How to Use CBD Oil

how to take cbd oil

If you have recently become aware of the growing CBD oil craze, you have probably realized there are several different ways to consume it. You are probably wondering

  • What are the different ways to consume CBD oil?
  • Which is the best way to take cannabidiol?
  • What dose of CBD should I take?
  • What do “bioavailability” and “Rate of Absorption” have to do with CBD oil?

These are all great questions to ask, and I hope to answer all of them in this article. In addition, I will provide some links to my extensive product reviews in each category so you can follow along to find the best selections in each class so you can buy with confidence.


How to Take CBD Oil

One of the interesting things about CBD is that, like other cannabinoids, the effects can vary from person to person. Also, the method of delivery can impact how this compound is metabolized by the body, influencing how well it may work for certain symptoms such as anxiety, pain or sleeplessness.

If you are new to CBD oil, expect to have to experiment a little bit to find the best way to consume it for your situation. You may find that one method over another works better for you.

CBD Oil Dosage

Dosing with CBD products is difficult to estimate for several reasons. First, the method of delivery can change the amount of CBD that your body can metabolize, making the actual amount of CBD that enters your system somewhat variable.

Second, there is some difference between what dose might be effective depending on the health benefits you are looking for as well as factors such as your experience using CBD or other cannabis products.

Keep in mind that CBD is thought to be very safe, even in high doses. With few side effects, none thought to be serious; you have some room to safely experiment until you find the dosage that works best for you.

It always makes the most sense to read the dosing information for the specific product you buy since concentrations vary from product to product. Start at the low end and increase a little each day until you find your sweet spot.

It may be helpful to have a range of dosing just to get a sense of where to start. Here are some guidelines:

  • Low Dose: 5-15 mg per day
  • Medium Dose: 15-50 mg per day
  • Large Dose (should be taken under the guidance of a doctor): >50 mg per day


Before You Take CBD

There are a few precautions you should be aware of before trying CBD for the first time:

Drug Interactions

Your body metabolizes most of the drugs that you take in the liver with the use of specialized enzymes. One of these types of enzymes is known as cytochrome P450. CBD can interact with this enzyme in the liver, temporarily blocking them from being available to metabolize other medications.

It should be noted that research on this is still in the early phases, so the exact drug interactions possible with CBD are not fully understood.

In addition, other substances can interfere with this same metabolic pathway. You may have heard, for example, that grapefruit can interfere with certain prescription drugs because it contains the compound Bergapten which also interacts with cytochrome P450.

Since it could interfere with the metabolism of certain drugs, it can impact the levels of these drugs in the bloodstream, making them more or less potent than they normally would be.

If you are taking prescription drugs for any serious medical condition, it is wise to consult with your doctor before adding CBD to your health routine.

Possible counterindications include a wide range of drugs that use the CYP450 enzymes, some of which include:

  • Blood thinners
  • Chemotherapy
  • Seizure medications
  • Beta blockers
  • NSAIDs
  • Antipsychotics
  • Antidepressants
  • Antihistamines
  • Steroids
  • Immune system modulators
  • Opioids


Pregnant or Lactating

The potential consequences of CBD on fetal development or build up in milk are not completely understood. CBD is not known to be safe for pregnant or breastfeeding women so it should be avoided in both cases as a precaution.


Side Effects

Again, scientists agree that CBD is overwhelmingly safe, with fewer serious side effects than many prescription drugs currently approved for use by the FDA.

The most common side effects reported include:

  • Tiredness
  • Diarrhea
  • Changes in appetite
  • Lightheadedness
  • Dry mouth


Other, less common side effects can include:

  • Low blood pressure
  • Nausea
  • Increased tremors (in people with Parkinson’s disease)

As the case with many medications, initial side effects may disappear as the body acclimates to the active compounds.


Understanding “Bioavailability” and “rate of absorption” of CBD

One of the things that is not still fully understood about CBD is how the different methods of taking it may affect the bioavailability, that is, the body’s ability to metabolize and use the CBD present in any given product.

A related subject is the rate of absorption which refers to how fast the CBD goes from the product into the bloodstream after consumption.

Unfortunately, although research does exist on the metabolism of CBD, it has been somewhat contradictory and is also based on small sample sizes. Look for this to be one area of CBD research that improves in the years to come.

Here is what we do know: The rate of absorption and bioavailability are likely higher when the compound is absorbed into the bloodstream without going through a full digestive process which breaks down some of the CBD present before it has a chance to enter the blood and interact with the body’s natural endocannabinoid system.

Therefore, oral consumption is likely the slowest and least efficient way to consume CBD. That being said, some people find that the effect of oral consumption has fewer side effects and lasts longer. Even though it is probably less efficient, some still find oral consumption to be the best way to take CBD oil because of the qualitative difference in its effects when taken this way.

Here is the takeaway lesson: You will probably want to try different methods before deciding on which will work best for you!


Sublingual (Under the Tongue)

The most common way to take CBD oil is to use a CBD oil (also known as cannabidiol or hemp oil) drops directly under the tongue. The drops are then held under the tongue for 30-90 seconds, then swallowed. This is known as “sublingual” dosing.

When you buy CBD oil tinctures, they usually come in small bottles with eyedroppers built into the cap. These droppers are marked with estimated dosing for the precise product that you are using. Just fill the dropper to the indicated level for the dose you want to take and drop under your tongue. Hold for 30-90 seconds before swallowing.

It generally takes between 10-15 minutes to experience the effects of sublingual dosing. It is considered highly efficient since this method bypasses the digestive system making it a highly bioavailable way to use CBD. The rate of absorption from this method is considered one of the highest relative to other methods.



This method of consumption is less efficient than others because the digestive system breaks down some of the CBD before it ever hits the bloodstream. The rate of absorption is also low, taking anywhere from 30 minutes to a few hours to fully feel the effects.

That being said, many users prefer this because it comes on more slowly and lasts longer than other methods. It may well be that allowing CBD oil to be fully digested changes the way it interacts with the nervous system, endocrine system and/or immune system, producing different effects. More research still needs to be done for science to fully understand this process.

There are two main ways to take CBD orally:


When you buy CBD in pill form, you get the advantage of precise and even dosing that other methods of taking CBD just don’t offer. Also, it is one of the most convenient ways to add CBD oil to your health supplement regimen – simply add a capsule directly to your pillbox along with your other medications and supplements.

I have a great review of the best CBD capsules if you are looking to give them a try.


Many people like to add CBD oil to their favorite baked goods, drinks, and shakes. This can be done with the same CBD oil tinctures that many people use for sublingual dosing. If you plan on doing that, just be careful of buying flavored oils so you won’t be adding peppermint flavor to your cream of potato soup!

There are also a variety of premade edibles which some folks enjoy because they are precisely dosed and come in a wide variety of tasty treats. If you want to check out edibles, be sure to look over my review of the best CBD edibles, so you get a great product on your first try.



Demand for CBD infused topicals is going through the roof right now, and for a good reason. Cannabidiol is known to work transdermally, and it has many potential health benefits when used in this way.

Many people find that it is an effective pain reliever and anti-inflammatory when applied directly to the skin. Many athletes are making the switch to address muscle soreness and reduce their use of harmful NSAIDs, or worse, dangerous and addictive prescription painkillers.

In addition, the anti-bacterial properties along with its role as a regulator for the skin’s sebaceous glands has made CBD a natural remedy for acne. Since it is also involved in regulating new skin growth, CBD may also have some novel treatment potential for skin conditions such as psoriasis and eczema as well.

One of the advantages of going with a topical is that you can apply it directly to the site of the problem. It is fast acting with most users experiencing relief within minutes of application. Since it is not systemic regarding metabolism, it is a very good way to make sure the CBD you buy goes directly to the source of discomfort.

Although you can apply any CBD oil to the skin, the best CBD topical products contain supporting ingredients that are also targeted to the specific skin issue you would like to address.

For more information on where to find the best CBD topical products, visit my extensive reviews for the best CBD topicals for pain, for psoriasis, for eczema, and for acne.


Inhale – Vaping and Dabbing

Taking CBD oil via vaping or dabbing is particularly popular among Gen Xers and younger, or those that have quit smoking cigarettes. It is considered highly bioavailable when taken in this way, as well as very quick to enter the bloodstream.

However, I would not recommend either of these inhalation methods to the newcomer to CBD oil. First, it tends to be a higher dosing method, and precision control of the exact dose isn’t possible. You can easily take more than you intended in just a few puffs.

Second, there are potential health risks to smoking anything, even with vaping and dabbing. For instance, the many artificial flavorings may not be entirely safe when burned and consumed directly into the lungs despite being considered safe to eat in trace amounts.

That being said, some people love the near instant relief from their symptoms that they get when using these methods, particularly for pain and anxiety. Plus, some folks like the calming ritual of stepping outside for a quick and calming vape break.

If you want to learn more about this method of CBD delivery, be sure to look over my helpful guide to the best CBD vape oil.



Although certainly not as fun to use as gummy candies or fruity vapes, there is a very good reason why some people prefer their CBD in suppository form: Fast relief from serious pain.

Bypassing digestion has a few benefits. First, users avoid having to swallow a pill which some people struggle with. Second, some people have very sensitive stomachs, making suppositories a way to bypass potential nausea that some people experience from swallowing CBD oil. Finally, the rate of absorption is very fast.

The dosing of CBD suppositories tends to be quite high, and I would not recommend this method for beginners. That being said, some people with chronic and severe pain swear by this particular method of consuming CBD oil.

There are not a lot of CBD manufacturers that are making CBD suppositories. However, CBDistillery, one of my top rated CBD companies does offer 150mg suppositories for a very reasonable price.


Conclusion: How to Use CBD Oil

I hope this article gave you all of the information you need to decide which method of taking CBD oil is right for your needs, lifestyle, and budget. Also, I hope the CBD dosage section gave you a good sense for how much CBD oil you should take, particularly if you are new to using it.

If you have some experience using CBD, please consider leaving a comment below about which method you prefer and why. What affects do you experience and how long does it take before you feel them? It would go a long way to helping my readers with similar issues find the right product for their needs.

Thanks in advance for helping folks find the right natural products!


Will is the editor here at CBD Oil Geek. He is passionate about CBD and other natural alternatives to dangerous prescription medicines. He lives with his wife in Brooklyn, New York.