Best Ways to Consume CBD

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Author: Joy Hughes

Cannabidiol (CBD) is gaining more and more popularity due to its anti-inflammatory, anti-anxiety, anti-spasmodic effects, along with many other health-promoting properties. There are many ways to consume CBD, which can be overwhelming and sometimes confusing. Here we’ll discuss the pros and cons of the most popular ways to consume CBD.

Infographic shows ways to consume CBD and forms of CBD

Smoking - High CBD Marijuana Strains

Smoking high CBD marijuana strains can affect the body faster than other CBD products. It allows a relaxing and non-paranoid feeling for most consumers. However, for sensitive consumers, certain ratios of CBD to THC can cause a slightly euphoric feeling. Learning which marijuana strains are high in CBD can be confusing. Here we’ll look at some high CBD marijuana strains that can be smoked for their therapeutic effects.

ACDC is a very unique 50/50 hybrid strain  — 50% of Sativa and 50% of Indica. The CBD:THC ratios can range anywhere from 1% - 6% of THC to up to 20% of CBD. This particular strain can help relieve severe pain, epilepsy, anxiety, inflammation, bipolar disorder, and help reduce the negative effects of chemotherapy. ACDC may give a euphoric feeling when smoked, and has been reported in producing a more attentive effect, as well as a boost in their social skills.1 2

Charlotte’s Web is possibly the most well known Marijuana strain. It was named after Charlotte Figi, who was diagnosed with Dravet Syndrome and suffered from 300 seizures a week. After her first administration of this particular strain, Charlotte went a full hour without having a seizure. She then went from 300 seizures a week to 1 - 2 seizures a month. The CBD to THC ratio can be anywhere from 13% - 20% of CBD and extremely low THC. There is no psychoactive effects from this strain. Charlotte’s Web is a Sativa strain that has also been reported in treating fibromyalgia, extreme fatigue, inflammation from arthritis, and muscle spasms.3

Harle-Tsu is Indica dominant, and is known as a very powerful painkiller. The CBD to THC ratios can range from as high as 22% of CBD and as low as 1% of THC. Consumers have reported a “buzz” feeling when smoked, however, they notice more of a pain reduction than anything else. Harle-Tsu helps in treating inflammation, PTSD, migraines, sleep disorders, PMS, and depression. It has been reported that Harle-Tsu leaves users feeling more energized and mellow during the day.3

Other high CBD marijuana strains include:

  • Ringo’s Gift
  • Harlequin
  • Canna-Tsu
  • Sour Tsunami
  • Cannatonic

Note: Smoking in general can take a toll on your lungs. Some negative effects of smoking include: coughing, wheezing, asthma, and may even lead to a number of diseases involving the lungs. Smoking may be more convenient, but there are potentially long-lasting effects that smoking can cause on the lungs.

Smoking - High CBD Hemp Strains

Smoking high CBD marijunana strains isn't your only option when it comes to consuming CBD via smoking. Farmers are now growing high CBD strains directly from hemp. The Farm Bill made all CBD hemp legal as long as it contains less than 0.3% THC. With this recent legal change, CBD hemp flower has taken the industry by storm and it's quickly becoming one of the most popular ways to consume CBD. This is because it's a quick way to get the numerous benefits of CBD flower without the intoxicating high caused by high CBD marijuana strains.

It's important to note that high CBD hemp flower does still contain trace amounts of THC (0.3% or less) and therefore it does have the potential to cause a failed drug test. If you are drug tested regularly, you should stick with CBD oil derived from isolate.

If you've tried CBD oil but didn't feel any effects, smoking CBD flower might be the perfect next step to see how CBD affects you. Many people try CBD oil but report that it didn't work which is likely due to how long it can take to get into your system. The effects of smoking CBD flower are almost instant.

Lastly, there are lots of different CBD hemp flower strains which serve different purposes. If you're looking for a morning pick-me-up or an evening of relaxation, there's a strain for that. If you want to learn more, check out our article about our favorite high CBD flower strains.

Common CBD Consumption Questions

Yes you can eat raw CBD flower, but if you're trying to get the benefits of CBD, you'll need to first decarboxylate it to activate the CBD. You can decarboxylate the flower by heating it in the oven at 240 F° - 300 F° for about 10 minutes. Raw CBD flower usually consists of CBDA and not CBD. Decarboxylating the flower, will change the cannabinoid from CBDA to CBD.

CBD Vaporizing

Rather than smoking, vaporizing is a clearer and easier alternative way to inhale CBD. Like smoking, vaporizing CBD has a more immediate effect on the body by directly entering into the bloodstream without having to digest through the intestines and liver.

There are many different vaporizers for consuming CBD:

  • Table-top vaporizer – designed for home use and powered from an outlet.
  • Portable flower vapes – designed for cannabis flower and powered by a battery.
  • Oil-based vape pens – designed for portable use, and powered by a battery that can be plugged into a USB charger for continuous use.
  • Wax-based vape pens – designed to be discreet and used for wax rather than oil.6 7

It’s important to do diligent research on which vaporizer will work best for you. Vaporizers can range in price and often be overwhelming to use for first timers. Like smoking, there are possible health concerns when vaping. Allergies may occur from contaminants that exist in some vaporizers, such as cadmium, lead, and other metal particulates. However, according to a number of consumers, the effects from vaping CBD can be felt within 1 to 5 minutes.8

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CBD Topical Products

CBD-infused topical products are a wonderful and effective way to relieve localized pain, inflammation, and stress. As the largest organ of the body, our skin, is very porous and absorbent. When applied to the skin, CBD-infused topicals communicate to the localized CB1 and CB2 receptors, ensuring that the topicals never enter into the bloodstream.

There are a number of different CBD topical products:

  • Creams
  • Salves
  • Rubs
  • Roll-ons
  • Balms
  • Skincare oils

CBD-infused topicals contain a number of vitamins — A, B complex, D, C, and E — that promote healthy skin repair, provide antioxidants, and protect the elasticity and collagen of the skin. It takes about 15 - 30 minutes to feel the effects from CBD-infused topicals. Remember, topical products are all different and may affect different people in different ways. CBD-infused topicals are great for acne, skin irritants, muscle pain, arthritis, and more.

CBD Tinctures

CBD tinctures are often mistaken for CBD oil. Though they are similarly packaged and administered the same, the main difference between the two is that CBD tinctures consist of other ingredients. Simply put, a CBD tincture is cannabis dissolved into alcohol and often combined with a flavor to improve the taste. Other dissolving solutions that are used to make tinctures include vegetable glycerin, ethanol, and coconut oil.

Tinctures have been used as a medical solution for ages. The hemp plant (a part of the cannabis family) will go through a process known as carbon dioxide (CO2) extraction or alcohol extraction. As the cannabis plant soaks in alcohol, ethanol, or butane, the final product is then strained to be stored in a tightly secured container. It’s been said that CBD tinctures are the purest in CBD due to minimal involvement in the extraction process.  However, the amount of CBD found in the final product is much lower than the amount found in the oil.

CBD tinctures typically taste better than CBD oils, due to the diluting power of alcohol and flavoring. It is usually administered using a dropper and placed underneath the tongue. This ensures that it gets into the bloodstream quickly. CBD tinctures provide the same benefits as other CBD products do. However, for those new to CBD, or who just want to maintain an overall balance to their health, they may want to try a CBD tincture first to see how well they benefit from it.

One of the most common ways to consume CBD is with CBD tinctures.

Nanocraft CBD Tinctures

Nanocraft is our favorite CBD tincture provider. 

nanocraft cbd full spectrum tincture placed near a tree


CBD oil is very similar to CBD tinctures, but there are several differences between the two. CBD oil goes through the same process of either CO2 or alcohol extraction. The main difference in the process is that as the cannabis plant soaks, the CBD that is found in the remaining liquid is then evaporated, which gives us CBD oil. CO2 is perhaps the cleanest and purest extraction process in producing higher quality CBD.

CBD oil is generally administered using a dropper and held under the tongue. CBD oil can be used in a vape pen, whereas CBD tinctures cannot. It’s very important to check with your CBD manufacturer before purchasing CBD oil or a tincture, as some companies label their tinctures as CBD oil. When using a vape pen, do not use a tincture; only use vape oils.

CBD oil lacks in taste, unlike CBD tinctures. CBD is usually combined with a base oil such as: coconut oil, hemp oil, or even Vitamin E. Keep in mind that CBD oil provides the same aid as other CBD products, despite its bitter taste. CBD oil typically has a higher concentration, which makes it appealing for more chronic conditions such as IBS, chronic pain, epilepsy, and more.11

CBD Edibles

CBD edibles are products that are infused with CBD that can be eaten.

The different types of CBD edibles include:

  • Chocolates
  • Gummies
  • Taffy
  • Chewing Gum
  • Candy
  • Cookies
  • Teas
  • Drinks
  • Mints

CBD edibles are another great way to consume CBD. As far as oral consumption, CBD edibles are considered one of the faster ways to feel the effects of CBD. However, according to studies, researchers have noted a low bioavailability — the extent and amount of the absorption in the bloodstream from a substance — when CBD edibles are consumed.

In other words, when we consume CBD edibles, we lose anywhere from 6% to 20% of the CBD in our digestive system. Also, every person’s body is different. For some, the effects of CBD are felt faster due to the individual’s metabolism. Nevertheless, multiple CBD edibles can be consumed to get the desired effect.12

If you’re a first-time user, it’s important to start low and start slow. CBD edibles are perfect for people who have a weaker palate and/or prefer a tastier way to consume CBD.

Make CBD Chocolate Chip Cookies at Home

cbd infused chocolate chip cookies placed neatly in a circle

CBD Pills

For those who prefer not to eat, smoke, or hold CBD under the tongue, CBD pills may be the easier option. For some, CBD pills may take longer to feel the effect; however, once CBD pills take effect, it usually lasts longer.

CBD pills come in different strengths, so the need to consume more CBD is not necessary.  It’s important to note that CBD pills can come in a variety of shapes, sizes, and types:

  • Solid Tablets
  • Powder Capsules
  • Gel Capsules

CBD pills are portable and a great way to remain discreet when consuming CBD.13

CBD Isolate

CBD isolate is considered the purest form of CBD because it consists of only Cannabidiol and nothing else. The way we get CBD isolate is through the extraction process, in which unwanted properties of the plant are removed, isolating just the CBD. There are several forms that CBD isolate can come in, and powder is one of the most popular.

CBD isolate powder can be used in cooking, baking, and in smoothies. It can also be vaporized, added to joints or made into topicals and even tinctures.14

Due to the process of isolating CBD, important properties of the plant that are removed, such as flavonoids, terpenes, and trichomes. This may hinder the level of relief compared to full spectrum CBD — wherein none of the plant’s properties are removed.

In one study, CBD isolate and full spectrum CBD were administered in two groups of mice. The results showed that full spectrum CBD showed more relief in the mice rather than the group that was administered CBD isolate. Researchers noticed that as full spectrum CBD dosage was increased, the relief in the mice also increased. Increasing CBD isolate did not show the same results. Nevertheless, both groups did show a degree of relief.15

Despite this study, CBD isolate has many uses and benefits for many people.

CBD Dabbing

CBD dabbing is the “flash vaporization” of the concentrates from cannabis that are inhaled when applied to a highly heated surface. CBD users that are seasoned in dabbing suggest that it is the best way to consume CBD. They notice the effects of CBD faster and feel that it’s much more potent than other methods.

There are several forms of CBD that can be used in dabbing:

  • Wax
  • Isolate
  • Shatter
  • Butter
  • Crystals

CBD dabbing can be difficult for first timers, due to the tools involved and the precise process of heating and extraction. Dabbing can also be very dangerous, because of the extreme heat, poor ventilation, and gases that are flammable. Inexperienced dabbing can cause a lot of damage and even explosion.

Here are just a few tools used in CBD dabbing:

  • Dabbing Rig
  • Nail
  • Carb Cap Dabber
  • Dab Rag/Mat
  • Torch
  • Nails (Electric, Glass, Ceramic, Titanium, Quartz)

CBD dabbing is another great way to consume CBD. Just keep in mind that this method involves the use of proper equipment and in-depth research in how to setup, heat, extract, and inhale CBD.

What is the best way to consume CBD?

As you can see, there's a variety of ways to consume CBD. Each of these consumption methods vary in the way they interact with the body. Therefore, we don't believe there's one method better than the rest. If you're a beginner, we recommend consuming CBD Tinctures first. If you plan to try CBD tinctures, we suggest you calculate your recommended CBD dosage with our comprehensive dosage calculator.

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About Joy Hughes

Joy Hughes writes about health, nutrition, and all things cannabis. Having experienced the therapeutic effects of cannabinoids first hand, she's been spreading the word ever since. She currently travels the country in an RV with her husband and beloved beagle.

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5 years ago

I didn’t realize how many different ways there were. I’m excited to try some CBD lotion

4 years ago

I have a question. In the use of CBD topical, tinctures or oils, used for pain management, will there be any noticeable odor from the products that others may mistaken for alcohol? I ask because I am with a sports organization that assigns adult referees to middle and high school sporting events. We have had an incident where a school has reported one of our referees for the smell of alcohol on his person at the start of a game. I, and others, are trying to make a proper decision concerning this complaint. The referee in question informs he is… Read more »

Jason Beverly
Jason Beverly
4 years ago
Reply to  Stephen

Hi Stephen, Thanks for reaching out. Let us first start by stating that our comments below should not be taken as legal advice and we recommend you speak with a lawyer who can better advise on how to handle this situation. It is possible for CBD to contain alcohol because alcohol is used in the extraction process. Although the majority of CBD products on the market are alcohol free because the alcohol is typically removed before the final product is created. Consequently, it’s unlikely for CBD to smell like alcohol, but it’s possible if the referee consumed/used alcohol-based CBD products.… Read more »

4 years ago
Reply to  Jason Beverly

Jason, Thanks for the input. Your comments relative to the smell of alcohol are consistent with other responses I have received. It is still a bit unclear if even alcohol-free CBD products emit a detectable order after application. I regret that our engagement with this individual has resulted in an inconclusive assessment, as to whether alcohol use happen or was related to the products. At this point, because school age children (minors) are directly involved with the contact with this referee, the degree of uncertainty that exist creates a risk and liability potential that we who are responsible for place… Read more »

Jason Beverly
Jason Beverly
4 years ago
Reply to  Stephen

It’s unfortunate the situation had to end with this result but we completely understand and agree with your decision.
Our hope is that the FDA will soon release an action plan to properly regulate CBD.
Regulation and guidelines should help to alleviate the uncertainty in these types of situations.

Alexander D. Lemaster
Alexander D. Lemaster
4 years ago

I thank you because the article has told me something new. I really didn’t know this ……………. The way you explain is very easy to understand.