Some experts claim that for best results, you should take CBD oil under tongue—but is that true? Here's what science has to say. Learn how to best take CBD oil under the tongue and why it is the most popular method of application. Discover other methods ranked by their effectiveness. Taking CBD oil under the tongue is the most effective way to get the most out of your CBD drops. Discover the benefits of taking CBD oil under the tongue.
True or False: the Most Effective Way to Take CBD Is Under Your Tongue
A s a wellness journalist who lives in hemp-obsessed California, I’ve had the opportunity to taste-test a lot of CBD products. Throughout my time test-driving tinctures and oils, I’ve been told (both from reading the label and from having face-time with creators of these products) that going “sublingual”—aka putting some drops under my tongue and letting them sit for a few seconds before swallowing—is the most effective way to take CBD. But is that advice actually legit?
To find out—because there’s been relatively little rigorous research on CBD to date and I’m a skeptic by nature—I reached out to a doctor and a scientist for the 411. As I suspected, this isn’t a topic that has been studied in depth. Yet there is some reason to believe that certain CBD products may truly be more bioavailable when absorbed under the tongue than if taken through food or drink.
According to Timothy Birdsall, ND—a member of hemp education platform Prima’s medial advisory group—when you take certain substances sublingually, they can enter directly into your bloodstream, where they’re immediately shuttled to your tissues. Think of it as a shortcut to digestion, which is a longer process in which the substance needs to be ingested, broken down by the stomach, absorbed by the small intestine, and metabolized by the liver. “Not only do many compounds lose potential bioavailability during [the digestion] process, but the time to onset is delayed,” adds chemist Jessie Kater, senior vice president of manufacturing for Curaleaf and Curaleaf Hemp.
Sublingual delivery isn’t always a better option for all substances, points out Dr. Birdsall—some B vitamins, for instance, need to be “activated” by the liver in order to do their jobs—but for certain vitamins and medications, it can be a super effective delivery method.
How does this apply to CBD? Surprise, surprise: It’s hard to say. “There has been very little scientific research on the sublingual absorption of CBD,” says Dr. Birdsall. The research that does exist has some inconsistencies, adds Kater, since there are so many factors that affect absorption—such as the quality of the CBD or the pH and consistency of the formulation. Plus, many of these studies focus on formulas that contain both CBD and THC—a psychoactive compound found in cannabis that’s supposed to be absent from CBD-only products—so it’s unclear whether their findings would also apply to a product that contains predominantly CBD.
Even so, Kater says that “most of the literature supports the notion that CBD has better bioavailability when consumed sublingually versus orally. [and] MCT oil-based tinctures are thought to provide better uptake than a traditional oil.” But, again, there’s no evidence that this applies to the exact CBD oil or tincture that you, specifically, have in your cabinet. As mentioned before, every formulation is different, and those small differences matter when it comes to bioavailabilty.
Long story short: You may as well try holding your CBD oil or tincture under your tongue before swallowing it—you could find that you feel it working slightly faster. Anecdotally, says Dr. Birdsall, experts recommended that you hold it there for at least 60 seconds. (A word of warning: There will be drool.) Your other option is to try a product that’s specifically created to be absorbed sublingually, like Kin Slips, which are kind of like those breath-freshening films that dissolve in your mouth.
After all, if there’s one thing that can be said about the wild west of CBD, it’s that experimentation is key—whether you’re looking for your perfect dose or your perfect delivery method.
Here are 6 products that CBD experts use themselves—including a tonic you can put under your tongue. No matter which CBD option you choose, make sure it doesn’t *just* contain hemp seed oil.
CBD oil under the tongue
Since CBD found its way into high street shops and online stores, the choices have improved. You can choose from products such as drops, sprays, capsules and gummies. You can also choose how to take it. CBD can be swallowed, placed under the tongue, vaped, rubbed into your skin or applied rectally.
Whether it’s CBD drops or CBD paste, placing it under the tongue is also known as “the sublingual method” and it is the most common way to take CBD. Despite its popularity, it is also the method that can cause the most confusion or raise questions.
Placing substances under your tongue understandably sounds a bit odd because it’s not something we often do. So, what is it about this method that makes it so widely used?
CBD under the tongue – Fast facts
- CBD oil is taken under the tongue because the cannabidiol can be absorbed into the blood stream via the sublingual membrane.
- To take CBD this way, simply lift your tongue, squeeze out the required number of drops and hold.
- At for the Ageless, we recommend holding the oil under your tongue for 90 – 120 seconds so that as much CBD as possible can be absorbed.
- Once the time is up, you can safely swallow the oil so the remaining CBD can be absorbed in your stomach.
- CBD e-liquids shouldn’t be taken under the tongue unless they are made using an MCT carrier oil.
How do I take CBD under the tongue?
The beauty of taking CBD in this way is that once you’ve tried it, it couldn’t be easier.
Simply, open your mouth and lift your tongue. Place the suggested number of drops under your tongue using the dropper provided. Then allow the oil to sit for between 90 seconds and 2 minutes.
It is up to you whether you keep your mouth open and your tongue raised or close your mouth. The important part is that the oil must remain in contact with the membrane under your tongue for the full time.
Do I swallow it?
Once the time has passed you can swallow any residue that is left in your mouth. This prevents any remaining cannabidiol from being wasted. Because some CBD oils leave a strong earthy taste, many people choose to complete the 90 seconds and then take a large swig of water to wash down any remaining oil.
Benefits of taking CBD sublingually
The word ‘sublingual’ refers to the large blood vessel found under your tongue. When liquids are placed there, they can cross the thin membrane and enter your bloodstream. The speed with which this happens has played a key part in this method’s popularity.
Many CBD consumers report that once they are used to it, taking it under the tongue is quick and easy. It requires very little effort and can be completed in a couple of minutes without having to use any special equipment. Drops can be placed under your tongue discreetly, whether you are at home or at work.
As an extra bonus, taking CBD under your tongue means that a higher amount will be absorbed for use. This results in a greater effect from less oil, meaning that you could save money when compared to CBD products that are only eaten or swallowed.
While all there are many compelling reasons to take CBD oil under your tongue, it can still take some getting used to. The first few times you try can be tricky, it’s not always easy to tell exactly how many drops you’ve used or if your dropper is positioned correctly.
If you do find this a problem, there are ways around it:
1. Stand next to a mirror or ask a friend to help you position the dropper correctly and count out the drops. Once you’ve tried it a couple of times it gets easier and becomes quick and convenient.
2. Alternatively, there are brands who have packaged their oils specifically to make them easier to use. CBD sprays are a great way to apply the oil directly under your tongue with no fuss. Others have specially designed droppers or have marked them in ways that make it easier to apply specific amounts without any guesswork.
Why does CBD oil burn under my tongue?
When CBD is in your mouth you may notice an intense, bitter flavour. Because many high-quality oils get the best effects from using more of the hemp plant, they can be intensely grassy and bitter. While unpleasant, this alone won’t do you any harm. A mouthful of water will help with any strong flavours.
However, if you get any reaction that is worse, stop using it immediately and consult a doctor. This may only happen in two situations:
- If you have chosen poor quality oil. Unfortunately, some oils that make it into the hands of customers have not passed the same quality checks that we apply to all our products. Contamination by chemicals or other products could result in an unsafe oil.
- If you are allergic to any product contained within the oil. This is very unlikely as great care is taken to choose natural ingredients with low risk of reaction, however, it is always worth carefully checking the lab results and labels of any products before their use.
How does it compare with other methods of taking CBD?
From the 5 methods to take CBD, placing oil under the tongue is one of the most effective. It isn’t as effective as vaping, but because it is so simple it is still more popular.
The effectiveness of each method can be measured by the length of time it takes for you to feel an effect, and how much of the active ingredient reaches your bloodstream. The distance of this journey and the obstacles faced directly affect how effective each method is. Once CBD reaches your bloodstream it is unlikely to be broken down further and it will be transported around your body for use.
How To Take CBD Oil For The Best Results
Taking CBD oil under the tongue (sublingually) is the best way to allow the CBD oil molecules to absorb through the surrounding tissue into your bloodstream.
This will help your body to react to CBD oil in the most effective way possible, so you can get the most benefits in the shortest amount of time. Let’s discuss in more depth how to exactly take CBD oil under the tongue, and the benefits it brings to you.
How to Correctly Take CBD Oil Under the Tongue
Though the method of taking CBD sublingually is very specific, it’s also incredibly easy. CBD oil needs to be put under the tongue and held for at least 60 seconds to allow sufficient time for the molecules to diffuse across the epithelial cells.
It’s important to note that the substance must be held under the tongue as different areas of the mouth have different types of cells that might not be permeable enough for diffusion into the bloodstream.
This method remains the same whether you are taking CBD oils or tinctures as well as for different dosages. There is no correct dosage or best time of day to do this as it varies depending on the person and condition being treated.
We recommend holding the CBD under your tongue for up to 1 minute without swallowing.
Additionally, it’s advised not to take the CBD during or directly after a meal as some of the oil may absorb into the food particles and not into the bloodstream.
How Often Should You Take CBD Oil Under The Tongue?
Figuring out how often you should take CBD oil depends on the individual and relates to various factors such as body weight and severity of the condition.
Although it varies, most individuals take CBD oil sublingually once or twice a day, either in the morning or a few hours before bed, or both – though you are not limited to these times.
Speaking to a qualified nutritionist can help you figure out when best to take your CBD oil, according to the benefits you want to bring to your body.
3 Benefits of Taking CBD Oil Under The Tongue
1. Increased Bioavailability
Since sublingual application bypasses the metabolic process of digestion, far less of the raw CBD is lost. The term bioavailability refers to how much of a substance can be utilised by the body and differs depending on the method.
As for CBD products, the only method with higher bioavailability than sublingual is inhalation.
2. Faster to Take Effect
Similarly to increased bioavailability, bypassing the slow digestion process means that the effects of CBD tinctures taken sublingually can be experienced much faster. Whereas it can take upwards of 30 minutes to benefit from oral consumption of CBD, taking CBD oil sublingually can yield results in only a few minutes.
3. Ease of Use
Not having to prepare the product or inhale smoke and vapor makes sublingual application easier. Just place a few drops under your tongue, don’t swallow for a few minutes, and let your body do the rest.
Is Holding CBD Oil Under the Tongue Safe?
Yes. CBD oil is understood to be safe compared to most substances. Taking CBD oil sublingually doesn’t increase the risk of any CBD-related side effects compared to oral consumption.
Furthermore, CBD oil is not going to make you ‘high’ unless it includes THC. If you are taking a certified CBD oil product that contains no THC, you are not going to experience any side effects that are commonly associated with THC.
While a side effect of THC can make someone feel anxious, have an increased heart rate, slower reaction times, and memory loss, CBD oil alone can actually help you relax, getting a deeper night’s sleep, and being able to unwind.
Side Effects of Taking CBD Oil Orally and Sublingually
The potential side effects related to the sublingual application of CBD oil are mild and uncommon, though some people have reported the following:
- Slight numbness under the tongue
- Aversion to the texture of CBD oil
- Aversion to the taste of CBD tinctures
Sublingual CBD Myths Busted
Despite the low risk of mild side effects associated with CBD, there are some unfactual claims about certain supposed side effects that simply aren’t true. The most popular ones are:
CBD stains your teeth
This myth comes from the associations between smoking and stained teeth. Make no mistake, smoking tobacco products, and cannabis alike will definitely stain your teeth over time, but simply putting a few drops of CBD oil under your tongue will not turn your teeth yellow.
CBD makes your breath smell
This myth likely also comes from the associations between smoking and bad breath or potentially from the relatively unpleasant taste of CBD oil.
However, while bad breath is caused by odour-producing bacteria in the mouth, CBD has antibacterial properties that can actually aid bad breath.
If you’re still worried about the potential effect of CBD oil on your dental hygiene, simply take it before bed or in the morning and brush your teeth afterwards, as this will not impact the effectiveness of the product.
The Bottom Line
Taking CBD tinctures under the tongue is far more advantageous than oral consumption of tablets or oils. With its higher bioavailability and speed, while not presenting any higher risk of side effects, sublingual application is one of the best and most effective ways of taking CBD.
Before including CBD in your lifestyle, you should consult your doctor, especially if you are on other medications.
Frequently Asked Questions
1. What Happens if You Accidentally Swallow CBD Oil?
Accidentally swallowing the CBD oil won’t pose any risks to your body. However, once you swallow the substance, you are no longer taking it sublingually.
Instead, you are consuming it, which means that it will have to be metabolised through your digestive system before your body can utilise it. Although this isn’t dangerous, it does mean decreased bioavailability and slower onset of effects.
2. Should You Take CBD With Food or an Empty Stomach?
Since sublingual application bypasses the digestive system entirely, there’s no need to worry about taking it with food or on an empty stomach. Neither will change the results.
3. Can You Drink Water After Applying CBD Oil Under the Tongue?
Yes. After the total time is up, the process is complete, and the CBD has diffused into your bloodstream. Drinking water or eating food now won’t prevent the CBD from working, so you are free to do as you please.
However, you might want to give it a few more minutes before drinking any water just to ensure that your body manages to absorb as much CBD as possible.