how cbd works under your tongue (and why it’s effective)
taking cbd under your tongue is easy. this process, known as sublingual administration, is claimed to be one of, if not the best way to take cbd oil. we wanted to know why that’s the case, so we set out to learn more about sublingual administration and how cbd works when applied under the tongue.
cbd can easily be absorbed underneath the tongue through the thin mucous membranes there. holding cbd oil drops under your tongue for at least 60 seconds before swallowing allows it to bypass digestion and become rapidly absorbed directly into the bloodstream.
cbd is one of many compounds that the body can absorb sublingually. certain enzymes, steroids, cardiovascular drugs, vitamins and minerals also can be taken via sublingual administration to take advantage of the fast path to absorption. using cbd sublingually can allow you to maximize both its effectiveness and the speed at which it will work; it may also help you get the most value out of your cbd oil.
how does cbd work under your tongue?
cbd is often taken under your tongue in the form of a tincture (drops) or spray. this works because your mouth is made of membranes, both underneath the tongue and on the inside of your cheeks. these membranes are full of blood vessels, whose role inside our bodies is to transport blood to and from the heart by way of veins, capillaries, and arteries. therefore, anything that can be absorbed by these membranes can directly enter the bloodstream as long as they stay present long enough to be absorbed, which is usually around a minute for most people.
taking cbd via sublingual drops is different than edible forms such as gummies, chocolates, or even capsules that must you swallow in order to begin the path to absorption. in that case, the cbd goes into your gastrointestinal tract, aka your gut, and it can take upwards of a half-hour to two hours to fully absorb.
in order to further understand how cbd works when it hits the mucous membranes under your tongue, it’s important to know about the circulatory system and its role within our bodies. the circulatory system contains our heart, lungs and blood vessels, and it is responsible for the flow of blood, nutrients, and oxygen to and from our cells.
wwhen anything enters our bloodstream, it is transported through the body for your cells to use where they see fit. different bodily systems use different nutrients, and deficiencies in nutrients exhibit different side effects. your body knows what to do with the (good) stuff you put inside it. that’s why we know that, for example, vitamin c is good for the immune system and protein helps with the growth and maintenance of our body’s tissues.
cbd works with our bodies due to the presence of an endocannabinoid system, or ecs. the ecs is involved in a tremendous range of processes related to sleep, stress, mood, pain, as well as the proper function of many other systems. in other words, its main function is to maintain homeostasis within our bodies, and it has long been an active participant in our lives despite only being discovered in the 1990s.
in fact, there is evidence of the ecs existing as far back as 500 million years ago in some of the earliest life forms on planet earth. because the ecs developed at such a primitive time, it has developed concurrently with the evolution of life in all vertebrates. as a result, the two forms of cannabinoid receptors inside the ecs - the cb1 and cb2 (more on those in a minute) - can be found all throughout the body. if you think about it, there are likely good reasons for this given its vital homeostatic role in our overall well-being. nonetheless, cbd can be absorbed into the bloodstream, where it can bind to these cb1 and cb2 receptors and be utilized by the body.
cannabinoids and receptors
our bodies naturally create cannabinoids that are different from those found in the cannabis plant. these endocannabinoids are produced “as needed” to keep all systems working properly. in theory, this is a perfect system; however, this is often not the case in real life as different people’s bodies process nutrients differently. this is why it may be possible for two people to take the same amount of a vitamin d supplement and then display different levels of vitamin d on a test right afterwards, and individual relationships with cannabinoids are no different.
there are also phytocannabinoids, which come from plants, primarily cannabis. the cannabis plant produces more than 100 known cannabinoids, and of those, cbd and thc are the two most highly concentrated. their effects on the ecs are still being studied due to the legal war that has been waged on cannabis in the past century. despite science being limited, we do know that cbd is non-psychoactive, meaning it won’t get you high; and even better, it is now legal in all 50 states since passing of the 2018 u.s. farm bill.
this means more research can be done on cannabis in the coming years, and that only bodes well for the future of cannabis. in the meantime, we know that phytocannabinoids can activate ecs receptors in the same way as endocannabinoids that the body naturally creates. this means that cbd can go to work on the ecs just like your body’s own endocannabinoids, activating all of its benefits along the way.
the two types of cannabinoid receptors, cb1 and cb2 receptors, are found in different parts of the body and serve different roles. cb1 receptors exist most predominantly in your brain and central nervous system (your spinal cord), and also can be found within the reproductive organs, lungs, liver, white blood cells, spleen, and gut, to name a few. they play an active part in regulating and inhibiting the release of neurotransmitters in the brain, and are involved in proper motor function, pain sensation, sleep, memory retention, and more.
cb2 receptors are predominantly a function of the immune system, and are most highly concentrated in the spleen. the tonsils, gastrointestinal system, and peripheral nervous system (generally speaking, your nerves) also contain cb2 receptors, and even small amounts have been found in different parts of the brain than cb1 receptors. they play an integral role in the function of white blood cells, which are responsible for fighting infection, and initial research has been conducted to look at the role that cb2 receptors play on functions such as suppression of the immune system and induction of both cell migration and cell death.
the other primary function of cb2 receptors is to help mediate pain and inflammation. when activated, cb2 receptors stimulate a response in the body that can fight inflammation and reduce tissue damage. along with the presence of cb2 receptors in the gi tract, this may also explain why people experience relief from inflammatory bowel diseases such as crohn’s disease or ulcerative colitis with cbd use.
putting it all together
when you take cbd under your tongue it enters your bloodstream soon thereafter, and effects can be felt within minutes. this may take longer in some people, and different effects may be felt quicker or more slowly than others. when cbd enters your body, your cb1 and cb2 receptors utilize it based on your body’s current environment and state. the body is always trying to maintain homeostasis, and the ecs is only one part of that process. it communicates with, and thus needs feedback from, other systems to know where it needs to focus its attention.
let’s take pain as an example. if you are feeling pain, that is a symptom. pain can manifest in a number of ways and stem from various sources. it can also vary in location and severity, and pain from a tooth infection should be addressed much differently than pain from arthritis or pain from banging your knee so hard it bruises.
the reason why these should all be treated uniquely seems obvious: you’re feeling the pain for different reasons in each example! even though all three instances hurt, separate processes are causing the pain. because of this, the body is communicating in distinct ways and eliciting responses such as pain and inflammation in particular places as a result, and that’s how it knows where to focus its attention.
because the ecs plays such an integral role in achieving internal balance, cannabinoids can help facilitate processes that cause your body’s symptoms to fight the source of the issue, not the symptom. this is different from many other medications, over-the-counter or prescribed, that alleviate only the symptoms of an issue.
(and for those who need the obvious disclaimer: if you think you might have a tooth infection, please see a dentist or another qualified medical professional – we are not doctors and in no way should this information be taken as a recommendation for cbd to treat an infection, or any other kind of medical condition)
are there any reasons i shouldn’t take cbd sublingually?
in terms of health or safety concerns, there are no reasons why you shouldn’t use cbd by means of putting it under your tongue. however, some people really dislike this method of administration due to feeling uncomfortable with holding liquid under your tongue for a sustained period of time. much the same, others may find the taste too unbearable (anybody up for a sweet treat?) to keep in their mouths for a minute.
if for any reason you find yourself unable to do the whole sublingual thing, you can still take drops orally by swallowing them. just know that if you do, it may take longer for you to feel the effects as the body will need to digest them first before they are absorbed into the bloodstream. it also means less cbd may ultimately be absorbed, however your body will definitely still receive some benefits, if not all.
you may also have seen or heard of reports of cbd tinctures burning underneath the tongue. if you experience this, it is almost certainly due to impurities in your tincture. pure carrier oils in cbd tinctures such as mct oil and olive oil will never burn or irritate your body, nor will pure cbd itself. to avoid this, always make sure you purchase cbd from a reputable source that can show you independently tested lab results to prove their products are as advertised.
how cbd works in other ways
it stands to reason that if you’re interested in how cbd works sublingually, you may also want to know more about other ways of consuming it. two other main forms of cbd products are vapes and topicals.
when vaping cbd, you inhale it into your lungs, which are chock-full of tiny blood vessels known as capillaries that can absorb the cbd (or whatever else you inhale). these connect to veins, which are another type of blood vessel. all of this, as you may remember, links to the circulatory system that we discussed earlier.
vaping is another way for the body to rapidly absorb cbd, though it has some drawbacks. firstly, there is still not 100% conclusive evidence that vaping is completely safe. furthermore, vaping requires purchasing additional hardware such as a battery in order to be able to utilize the product. lastly, there are additional risks to vaping cbd oil that contains other ingredients such as propylene glycol or vitamin e acetate. again, seeing third party lab results can help you here, but taking cbd in the form of a tincture can remove a lot of the unnecessary moving pieces that come with vaping cbd.
as for topicals, they can be effective to the localized area where they are applied. however, topical cbd products do not enter the bloodstream, and thus do not act on the body’s cannabinoid receptors in the same way. they will not exhibit the same long-term effects that ingesting cbd will bring about, but could still be worth using for a variety of reasons such as pain, relaxation, or for a myriad of skin issues.
much like cbd is interconnected with your internal systems, it plays well with others topically! cbd can have a synergistic effect when combined with other homeopathic remedies to help with the aforementioned uses. all of this means that there can certainly be a place in your life for cbd topicals – just make sure you know the differences between topical administration and any form of ingestion into your body.
there are sure to be even further advancements as we continue to learn more about all things related to cbd in the coming years. science continues to raise new questions as to cbd’s possible benefits, and rightfully so given the vital role it plays within our body and its interconnectedness to so many other systems integral to our function. the sky truly is the limit on the cannabis frontier.
in the meantime, we have access to so much information which allows us to utilize cannabis to optimize and enhance the endocannabinoid system that is inside each and every one of us. hopefully this article brought you value; and hopefully cbd can bring even more value to your life.