The Complete Guide to Sublingual CBD

David Jadwin

Updated July 2021

Sublingual CBD is one of the most effective methods to take CBD for rapid absorption and potency. However, the term itself is an unnatural and unusual method of taking something for most people. Even the word sublingual is not common language for many and has people scrambling for a secret dictionary lookup. Unless you have been on medication that was recommended for sublingual administration, you probably are wondering why you should take CBD that way. 

Given your investment in CBD and the importance to your health, it's important to know how to use it properly. Let’s explore the reason for sublingual CBD, how to use it, and some basic guidelines for dosage.

Once you have educated yourself on Sublingual CBD, please use Coupon Code: SUB20 for 20% off all of our products.

You can see a summary of this article in this video:

What Does “Sublingual” Mean?

 Sublingual has its roots in Latin and literally means “under the tongue”. In the context of CBD and the medical field, it is a method of taking medications by placing them under the tongue. This could be in the form of a tablet, spray, film, or liquid. It is common practice in the medical field for those on cardiovascular medications, steroids, and other drugs to take them sublingually.

Why Take CBD Sublingually?

Two primary benefits of taking CBD sublingually are the speed of absorption and the level of potency achieved. 

The speed of absorption is rapid under the tongue because the chemical is quickly absorbed by the mucous membrane. The tissue under the tongue has a huge number of capillaries to allow for the substance to diffuse directly into the bloodstream.

Higher levels of CBD are achieved when taken sublingually. If you take CBD and swallow it directly, or use other oral products like edibles or capsules, the CBD goes directly to your stomach. In those cases, there are a couple of main risks to the CBD that can cause degradation. 

The first is your gastrointestinal tract, including your stomach. This path is filled with dangers from various enzymes, stomach acid, and bile. They attack and reduce the potency of the CBD, which is of course, just a chemical compound.

The second risk is that anything absorbed in your gastrointestinal tract / stomach must be processed by the liver. The liver can significantly alter the CBD through what is known as the “first-pass effect” of drug metabolism.

Taking CBD sublingually avoids these risks and get the CBD into your bloodstream quickly and with maximum potency.

Sublingual CBD Absorption Time

 Taking CBD sublingually creates maximum bloodstream levels between 30 minutes and 4-5 hours. The reason it may last even longer is that although some is absorbed in the tissues under your tongue, a lot is still swallowed and processed through your stomach and GI tract. 

Hint: It is interesting that your absorption rates for taking CBD orally can increase dramatically if you have been eating. Chewing increases blood flow in the mouth and may improve your absorption rates.

How to Take Sublingual CBD

Typically, you will be using a dropper to take the CBD oil. Based on your desired dosage, place the liquid using the dropper, under your tongue. You should leave it in your mouth between one and two minutes. It’s recommended to swish it around your mouth a bit since you can get absorption in all the mouth’s tissues. This will distribute the oil to your cheek tissues or even your gums. Let it come to rest and sit under the tongue for a minute and then swallow it.

Depending on your taste, you can always choose one of the many flavors available or use just the non-flavored CBD oil or tincture. You can see all of our CBD oils and tinctures available here. Simply put, a tincture is CBD dissolved in alcohol versus CBD Oil which is extracted CBD (or other cannabinoids as well) with an oil base. Both forms of CBD are commonly used sublingually for the same reasons we have described.

What Does “Buccal” Mean as a Method to Take CBD?

Another strange term used for taking medications or CBD orally is “buccal”. Buccal refers to absorbing it through the inside of the cheek. It has similar benefits to sublingual but obviously it’s a little harder to keep the liquid there. It is good to coat your mouth so you can get the benefits of buccal absorption, but the sublingual (under the tongue) is where the liquid should rest.

How Much CBD Should I Take Sublingually?

 CBD dosage is dependent on several factors, and you can read more about dosing in our CBD Education center, our product category specific pages, or you can read our handy dosing guide here. The factors include bodyweight, body chemistry (tolerance), and what condition you are trying to treat. This last component is very important. Even if your weight is higher and your tolerance is low, knowing the "why" of using CBD is the most important piece to discovering the appropriate dosage. For example, are you using CBD just to add in to your daily health routine or are you dealing with severe pain in which you are looking to manage symptoms? This can be a wide range and affects the dosage widely.

We commonly recommend that individuals start with either a 500mg or 1000mg bottle of CBD Oil or Tincture. Taking 1ml a day to start, would be 17mg or 33mg respectively.  Depending on how you feel the effects, increasing the dosage over time until you find the right fit seems to be a good rule of thumb. 

As stated before, you should adjust in this zone depending on your weight, how it affects you, and the purpose of the CBD. Taking CBD for daily health is valuable and that level of dosage is something most people find effective. If you are dealing with more significant health issues, such as chronic pain or severe anxiety, you may want to use more until you get the desired effect. You can track how well your CBD is working by checking out our blog here.

Can I Take Too Much CBD?

The various studies in 2011 and 2017 that have been conducted show that CBD is safe even in very high doses like 1500mg per day.

The issues with CBD are rare, but there are some cases where it can interfere with liver function and interact with specific medications. CBD can interact with some medications, such as those that forbid eating grapefruit. Grapefruit, like many other natural plants and fruits, contain other cannabinoids that get processed by the liver. If you’re on medication, it’s always good to ask your physician if it will interact with CBD poorly.

Are There Side Effects to CBD?

There are very few and rare side effects to CBD, but there are situations where it can cause fatigue, diarrhea, or changes in appetite or weight. Sometimes the side effects are not from the CBD itself, but from things like the carrier oils in CBD Oil. 

Sublingual CBD Labeling and Dosing Calculations

Bottles of oil or tinctures range anywhere from 100mg to 3500 and up! They can come in various sizes – 30ml and 60ml bottles are the most common. 

If you divide the total milligrams (mg) on the bottle by the size of the bottle (ml), then you know how many milligrams per milliliter. For those not math inclined, let’s keep it simple. If you have a 1000mg bottle of CBD and it’s a 30ml bottle, that means each 1ml is 1000/30, or 33mg. If that’s near your dosage, now determine how to get 1ml of liquid, which should be about 1 full dropper.

Don’t be intimidated, when your find you dosage and how many droppers it takes, life is simple from there. Just put that many droppers in your mouth once or twice a day, depending on how you want to dose.

How Much CBD Does a Dropper Hold?

A standard dropper produces 20 drops which typically equals 1 milliliter of liquid. You probably should test your dropper to check for size and how many drops you get out of it. But, find out what gives you 20 drops and then you know that’s 1 ml of the CBD liquid.

CBD Oil and CBD Tincture Product Quality

When selecting a CBD product for sublingual use, there are a few things to remember. It always goes back to the importance of trusting your CBD products and brands! You want a quality product and that means the ability to access the independent lab test results. These results will confirm the absence of other chemicals and validate the amount of CBD and other cannabinoids, and the levels of THC. THC must be less than 0.3% for CBD to be federally legal. All our products meet all these criteria and were selected based on trusted brand quality.

Types of Sublingual CBD Oil

CBD Isolate Oils – CBD isolate is the purest form of CBD (cannabidiol), being 99.9% pure. During processing, they extract CBD alone from all the other compounds and cannabinoids of the cannabis plant. By taking this sublingually, you get just CBD, no THC at all, and no other cannabinoids or terpenes. Many people prefer this to ensure no THC and it typically costs a bit less than the other types of CBD Oil.

An example of a CBD Isolate for sublingual use is Medterra’s line of top-quality CBD isolate tinctures:

CBD Full-Spectrum Oils – Full-spectrum oils include CBD and all the other cannabinoids found within the cannabis/hemp plant. The plants are bred for high amounts of CBD and low amounts of THC, allowing it to be called hemp and below the 0.3% THC threshold to be federally legal.

The benefit of full-spectrum oils is that you receive what is referred to as the “entourage effect” which are all the cannabinoid and terpenes benefits in addition to CBD. There are more than 400 compounds in the cannabis plant, but CBD is by far the most concentrated cannabinoid in hemp. THC is very concentrated in marijuana strains.

Some examples of full-spectrum CBD Oils and tinctures for sublingual use are from Savage Essentials line and the Lazarus Naturals.

CBD Broad-Spectrum Oils – Broad-spectrum is similar to full spectrum CBD Oils, where you have the entire cannabinoid and terpene profile. The difference is it has gone through an extra step to remove 100% of the THC, making it not just below 0.3% THC, but 0%. You retain the entourage effect but with no THC at all. This is typically the most expensive sublingual oil because of the extra steps required. Koi and Greenroads are top-quality Broad Spectrum products.

Summary of Sublingual CBD

Sublingual use of CBD Oil is one of the most effective ways to get CBD into your bloodstream with maximum speed and potency. Combining sublingual use with buccal use makes the oral taking of CBD even more effective. 

You can find a variety of CBD oil types, from Isolate to Full-Spectrum to Broad-Spectrum. Use our CBD dosing guidance to find the right dosage for your particular situation.

Using CBD sublingually isn’t hard, and we hope this has been helpful to make the concept clear and easy for you to use CBD.

Thank you for reading about Sublingual CBD, please use Coupon Code: SUB20 for 20% off all of our products.

If you think you're ready for the next level, try our Delta 8 oils and tinctures here, which you will also take sublingually or you can add them to your favorite alcoholic or non-alcoholic drink.

The Complete Guide to Sublingual CBD
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