend using topical CBD products on skin free from scratches and cuts. While topical CBD salve can also be a fantastic treatment for dry skin and eczema, it is important to ensure you are not potentially introducing infection by using these products on broken skin.
Here at Growing Organic, we are very big fans of using CBD to support our own personal health. We are extremely grateful to be able to offer our customers a variety of products for every stage along their CBD journey.
We hope that we have been able to answer most of your questions about What method of taking CBD is right for you. And, ideally, ease some of your anxiety regarding the brave new world of cannabidiol therapy. As always, if you have any further questions, suggestions, concerns, or corrections, don’t hesitate to let us know! We look forward to continuing to learn, and grow, together.