Which Is Better For CBD: Topical Use or Consumption?

With CBD becoming more and more popular, companies and customers alike are finding new ways to use CBD and experience its benefits. But with so many different ways of using CBD to choose from, how do we know which way is best or will give us the effects we are looking for?

To answer that question, we are going to take a look at the two most common ways of using CBD: topical application and consumption. By evaluating these two ways of using CBD, we hope to help you discover the best way to use CBD for your needs.

Topical Application

Applying something topically means that you apply it directly to your skin, typically to a specific area of the body. Most topical products are a sort of lotion, balm, salve, or oil, and you can find CBD products in all of these forms. With the growing CBD market, you can also topically apply CBD through other products, including cosmetics, lip balm, and hair care products.

Before we jump into how topical CBD products work, let’s briefly discuss the skin. The skin is the largest organ of your body. It not only protects your body against harmful environment threats, but it also contains large amounts of sensory nerves, its own immune system, hormones, and, of course, cannabinoid receptors.

The CB1 and CB2 cannabinoid receptors are in virtually every skin cell. So, when you apply a CBD-infused topical product, it is fairly easy for the CBD cannabinoid molecule to activate the receptors. This first happens in the epidermis, or outer layer of the skin. When the cannabinoid receptors are activated, they send signals to help create homeostasis, or balance, within skin cell function. Restoring balance could include reducing pain, inflammation, or the amount of toxins in a specific area.

Topically applying CBD products means that the CBD molecules will interact with the cannabinoid receptors in the area of application. Topically applied CBD never makes it to the bloodstream, so you will not experience the benefits of CBD throughout the body; instead, the effects will be localized only in the area where you applied the topical CBD product. This is great for those who are looking to find relief in very specific areas. Generally, people choose to use CBD topically when they experience issues or pain in a localized area of the body.

Because topical CBD products activate the cannabinoid receptors only around the applied area, users can experience fast and focused relief. Again, however, these effects will only be localized in the area where the topical product was applied and not throughout the body. Also, because your skin is generally not very permeable, it often takes a thick and generous amount of the topical product for the CBD to break through the skin barrier and give you the effects you want. In addition, it may be best to look for lotions, balms, or oils that contain higher levels of CBD so that more can end up making it through the skin barrier.


Consuming CBD is another very popular way to use CBD. There are two main types of consumption: sublingual and ingestion.

Sublingual consumption often uses CBD oil. In this type of consumption, you hold the oil under your tongue for about 30-60 seconds before swallowing. While the oil sits under your tongue, the mucous membranes inside the mouth absorb the CBD directly into the bloodstream. This means that the CBD can start circulating throughout your body and activate your cannabinoid receptors right away, which will help you experience faster results.

The second form of consumption is ingestion, or directly swallowing the CBD. You could just swallow CBD oil or a tincture without holding it under your tongue, or you can swallow it as part of an edible, drink, or capsule. Whichever way you eat it, the CBD will have to first pass through your digestive system, then move on to the liver to be metabolized, and finally make its way into the bloodstream before you can experience the benefits. This whole process can take as long as two hours, which means it could be a while before you start noticing any effects.

With ingestion, you could help speed up the process by consuming CBD oil that also contains fatty acids. You can typically find fatty acids in oils that contain pure CBD extract or full-spectrum CBD oil (which will include all other nutrients and cannabinoids that are naturally found in the cannabis plant) instead of using a CBD isolate. By consuming fatty acids with your CBD oil, you could help the CBD molecules bypass what is called the First Pass Effect. Essentially, this process, which takes place in the liver, involves enzymes that break down the CBD molecules and reduce its concentration before sending it into the bloodstream. By bypassing this process, you could increase your body’s CBD absorption rates.

Sublingual consumption, on the other hand, allows the CBD to go straight into the bloodstream without having to go through the digestive process. This means that it is not broken down in the liver, and you can quickly receive the full concentrated effects of the CBD you originally put in your mouth.

Which Is Better?

All in all, both the consumption and topical application of CBD products are excellent ways to experience the many benefits of CBD. Deciding which way is best for you simply comes down to personal preference and the reasons why you choose to use CBD. If you are looking for fast, localized relief, then topical application is probably the way to go. But, if you want to experience the benefits throughout your body, then try consumption. And if you want to experience CBD benefits even faster, try sublingual consumption.

No matter which way you decide to use CBD, it won’t be long before you being to experience the benefits of revitalized health and well-being.

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