What to Know About Types of CBD – Forbes Health

There are four main ways to consume CBD:

  • Sublingually (with an oil or tincture absorbed under the tongue)
  • Oral ingestion via edible products such as gummies, candies, snacks, and drinks, as well as capsules
  • Vaping or inhaling smoke
  • Topical application of a CBD ointment, balm, lotion, or cream

“Each pathway absorbs a different amount, a [a] different time for [the] appearance of effects and different side effects,” says Dr. Chen.

Oils and Tinctures

CBD oils and tinctures are generally available in bottles ranging from 1 ounce to 4 ounces. The bottle may also have a dropper labeled with the dose amounts, usually at 0.25 milliliter intervals. When applying CBD oil drops under the tongue, a consumer may feel the effects faster than with other forms of CBD. Additionally, more CBD can be absorbed into the bloodstream through sublingual consumption than with other delivery methods.

“Tinctures and oils may be less convenient to take than edibles, gummies, and capsules because you could spill tincture liquid and have to look at the amount of tincture in the dropper to determine your dose,” explains Dr. Chen. “On the other hand, tinctures may offer a more flexible way to dose.”

Gummies and other edibles

CBD-infused gummies and other edibles, such as candies, cookies, brownies, and other foods or beverages, typically don’t kick in as quickly as oils and tinctures.

When you eat gummies and edibles, they must first be processed by the digestive system, which means there is a delay in the onset of effects and less CBD eventually enters your bloodstream. explains Dr. Chen.

(Note: Product details and pricing are correct at time of publication and are subject to change.)


CBD is also available in oral capsule form. As with gummies and other edibles, when you take CBD capsules, there’s usually a longer delay in the onset of effects because they have to be processed through the digestive system first, says Dr. Chen.

(Note: Product details and pricing are correct at time of publication and are subject to change.)

Lotions, creams and other topicals

Many people looking for potential relief from chronic pain and various skin conditions apply CBD-infused lotions, salves, ointments, and other topicals to the affected area.

“With topical forms of CBD, such as lotions or creams, only minimal amounts reach the bloodstream and can therefore avoid some of the potential side effects of CBD that reach the bloodstream, such as diarrhea and lethargy,” explains Dr. Chen. However, consumers seeking relief for non-skin conditions such as pain, insomnia or anxiety tend to benefit more from CBD when it reaches the bloodstream and should use a non-topical product instead, adds Dr. Chen.

(Note: Product details and pricing are correct at time of publication and are subject to change.)

Vapes and smoking flower

CBD vapes come in slim, pre-filled, or refillable cartridges, or “pens,” where the CBD oil is administered through inhalation. You can also smoke dried flowers of the hemp plant to consume CBD.

Consuming CBD through vaping or inhaling smoke generally results in faster onset of effects and increased absorption of CBD into the bloodstream. “However, inhaling CBD via vaping or flower smoking poses a theoretical risk of lung damage, makes dose control more difficult, and has not been well studied,” says Dr. Chen.

Vaping also presents other risks. Vaping can cause inhalation of vitamin E acetate, heavy metals, or other compounds found in the oil or the solvents used to make CBD oil vapable, such as propylene glycol or vegetable glycerin. These additional compounds may have negative pulmonary or systemic health effects.