January 13, 2022

What Is Sublingual Absorption & Why's It So Darn Fast?

In case you haven’t noticed yet — there are a ton of different kinds of CBD products on the market. And, correspondingly, there are many different ways you can consume said CBD products.

Today, we’re taking a look at sublingual administration of CBD. In this post, we’ll take a lick at:

  • Explaining what the sublingual method is and how it works
  • Illuminating the potential advantages of taking CBD sublingually
  • Providing some info and suggestions for you to get the most out of sublingual CBD consumption

Enough tongue wagging — let’s get on with it!

Define Sublingual For Me Please!

Sublingual is a coat-and-tie fancy way of saying “under the tongue.” Literally.

Sub- is a prefix meaning under, beneath, or below. Lingual comes from the Latin word lingua (tongue). Mush it all together and you get sublingual. It’s a term used to refer to something that’s located under the tongue or administered via the tissues beneath the tongue.

When talking about sublingual in the context of CBD, we’re discussing both the way of taking the CBD as well as the CBD products designed to be taken in this fashion. So, it’s the consumption of CBD by placing it below your tongue. And it’s a category of CBD oil products you can use sublingually.

Bonus trivia: In medical literature, you may see the wordoromucosal (oro = mouth, mucosal = of or relating to the mucosa membrane or thin skin lining the inside of your mouth). Sublingual is an oromucosal delivery method.

CBD Sublingual vs Oral — What’s The Dif?

Because sublingual is in the mouth, you might think it’s synonymous with oral. Not so.

Oral CBD consumption happens when you swallow the CBD. This could be in the form of CBD drops you’ve added to your smoothie, a yummy CBD gummy you’re chomping away at, or some other “magic” edible that’s going down the hatch. If you’re eating it, drinking it, or otherwise ingesting it — it’s oral CBD.

CBD that enters your system orally goes through your digestive tract. When CBD is processed via your gut, it’s absorbed differently than when it’s introduced sublingually.

Which brings us to….

How’s Sublingual CBD Work Exactly?

Different sublingual CBD product formulations (e.g., tinctures vs sprays) will vary slightly, but here’s the basics of how using a sublingual CBD product works. We’ll use CBD drops as our example.

  • Step 1: Put some CBD oil drops under your tongue.
  • Step 2: Your body starts absorbing the CBD and putting it to work.

As soon as you drippity-drop your CBD oil, the liquid begins to pass through the tissues in your mouth, aka the mucosa. The mucosa is very thin so it’s not too difficult for the CBD — especially if it’s been nanotized like Pure Craft CBD — to pass through that membrane.

This is like a jump-the-line fastpass to your bloodstream superhighway. Meaning that the sublingual CBD is not going through your GI tract, which is akin to a “scenic route.” (Any CBD you end up swallowing will be treated like an oral CBD product.)

Once in the bloodstream, the CBD engages with your body’s endocannabinoid system (ECS). And, it’s through the ECS that the CBD’s many and diverse effects are possible. You can learn more about the mighty and mysterious ECS in our post What Is The Endocannabinoid System?.

Sublingual CBD Oil Benefits

By bypassing the harsh realities of your digestive system, the integrity of the CBD remains more intact.(1) The more unscathed or adulterated your little CBD molecules, the more potent and effective they can be.

This yields some distinct advantages over other means of taking CBD.

CBD Sublingual Absorption Time & Amount

Sublingual CBD is:(2,3)

  • More bioavailable. You’ll get more of the CBD tour de force coursing through your bod per dose than most other consumption methods. If you’re using nano CBD, bioavailability increases even more!
  • More quickly absorbed. The CBD gets sucked into your system sooner. No wasting time snaking down the gullet, through the stomach and liver, and into your body here!
  • More rapidly utilized. It takes less time for you to notice the onset of the CBD effects. No dillydallying through your digestive system means you aren’t waiting long for your CBD to calm your nerves, ease your aches, etc.

It’s worth noting that sublingual CBD has a relatively quick turn-around compared to oral CBD. While the benefits come on faster with sublingual CBD, their duration is briefer. You can see why some may view this as a negative or why having oral CBD in your kit may be useful.

Ease & Convenience

Lots of people love sublingual CBD because it’s no muss, no fuss. You can simply plop some CBD under the tongue and you’re good to go. You don’t have to combine the CBD with anything or even have a glass of water to wash it down with if you don’t want.

Plus, knowing effects will come on faster and fade sooner might make it easier to plan into your schedule. It’s a steeper but shorter time commitment.

Streamlined Ingredients

Sublingual CBD products are often fairly bare bones. Like it’s the CBD extract and a carrier oil. This is awesome if you’re not into oodles of additives — like sugar and fat or fillers and preservatives or pesticides and fertilizers.

Of course, you can find sublingual CBD products across the spectrum. At one end are minimalistic products — like CBD tinctures with just a touch of natural flavors included to enhance (or mask) the taste. Capping the opposite end are CBD products with an ingredients list as long as Gene Simmons’s tongue. And there’s a bunch of stuff in between.

Trackability

It may be easier for you to evaluate the effectiveness of your sublingual CBD preparations.

If you’re using a product with fewer ingredients and/or are consuming the CBD in a way that preserves it’s inherent properties better, the impact from the CBD itself might be more obvious.

Essentially, you’re removing some of the variables. The more variables, the harder it could be to tell if you’re getting what you want and need out of your CBD.

Options Galore

Going for under-the-tongue CBD doesn’t mean giving up variety. You can find sublingual CBD as tinctures, water-soluble drops, oral sprays, tonics, tablets, strips, lozenges, and probably a whole slew of other goodies as well.

All these products are specially crafted to absorb at lightning speed through the mucosa. The non-liquid formulations — such as lozenges and strips — are made to dissolve super fast so that they can then pass through the skin in your mouth.

Within the sublingual category, there are CBD products of different flavors and potencies. You definitely aren’t settling for a narrow field of options!

Better yet, CBD drops are extremely flexible. Maybe sometimes you don’t want as fast and compressed a CBD ride. At these times, you can use your CBD drops orally (e.g., mixed into your fave food or drink) instead of sublingually.

Isn’t it great to have choices?!

How To Increase CBD Absorption: Sublingual Usage Tips

As with any other way of downing your dose, ya wanna make sure you’re getting the most out of your CBD. Who could blame you?

Mull over these pointers and try to take them to heart.

Get The Right Products

First things first, assess your needs and preferences. Figure out what you want to accomplish by taking CBD. Determine if you have any constraints or special considerations that will influence what kind of CBD products and administration methods are a fit for you.

Assuming sublingual CBD is the path forward for you, research and select the best possible CBD products. These are ones that are:

  • Designed for sublingual use
  • Made with CBD extract derived from organic American hemp
  • Use nano CBD for greater bioavailability
  • Free of harmful or questionable additives (e.g., toxic chemicals or heavy metals)
  • Come from a reputable producer and retailer

Administer The CBD Drops Properly

Basically, follow the product guidelines. CBD products formulated for sublingual use will be designed to easily land on the mucosal membranes on the bottom side of the tongue.

Remember, if you’re testing out a new CBD product or sublingual consumption is new to you — take it slow in the beginning. You may find that you require a different amount of sublingual CBD as compared to CBD taken in a different way (because of how it’s absorbed). Once you know how your body responds to the products and this application method, you can tweak your routine.

Depending upon the CBD product you’re using, you may also benefit from pairing your dose with a snack or meal. CBD oil is fat soluble, meaning it breaks down in fats, which facilitates its absorption into your body. A water-soluble CBD preparation is formulated to have good absorption without the accompaniment of fat, so a nosh isn’t as critical.

We have a whole post dedicated to this topic. Scoot over to How To Take CBD Tinctures Properly next if you need a drop-by-drop explainer on 10/10 under-the-tongue tincture technique.

Establish Your Routine

Over time, you’ll be able to lay out a CBD regimen that works perfectly for you. For chronic conditions, CBD generally works best with consistent use. For occasional issues, ad hoc CBD use may suffice.

Also, be mindful of how the CBD consumption mixes and matches with foods and drinks, other supplements, and meds. This is important if you’re thinking about having your CBD:

  • Alongside caffeinated or alcoholic beverages
  • Layered in with other CBD formulations (e.g., topical CBD), THC, or delta-8
  • In addition to vitamins or any over-the-counter or Rx drugs

Come up with a sensible approach to CBD that dovetails into your lifestyle. It’s a key to success!

Sublingual: Possibly The Best CBD Absorption Method

When taken sublingually, CBD enters the bloodstream via the thin tissues under your tongue. Because it’s got the direct route into your body, it’s a great option if you’re looking for fast-acting effects. This method of administration also renders the CBD more bioavailable.

For best results, use CBD products that are designed to be consumed sublingually. CBD drops and sprays are among the most common sublingual CBD products on the market today.

GET YOUR SUBLINGUAL-FRIENDLY CBD NOW

References

  1. Lassalle, J. (2019). How to Take CBD. Healthline. https://www.healthline.com/health/how-to-take-cbd#sublingual
  2. Millar, SA, et al. (2020). Towards Better Delivery of Cannabidiol (CBD). Pharmaceuticals. https://doi.org/10.3390/ph13090219
  3. Mannila, J, et al. (2007). Precipitation Complexation Method Produces Cannabidiol/β-Cyclodextrin Inclusion Complex Suitable for Sublingual Administration of Cannabidiol. Journal of Pharmaceutical Sciences. https://doi.org/10.1002/jps.20766


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