SUSS THE RIGHT DELIVERY METHOD FOR YOU
Words by Amy Paterson
Image by Sunny Ng on Unsplash
When it comes to consuming your cannabis - whether it be a CBD remedy or a good-time THC treat - the method of delivery you choose really matters. We show you 4 ways with weed....
Method of delivery, you ask?
We’re not talking here about whether your next KushKush order gets shipped by post, or if you get your bud dropped off by your dealer in his red Toyota Corolla. This ‘method of delivery’ refers to the manner in which cannabis is absorbed by your body.
And there are four main options. The first is what is called oral absorption, which is when cannabinoids (usually in liquid form) are placed under your tongue and absorbed via the sublingual glands.
The second method is through good old fashioned ingestion - down your throat and into your digestive tract - and the third is topical, i.e. through your skin. Lastly there is inhalation - where cannabinoids are absorbed into the lungs and then into the bloodstream when you inhale vaporised or combusted cannabis.
So… how to know what to choose and use? Well, the answer all depends on your preference, purpose and the potency you’re after - so let’s break down what this looks like for each option.
The method of inhalation is probably the best known way of consuming THC in particular through joints, bongs and vapes. But it also happens to be a great option for all you CBD stans out there.
Because it enters the bloodstream directly through the large surface area of the lungs, inhaled cannabis hits the brain and other organs very quickly - within 10-15 minutes, and often even sooner than that.
This makes it an ideal option for THC intake when you’re doing 420 with friends or if you’re using cannabis for urgent relief of pain, but in CBD form it’s also great for getting a wave of relief from situational concerns like social anxiety and stress.
One more factor to consider when deciding on a delivery method is something called bioavailability. This term refers to the percentage of the dose that is actually absorbed by your body via these various methods of consumption. In other words, it is the percentage which ultimately ends up in your bloodstream relative to a directly injected intravenous dose, which will have 100% bioavailability. The higher the bioavailability, the stronger the effects will be.
Inhalation has the highest bioavailability of all methods of delivery, coming in at 34-46%. But it is important to note that the effects of inhaled cannabis also have the shortest duration of all methods, lasting about 2-3 hours tops.
2. ORAL ABSORPTION
This method is usually used for products like tinctures (a.k.a ‘drops’) or sprays, particularly when you want to feel their effects quicker than if you simply swallowed them.
When consumed sublingually and absorbed by the mucous membranes under your tongue, the onset of either THC or CBD liquid concentrates usually takes 10-45 minutes to kick in and the effects can last between 2-8 hours.That is why this is very often the method of choice for treating severe and urgent medical conditions like epilepsy or multiple sclerosis.
The other benefits of this method are that it is pretty discrete and quick to use, healthier than vaping, and it allows for a precisely measured dosage of whatever you’re taking. All of which makes it a great option for those wanting to consume CBD on the daily like you do with a vitamin, with the purpose of experiencing the benefits that sustained use has for the management of anxiety, pain and inflammation.
As a bonus, because no heat is involved in the extraction process when producing these liquids as well as when administering them, all the natural goodness of those deliciously beneficial extra cannabinoids, terpenes and flavonoids found in cannabis is preserved.
With oral absorption, bioavailability is also pretty good at a rate of 13-35%. For maximum efficacy, it is suggested that the oil or concentrate be applied directly under your tongue and held there for about 30-60 seconds.
Another popular type of delivery method is through ingestion, where cannabis enters the bloodstream through the digestive tract. These kinds of CBD and THC products take the form of edibles like gummies, baked goods and capsules.
Edible products have to be processed through your digestive system and so they can take quite a while to take effect - somewhere between 45 minutes and 2 hours. This will depend on your weight, metabolism and how much else you’ve had to eat or drink (hot tip: take them on an empty stomach if you want them to kick in faster).
One of the benefits of eating your greens like this is that the gradual uptake by your body can make for a more mellow, subtle feeling - although many people who have had a bad time eating pot brownies might beg to differ.
But most of the time these negative experiences are actually a matter of dosage more than anything else, and any uncomfortable intensity can be avoided simply by starting low and going slow. While these concerns don’t really apply to CBD products because it is a non-psychoactive compound, when it comes to THC edibles we’d always advise to eat a small amount and be patient, waiting at least 2 hours to see how it feels.
Don’t try to be a hero by going big from the outset, or topping up too soon because you “don’t feel anything yet”... The bioavailability of edibles is around 13-19% and their effects can last up to 8 hours (sometimes longer) - so you’re in for a long ride if you jump the gun!
The fourth and final method of consuming cannabis is through topical products, where cannabis in the form of creams, oils, salves and transdermal patches is administered externally, and then absorbed through the skin.
Topical products are definitely best for CBD consumption, as they have a bioavailability so low that it is not even quantifiable. So anyone looking for the cerebral feels of THC would not be getting any kind of hit here. But just because they don’t enable cannabis to enter the bloodstream doesn’t make these products pointless - far from it.
There is still a surprisingly high number of cannabinoid receptors distributed all over the skin nerve fibres of the body. And this means that topicals are ideal for treating surface level skin concerns, as well as nociceptive pain (pain caused by physical forces, as opposed to the stabbing, internal sensation of nerve-related pain).
Topicals are great for applying directly to affected areas of the body if you’re looking to get localised relief from things like sprains, burns, bumps, bruises and other forms of inflammation (like arthritis or PMS cramps). They’re also great for treating allergies, rashes and other skin conditions like rosacea, psoriasis and eczema.
And as a bonus benefit, topical CBD can also help to amp things up in the bedroom for women by increasing blood flow to vaginal tissues and improving nerve sensation - a dual action which can make sex more pleasurable and also intensify an orgasm.
How long a topical CBD product lasts will depend entirely on how severe your ailment is or how sensitive your body is to sensation. But for best results, they should be applied generously and consistently.
Well there you have the facts lovelies. If you have any questions feel free to reach out to us on insta and we'll try our best to answer any of your questions.