Getting Started

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Ultimate Guide to Getting Started with CBD

In this chapter, we’ll take a look at some of the methods by which CBD is used. We’ll discuss some of the factors involved in determining serving sizes. We’ll also look at the strengths and drawbacks of each method and discuss which methods are better for different situations.

 

Bioavailability of CBD

Not all methods for using CBD are equal. Their effectiveness depends not only on the method of consumption and the ingredients in the product, but also on the bioavailability of the CBD afforded by each method.

The bioavailability of any active compound is the percentage of a given serving that ends up being available for your body to use.

In the case of CBD oil, the active ingredients include both cannabinoids and terpenes. However, for the sake of discussion, we’ll talk only about the bioavailability of CBD itself.

A bioavailability of 100% would signify that 100% of the CBD in the product is available to your body. The only way to achieve 100% bioavailability is through intravenous administration — meaning injection directly into the bloodstream.

Every other method of consumption will result in some percentage of the CBD becoming unavailable to the body for various reasons, such as becoming trapped in fatty tissues or metabolized (broken down) before it has a chance to enter the bloodstream.

Each method of CBD oil consumption has a particular range of bioavailability. We’ll discuss these factors next and will also touch on them when discussing the benefits and drawbacks of each method.

Bioavailability of CBD Tinctures

A tincture is a liquid — usually an oil or an alcohol base — which has been infused with CBD oil. CBD oil tinctures are taken by mouth. When taken using this method, the CBD in the tincture can be absorbed pretty easily.

It is generally assumed that the bioavailability of CBD in tinctures is twice that of edibles — anywhere from 10 to 40%.

How Long Does CBD Oil Take to Take Effect?

There are several important factors that come into play when determining the time to take effect when it comes to various methods of using CBD oil. Some of these variables are related to CBD itself, and others are related to how the human body reacts to CBD.

Because of unique genetics, no two people react to CBD oil in the same way. Furthermore, factors such as age, health, weight, circulation and metabolism can all affect the timing of the effects of CBD oil.

A factor that can be influenced by all of the above is the number of cannabinoid receptors in the body, how they are expressed and the ability of the body to produce endocannabinoids. An individual who expresses more receptors or produces fewer endocannabinoids may be more sensitive to CBD than someone with an abundance of endocannabinoids or a lack of receptors.

There are also numerous other factors involved such as the type of product being used, how it’s being used and how much is being used. The onset of edibles will typically take longer than that of tinctures, for example.

As we mentioned, the effects of inhaled CBD are virtually instantaneous.  Edibles and capsules can range anywhere from 20 minutes to over an hour while tinctures can take up to 20 minutes.

These figures are to be considered general guidelines and will vary from person to person, as we mentioned above.

CBD Oil Serving Suggestions

As with bioavailability and time to take effect, the ideal serving of CBD depends on a variety of factors including the product being used, the concentration of the CBD in the product, genetic makeup, sex, weight and so on.

Some CBD products list a suggested serving size. However, without taking into account all of the variables, the recommended serving size might be far too low or possibly even too high. In particular, the serving size will vary greatly depending on why it’s being used.

A serving that is appropriate for one product might be much different than that of a similar product. This is because various CBD oil products contain varying amounts of CBD. Whereas one product might contain 10mg of CBD per serving, another might contain 50mg per serving.

The most important factor to be considered, however, is that both serving size and duration of use depend largely on the reason the individual is using it. One person might simply be using CBD to support general wellness while another might be using CBD to help maintain a good night’s rest.

Another factor to be considered is whether or not the product being used contains a full spectrum or broad spectrum CBD oil with terpenes. Due to the entourage effect, these types of products reportedly work more effectively than just CBD alone.

Given all of the above-listed factors, determining your ideal serving requires some thinking. Taking too little will not produce the desired effect and will be a waste of time and money. Alternatively, taking more than you need may not provide additional benefits. It will take some experimentation to determine an ideal serving for a particular person.

Here are some general guidelines for determining your ideal serving of CBD oil:

Stick With One Product

It’s a good idea to put some thought into which product you’re going to use and stick with that product for a while. This allows you to gauge the effects of that particular product. If you switch back and forth between different products, determining a serving amount will be much harder.

Start With a Low Serving Size

When you first begin using CBD oil, it’s a good idea to start with a low serving size. This gives you a chance to determine your body’s reaction to CBD. One option is to start with 1mg of CBD for every 20 pounds of weight. Using this rule, someone weighing 100 pounds should start with 5 milligrams, while someone weighing over 200 pounds can start with 10 milligrams, and so on.

Start Before Bedtime

When first using CBD oil, it’s best to start at night — about an hour before bedtime. That way, if CBD has a tendency to make you drowsy, you’re not dragging during the daytime. It’s uncommon for a low serving size of CBD to cause drowsiness, but it’s good to be sure. If you have no issues, then take another serving in the morning. If CBD oil does make you sleepy, then take it at night. Often CBD oil is used to support both nighttime sleep and daytime focus, in which case it can be taken as needed throughout the day.

Increase Your Serving Size Slowly

If all goes well but you have not achieved your desired results, you can try doubling your servings. Each time you increase your serving size, take a few days to make note of how your body feels.

If a rise in serving size produces unwanted effects such as making you drowsy, back off to a lower serving.

Can You Take Too Much CBD Oil?

CBD is non-toxic. You would have to consume quite a bit of CBD oil before it results in any truly adverse health effects.

However, taking more CBD than needed might cause some unwanted effects such as making you too relaxed for particular activities like work or sports.

Once you have arrived at a particular serving based on the product you are using, it’s a good idea to stick with that product.

Ways to Take CBD Oil

Let’s now take a look at some of the ways to take CBD oil and the pros and cons of each, in order to help you to determine which product, or products, are right for you.

Some of the factors that should be considered when determining which product is ideal for you are your lifestyle, the reasons you’re using CBD oil, the time to take effect and the bioavailability of the method.

Lifestyle Considerations

In regards to lifestyle, some products are more convenient than others, some products travel better than others and some products are simply more enjoyable to use than others. Capsules are preferred for traveling, for instance. There’s nothing to drop and break or spill.

Use Considerations

Certain methods are better for certain uses. For example, if you’re using CBD to support skin health, you can get it directly by using a topical product. 

Time Considerations

As mentioned, various methods of use require different amounts of time to take effect. For example, edibles can take upwards of an hour or more to take effect, whereas inhalation methods are virtually instantaneous.

Bioavailability Considerations

Bioavailability, as we pointed out earlier, is the amount of CBD that actually makes its way into your bloodstream. If time is not a consideration, your main consideration should be value. CBD is not inexpensive like products such as vitamins and minerals. You definitely want to try to maximize the value you get for your money. If a product has only 10% bioavailability, you’re essentially paying five times more for your CBD than if you used a product which has a 50% bioavailability.

Serving Considerations

Another consideration is how accurate you would like to be with your servings. It’s easy to gauge a serving when you’re taking capsules, for example, but much harder to gauge serving size when vaping since it depends on factors such as how much you inhale and how deeply you inhale it.

With that knowledge, let’s take a closer look at the best uses, pros and cons of individual ways of taking CBD.

CBD Oils and Tinctures

Earlier, we discussed the fact that there are a variety of products which makers refer to as CBD oil. These can include everything from raw hemp extract to more refined products to pure CBD-infused oil. There are also a number of types of oil which are used as a base for CBD oil. Some CBD oil products also contain added ingredients such as additional terpenes, essential oils and vitamins.

Pros and Cons of Oils and Tinctures

Tinctures are generally used at home in the morning and the evening, and can also be used at work if your situation allows it.

The downside of tinctures and oils is that they don’t travel well. They can be messy if you’re trying to use them on the go. They also generally come in a breakable bottle with a breakable dropper. If you’re looking for a product to take hiking, for example, tinctures are probably not your best choice.

CBD Oil Capsules

CBD oil capsules are generally delivered orally. There are cases where you might want to puncture a capsule for use on the skin, but for the most part, this is an orally administered product.

Capsules are made with gelatin, which melts within minutes in your stomach and delivers the entire serving of CBD oil. This means that none of it will get absorbed into the tissues in your mouth or throat. And, depending on whether or not you take them with food, very little is likely to make its way through the rest of your digestive system.

Pros and Cons of Capsules

As we mentioned, capsules, because they dissolve quickly, will deliver a serving of CBD directly into your stomach.

Capsules are also very convenient and easy to use with no mess, and they also allow for exact serving sizes. If a capsule contains 25 milligrams of CBD, assuming you’re using a reputable manufacturer with good production methods, you know you’re getting a serving of 25 milligrams of CBD.

One downside of capsules is that they take longer to feel the effects. Also as mentioned, when taken on an empty stomach very little of the CBD will make its way into your body as most of it will be directly absorbed into the lining of your stomach. But this is easily avoidable by taking the capsule with food.

It’s also important to note here that capsules that do not use nanoemulsions have far lower bioavailability than those that do contain nanoemulsions.

CBD-Infused Topicals

CBD-infused topicals include skin creams, balms, salves and oils. Once again, these products can be infused with pure CBD, or they can contain a PCR CBD oil. The same rule applies — the products with the full or broad spectrum oils will contain other beneficial cannabinoids and terpenes.

Topicals often have a variety of additional beneficial ingredients meant to contribute to the overall effects. For example, skin creams may contain moisturizers, vitamin E, collagen and so on. Pain creams may contain ingredients meant to help the product penetrate deeper into tissues and aid in pain relief. Salves may contain other soothing and healing ingredients such as aloe.

Pros and Cons of Topicals

Topicals are great for use on a particular area of skin or underlying muscles and joints. They deliver the CBD and other beneficial ingredients directly where they can do the most good.

However, they take some time to apply and can be a little messy. This may not be a concern for you if you use these kinds of products regularly.

Another thing to consider is that, when taken internally either orally or inhaled, CBD will make its way to all areas of your body, including your skin. If overall skin health is your goal, you may just opt for one of those other applications rather than having to apply a topical all over your skin.

Which brings up a side note — when receiving a massage, generally an oil is used on the entire body. This is a great opportunity to give your skin some extra love by adding some CBD oil to your massage oil.

How To Buy High-Quality CBD

The CBD market is currently expanding at a breakneck pace. Unfortunately, along with the good companies, bad ones are trying to capitalize on the trend. Many of them will do anything to cut corners and increase profit margins. Some companies will use inferior and unsafe products. Some are completely dishonest, selling so-called CBD oil products that have negligible amounts of CBD in them, or even none whatsoever. Or, even worse, they could contain dangerous synthetic CBD.

CBD oil is not a product on which you should skimp on quality. You need a trusted manufacturer that makes CBD oil products that are rich in natural CBD and terpenes.

Also, a recent survey by the Brightfield Group of CBD products found that a full 40% of CBD products on the market do not contain the amount of CBD listed on the label.

With all these CBD oil producers flooding the market with new products, it can be difficult to know who to trust and where to find the highest quality CBD oil.

Identifying a Good Company

There are a few factors that need to be considered when searching for a company that makes high-quality CBD oil products. These include the source and variety of hemp, the method of extraction used to produce the raw hemp extract, whether or not the company uses nanoemulsion technology, and the quality of the other ingredients in the products they offer.

The good news is that a reputable company will gladly provide this information. If it’s not touted on their website, then you can use their contact form to inquire about their hemp source, extraction method and the source of other ingredients. If a company will not provide you with this information, then simply rule them out. There are plenty of respectable, high-quality CBD oil makers out there.

Preferred Hemp Sources

Hemp is farmed all over the world. The U.S. is only recently starting to rebuild its hemp industry after a century of prohibition. However, the U.S. produces some of the finest quality cannabis and hemp products in the world.

It’s important to understand that not all hemp is created equal. Industrial hemp is primarily grown for its seeds and fibers and is not bred to produce high levels of cannabinoids and terpenes. PCR hemp, on the other hand, was specifically cultivated to be rich in cannabinoids and terpenes.

In order for a CBD product that is made from industrial hemp to contain the same concentrations of cannabinoids and terpenes as CBD oil made from PCR hemp, industrial hemp CBD must be further refined, removing or destroying many of the naturally occurring beneficial compounds.

If a manufacturer specifies that their CBD was extracted from industrial hemp, then it’s safe to assume that the product is either lower in CBD and terpenes than a product made with PCR hemp, or has been further processed and has lost some of its natural essence. Finding a company whose products are made with PCR hemp is highly desirable.

The lowest quality CBD oil products are usually produced in Asian countries such as China, where quality standards are far lower. CBD oil products produced in China are often made from strains of industrial hemp which are not rich in cannabinoids and terpenes. They are often extracted using cheaper methods that are harsh and can actually destroy cannabinoids and terpenes. They may contain toxic pesticides which are illegal in the U.S. or may be contaminated with molds and other biological toxins.

Quality of Other Ingredients

Although raw and refined pure hemp extract is available, the vast majority of CBD oil products contain additional ingredients such as vegetable oils or other essential oils.

All the rules mentioned above apply here. Products produced in the U.S. are preferred. Products produced in Western Europe may also be of high quality, and product made elsewhere are quite often of lower quality.

The ingredients used can also be telling when determining whether a company is trying to cut corners. Oils such as hemp seed oil, coconut oil and almond oil are generally healthy and of high quality. If a product contains ingredients that you can’t pronounce or that sound like chemicals, then the manufacturer is probably trying to cut corners.

For example, a product known as polyethylene glycol is often used in CBD vape oils. This is the same stuff found in your car’s radiator. Although it has been approved for consumption by the FDA, there is evidence that it may irritate the lungs.

One exception to the can’t pronounce rule is an oil known as MCT oil. MCT stands for medium chain triglycerides. MCT oil is a natural product made from coconut oil. Coconut oil contains both medium- and long-chain triglycerides. Triglycerides, although sounding like a type of chemical, are simply the main constituent of human body fat. Without going into a biology lesson, let it suffice to say that MCTs are easier for the body to process than raw coconut oil.

There are other exceptions to the rule. When in doubt just do an internet search on the ingredients in question and you’ll usually be able to determine fairly quickly whether or not a particular ingredient is safe and healthy.

Quality Testing

Another factor to consider is third-party lab testing. Most serious manufactures will send their products out to testing labs to determine whether or not they contain any contaminants and also to measure the levels of cannabinoids in the product.

Because different strains and crops produce different levels of CBD, CBD oil can vary in potency from one batch to another. Any good manufacturers will want to know exactly how much CBD is in their products.

Another thing that’s extremely important to know is whether the product contains THC. THC use may have serious consequences, so you should know whether your CBD product contains THC and in what amounts.

Many top manufacturers will provide the lab reports for the exact batch of products being sold. If one of the makers you are considering does offer this information, give them extra points.

CBD Oil Health Claims

This is worth touching on. Many companies will put CBD products on the market and make serious health claims about their product. These claims are not supported by the levels of scientific evidence that the FDA requires. These claims are a strong sign that a company is exaggerating what its product can do. Avoid those products.

Finding a Trusted Manufacturer

Another way to narrow down your list of CBD oil makers is simply to do some internet research on CBD companies themselves. You’ll notice that some brand names will consistently be portrayed in a good light, while others might have an overabundance of bad reviews.

There are some smaller, more obscure companies which produce very high-quality CBD but may not have much in the way of reviews. Don’t necessarily rule them out. Use the methods above to determine if they will make the cut.

As we mentioned above, products produced in areas of the world other than the U.S. or Western Europe are usually of lower quality. There are plenty of great U.S. CBD oil producers to choose from, so it’s best to stick with U.S.-made products.

A Word On the Dangers of Synthetic Cannabinoids

You may have heard on the news about some people in Utah becoming seriously ill as a result of using CBD products which contained synthetic CBD — that is CBD produced in a lab instead of in a hemp plant. We can’t stress enough how dangerous these products are. Stay away from them at all costs.

Conclusions

To wrap things up, let’s summarize the important points that you should take away from this document.

Set Goals

It’s important to have some goals before you begin using CBD oil. For example, you may not be getting enough sleep, or you may be experiencing discomfort after working out. Determine what effects you’re hoping to get from CBD oil so that you can make a decision as to whether or not it’s working for you.

Determine Your Serving

If you’re taking CBD oil for health maintenance, you should be taking lower servings of CBD. Anything over 50 milligrams a day may be more than you need. You may only need 25 milligrams or less per day.

However, you may be using CBD for a reason other than wellness support and need a greater serving. Or you may be taking medications with which CBD will interact. There may be other considerations. You really need to discuss your decision with a qualified medical professional who is well-versed in the use of CBD in order to determine your ideal serving.